10 December 2009

War on Knitting

If I read the little maps correctly, we had 12.4" of snow in my area after this recent storm blew through. For me it meant two days home from work, which I enjoyed. I rested my Knitter's/Tennis Elbow somewhat, but mainly I did the exercises the doctor gave me and I kept knitting. (The doctor knew that a prescription of "complete rest" just wouldn't work for me. This injury is common both to knitting and working at the computer.)

I've been reading about the development of the English language. Nothing seriously academic -- I have textbooks for that -- but a delightful little book called Righting the Mother Tongue by David Wolman. It is as much about intelligence as it is about ignorance, as much about politics as it is about grassroots organization.

But as I read it I think about all of the people who get all hung up about the King James Version of the Bible being the only "authoritative" translation. These people usually know so little about English to begin with, and even less about the pitfalls of translation, to say nothing of spelling. Apparently there was a sort of vanity about some of the early spelling practices, one being a desire to make words look slightly foreign so as to increase their perceived value. It would be as simple as adding a final "e" to "old" (thus making "olde"). It's the same sort of vanity about Bible translations, almost as if the KJV has greater perceived value because of the use of "thee" and "thou" and "hath" and "doth."

(To be sure, I have at times an affinity for that language. Psalm 90 in the KJV begins, "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place from one generation to another. Before the mountains were brought forth or ever thou hadst formed the earth, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God." The very sound of the words adds power to the verses.)

Oddly enough, there is a sort of perceived value among knitters for certain things, but it's a bit less easy to pinpoint. Sometimes it is perceived that Continental style knitting (in which the working yarn is held in the left hand and "picked" with the right needle) has greater value -- not because it's a more efficient method of making a stitch but because it's somehow a designation of a better or at least more accomplished knitter. And then there is the cache of lace knitting, which seems to have it's own hierarchy of value. Granted, it's no mean feat to stitch a piece of cobweb lace, but it seems rather silly that the person who can do this is somehow a better knitter than one who can work Fair Isle and other stranded knitting projects.

If you enjoy the work, then knit as it pleases you and with whichever techniques you like. This isn't an Elizabethan Age; it's not worth it to make every personal choice in knitting a political issue the way religion was in the time of Shakespeare.

As we enter the annual "War on Christmas" (no thanks to Bill O'Reilly) and the annual period of stress-knitting-for-Christmas, I think it would be best if we gave it all a rest and just enjoyed our many blessings.


Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Judith,

I'm with you on this. You hit the nail on the ahead.

Have a great Holiday Season in whatever faith, or not, you choose to follow.

Hugs, Euphoria

charlotte gordon said...

Bravo on King James. I love the knitting parallel. And, I really like the HG Wells quote. You have such a lovely blog. your fan