There are few things more convivial than a group of folks showing off their latest projects and talking yarn. Whether it’s knitting, crochet, spinning or weaving, yarn is the thread that binds those of us who love the fiber arts.
So what happened? Politics happened.
At the best of years it’s one of those subjects that can take conversation to a new low. But in divisive America 2017 it’s become downright toxic.
Case in point is the Tennessee yarn store that slammed the door on anyone who didn’t wave the flag for Trump’s version of a great America. Granted she could as the owner but that would have been unheard of before this election.
Or the time a knitter with a penchant for sly alt-right factoids had two Hillary supporters trapped in her moving vehicle while her radio blared Sean Hannity on the way to a yarn store and an afternoon of tea and political sympathy.
Or the two activists who love to knit who assured me it was OK for them to wear their pink hats everywhere but it wasn’t OK for someone to question why they would.
Is there a line anymore? The invisible boundary of good manners you do not cross? In 49 BC, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River, the boundary of no return for him and his army as he headed for Rome and the history books. Apparently not much has changed since 49 BC.
Is the chilling of relationships when politics are revealed sufficient for us to drop acquaintances? The determining factor might be a lack of sensitivity, a tendency to gloat, to make the overly loud point. Or to do it at the wrong place and the wrong time and with the wrong people. As my Italian grandmother used to say, “Pensare prima di aprire la bocca.” That’s “think before you open your mouth, bub.”
It’s hard not to feel a twinge or two when you realize someone you used to knit with at a favorite local yarn store is giving you the verbal bird. It might feel good for a minute to ride around on your high horse but the ride lasts about as long as that high you get when you drink too much coffee and realize you’re nowhere near a bathroom.
Politics does that to us.
We say things and we mean them. And we don’t back down because I’m right and you’re not and I don’t care what you think. I can’t talk to you anymore because you don’t agree with me.
Politics makes strangers of friends and acquaintances.
And it makes for poor companionship on a day when you just want to talk about mittens or that shawl you’re struggling with or the wonky arms on the sweater you’ve been knitting for a year.
Sometimes the point is to not make a point. Sometimes it really is all about the yarn and finding the middle and remembering there was a time when we could welcome each other and spend a few hours getting away from the rest of it.
Maybe it’s time we all just got back to our knitting.