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feministmama
02-04-2005, 08:00 PM
Ya know I love knitting with all my heart but as a black woman I just don't feel like I fit in very much in the world of knitting. Many of the patterns and designs, etc are modled on a Irish, Nordik, themes that are beautiful but they're just not .....me. I did read thebook Beyond stitch and Bitch that was written by a black woman but as far as I know that's the only one. I haven't even read about other women of color, ya know women from Latin countries (Guatemala, Equidor, Peru, brazil) I mean they have thier own traditons and all. Or how about Portugal? Or China? Now I realize many warm places are not going to have a tradition of knitting as knitting is going to relect palces that are colder but as a black woman in the United States (from Boston, a very cold place) I thought there may be some black women or women of color to share experiences. Anyway, i don't know what I'm asking or if I'm asking for anything, maybe I'm jsut ranting. But I jsut wanted to put this out there and acknowledge how alone I'm feeling. And if anyone sees a webiste or a book or overhear's a conversation about this, let me know. Thanks. Love this site.

amy
02-04-2005, 08:38 PM
FeministMama, I hear what you're saying. It's rare to see black women even modeling patterns, and very rare to come across designs by them! I think your point about it not really being as strong a tradition in warm-weather contries is a good point, as far as why we may not see as many ethnic designers and designs. But it does seem that in the modern knitting world, there should be more ethnic knitters. I'm sure they're out there! Just...well....nearly impossible to find!

I've combed through thousands of pages on the web in my search for knitting patterns, and I only recall two web sites that appeared to be created by black women. I remember them, because they stood out for being so rare! One was a blog, and the other was a site with a handful of patterns. I think I might have a link to the latter site, among my pattern links. I'm going through all my patterns now, to get permissions for images. If I come across that one, I'll post it here! (I just attempted a web search for the blog. No luck, sorry!)

Okay, I just did a little web-combing on the topic in general. This topic is talked about briefly on this blog (http://www.avshann2.blogspot.com/2003_05_01_avshann2_archive.html) (scroll down to May 7th). She includes a few links that might interest you. Well, it's a start anyway!

Hope this helps!

Also, have you checked out any SNB's in the Boston/Cambridge area? Maybe you could look for one in a neighborhood that's got a relatively high black population....? I'm from Cambridge, Central Square area, which used to have a very diverse population. I don't know what you'd find now. But you could try it.... Just a thought.

Amy

Hildegard_von_Knittin
02-04-2005, 09:49 PM
It never occured to me: I know a lot of knitters, but they are all white. I've never seen African-American women (or men) at either LYSs or S&Bs I attend. There are a few African-American models in the spring lion brand yarn company catalog, and 1 that I specifically remember in the S&B book. That isn't much representation, though. I wonder, is knitting a craft that African-American women (or other ethnicities) shy away from, because it is (or seems to be) a primarily white/European activity?

Roxanne
02-04-2005, 11:30 PM
Jo Sharp's Pattern Book Five has a black woman modelling their sweaters...not sure if this helps or not but I thought it was pretty cool.

http://www.josharp.com.au/Pages/Pattern%20Books/Look%20Inside/Gathering/book5inside.html

MaggieL
02-04-2005, 11:36 PM
Hmmm… feministmama, Maybe you have identified an untapped market just waiting to be plucked.... :)

beldaraan
02-05-2005, 01:55 AM
Many of the patterns and designs, etc are modled on a Irish, Nordik, themes that are beautiful but they're just not .....me.

I have Irish roots in me, but those themes aren't me either. Everyone's style is different and it sounds like the style you are looking for just isn't popular in the knitting world right now. I like MaggieL's suggestion. You can always start with a basic design or pattern that has sort of what you want and try to modify it from there.

Good luck.

foldedbird
02-05-2005, 02:26 AM
Feministmama, why not be the one of the first black women to design patterns and/or model knitted items? You could even do some reasearch about black women knitting in history and tell us what you find. I'd be delighted to learn more!

Regardless of what you decide, I personally would like to tell you that you are most welcome on this forum, if that hasn't been said already. I brifely skimmed through others comments...but I know that everyone on this forum would be delighted to have yet another point of view on knitting.

The greatest thing about this forum and others is that we are so diverse, yet all have one common 'thread', if you will. Let's celebrate it!

By the way, there is a lovely young black lady on the cover of Knit It! this month...I believe you asked about books/magazines.

Keep one thing in mind...the art of knitting knows no color (except yarn, that is). As long as ya keep your hands off my new blue yarn, you're A-OK in my book!!!! hehe

Egeria
02-05-2005, 05:39 AM
Well I'm not white if that helps. (But I'm not black either!)

I guess I'm more influenced by where I live (Ireland) when it comes to my knitting. Although I did start knitting long before I moved here!

I guess I just want to learn all I can about knitting, which means learning from resources all over the world.

I never really though about ethnicity and knitting before! It would be very interesting and I think foldedbird is right, you should be one of the first black women to design knitting for black people! I think that would be so cool! You could totally get a book out of it and I'd certainly buy it!

salsa
02-05-2005, 08:10 AM
Hi feministmama,

Prepare yourself for a long post feministmama!!!!!!! :D :D :D

If it helps you to not feel alone or alienated in the "internet knitting world", I am "a woman of color". :D *Salsa shakes hands with feministmama*

I am Australian by nationality, born in New Guinea (my mother is New Guinean and my father is German). I was taught to knit by a Swiss friend of my parents which is why I knit "German style". I ended up in the Netherlands because I am married to a Dutchman. :D Crazy world, huh? :wink: In Australia, most women knit "English style" and are completely unaware that there is a German knitting tradition. Try imagining the looks I got from older Australian women trying to ponder how it comes to be that a black woman is knitting in such a different way to the way they knit, and that she is telling them she knits "the German way". :lol: :lol: :lol:

I am going to post a picture here especially for you because I think you will appreciate it (but maybe other posters will like it too). [see image below].

This is a bag which is traditionally produced in my mother's country. It is called a "bilum". The yarn for this particular bag is spun from cuscus fur (a "cuscus" is an opossum-like animal, for the benefit of North American readers). I take this bag everywhere with me. It's my fave bag in the whole wide world because it was given to me by my cousin, and it reminds me of my mother's culture.

It looks like a knitted bag, huh? Actually, according to my mother, it's not knitting in the traditional sense because there are no needles involved. But a stitchholder is used. Traditionally, it is a strand of leaf from a palm tree, but more often today, plastic packing crate ties are used as ht e stitchholder. The fabric is produced by interlocking the loops of yarn around the stitchholder. In Arnhemland (in the north of Australia) and on the islands between New Guinea and Australia, there is also a strong tradition for producing these types of bags.

Like you feministmama, I would love to learn more about traditional knitting techniques in other countries. I have to say too that by knitting, I feel that I am connecting with the traditions of Germanic and Anglo cultures and that's a learning experience too. To me, knitting in itself is therefore "other" and "different", but that's just me and how I look at it.

Anyway, just to let you know, you're not alone. :) And I hope it gladdens your heart to see a special fabric produced by a non-European culture. :)

JessicaSant
02-05-2005, 10:37 AM
The owner of my Local Yarn Store is african-american. She makes some gorgeous stuff and has an amazaing eye for color and yarns that go together. I love going into her shop and getting inspiration from all the stuff she sells and all the samples she has on the wall.

She doesn't have a website, but I'm sure you could call her -- and hey, if you live in the Philadelphia area, you could even stop by. She might have some insight for you.

Knitting Knook
25 E. Main Street
Marlton, NJ 08053
+1 (609) 985 8042

Jouf
02-05-2005, 03:46 PM
Feministmama - just came across this site while looking at spinning stuff - check it out.

http://joyofhandspinning.com/whoweare.html

Jouf

flipcat75
02-05-2005, 05:31 PM
Hey feministmama, I can relate.... Even though I live in incredibly diverse Southern California, I've felt the mild uncomfortableness of being the only person of color (I'm Filipino American) who happens to be in my LYS at the time. I enjoyed seeing patterns by people of color & ethnic models in Stitch N' Bitch -- I really do think that those images helped to reinforce my notion of myself as a knitter. A few friends of mine of all different backgrounds are starting to knit, if that's any indication that the world of knitting is slowly changing its face. I feel ya....

feministmama
02-06-2005, 01:45 AM
Oh my! Such great responses! Thanks for the links Jouf, Amy, Roxanne and the picture Salsa (and I gotta say I absolutely lurve yer name Hildegard Von Knittin). Thank you all such support. I am going to start looking into women of color knitting and I may even try to contact Lily Chin adn see if I can interview her for Interweave press or something. Anyone know how to contact her?

amy
02-06-2005, 02:05 PM
Jouf, wow, the Joy of Hand Spinning website is amazing! Great link, thanks!

Feministmama, when I lived in Senegal for a short time, I had the experience of being the odd-one-out. Most of the time I didn't think about it, but over time I really started to long for the culture where I felt like I "belonged." I remember watching an American movie, and feeling like "these are my people!" You know, usually when you see a Hollywood actor, you think of them as on another level of you, or in a different, untouchable social circle. But after being starved of my culture for a couple of months, I watched a movie, and felt like the actors were my best friends, just because they were Americans!

So, I can see how you'd be looking for your own culture in this world of knitting. Best of luck to you, in finding what you're craving!

Amy

ekgheiy
02-07-2005, 01:58 PM
Ya know I love knitting with all my heart but as a black woman I just don't feel like I fit in very much in the world of knitting. Many of the patterns and designs, etc are modled on a Irish, Nordik, themes that are beautiful but they're just not .....me. I did read thebook Beyond stitch and Bitch that was written by a black woman but as far as I know that's the only one. I haven't even read about other women of color, ya know women from Latin countries (Guatemala, Equidor, Peru, brazil) I mean they have thier own traditons and all. Or how about Portugal? Or China? Now I realize many warm places are not going to have a tradition of knitting as knitting is going to relect palces that are colder but as a black woman in the United States (from Boston, a very cold place) I thought there may be some black women or women of color to share experiences. Anyway, i don't know what I'm asking or if I'm asking for anything, maybe I'm jsut ranting. But I jsut wanted to put this out there and acknowledge how alone I'm feeling. And if anyone sees a webiste or a book or overhear's a conversation about this, let me know. Thanks. Love this site.

I totally understand what you mean! I recently posted on a thread about not having wonderful experiences with LYS's in my area. They were stuck up and condescending. And I could not shake the feeling that if I had been white, their greetings would have been a lot more pleasant. :cry: I'm not one to play the race card at the drop of a hat, but my gut feelings are rarely totally wrong. While I will most likely keep quiet about it, I never ignore it. So I think that's likely why I use the internet as my main source for knitting troubleshooting etc. The internet affords me the opportunity to get unbiased help when I need it. I would never consider going to an LYS for help with my knitting! That'd be like giving them ammunition to play that "Nanny Nanny Boo Boo" bu!!$!^ and stick their noses higher to the sky or condescend me further! :x I'd rather pay $10 and go Michael's for help; at least the people at Michael's are down to Earth.

But I have yet to need Michael's for help because I haven't come across a problem that knittinghelp.com or tkga.com message boards couldn't help me through. :D

And I haven't completely given up on LYS's. I'm just on hiatus... next up is The Good Yarn; although, I don't know exactly when. But let's hope they redeem my opinion of LYS's. :?

bobbiinbrooklyn
02-07-2005, 03:05 PM
two of the newest yarn stores here in Brooklyn NY are run by women of color. Knitting Hands was originally opened by a black man who has since sold the store to an asian woman. One of the original teachers from Knitting Hands is a black woman named Maxine who moved on and opened her own store nearby called Stitch Therapy. http://www.stitchtherapyparkslope.com/

She has students of all races and they are knitting up some very ethic and exciting designs.

On a side note: The other day on the subway home, I sat down and whipped out my knitting then looked up to see the black woman across from me pulling hers out at the same time. We looked at each other and started laughing. Who says NY is not friendly... At least amongst knitters.

VictoiseC
02-07-2005, 04:05 PM
Hey Mama, what an interesting post. It's lovely to see all the great responses. Life is so strange. I just returned to knitting last May when my dear friend Vincent, who is 85, set his apartment on fire. Woke up with burning hair. (He's ok) I went down to pick him up and met his nextdoor neighbor. The next day, while dropping flowers off to this neighbor, she pressed two balls of Eros yarn into my hand and said, you've just got to knit this up into a scarf. I hadn't knitted in like 10 years. She seemed so intent I thought maybe she needed the money so I bought it. I haven't stopped knitting since last May.

Now. More to the point or maybe not! I have been less depressed, hardly every depressed anymore, because when I am feeling down, I come here. Or I check out The Knitting Guild of America. Or check new patterns. Or, I KNIT! But this site is the best. As stated here, the diversity of knitters here is just so cool. Sometimes I think everyone is probably younger than me, then I laugh at myself and get on with reading the great posts. I don't feel so alone anymore in other words.

I have the new Vogue Knitting magazine here on my desk which I just subscribed to. I opened the magaine, went through every page, saw for the first time, that they are all white. I found one advertisement with 3 non-white faces. Artful Yarns
You've brought some light onto this which is really good. Stitch N Bitch, gotta hand it to them for including all those different people. I love the Japanese boy and knitted his hat! Just think how out of it young guys feel (or old) who knit. This famous designer used to get beat up on the Metro in Paris when he knit, now all his knitted stuff is in the big fashion shows.

I agree, why not create some of your own designs and make some waves? Glad you posted.... Vic

Roxanne
02-12-2005, 12:37 PM
I found a couple of blogs and thought of adding to them to this post:

http://asanteyaa.typepad.com/
http://staceysstash.blogspot.com

Enjoy!

ChroniclesofYarnia
02-12-2005, 03:36 PM
In the back of Knit.1 Magazine, they have a feature called Uknitted Nations. This month they have a really cool pick from Kenya of Painted Kikuyu dancers...and one is knitting some gorgeous blue cabled work. I thought of you when I saw it. :)

yellowness
02-12-2005, 06:05 PM
I've been thinking about this thread for a few days now, and finally had to post my thoughts. I've hesitated because my thoughts are different, but very parallel to the things posted already.

I've met with the strange reactions of others, and other knitters, not because of the color of my skin but for other external issues... I'm Polish-American (as in dark hair and eyes and pale, Eastern-European skin), and I'm also quite the gender-bender. My hair is shorter than my bf's, I wear a leather jacket, and other-wise present an image other than that of other young women in my age range. I consider myself queer, not because of my sexuality but because of my blurred views on sexuality and gender (including gender presentation). Aparently, most people assume that a utilitarian view of fassion, nearly buzzed short hair, and sensible shoes (read "no high-heels") must somehow mean lesbian.

When I go to my favorite LYS I always feel a little out of place. Even in San Fransicso's racially diverse populace, almost all of the patrons are white women. And nearly all of them seem to be wealthy, fassionable, manicured white women, with expensive hair cuts and new, designer clothes. The owner (a kind woman who works with her daughter) has been nothing but sweet to me, but the other patrons always look sideways at me, sometimes covertly, sometimes overtly. It is strange to be stared at because I fit a different demographic and sense of self. Even the young, "hip" girls look at me like I'm some kind of strange curiosity on display.

Some of my college peers find it strange that I knit because knitting is so feminine... I guess I don't fit their picture of what feminine is. Though when asked, they have a hard time defining what they mean by feminine.

FeministMama, you posted because of your sense of exclusion based on the color of your skin. I post because of my sense of exclusion based on my expression of self.

So, with that said, a few thoughts; one, no matter how liberal and PC our world is becoming, there is still a long way to go; two, I raise a toast to the impartiality of the internet, where all of us are just humans who come together to talk about the things we all love as humans, not as labels; and three, ROCK ON to all of us who've chimed in to share their thoughts, experiences, stories, suggestions, support, curiosity, interest, and listening ears, and to every one who spent a moment to think about what others were saying even though they may not have spoken up themselves.

Culture may still discriminate in ancient, ridiculous ways, but it is between actual people real life is shared and celebrated. And what a wonderful, enjoyable, silly thing is knitting to bring celebration out.

Ok, I'm done with my sappy philosophising.

foldedbird
02-12-2005, 06:43 PM
Some of my college peers find it strange that I knit because knitting is so feminine... I guess I don't fit their picture of what feminine is. Though when asked, they have a hard time defining what they mean by feminine.

Baseball is just as feminine as knitting. As long as a woman does it, it's feminine. If you look in history, the majority of knitters have been men, not women.

I'm glad you celebrate your differences instead of hiding them from others, and I feel sorry for the snobs at your LYS. Their lives must be SO boring!!!

Roxanne
02-12-2005, 07:01 PM
Just wanted to say that ALL people at some point in their lives feel that "exclusion" you're speaking of. Even if you "appear" to fit into what society considers "normal", it's quite human to feel "excluded" at some point. I bet if you talked to that WASP woman, she'd also express times when she felt "excluded" in her life. I think it's just human to feel it...how you respond to it is entirely up to you as a person. That being said, it can be easier said than done when we really just want to "fit in". Some of these issues brought up in this post are no different from what exists out there in "society" for clothing designers, etc. etc.

I'm happy to know that knitting can be individualistic and creative and if someone "excludes" you, it's their insecurity that is raising its head. I say, knit on, express yourself, focus on the creative nature of knitting and forget about what others think of you. Looking for external verification never comes...find it within yourself...focus on what knitting does for you as an individual and forget the rest. You can never find that external validation.

Anyways, my 2 cents......LOL Keep knitting and expressing yourself! In the end, it's the creativity of knitting that binds us all and the rest is irrelevant. When we look at a knitted article, do you focus on WHO knitted it or do you look at it and say "wow, how creative, that's so beautiful"??

yellowness
02-13-2005, 08:13 PM
I certainly apreciate the affirmations expressed here (that sounds sarcastic when I read it, and it's not... totally sincere I swear). I've never had an issue with other's opinions of my so-called differences that lasted for more than a moment; I think I'm way too cool to let other's opinions bother me for long :)

As you say, we all have moments of exclusion and externally-inspired self-doubt. That's why I think its important to talk about it, and share our individual experiences - not only do we all remember that we're not alone but we also get to learn about others and ourselves when we share. (God, I feel like a high-school counselor when I write something like that!)

FeministMama's post brought issues of diversity to mind that I'd never thought of before, and am now glad to be aware of. Her thoughts and experiences, as well as those of the others that responded, have opened a window into looking at my knitting world in a whole different light. I've gone back and looked at my pattern books and apreciate the ones that show diversity. My world view has been expanded (*Keanu Reeves Voice* "Whoa, dude!")

Again, I'm lovin' the support, new ideas, and freedom of expression of a welcoming board like this!

(As a side note, I've always compared my standards of self-expression to that of pop culture just to see where I'm at - it's a fun excersise for me. And if dykie, artistic, butch girls become in style, then I'll be a trend setter, tee hee!)

VictoiseC
02-16-2005, 12:10 PM
yellowness, I only wish I had a high school counselor like you! Ha ha. I was told to get out of the drama & art courses and learn typing, they figured from my family I wouldn't be in in college for long. As it turns out, typing money took me round the world, to London where I worked in theaters and then New York where I became an actress.
(now I'm a writer so the typing did come in handy)

I was in my local fancy gym yesterday morning and had an overwhelming feeling of always being alone. In New York, at the clubs, you do not make friends, the women are too busy. It's really depressing. They'd rather talk on their cell phones naked, next to you, then say hello. This knitting board and TKGA also has been such an up for me and I appreciate reading yours and others thoughts here.

all for now, Vic (P.S. I'm Polish-American also... my mum used to wonder why I preferred to dress like Marlon Brando...rolled up tee shirt sleeves and big boots... than the feminine thing.)

kimmie
02-16-2005, 12:32 PM
I can't speak to the race issue, but I know that almost always, when I leave a LYS, I feel like I "wasn't good enough" for them. I can't put my finger on it. It's almost like that junior high school feeling of not fitting in with the popular crowd or something.

On the other hand, there is a LYS, that isn't really local for me, but I go there on vacation, in Boulder Junction, WI. The woman who runs it is so kind and helpful. So, I know that there are good ones out there. I guess I just assume that people who knit are nice and friendly, but it's not always the case.
kimmie

VictoiseC
02-16-2005, 01:06 PM
Kimmie, WHY is that? I have felt that way too, exactly, when it comes to many yarn stores I venture into. There's one a few blocks from me that I actually have to steel myself up to go in and look at the yarns. Once in a while there's a friendly salesperson but the owners are like, way above you. I tried a new ys the other day, down in the village... the two women working there would not look up, would not say hello and I walked around for quite some time. It was like I was invading their home. Well, I try not to judge as much as possible but....

About the assuming knitters will be friendly, a few weeks ago there was a woman knitting at a laundromat I went into. I commented on her knitting, asked what she was making... she looked up at me like I was going to rob her, barely could get the answers out, was so hostile I finally said ok, bye and got out of her face. Wow! Excuuuuuse me.

hm hm hm hm hm

ekgheiy
02-16-2005, 03:07 PM
About the assuming knitters will be friendly, a few weeks ago there was a woman knitting at a laundromat I went into. I commented on her knitting, asked what she was making... she looked up at me like I was going to rob her, barely could get the answers out, was so hostile I finally said ok, bye and got out of her face. Wow! Excuuuuuse me.

hm hm hm hm hm

I had a similar experience at the pool. A lady was crocheting while awaiting the end of her daughter's swimming lesson. I walked up (smiling, mind you) and asked what she was making. "A baby blanket," she said with such ugliness in her voice!! :shock: I was like ... "Damn b!$<h, what's your problem!" :evil: Of course, I was feeling particularly nice that day, so I didn't say that out loud. ;) She wasn't a knitter, but a fellow yarn worker still!! She was the only crocheter that I'd met at the time, so my opinion of "them" did not start off on a swell note ;) But, like you, I try my best not to judge ... :)

beldaraan
02-16-2005, 03:38 PM
okay, ladies here's some advice from me, or someone who doesn't know any better (be sure to put your drink now).

First, look extremely busy or in a rush. On your way past the knitter, make a comment in a very hurriedly voice, "Oh what a beautiful "whatever", I would just LOVE to be able to knit something like that. Well happy knitting!"

Start to walk away.

Two things will want to happen by this point.

1) "Most" knitters are modest, so they'll start to say, "Aww, it's only a "whatever" or something like that....

2) Whenever you're in a rush and make a point to stop and notice something, people want to take advantage of that moment.

If they're a knitting snob and don't want to talk, well who cares, you don't have the time to chat anyway. If they are chatty, well then, maybe you could spare a couple minutes. Afterall, who doesn't love to chat about their knitting projects :wink:

amy
02-20-2005, 10:26 PM
FM, I found that website I have a pattern link to. It's here. I can't tell for sure if the woman is black (didn't see a picture of her), but her daughter looks bi-racial.

Amy

Hildy55
02-21-2005, 07:33 AM
I'm a knitter & I'm from Puerto Rico & I do stand out living in Vermont but it has never bothered me..My aunts are seamstress but somehow I picked up knitting back in 98 maybe bc I didn't like the cold & the easiest & less expensive way would be to knit something for myself & family
My first hand at knitting I tried black yarn & moved up to bright reds & oranges
Hildy Happy knitter in VT :D

VictoiseC
02-21-2005, 01:08 PM
Hi. Hi Hildy Happy in Vermont!

Amy, I just had to say, what a CRAZY website... Kerrie's Place.
I've just blown 45 minutes reading about hamsters, Finnish bags,
Christo, france, train ride to Pennsylvania... the Manolo.
Yikes. I haven't eaten breakfast, am starving, and get addicted to this site...

Flappy
02-21-2005, 09:32 PM
I'm happy to know that knitting can be individualistic and creative and if someone "excludes" you, it's their insecurity that is raising its head. I say, knit on, express yourself, focus on the creative nature of knitting and forget about what others think of you.

This lactose-intolerant, transgendered, one-armed communist couldn't agree more. Despite the many obvious and unspoken reasons for me to be excluded, I never feel more connected to the fabric of community than when I'm expressing myself creatively.

yellowness
02-21-2005, 10:20 PM
Heh, heh, heh.... I'm wondering if your nick Flappy is related to the one-armed bit. Please understand I'm not poking fun :)

You sound like my dad, only I'm not sure if she's lactose intolerant and last I saw she had two arms.