Knitting in public and social media

Princeton area knitters recently celebrated Worldwide Knit in Public Day without controversy. Witness our photos on Flickr. It’s a safe bet that we’ll have Ravelympians in the Community Room for the Olympic viewing sessions in July and August. Who says knitters are quiet, mousy souls? Not the U.S. Olympic Committee, apparently. A recent flap over the use of Olympic-style events and Olympic logos in knitting patterns on Ravelry, the online community for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, weavers and dyers, caused some repercussions.

The USOC asked Ravelry members to cease and desist from their 2012 “Ravelympics” – a challenge to complete various knitting projects, individually or on teams, during the short time span of the Olympic games. Rename the knitting events the “Ravelry Games”? As “Ravelympics,” according to the USOC, “tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games.” 

Social networks being steam-gathering sounding boards, the knitters campaigned against the order online, virtually yarn-bombing Facebook and Twitter. Apologies from the USOC followed the outpouring from Ravelry members. The fibre community, however, felt a bit misused when the apology turned out to be a call for support of the wooly kind.

From the USOC’s statement, “We apologize for any insult and appreciate your support. We embrace hand-crafted American goods as we currently have the Annin Flagmakers of New Jersey stitching a custom-made American flag to accompany our team to the Olympic Games in London. To show our support of the Ravelry community, we would welcome any handmade items that you would like to create to travel with, and motivate, our team at the 2012 Games.”

Knitting for others is personal. As Rachel Southworth says, “They failed to consider the time, expertise, energy, thought, and creativity that goes into every project that we do in support of our teams, and of the Olympic games.” Ravelympians may well cast on for the opening ceremonies this year, and boycott the games’ broadcasts and sponsors. Don’t mess with Ravelers.

Photos courtesy of preservationgal, momopeche, and OrchidArts on Flickr.

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