Rhymes With Fuchsia

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Left Twist

By following the kind and excellent advice of Dave and Julie, I managed to get a better picture of the red scarf, with an improved view of the cables and a more accurate representation of the color (click to embiggen).


It's also longer now, so that I can display its reversibility.

All this blue and red is making me ponder one of life's small conundra: while needless to say I haven't done a scientific poll, it seems to me that knitters are disproportionately on the liberal side of the political spectrum. There are exceptions, certainly, but at least in the US, knitters seem to be more blue than red no matter where they live. I'm far from the first to remark upon this phenomenon, and I can't think of a good explanation for it. True, most knitters are women, and women tend to be more liberal than men, but that doesn't account for all of it, and most male knitters also seem to be liberals.

So, a contest: answer the questions 1) do you agree with my observation? 2) if so, how do you explain it? Since I don't know the right answer (if any) to either question, all who answer both questions according to the rules will be entered in a random drawing. The rules: you must answer question 1 honestly and, if the answer is yes, provide a plausible answer (other than "I don't know") to question 2, that is one not involving aliens, Elvis or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I don't require that you yourself believe the answer, only that it be at least somewhat believable. The winner will receive red and/or blue sock yarn (but not the skein I just dyed: we are still in the throes of infatuation, and no one must come between us).

32 Comments:

  • I agree that so far as I can tell there are more liberal knitters than conservative ones. I think that knitters and spinners are the sort of earthy crunchy folks that tend to be liberal since in that we like to see things happening like arts and sciences being funded and we don't care for government becoming too involved in what we can and can't do with our bodies or who we can and can't marry etc. Along these lines I offer this rather nifty questionaire type jobbie
    http://www.politicalcompass.org/index

    It sometimes has rather suprising results. My MIL who professes to be conservative took it and tested out next to Ghandi, in the same quadrant as me though not quite so far out to the edge.

    By Blogger Julie, at 8:53 AM  

  • Knitters tend to be more liberal because they are creative people, and creation promotes the enlightenment of acceptance and generosity.

    By Blogger Roxie, at 10:07 AM  

  • I do agree with your observation, but you already knew that. I think it's because we haven't let narrow mindedness and bigotry destroy all of our creativity. How's that?

    By Blogger Carole, at 11:41 AM  

  • Roxie said exactly what I was going to say. Creative minds tend to be more open to a variety of ideas and influences. This makes them better able to make deductions and observations based on a number of factors.
    Plus, we're all so damned nice.
    And right.

    By Anonymous Dave Daniels, at 12:09 PM  

  • I agree, with reservations. I'm liberal and I tend to read blogs of people whose views are similar to mine. Am I (and other liberal knitters) filtering out conservative knitting blogs? I can think of several cases where, for me, the answer is yes.

    By Blogger Chris, at 12:14 PM  

  • I agree with you. And I think that the answer lies in the crafts that have united us all. When we look at a ball of yarn and two needles what we see is endless possibilities. We aren't prejudice or biased. The yarn can be anything, a scarf, gloves, a hat, socks, a sweater, the list can go on forever. It's just a matter of finding the pattern that suits the yarn. If two yarns are different they can still be part of the same project, it adds to the finished product. I think that openmindedness transfers to everyday life. There isn't just one solution to the problem, there are hundreds and it's a matter of matching the solution to the problem instead of forcing the problem to suit the solution.

    By Blogger The Knit Wit, at 12:49 PM  

  • I agree that it does seem that there are more liberal knitters. I wonder though if the liberal knitters are just more open and accepted. Personally I am liberal on some issues and conservative on others. I don't consider myself to be red or blue. I'm red, white and blue.
    Karen
    http://nothingbutknit.blog-city.com/

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:38 PM  

  • Good question! I think just about everybody I read is on the liberal side of the spectrum... but that's why I choose to read them in the first place. It's purely self-selecting. I wouldn't enjoy looking at the work of even a phenomenally talented knitter if her blog were littered with screeds about causes I am viscerally opposed to. I just don't go there. So to me, the blogosphere is a very secular, liberal space.

    I hear a lot about creativity and liberalism going hand in hand, but it seems like a cop-out answer to your question. Instead, I'm going to posit that there really are more liberal-minded people in the general public (which includes knitters!) than there are true conservatives. It's just that the other side is exceptionally good at marshaling their forces and using scare tactics to promote their agenda (except in this recent election, heh.)

    BTW, I think that sometime in the last decade or two, right and left sort of switched places. The right has become the thought police, and the left has become the champion of the right to private life. Compare with the Cold War era, where anyone who was on the left was branded a would-be communist, and Reagan and co. were going to save us all from totalitarianism. Now they're shoving their own collectivist philosophy down our nation's throat. It's interesting.

    By Blogger Beth S., at 1:49 PM  

  • I agree with your observation and even commented about this to a friend the other day. I myself am a liberal-minded conservative. In this past election, I felt a little alienated by the knitting blogosphere when on the 5th there were so many 'In your face, Republicans!' posts. I've recovered and in addition to agreeing with the above reasons, wonder if part of it isn't geographical. Lots of knitter live in cold states and lots of cold states are traditionally liberal. A little far-fetched but possible. :)

    By Blogger m., at 1:59 PM  

  • Hmmm, yes most knit bloggers do seem to be on the liberal side of things. Like others before me, I think it has to do with the whole ethic of creativity, making by hand, appreciation of artistic efforts, etc. that tend to be more supported by liberals.

    I also think that liberals tend to be more highly represented amongst those who are more highly resourced. And, let's face it, the swag that goes along with knitting and blogging isn't cheap.

    Finally, I think a lot of the "leading" bloggers or "first wave" bloggers are liberals -- from like springs like. And maybe conservatives have stayed away or kept politics out of their blogs for this reason.

    By Blogger Danielle, at 2:12 PM  

  • I tend to agree with Danielle. I think that knitbloggers and those who play with high-priced luxury fibers tend to be on the liberal side of things. Whether this is due to the internet being used as a tool earlier by those on the left side of the aisle than on the right, to our community being perceived as a bit snobby, or to something else entirely is hard to say.

    I would hazard a guess, though, that if we widened the knitting circle to welcome in those knitters without blogs and who tend to buy their Red Heart, Lion Brand, acrylic, and fun fur at WalMart and KMart, we would find that knitting crosses both ideologies and is firmly tinted purple.

    By Anonymous sprite, at 5:18 PM  

  • Q 1: Yup. And Q2: I'm with some others who've already posted--there's an element of self-selection, here. Obviously the people I know in the urban centers on either coast are generally liberal anyhow. I think there's a swath of conservative Christian knitters who do a lot of charity projects and knitting prayerfully and stuff but definitely do not agree with my politics. I recall a flame war on knitu not so long ago, after 11 Sept., and I do know that the publishers at XRX are very pro-Bush and pro-Iraq war, and that it seems the vast majority of designers and all the other major knitting publishers are on the other side, and it's caused some ill feeling.

    Whether there's more of one side than another, I really can't tell. I also can't tell how much of the homeschooling community is conservative or liberal, but I suspect nationally, the majority are self-described Christians, whereas personally, the circles I inhabit are no such thing.

    Interesting question! thanks. And the yarn is indeed beautiful.

    By Blogger Liz, at 5:52 PM  

  • It's a great question to ponder, for sure. I'm not sure if I have a specific answer...

    Craftivism facinates me. Pink knitted tank covers, death count mittens, the red sweater project-- only the people on the left seem to take to these tactics. They're silly and fun-- yet serious and often painful all wrapped up in one.

    I have to say that nearly all of the knitters I've known lean to the left-- even yarn stores that offer random sales when, say, the Dems took control of congress again. There are a few blogs out there with a "knitters for Bush" tag-- and those same bloggers will complain on community groups when even the slightest hint of lefty politics enters the realm (even if they have prostletized for their side in the past!)

    Maybe there's a connection-- those that enjoy 'knitting flow'-- the process of making knitted items have similarly activated parts of their brain that lean to the left.

    By Blogger Debra, at 6:38 PM  

  • I think it has to do with the people who have the most access too and interest in new communication technologies and less that it's a knitter that is liberal but a knitblogger that is liberal.

    Isn't that what the Republicans have been calling all "liberals", after they made "liberal" a bad word, they started calling us "elitist" because the talking points say that left leaning or liberal people are always college professors or something like that, and therefore "elitist". I'm bad at arguing, which is why I didn't go into law, but basically I think it has to do with interest in new computer technology and not knitting, but I do agree with the people that say that being creative means you are somewhat open minded which would lead you to be liberal as well.

    I've noticed that too, but I've only seen a few "conservative" knitting blogs and those were pretty in your face. I don't think I filter them out, in fact I'm curious in a sick sort of way when I see someone calling themselves a conservative knitter or conservative crafter. I'm liberal but I wouldn't associate it with my knitting.

    By Blogger Elspeth, at 8:51 PM  

  • Yes, I agree with #1. I think people who are willing to noodle around with strange patterns, odd stitches, and new skills are more likely to be liberal. Maybe less liberal people like to stick to the tried/true, and wouldn't want to learn a skill like knitting where you often have to push your skill envelope.

    By Anonymous Laurie, at 9:26 PM  

  • You posed two interesting questions. I find it interesting that most of the self-described liberals used perjorative words to describe conservatives (narrow-minded, uncreative, bigoted, littered with screeds, scare tactics).

    I am a conservative, and I'm rarely 'in your face' about my politics. I share my faith freely on my blog, but I try to do it in a welcoming and inviting way. If someone isn't interested, that's fine. I'm concerned about the environment and education and many other issues that were brought up in the comments--it's just that my solution to them differs from a liberal's. When I read knitbloggers who espouse politics that aren't mine, I sometimes read, I sometimes click away.

    I know many conservatives who work with fiber (and not just Red Heart as the commenter rather unkindly stated). Are there less of us? Maybe. Or maybe those who are conservative spend their time connecting with people in ways other than blogging--not they are technophobes.

    Food for thought. Thanks for asking.

    By Blogger lorinda, at 9:52 PM  

  • 1. I whole-heartedly agree that today's knitters seem to be more liberal than conservative. HOWEVER, most still remain in that middle area where common sense still resides.
    2. My reasons for explaining this phenomenon are that those who choose to knit today do so to either a. express themselves artistically or b.for escape and relaxation. This is not to say that conservative people do not express themselves or find ways to relax, but rather that they choose other methods.

    I consider myself to be cynical of both politics and religions as a whole, but it still amazes me how many "liberal" people are intolerant of those who go to traditional christian churches. Oh, the irony.

    By Blogger Heide, at 10:56 PM  

  • I will play the devil's advocate and say that I don't think knitters are more liberal.

    I'd agree that many *knitbloggers* are liberal, but I think that has more to do with the fact that they tend to be, as a group, younger and more educated.

    I don't think that knitters as a group lean either way politically.

    By Blogger Stariel, at 12:46 AM  

  • i don't think knitters are more liberal. the knitbloggers that i read are definitely more liberal but i think it has more to do with their being bloggers than knitters (although i heard on the ed shultz show that there were more conservative bloggers, but he those are political bloggers). i have noticed that crochet bloggers are more conservative than knitbloggers. anyway, i'm sorry (really i am, truly) but i have to disagree. i don't think being a knitter makes you an more blue than red.

    and to lorinda, who remarked that the liberals here have described conservatives perjoratively, get used to the backlash. we've had 6 years of being called unpatriotic, moonbatty, supporters of terrorists, godless .... should i go on? you're right, we shouldn't resort to namecalling. but let's just say, we're only human.

    By Blogger maryse, at 7:03 AM  

  • I agree also, but I'm trying to post a comment before I read the others, just because I'm sure they already said all this! I think that knitting sort of takes you back to the root of things and gives you the ability to make something out of what many people see as nothing but a ball of string. The potential that can be seen in one ball of yarn by any knitter seems to be tied tightly with a liberal mind.

    By Blogger V, at 7:16 AM  

  • 1. Yes, with a qualifier ... I think that knitBLOGGERS tend to be more liberal, not knitters in general.

    2. There are a bunch of reasons this may be so .... starting with the fact that like real life friendships, blog reading is self-selective ... unless you enjoy getting worked into a lather and entering into a spirited debate (and we don't know anyone like that, do we?) you're not going to hang around long on blogs where the worldview doesn't speak to you. I check in a a couple of blogs that have "Conservative Knitter" tags, but they don't get into their politics, I don't get into mine, and we're able to get along just fine.

    A lot of yarn is sold in the red states ... my guess is that rather than starkly red or blue, knitting as a hobby is really a pretty shade of purple.

    By Blogger Ruth, at 8:49 AM  

  • Well, I don't have to say much, because it appears Ruth (and others) said exactly what I was going to say.

    HoWEVER, I will comment: LOVELY scarf!

    By Blogger Norma, at 11:48 AM  

  • beautimus scarf!

    Absolutely in my experience, the knitbloggers I've read are more red than blue, but i think there are probably huge blue swaths of the blog o verse that I do not read and am not aware of. I know this holds true for the Jblog world at least.

    Subjectively, my own experience parallels yours but I think OBjectively, probably it is a skewed perception with more trees than forest.

    By Blogger Will Pillage For Yarn, at 1:05 PM  

  • I do agree with your observation... I've devined that a few of the regulars at the shop are conservatives, but they are far and away older than the norm. Hmm. Is it an oatbran thing? I don't think so. Is it that liberals are of an artistic mind and thus knitters or some kind of creator? My conservative relatives all want me to make money at my blogging and knitting and I don't see how I could possibly... maybe that's it... there's no money in it.

    By Blogger Ann, at 5:04 PM  

  • As a number of people have pointed out, I think that, to an extent, there is a degree of what epidemiologists refer to as "selection bias". A bit of a birds of a feather situation, if you will. That said, most folks that I've dealt with at various LYS's also seem to have a more liberal nature, but as I'm generally shopping in very blue areas, that may just be reflective of the regional population rather than knitters, per se. I think that women who approach knitting as more of a traditional gender role thing rather than a means of self-expression probably do tend to be more conservative.

    In the case of male knitters, I think we tend to be much more liberal because a) there are a lot (majority, perhaps?) of gay men in our ranks, and b) straight male knitters are generally less concerned about meeting conservative benchmarks with regards to maintaining strict gender norms and are therefore more likely to be liberal-minded in other aspects of their lives, as well.

    I think that if you looked at societies and situations where knitting was a vital means of economic subsistence, then you would not appreciate any liberal/conservative bias. Everyone would be knitting out of material, rather than spiritual/artistic need.

    By Blogger Mel, at 4:17 AM  

  • Oh, wow! It's so late and my brain is on off -- I'll think about it. I *can* say that it's a LOVELY scarf.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 10:47 PM  

  • Of course, you knew that I'd have to weigh in on this one. My theory: Real liberal knitters began compulsively and obsessively knitting in November of 2000, after GWB seemingly won the presidential election. More conservative knitters were able to relax, and put their needles aside, so that they could attend to more pressing matters, like........well, I'm not going to go there. Use your imagination.

    By Blogger christine, at 11:31 AM  

  • I love the scarf, and I'm gonna cast on tonight...........pictures soon!

    By Blogger christine, at 1:38 PM  

  • I am answering anonymously because I am very much in the minority here and I'm kinda shy that way. I am a knitter and spinner and am very conservative. I don't write about anything political on my blog because I just don't like conflict. I have noticed that most knitters are liberal. I even mentioned this phenomena to a VERY popular and well known vendor (who I won't name because you all know and love her and I would never 'out' her conservativism without her permission) and she agreed. She also agreed that, though she is conservative, she does not advertise that fact because in the knitting community she would be severly in the minority. The only why I can think of to why there are so few conservative knit bloggers is because those who are conservative are hiding that fact. I read tons of knitting and spinning blog entries that, politically, I find offensive because I just don't agree. But I keep reading them because I like the person or the personality of the blog without judging the politics of the person writing. I just think to myself, I don't agree, and move on with my life. I think it is a legitimate concern that, were I to write about my conservative stance on issues no one would come back to read about my knitting or spinning. As I read these comments, I have to conclude that that concern is legitimate because there are several who have admitted that they read certain blogs because they agree politically with the liberal blogger writing. My conclusion: I think if some of the more left leaning people out there (who claim to be from the more open-minded side of the aisle) looked more closely at the person rather than the politics they might find that they have more in common than they thought they would.
    In conclusion: I like you all even though I don't agree with most of you.
    justinc@cyberis.net (I'm a girl though)
    BTW, I am very creative from a line of very creative people. My mom is a painter and my gma was a writer. My sister is a painter also.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:41 AM  

  • I think the knitting bloggers might be more liberal because liberals tend to be more coastal, more wired, and to use "new" media like blogs, web, etc. more. But overall, I think knitters mirror the country as a whole. Why? People don't choose their hobbies based on politics. There's no good reason for knitters to go one way or another.

    By Blogger Theresa, at 10:45 PM  

  • You've made me want to delete all the 'liberal' sock-knitting blogs, whereas before I really didn't care.

    It works both ways.

    -KnitOne

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:07 PM  

  • Before you do that, KnitOne, please read the next post, "Fallen," in which I cop to the first deadly sin; you might also want to read the comments on that one.

    (What brings you to this very old post?)

    By Blogger Lucia, at 1:32 PM  

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