I have joined a yarn swap on Ravelry called, punnily, “Warm Ewe Up.”
One of the rules is that we have to have a blog and post on it at least twice a month. To get us started, the moderator is posing group questions to be answered on our blogs.
And, here is the first one:
#1 – Why did you learn to knit?
The short answer:
Because I’m a girl.
The longer answer:
Because when I was growing up, competence was expected in basic living skills. Because this was long ago enough that such skills were divided along gender lines. So, along with learning biology, French, history, and diagramming sentences (really!) girls learned to cook and sew and clean. “Home Ec” was required for all 7th and 8th graders, but I’d learned to sew and knit years before then.
The Even Longer Answer:
I lived in the country and my mom was extremely practical, adventurous about food and gardening and animals and projects, and we were expected to join in. My parents’ best friends were Don and Gudrun and Gudrun was from Germany and even more practical than my mother. So, of course, she taught me to knit.
What I’m trying to get across here is that it wasn’t a “hobby” that I “chose” at age whatever, it was just part of being female in my family.
I can also make a roux, fold napkins, ice a cake, milk a goat, can fruit, grow vegetables, quilt, embroider, sew, plan a party, refinish furniture, repair a roof, muck out a stall, tie a nice bow, play dumb, bake a pie, write letters, decorate, play pool, swim like a fish, and amuse small children.
Things I cannot do include I cannot do a single thing to do with machines (except a sewing machine, which I can clean, oil, and maintain), cars, car engines, car tires, (nope, can’t change them), mechanical stuff, electricity (nope, I can’t even replace a fuse), splitting wood, cutting down trees, operating a tractor, fishing, football, boxing, fighting (I’ve tried self-defense classes, but they don’t take), and I can’t whistle.
But Wasn’t that Sexist?
Then Why Aren’t I Angry?
Because, as it happens, it suited me. If you look at the list, it’s not all staying-indoors stuff and it’s not all easy. As it happens I was a very skinny kid, not very athletic, kind of shy, a whiz at schoolwork, was called “creative” whatever that means, and didn’t like getting cold or dirty. So, just by luck, I didn’t feel like I was personally being excluded from things I wanted to learn or do.
What about girls who wanted to learn other, different, things?
Well, that’s what made it so sexist!
For that matter, times were tough for boys who might have wanted to learn to knit.
Ah, the 50’s and 60’s.
Things were tough for anyone with an unusual name, family, appearance, or non-conforming disposition.
So, it’s all Much Better now, right?
Well, it’s great that kids aren’t forced to learn gender-based skills.
But, if I were in charge of the universe, they would still have to learn some skills, except they would have a choice.
Instead, as near as I can tell, most kids don’t learn the things on the “boy list” or the “girl list” anymore.