Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Competitive knitting

Ravelympics, Ravellenic Games and the Year of Projects

With the Olympics about to start, I thought this might be a good time to discuss competitive knitting.

Try to match the coloured stitch markers to the five continents they represent

Non-knitters reading this blog may not have realised that knitting could be competitive, but I assure you, we knitters can be as dedicated to our craft and as determined to improve our skills and achieve excellence as any Olympian out there. We're just lucky we don't have to navigate the London transport system to do so.

Yarn Harlot started the whole thing off with her Knitting Olympics during the 2006 winter games, and Ravelry went on to host the 2008 Ravelympics. This is a group knitting activity which encourages knitters to complete one project within the timespan of the Olympics. Unfortunately this year USOC (the United States Olympic Committee) squashed the fun by determining that using the name 'Ravelympics' was copyright infringement.

Knitters raised a hue and outcry, and USOC eventually apologised for their rude insinuations about knitting (which they implied was somehow denigrating and disrespectful to true athletes), but Ravelry has had to change the name to 'Ravellenic games 2012'

For myself, I don't see why knitters would even want knitting to be compared to the Olympics. Knitting actually produces something useful at the end, as compared to sports. The Olympics have become the puppet of corporate sponsorship, and USOC is not the only one who has been overzealous in protecting the Olympic 'brand'. LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) have turned the 2012 Games into "the most heavily copyrighted event the world has ever seen."

On top of which, hosting the games is an outrageously expensive affair, with host cities usually ending up debt-ridden and saddled with a bunch of underused, expensive sporting facilities. And don't even get me started on the way it reinforces fantasies of competitive nationalism.

So, I will not be participating in the Ravellenic games. I don't watch the  Olympics or sports in general, don't have a TV, and find the idea of scheduling my activities around TV programming frankly unthinkable. Basically, if it is not on DVD or streaming, I'm not going to watch it.

Also, I'm not much of a joiner, and I can't really see the point of knitting alongside a bunch of other people online. Some people may find participating in a group knitting activity helps them to be more productive, but I'm quite happy with current state of productivity, and anyway, spending too much time on Ravelry tends to cut into my knitting time.

From a delightful blogger I follow, Knitsofacto, I learned about another competitive knitting activity on Ravelry - the Year of Projects. This, much like the Ravellenic games, is really more of a competition with yourself, wherein you chose a set of projects to complete within a year, blog about your plans, and then post comments about your success/frustration/insanity to the associated Ravelry board.

As it happens, I had decided at the beginning of the year to work through Norah Gaughan's first booklet. I completed Aamu and Kaari earlier in the year, recently finished Kukka, and plan to complete a few more in the fall (the patterns are mostly aran weight, so not really suitable for summer knitting).

I briefly considered joining the Year of Projects, but decided against it, partly because their year runs from July 2012-June 2013, and I couldn't possibly fit my knitting activity into someone else's schedule. And, as already mentioned, the more time I spend online, the less time I spend knitting.