This morning I read an article in yesterday’s Toronto Star [link] that makes the repeated claim that fibre arts have grown as a reaction to the Internet and our usage of screens. Now, I don’t argue with that in principle, but the way in which the claim was made implies that it is a backlash rather than an evolution. I cold not let it lie without reacting to it.
I understand that The Star was attempting to point out the move online with Instagram and other media to share photos and trends of fibre arts (such as weaving in this case). The writer could have done that, however, with far less condescension to online folks.
It is truly great that more people are knitting and crocheting and weaving and dyeing and spinning and so on, though I would prefer to see some figures to prove that’s true. I would guess at most it has grown a little but mostly has become more connected. People who sat and knitted socks and sweaters at home could now join in discussions online about their passions, which in turn spurs people on to knit more.
I know for me my interest in the craft would have died out quickly if I had no community around it. My knitting life has always involved local knitting groups (there’s your real world component) but it has also involves a large slice of Ravelry and of course this blog. The fact I can discuss knitting and fibres with so many different people through different means is exciting. We can share so much easier than before.
Now, with the Internet full of knitters and other fibre artists, it doesn’t matter that I didn’t have anyone in my family to teach me to knit. It doesn’t matter that I couldn’t afford lessons. I could just jump on Youtube and figure it out that way.
There’s also the fact that even if you do learn the basics offline, you have the chance to learn so much more from that jump-off point thanks to the Internet. In the past if you didn’t know someone who could spin, it would have been much more difficult to learn. Now you can figure it out online. That means the less common of the crafts are opened to such a greater audience than before.
That is why I love the Internet. Yes, there’s a great community around our craft and any other that you can mention, but it also opens doors to so many different people who may not have had the chance to experience certain things without it. So I don’t believe that fibre arts are ‘taking off’ as an antithesis to the Internet; I think it’s quite the opposite. Our screens are the fuel to engage more people into the crafts.
What do you think?