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.
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 (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.
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?
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.
Hmmm… feministmama, Maybe you have identified an untapped market just waiting to be plucked…
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.
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
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!
Prepare yourself for a long post feministmama!!!
If it helps you to not feel alone or alienated in the “internet knitting world”, I am “a woman of color”. 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. Crazy world, huh? 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.
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.
25 E. Main Street
Marlton, NJ 08053
+1 (609) 985 8042
Feministmama - just came across this site while looking at spinning stuff - check it out.
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…
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?
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!
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. I’m not one to play the race card at the drop of a hat, but my gut feelings are rarely [color=red]totally[/color] 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.
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. :?
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.
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
I found a couple of blogs and thought of adding to them to this post:
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.
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.