Wednesday, 28 November 2012

It's Not Anarchy, It's Awful (NaMoBloPo #28)

I have just begun another Coursera course. The last was on Gamification, run by the University of Pennsylvania, and was brilliant. This one is called "How to Reason & Argue", run by Duke University, and I've already learnt a lot. For instance, explaining and persuading are ways of arguing. When explaining, the conclusion is already agreed to be true and it is the premise that is being discussed. When persuading, the conclusion has not been agreed and the arguer wishes to bring the arguee to agree with their conclusion. Not knowing the readers' feelings on the topic I don't know if I am explaining or persuading but my conclusion is...

Guerrilla knitting and yarn bombing are a waste of resources motivated at best by a wish to bring craft to the attention of a wider audience and at worst by a self-satisfying desire for attention.

Knitting is awesome. And crochet is ok too. Weaving, spinning all good. Felting - if you must. Some people think it is all grannyish. Some can't see the point. Fair enough. Such people probably have interests I would have similarly unenthusiastic opinions about.
Celtic v Manchester United

The thing with knitting though, is that it makes something actually real and usable. Graffiti changes an existing object from one colour to another. There's not much else you can do with paint other than paint something. But knitting can be used to clothe something - usually a person. It can be used for comfort or warmth. It can give someone a way to keep warm or give a bit of comfort to someone who has nothing else. Knitted toys comfort children who have been orphaned in war zones, "angel blankets" give parents of still born or too premature children something to hold their baby in before they say goodbye. If you've got time and the yarn to think "oh yeah, I could use this to make a tree cozy" then you could change that to "oh yeah, there are charities needing knitted items so I'll knit them something."
The thinker
To waste your time and resources making some self-serving piece of neon craft vomit which will become bedraggled and hopefully be cut off within a few days is just stupid.

Be smart - create with a real purpose, not with pomposity.

Charities in the UK Looking for Knitted Items

There are lots more! Look at charities in your local area and ask what they need.


Rachel said...

Thanks Lixie for writing this, I find graffiti knitting very very irritating and hate how much attention it gets when there are so many incredible people around creating beautiful things with yarn.
Rise up knitters and oppose this pointless and ugly so called 'art'. It's not cool, and rarely is it clever and only the Daily Mail are still interested.

Deadly Knitshade said...

What a sad way to see the world.

I don't see you telling the person who made the sculpture featured that the materials could be used for a more practical purpose.

You say "The thing with knitting though, is that it makes something actually real and usable."

You may as well say "The thing with art materials in general though, is that they make something actually real and usable."

Everything in the world has a practical purpose as well as one that isn't seen as practical. And just because you're used to seeing yarn used in a practical way that doesn't mean that you should judge people who are using it to make art. If you do this then you have to do it with every material ever used for art or you are basically just picking on us graffiti knitters.

Paint a children's ward in a hospital instead of a cathedral ceiling. Make a water storage tank in an area prone to drought instead of carving Michaelangelo's David. Use the electricity you used to run your PC to write this opinion piece to run a life support machine in a hospital.

George Bernard Shaw said “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”

It might be something to think about before you go calling someone's art a waste of time, self-serving, neon craft vomit and stupid.

Unless every single thing you do is for other people and never for yourself you can't really go chucking stones.

And as a last point I will say that my street art, which I proudly make from yarn, has brought together communities, inspired people to look differently at their world, encouraged people to interact, told hidden stories, made people want to craft and squeezed out more unexpected smiles than discouraging posts like yours will ever do.

I will add that folks have a responsibility not to litter. If you keep an eye on your work and take it down if it becomes soggy and looks more like street trash than art then that's good citizenship.

Having said that I knit a Phone Box Cosy for the NSPCC in quite vomit-inducing yellow that stayed peachy and fluffy in the London rain for six weeks and still raised over £1000 for charity. So not all woolly street art gets soggy and sad.

But it isn't about charity. It's about art. Freedom. Being an active and creative part of the world in any way you want to. Positive is always good no matter which way you use that positivity.

Graffiti knitters are good folks. We make for other's pleasure.

Join us and be a positive and encouraging part of the world to everyone. Artists, art appreciators, and those who would rather everything was just practical alike. We're all here trying to make life wonderful. Stay positive and happy and those around you are much more likely to be happy too.

Sarah said...

Read up on pioneering artist Freddie Robins, who has much to say about creating deliberately functionless objects.

Tread carefully when dismissing other people's "waste of time and resources".

Your argument is nothing but a declaration of personal taste- which is fine, but it is nothing more.

Neddy said...

An awful lot of charity knitting is self indulgent and does no real good. A knitted toy *could* comfort a child in a war zone. Trouble is, it would probably make more sense to allow children to choose their own toys, from the ones that are made locally, thus giving them a bit more power, stimulating the local economy and not clogging up supply ships with stuff that doesn't need to be imported from elsewhere. Even in a refugee camp, someone actively using the skills they have to make toys for the kids there is probably a better solution than handing them freebies from across the world. A child *might* like the acrylic teddy made by a complete stranger she'll never meet, but let's not pretend that it's all about the child rather than the knitter's desire to do something about sad children and be a better person, whilst coincidentally taking part in a much-enjoyed hobby.

See what I did there? You can pick holes in any knitting effort. I'm not into graffiti knitting - I'm more of a garments person anyway. My knitting tends to be very functional. But let's be honest - I knit because I like knitting. Even when I'm making warm clothes for a homeless shelter, I'm still doing it because I like knitting. So are you, and so are graffiti knitters. Quirky, arty knitting can be used to do good because it makes people smile, it's great for publicising charities and quite often it can actually be sold to raise money for the stuff that's needed.

blueadt said...

Well done for speaking out as it were.

I've always thought that yarn bombing was a waste of time & yarn. It'd be better spent on making gloves/hats for the homeless.

Yarn bombing might raise a smile at best (if the knitter is lucky) but then the yarn ends up in landfill...

Janice Duke said...

"There's not much else you can do with paint other than paint something." Speaking as a painter, wow this shows you don't know what you're talking about. Quite apart from the seemingly infinite variations of how paint can be used, paintings have changed the world, they can change the way people think and perceive, they can provoke and confuse, they can initiate dialogue, tell stories, cause powerful emotions and thoughts, inspire etc. etc. and they can simply be beautiful, and what is life without beauty? Every painting benefits the painter through actively engaging in the very act of perceiving and creating and the observer through showing them the boundaries of their particular taste and world. You can do as many things with paint as your imagination can conceive of, which brings me to:

"But knitting can be used to..." Do as many things as your imagination can conceive of. Same as with any other medium. You have a pretty narrow idea of what you imagine knitting should be used for. That's fine, it’s your right and choice to have a narrow mind, but maybe you should think about being less judgemental of others who do not share your taste, who are pushing the envelope and are trying to do something positive, otherwise your cry of "a self-satisfying desire for attention" will apply quite nicely to you.

Any activity can be accused of self indulgence, the irony being that accusations of self indulgence are self indulgent. If you really want people to create with purpose then get on and create with purpose and inspire people to create with purpose. Otherwise you’re just wasting your time and resources to whinge.

Brigitte said...

Sorry to say, but if for you paint is just to change the color of an object,(so why change colors at all, they have little practical purpose, let's just dismiss colors, too! and music, poetry, philosophy) then how can I take your criticism on grafitti serious? I assume you don't even know what you're talking about.
Raising the warhammer against artists may get you some knitting needles between your ribs, pardon my French. greets from Germany

Deb said...

Wow, this post certainly brought out the worst in meaningless rhetoric from Janice Duke! Lixie, this gives you plenty of material for your 'how to argue' course; just look at how Janice attempts first to undermine your opinion by presenting her own opinion as though it were fact - 'accusations of self-indulgence are self-indulgent' and then subtly insults you by using a single word to connect two unconnected ideas -'a narrow idea of what you imagine knitting can be used for' and 'a narrow mind' A little obvious as techniques go but a good try!

Mark said...

Wow, this post certainly brought out the worst in meaningless rhetoric from Deb! Lixie, this gives you plenty of material for your 'how to argue' course; just look at how Deb attempts first to undermine Janice's opinion by presenting her own opinion as though it were fact - 'this post certainly brought out the worst in meaningless rhetoric' and then subtly insults her by using a backhanded compliment - 'A little obvious as techniques go but a good try!'.

A little obvious as techniques go but a good try!

Sister Twisty said...

Lixie, I'd really encourage you to look at the work of the Craftivist Collective ( if you think crafted graffiti is purposeless. Their 'love fashion hate sweatshops' campaign involved making mini protest banners and tagging them around London Fashion Week venues to raise awareness of the poor conditions in which those clothes are worn. Craft graffiti can get people's attention in a way that normal graffiti doesn't.

Oh, and everything Deadly Knitshade said.

Bone C said...

It would seem to me pretty clear that the person writing this blog is not saying that knitted materials should never be used for Art, simply that the particular practice referred to as 'Graffiti Knitting' is a bit silly and therefore a waste of good yarn, in same way an ill-fitting cardigan or a single sock would be.

If I was homeless and I saw a phone box wearing a cosy and would take it and use it to keep warm. I would be grateful to the person who left it there.

Purl pirate said...

You don't see the point of yarn bombing, that's sad for you, but to dismiss the work of artists is just rude.

I read a lot of craft blogs and do sometimes wonder why the hell people make some of the stuff they do.

But they make it, and are part of the creative process that enriches life

Daisy said...

Couldn't agree more - I always wonder what happens to it once it's in place too? Probably into landfill eventually?

Related Posts with Thumbnails