Cute as said tiny sweaters may be, I’ve had about enough of the whole ‘coerce knitters into making stuff’ thing. I had an article pop up in my feeds this morning that made me LOL and tut with knitterly ire at the same time.
The Tour de France will be passing through Cambridge in July this year, as part of the UK leg of the event. A cycling enthusiast wants to decorate the streets of Cambridge with miniature knitted jerseys as bunting. BBC News story here.
When pressed further he admits that a) he doesn’t knit, b) it’s not an original idea, and c) it’s not even an original idea for this Tour because Harrogate have already arranged the exact same thing.
So, let me get this straight. He wants 3000 hand-knit jerseys by July. He doesn’t knit. It’s not even his idea. And this will ‘show how different Cambridge is’.
He claims that “knitting is in Cambridge’s DNA”. I am from Cambridge. Knitting is not a thing. Cycling is a thing. Punting is a thing. The uneasy coexistence of town and gown with occasional outbreaks of violence is a thing. But not knitting, not any more than anywhere else in the country. It’s nice that he wants to do a thing but surely you’d pick something that was actually relevant to your town?
The Harrogate campaign was launched in November, at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show, with plenty of time to get things knit and sent in. They received items from at least 15 countries, enlisted the help of multiple shops and community centres to collect the jerseys, and even designed their own pattern. They received 16,000 jerseys and are now starting to string them together. A well-planned and relevant campaign.
Cambridge guy is only just thinking about this, four months before the event. He doesn’t have the council on board (they said they were ‘interested’, which in councilspeak normally means ‘please never mention this again’), he can’t do any of it himself, and he has no idea how long it will take.
I mean, it’s one thing to be all ‘oh hey, you’re a knitter, can you knit me *massively complicated or huge item*, I’ll pay you for the yarn’ and be blithely ignorant of the time investment but to want three thousand items is really pushing it. It’s not like people go oh, ‘you work in IT, I’m sure you’ll be willing to spend hours helping me set up a website for no pay.’
Oh no wait.
This isn’t even charity. People love to knit for charity, almost as much as people love to tell people that they should be knitting for charity. See the knitted penguin sweater debate that’s flying around at the moment; every knitter in existence must by now have been harangued by a well-meaning friend to knit a penguin sweater, even though sticking acrylic yarn on an oil-soaked penguin virtually guarantees spontaneous combustion. In fact that should be the new motto for the campaign:
If you wouldn’t put it on a baby, don’t put it on an oil-soaked penguin.
Hint: actually don’t put a sweater on an oil-soaked penguin. It can lead to burns, and not just because you made it out of acrylic because ‘what’s the point in using good yarn, penguins won’t appreciate Wollmeise’
Moral of the story: If you want to be different, be different. And if you want to save penguins from oil spills, don’t rush to the cutesy option of tiny sweaters, do an actual helpful thing and give the cleaning crew some cash.