My brilliant idea – Part 2


While I’m convinced that your workplace would be a more harmonious place if you all learned to knit together, I know you may not be. I have noticed the way peoples’ eyes glaze over when I mention knitting. I recognise you probably don’t own more yarn than your allotted lifespan will allow you to knit and yet keep buying more. Fine.

I’m a member of two different social tracking sites, one – Strava – deals with how far and fast I’ve cycled, and the other – Ravelry – deals with what I’m knitting, on what size needles and to which pattern.

strava Strava takes itself seriously so I don’t have to.  I have been awarded in that screenshot little cups to denote that I was at the time historically the 5th fastest woman ever to ride her bike over a stretch of 150 meters on the Thames Path at Greenwich Peninsula. Initially I was tempted to rush out and buy a t-shirt that said ‘5th! suck it losers!’ but you know in the end this information hasn’t made much difference to my life. I can make Strava even more competitive if I buy an upgrade, and then it’ll start tracking my heart rate and my VO2max and possibly just my general adherence to the rules of the Velominati (very very very poor indeed; I’m not convinced my bike is actually more important than my family – that’s not a nice funny anecdote, Mr Kelly! – and I’ve always liked the number 13).  Some others, who are born to favour the rush of adrenaline and the crushing of their internet adversaries into the dust do take Strava quite seriously – to the extent that Strava doping is a thing. The other thing about Strava is that it has a weird convention whereby you are awarded King of the Mountains/Queen of the Mountains if you’re fastest over a given stretch of road even if that road couldn’t be flatter without making the Earth less round. Some people really really want KOMs/QOMs.

Ravelry is a much more mellow place to be. No one cares how quickly you’ve knit your baby shawl, but you might get asked about the ravelrystitch pattern you used or whether you found the pattern easy to understand. People I don’t know leave lovely little comments on the pages for things I’ve knitted: I mentioned I wasn’t entirely sure about the colour combination I’d used for something and had two American women reassuring me that they liked it before I got up the next morning.  If I’ve got a ton of wool that I don’t know what to do with, I can see what other knitters have done with that weight of wool and maybe find inspiration.

Obviously, for my new business – note to self, needs name, perhaps Cast Off Consultancy? London k1p1Rib Tours? come back to this – to attract custom I am going to have to sucker the manly man business types into thinking knitting will provide the same thrills as tying oil barrels together into a raft. I’ll need to prepare the ground by putting together a new knitting social network, provisional name Knitgrr. Ravelry’s getting it all wrong; it’s much too supportive of knitters and not enough of them are ever made to feel like they’re not good enough or fast enough or that their technique is much much worse than their peers.  Easy fixes:

  • compulsory daily stitch counts (maybe we can tie this in to the motion sensor on the Apple Watch?) and then ranking of people using the same needle size world wide to see how much better everyone else is than you.
  • competitive Fair Isle vest knitting: the knitter that uses the most colours on the tiniest needles gets some sort of ribbon to put on their avatar and is named King/Queen of the Tank Tops.
  • section of the site where knitters upload GoPro videos of themselves tackling particularly twisty cables. Upvoting depending on whether the pounding electronic music played conveys the edge-of-the-seat thrills contained.
  • Forums where knitters will debate whether using any other colours than blue or red and white to knit Norwegian jumpers is permissible, whether famous knitters of the past would have countenanced it, is it still a genuine jumper at all if it hasn’t been knit using walrus tusk needles?
  • attract sponsorship from vendors of matte black carbon fibre knitting needles, these needles to be called Speedpro or Sabresharp or alternatively made from hand carved mahogany and named with a nod to romantic old knitting legends of the past: Selburose, Lusekofte (lice jacket!), Gansey, Hap

I’m also toying with the idea of promoting special knitting helmets to stop yourself poking yourself in the eye with your needles and then shaming all knitters into wearing them, allowing knitters to come together to fight against the imposition of helmets. Dunno, what do you think?

Once I’ve established by these means that the fibre arts are the competitive person’s true choice of pastime, I will open the doors of my corporate away-day mansion to all. And then I will trick the business types into sitting down, building things together, working patiently on something that needs time, and having something to take away at the end of the day – a pot-holder, let’s not go mad here – that will be more useful to them than bragging rights will ever be. Also it’s a lot easier to drink wine while knitting rather than cycling.

‘Why not just leave them all to it?’ you might think. With luck they might tire themselves out and fall asleep in the car on the way home. I will come on to that in part 3.


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