In which we get political

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Last week I heard a comment that I’ve been thinking a lot of ever since. I’m not sure that I agree with the comment and I’m not sure I disagree. It has a lot to do with what I’ve discussed before, last spring when I was supposed to knit something masculine. I have good arguments for both sides of this comment and I’m not sure anything will be settled but I definitely think it needs to be discussed. The commenter was very sure of her thing and even though I might have given you a different answer to this if you’d asked me two years ago, I’d like to think that I’m now humble enough to see this issue from different perspectives.

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The ever so interesting discussion about colors on babies arised last week. I am a firm believer that all babies (and older kids too for that matter) should wear all colors of the rainbow and then some (even though I might have some issues with black, which probably is more because of my lack of interest in knitting black than anything else). Then again, I personally like wearing all colors of the rainbow myself. From what I understand, kids usually like colors and I think that bright colors probably helps stressed parents to find clothing items  when they are in a hurry at daycare. Also, knitting in only one color is pretty boring (you ask me how I know this? Well, I’m currently knitting a humongous white shawl on needles 2,5 mm, thank you very much. I can tell you it will be a while before I knit in white again) and I like to pick and choose when I knit. Maybe May isn’t the right month to knit dark red but an excellent month for lime green? Or, May might be an excellent time to knit dark red and December is good for lime green? It all comes down to what you are in the mood for and if you don’t want to knit in a certain color but cast on anyway, it will take a lot of will-power to finish that item.

Others are firm believers that little baby girls should wear pink and little baby boys should wear blue. Personally I think that they can of course wear those things as well as other things but I will never only knit in blue for a boy or pink for a girl. I have blue periods and I have pink periods but I also have green periods and yellow periods and red and purple and… you get my meaning (I’m like Picasso this way). I have knit pink for baby girls and I have knit pink for baby boys, I have knit blue for baby girls and I have knit blue for baby boys. I try to knit in colors that I know that the parents like since the baby in question is too young to have an opinion, and I knit in colors I like myself.

Interestingly enough, back in the days and up until the 50’s, pink was considered a good color for little boys since red was the color of power and pink was a lighter form of red and therefore good for boys whereas blue was a soft and gentle color and therefore suitable for little girls.

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So far everything is pretty clear, some people like a variety of colors and some want to be a little stricter and some completely ban pink for both boys and girls. Now for the comment that has gotten me thinking. During this discussion someone said that parents should be grateful just to get something knitted, no matter the color. I agree that if you get something knitted you should always say thank you, the gift itself is less important than the fact that someone spent time and effort to think of you. That goes for all gifts and in that aspect I think that a reciever should be grateful no matter what the gift is (unless it’s obviously meant in a spiteful way, like, you don’t have to be grateful someone gave you chicken pox or an envelope full of gravel, even though those things too can be kindly meant). But, as a knitter, should I respect the parents wishes and beliefs or should I go on with my own political agenda (and yes, no matter which of the three aforementioned opinions you choose, it’s a political choice). Maybe I can combine the two? Maybe I don’t have to do anything that goes against my own beliefs but at the same time meets the beliefs of the receiver? Is it more important for me to do what I want than to listen to the receiver? Don’t you want the thing you knit to come to use? For example, I don’t give my mum a pink frilly blouse even though I might love a pink frilly blouse, because I know she would never wear it in a million years. She, in return, would never get me a dark blue plain t-shirt, because she knows that I will never wear it. I want to give her something she will like and I think that goes for most people. You wouldn’t get a bottle of wine for someone you know don’t drink alcohol and I try not to knit in anything but merino for someone who is sensitive to wool. If I don’t drink alcohol I probably won’t get a bottle of wine for someone who does but I might buy a nice cheese and some crackers instead. If I am not fond of merino myself I can perhaps knit in cotton for the person who finds wool too scratchy.

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When we get gifts for our friends and family we try to get them something we think they will love, without bending our own beliefs, and I’m not sure I actually think that the sober alcoholic who receives a bottle of whiskey has to be grateful (unless the giver had no idea the receiver is a sober alcoholic, then it’s an honest mistake, but then again, maybe a bottle of whiskey isn’t such a good idea for a gift for someone you don’t know very well…).

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Why would we do anything differently when it comes to babies? Why then is it suddenly more important that we get to follow our own agenda than to listen to the people who, after all, is in charge of that little person. They are in charge and that means that if they don’t like what you’ve made they aren’t going to use it. Even though I might have issues with the idea of you changing what I’ve made, I respect that that is your choice, once I’ve handed over my gift, it’s your decision what to do with it (but perhaps you don’t have to tell me about it). I personally love knitting in pink but if I know the baby’s parents doesn’t like pink I won’t make something pink for that baby. Instead there are so many other colors to choose from.

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I guess here is my problem with the comment that all parents should be grateful no matter what. Yes, we should all be grateful when we receive something but if I knit something orange for someone who doesn’t like orange or if I knit frilly lace for a baby boy whose parents doesn’t like that on little boys or if I refuse to knit blue for the parent who loves blue, then how much is my gift worth if I didn’t even bother to respect the receiver enough to make them something they would love and use? Of course, sometimes you don’t know the parents wishes but then you might want to be a little neutral in all directions. I wouldn’t embroider a skull on a baby’s cardigan for someone I barely know but for my heavy metal friends I might do. Is it more important to get to knit pink to every little baby girl there is or is it more important to stay friends with their parents? Couldn’t red be an equally good color? It obviously goes both ways, I won’t knit pink for parents who doesn’t like pink on their baby boy but I might knit green instead. By knitting green I have listened to the parents’ wishes about no pink and I have followed my own beliefs that kids need a variety of colors and not just one.

And, when in doubt, remember that all babies look good in white.