Knitting in the round or the problem of language

Needlework activist Antone Gerber works to protect the rights of crocheters everywhere.

Of course, using "knitting" and "crochet" interchangeably is one of those things that sends crocheters round the bend. They're right, to a degree. It isn't precise to label the above crocheted edge as knitting; it is in fact donut fringe from Nicky Epstein's Crocheting on the Edge, an amazing compendium of frilly codas for crocheted garments. (That woman's a genius, I swear.) It is simply wrong to call it "knitting."

But as a writer who occasionally writes about needlecrafts, I find myself stuck between what is politically correct and editorially expedient. The early days of the PC movement on college campuses felt much the same way. As academic communicators we were enjoined by faculty to use terms like "humankind" in lieu of "mankind"--a word I still find cumbersome--and African American instead of Black. Fine, race and gender are big deals.

But what term do we use to encompass yarn stuff? We're not only knitters and crocheters, we're spinners, dyers, weavers, felters, needlepointers, needlefelters, etc. Fiber artist is too broad, encompassing papermaking and other non-yarn-related textiles. Knitter is too narrow. Needlecrafts kind of says it, but do we include embroiderers and quilters among our ilk? Yarn workers? Yarn heads? Yarnies? Yarn artist?

What word do you use to describe the stuff we do?

You can't crochet just one donut.

Comments (4) -

August 11. 2008 02:54


As a crocheter and non-knitter, I think knitting is fine to encompass us all. But then I used to object to "mankind" and get upset when old guys called me "honey." Now I just think WTF, it's not my problem. But the knitting/crocheting thing is different. I think since the outcome is so similar (stuff made with yarn and needles,) it's fine to call the process the same thing.

Susan |

August 11. 2008 02:56


Passionites of yarn? lol

Great article about Ravelry in Vogue! It was fun to see your name in print.

margene |

August 11. 2008 03:49

Emma in France

I don't know if you've ever listened to the Lion Brand podcast (it's better than you might think) but they tend to use the term 'yarn crafters'.

Personally I tend to go for fibre artist more.

Emma in France |

August 11. 2008 07:53


Did you say something?  I can't take my eyes off that handsome Antone.

threadingwater |

Comments are closed