Talking About Racism: No, It’s Not Fun. That’s The Point.

Sooo…… if you have been on Instagram in the last few months, the conversations around racism in the crafting community are hard to avoid. For a really long time, I thought that when a person of colour was speaking about their experiences, my job was to be quiet and give them the floor. After all, I felt that they didn’t need me chirping my little white voice up to lend strength to what already seemed to me to be strong, powerful truths that needed to be said, and needed to be heard. My job was to listen, right? After all, I’m anxiously awaiting the 3rd season of Dear White People! Obviously I’m an ally, right?

Nope. That’s only one part of of the job, the easier part. In conversations both offline and in direct messages, it was clear that I needed to stand up and verbally support diversity and inclusion. So I did what I always do when I want to learn more about something – I read some books. (Although Dear White People is an excellent show on Netflix I highly recommend).

Racism isn’t just the obvious horrible stuff of burning crosses or spray painting racial slurs on the side of mosques or temples. It’s treating black, indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) as less than a white person. If you are a yarn shop owner and thought that a person of colour won’t buy as much yarn as a white person, that’s racism. If you told a crafter of colour that you’re surprised that ‘people like her’ knit/crochet/embroider or whatever, that’s racism. Because in both of those instances, you are not seeing her for a person just like yourself, you are seeing her as an ethnicity of which you have already decided certain things about.  And I’m not saying to be mean, I saying it because as a white person, I had a really narrow definition of racism before reading more widely and thinking about the conversations happening online.

If you are white and want to figure out how to be an anti-racist ally, there are a lot of great reading resources out there that can really help- especially if you feel like you are afraid of saying the wrong thing. The last couple of months, I’ve been thinking through what I can do to be better, to be anti-racist. I don’t have it all figured out, but if you are looking to better understand the conversation and why it’s important to understand the subtle (and not so subtle) racism embedded in our everyday world, all it takes is a bit of reading and some thoughtful reflection.

A Few Posts to Get You Started:

Start here if you need to get a handle on the beginning of the conversation: a great article in Vox that is well researched and sourced.

Wooly Ventures wrote a great post about reflecting on her travels and some of the othering she did without realizing it (evaluating other countries and cultures through a white lens; been there, my friend.)

Shireen reflects on a racist conversation she overheard in the ladies room at a knitting event.

Some Great Books That Are Probably in Your Local Library (even better to buy them and support the authors, if you can afford it!)

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

This was the first book I read, and while it focuses on racism in Britain, it applies all over. Very engaging and accessible, and a great dissection of racism and the white denial that supports it.

So You Want to Talk About Race

An American perspective of the above- an honest reflection of race and racism in America, and how it infiltrates almost every aspect of American culture.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

This book examines the defensiveness that so many white people feel when conversations about race are happening, and how white silence contributes to ongoing racism. It’s a great choice if you feel yourself getting really defensive about the conversation, and want to better understand your feelings.

And Layla F. Saad’s Me and White Supremacy Workbook, which is an amazing self-discovery tool to work through white privilege. It showed how complicit we are in the many subtle ways racism is woven into our everyday interactions and cultural biases. I know the title is uncomfortable, but that’s the point- trying to dismantle racism shouldn’t be about keeping white people comfortable. Growth is uncomfortable by its very nature, but without growth, we stagnate. We never get to see how interesting and beautiful another perspective can be.

If You Are a Business…..

If you are a craft or yarn company and want a good example of how to be an ally, take a look at how Tin Can Knits voiced their thoughtful reflections on how to be more anti-racist.

And finally… if you are selling products and trying to capitalize on the recent focus on racism, diversity, and inclusivity in the crafting world; then you need to rethink your strategy. The recent situation of Madelinetosh creating a yarn colourway called ‘Inclusive’ came across as being racist all by itself, and also trying to profit off the conversation. If you’ve missed this raging misstep from a company that is big enough and old enough to know better, You can check out the colourway here (note the closed comment section), then the first apology post (comments this time!) and the third is here.

By the way, the book links are not affiliate links. See previous paragraph about not profiting off the conversation. 😉

Modification Monday: Nature vs. Nurture

Original Pattern: Nurtured

Knitter Extraordinaire: Nora (Ravelry profile)

Mods: Changed the original cropped pullover pattern into a longer cardigan. Details can be found on Nora’s project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome:  Turning a pullover into a cardigan is not the easiest mod – it’s far easier to turn a cardigan pattern into a pullover. This is a gorgeous mod that required some preparation, but worked out wonderfully. I love the longer length, and the cardigan worked out beautifully! Nora lined the button band with ribbon and put in snaps, which I think is a clever idea (especially if you tend to mess up your buttonholes regularly, like I do).

A tip that made making this mod easier? Nora knit the original pattern first, and she really loved it. So when she wanted to make modifications, she had some experience with the pattern to lean on and had a better idea of what she needed to do. And what a gorgeous result- I love the cardigan version!


Modification Monday: Lark Lakeland

Original Pattern: Lakeland

Knitter Extraordinaire: Liz (On Ravelry here)

Mods: Slimmed the sleeves and the overall fit of the sweater, adjusted the neckline for a scoop, and shortened the length. Details on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: The original pattern is a big cozy cocoon of a sweater and beautifully designed, but could easily be too much on a smaller frame. Liz took key elements of the patterns and  created this beautifully simplified version – I love the scoop neckline, which still fits in perfectly by using the twisted rib stitch on the original design’s funnel neck.

Liz’s mods are the perfect merging of a customized look and fit. Reducing some o the positive eas and shortening it to hip length really let the key elements of the sweater shine through, as she kept thoughtful details like the back vent, split hem, and the detail down the spine. Doesn’t this look like the perfect weekend sweater?!

Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

Literary party games? Sign me up!

Complaints have no magic. So true.

How to be a better listener.

Why you shouldn’t hit the snooze button. Although I find the advice of ‘go to bed earlier’ to be completely unhelpful, in the same category of ‘just get over it’ – if it were that easy, we’d all be doing it.  I hit it no fewer than 3 times each morning. It goes off at 6:50 a.m., and I don’t get out of bed until 7:20 or until James starts calling for mama, whichever comes first. Even one of my cats starts meowing at me from the first alarm, and it still doesn’t get me out of bed. My reason is this – I sleep with three blankets (of varying size, thickness, and textures, because I’m ridiculous), Guy with one duvet. When my alarm goes off, Guy is always already up, so at the first alarm I find his duvet and pile it on top of my other blankets and I burrow down under what is, at that point, a solid twelve inches of blanket. Then I fall back into a deep 10-minute sleep that is so good, it’s better than the whole night.

Huh. I think I just live-journalled my way into realizing I need a weighted blanket.

My Favourite Pins This Week

Baked teriyaki chicken and rice – this is one of those amazing one-pan dishes that comes together brilliantly for weeknights, and if you love pineapple in savoury dishes (I love pineapple all the ways,so YES!), then you will love this. You need to buy the instant minute rice to pull off not pre-cooking the rice though! Pinterest link is here, and you can find the recipe details right over here.

My friend Erica and I spent an evening decorating easter themed sugar cookies with royal icing, and it was so fun! It is a lot easier than it looks, even if you haven’t tried it before. This is a great step-by-step that is super simple, especially since you are only doing stripes and dots. Highly recommend. Pinterest link is here, and the recipe and how-to is here.

Scrunchies are back and are a really easy sewing project, perfect for using up scraps of favourite fabric. I personally haven’t used a scrunchie since the turn of the millenia, but I could be convinced. Pinterest link is here, and the full sewing tutorial for them is here.

This is a really cute idea for dyeing easter eggs- with shaving cream and food colouring! I have never dyed eggs with the kids because the mess factor and all that food colouring seems like a recipe for staining disaster, but shaving cream is a lot less splashy and drippy than liquid… I think I’ll be giving this a try. Have you ever dyed anything with the shaving cream method? Does it work well? Pinterest link is here, and the full tutorial is here.

I’m not big on the Marie Kondo method of decluttering, but here are 8 very simple and far more realistic approaches to decluttering your space. I’ve been using them in my effort to get rid of a lot of stuff this year (hoping to put our place on the market by the fall… maybe? we’ll see). Pinterest link is here, and the post is right over here.

Have a gorgeous weekend everyone! xo


Simple and Perfect Fingerless Mitts

** this post is sponsored by Spinrite yarns. All opinions and photos are my own.**

I’ve long been interested in marled yarn, there is something so visually appealing about the stripy swirl of two colours together that adds a bit more dimension and visual interest, especially in simple stitches. Case in point – I wanted to knit a very simple pair of fingerless mitts with this yarn- not that you can’t do textured stitches in marled yarn, but I wanted it to be all about the yarn, and not about the texture. You can see the beginning of these mitts in a previous post here, where I’m talking more about yarn affordability and stashbusting tips & tricks.

Pattern: Sara – Basic Fingerless mitts

Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Worsted Yarn, Light Gray Marl colourway

Needles: 3.5mm (US 4)

Spring and Fall are very big fingerless mitt seasons for me! As someone with who is *always* cold, fingerless mitts give me a little extra warmth but all of the mobility. Knitting WHILE wearing mitts makes you feel like you’re really levelling up in the knitting department, don’t you find? Maybe that’s just me. But I like having my fingers free while also being that little bit warmer. Feeling cozy is a big deal for me.

The Patons Classic Wool Worsted is a really good craft store yarn, if you are looking for an affordable 100% wool option. I barely made a dent in one skein making these mitts, which has me thinking that it would be amazing for a cabled project, like a cardigan. You know, one that really eats a lot of yarn – that’s where an affordable, 100% wool yarn would be especially wonderful (pro tip- when looking for a large quantity of the same yarn and colourway and dye lot, order it online. It just makes it so much easier than trying to find 10 or more skeins of the same thing in a single store).

But since it was my first time using the marled yarn, experimenting with it by knitting something quick and small like these fingerless mitts was a great way to sample the yarn and make something I use all the time, and I could easily get at least two pairs out of a single skein. What’s strange is how long it’s taken to get good photos of these- I wear them ALL the time! I keep them in my purse for whenever my hands get even a tiny bit cold. And since that’s often, I expect I’ll be wearing fingerless mitts all the way through April, and probably most of May.

I live in Canada, after all. 😉