I’m sure if you are a part of the knitting community especially on Instagram you will have seen the conversation that’s been taking place over the past few weeks over racism and inclusivity in knitting, I have avoided taking part as I didn’t feel that my voice added anything to the mix but over the past few days it has begun to feel that by saying nothing perhaps it could seem I have a certain viewpoint – I am not in the ‘silent majority’ I hope I have never made anyone feel excluded by my designs or anything I’ve shared here or on any of my social media.

I am from a place (Shetland) which can feel at times in its own bubble – in terms of geography we are out on our own in the middle of the north sea, culturally we are probably what you expect – mostly white. I didn’t grow up surrounded by multi-cultures – But I was brought up by my parents to be accepting of people, wherever they come from and whatever they believe. As a place, we can be extremely welcoming, friendly and inviting but as a small community there are of course people with negative views and opinions about all sorts of things and as a very non-confrontational person I avoid putting myself in conversations that I don’t feel qualified to have an opinion on.

The recent discussions have been one of those times – as a young (ish), white woman I know in the land of designers who sell patterns on Ravelry I have it very easy, I also benefit from being from somewhere with an extremely strong knitting culture and heritage which I can take inspiration from and which inspires many others. I support all designers no matter where they come from, I feel it is important to listen to the voices of those who are marginalised rather than someone like me who doesn’t have the words, knowledge or life experiences to truly take part in the conversation. Theirs are the stories which matter and show how things need to change, I am reading a lot of the things which are being shared on Instagram and listening and finding a way to change my thought processes for the better.

I just want it to be clear that I may not get involved in certain things but that’s not because I don’t support it or have an opinion – sometimes I just don’t know enough to voice an opinion, all I can say is that I want to do better. I hope that makes sense.

speak soon xx

19 thoughts on “thoughts

  1. Hmm, not being on Instagram I was not aware of these conversations. Your thoughts seem very reasonable to me.
    Take care.

  2. Ella- out of all my knitting friends, the three who love fair isle and J&S shetland wool like I do are African American :) And my other knitting friends put up with my shetland knitting but rarely emulate it.

  3. The whole world cannot be our personal problem, if that makes any sense. There are issues which we may wish to speak up about, and some we care about but do not participate in. There is no need to apologize for a lack of action. Each of us has a finite amount of time and energy, and we need to put it where it does the best as we see fit.

    In my own country, we are seeing a re-emergence of racism and intolerance, all because the current political situation makes it fashionable. However, these issues have existed from time immemorial – me, you – us, them – and as we become more civilized, it is hoped these issues become less and less divisive.

    I look like my dominant culture, but trust me, there are people in my family that have been victims of many things. You are fine the way you are!

  4. Don’t worry about the discussion if you don’t want to participate. There are so many topics going on yarn wise. Just join the ones you really want to.

  5. Thanks for your post Ella! I’m learning and listening too. It’s in the past few days that i’ve had my eyes truly opened. When i heard /read white people saying that they don’t need to speak up, that staying silent is ok, that white people dont need to have a personal opinion on the harm caused to BIPOC.. well, it clearly shows how endemic unconscious bias, privelege & racism is in this community. Thank you for speaking up

  6. Thank you for your words. I love the fact that you voiced what I hope many of us feel. All too often in this world people put forward thoughts and opinions (not this particular thread) on subjects of which they have no experience or anything to really contribute and I often feel that this does more harm than good. I would like to praise the world wide knitting community for taking ownership of this issue and joining together to hopefully make the situation what it should be. Their thoughts, opinions and hopes for the future have been considered words and a genuine desire to see our community grow to ensure all are welcome.

  7. Hear! Hear! I have been reading the debate and felt my contribution would make little difference but it has focused my thoughts about my actions and what I can do to increase the harmony in the world. Anything that makes us think and try to do better is a good thing.

  8. I do belong to a minority, and I have been excluded. To the point to one time a woman dared to ask ‘who gives her the right to knit beautiful Shelanda lace?’ I did not quite understand her point at that moment but quickly realized where she was coming from. I shrugged my shoulders and moved on knitting away :) I chose not to participate in those discussions. People are people and they have their viewpoints, it does not matter how loud we tell them what we think is right of wrong, they will not change. I try very hard not to hurt anyone’s feelings, and be inclusive, if nothing else because I know first hand how much it hurts. It’s OK to keep quiet.

  9. Thank you for saying what a lot of us are thinking – we don’t want to be THAT silent majority, but we feel like we’ve nothing relevant to say. We are reading, listening and looking; and learning.

  10. It’s hard to know what to say, I know. And there’s also the anxiety that we are just parroting others or virtue signalling. But yes to quiet voices like yours and no to the supposed “silent majority”. I think what you’ve expressed here is simply humility and an openness to understanding, and that’s brilliant in my opinion and just how I feel too. X

  11. Thank you for this post Ella. You have humbly and carefully expressed your views and this has clearly chimed with a number of your followers, including myself. I have nothing to add which hasn’t already been said, and said better. The hush over here does not mean apathy.

  12. Life is a series of challenges. I have been discriminated against, severely, many times, but I do not think acceptance can be legislated. I watch my multicultural (breed) chickens and they behave in what might be called a racist way. I think it is something that seems to be a natural tendency. Doesn’t make it desirable, but I don’t think it is going to go away. I remember in Mexico billboards used to show women with hairy legs as a signal that they were Spanish with no Indian blood. Women buy expensive purses or shoes to exclude themselves from the masses. Sometimes there is true prejudice, but sometimes a person is claiming they have been discriminated against when their designs just didn’t make the grade. The inflammatory rhetoric that is in fashion is not going to solve the problem. I vowed long ago that I would try to treat others the way I wish I had been treated. If we all would do that then our circles would overlap and things would be better. You should not feel you have to apologize for not jumping into an inflamed discussion.

  13. Hello Ella, Thank you for your post, it was lovely to hear a brave voice and another point of view. I completely understand where you are coming from as have a very similar opinion to your own. Having recently opened a yarn shop I find it difficult to keep up with everything that is going on in the knitting world. Like you I feel I do not have the knowledge of the background discussions to contribute in any helpful way. This does not mean I don’t care but I do strongly believe that being quiet about things should be your own personal choice and it seems that some who would normally be quiet are being judged and feel they have to speak even if it makes them feel uncomfortable.

  14. Well said Ella. For us brought up in Shetland, we were brought up to see people, ALL people as just that – people, whoever they are, white or not. Unfortunatly not everyone thinks like we do.

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