The Hive Mind: Are Knitters Just Sheep? Part 1

I recently watched a woman get lacerated by dozens of crafters, all seething because of one reason. She expressed her dislike of some aspects of the Yarn Harlot’s blog. She explained why, and an instant maelstrom blew up in her face. I watched in amazement as person after person piled on her.

 I suppose that they thought that they were defending the honor of Stephanie, and would somehow receive her stamp of approval for stomping out this heretical dissent. In all honesty, she’s probably too wrapped up in her blog, promoting her books, and writing new ones to notice every random internet discusssion about her.

 The unspoken rule in the crafting world of, “If you don’t have anything nice to say,” makes me uneasy; probably because I’ve been gifted with more than my fair share of snark. I can be a very social person, but I also tend to hold everything at arms-length before I embrace it wholly. If someone wants to say, “I don’t like the Yarn Harlot blog,” I think they should be able to do that without someone recoiling in horror.

 The recent kurfuffle which recently took place at her blog was also rather odd. Stephanie spent a lot of time and effort knitting and reknitting an elaborate pair of socks decorated with grapes and leaves. A random commenter said, among the normal hundred comments all gushing her praise that…

 he thought that they were ugly.

Boya, you’d think that the guy said to kick kittens or something. Stephanie, in a later post, compared her blog to a living room and why would you say something negative? Well, there are several possible reasons.

1. The guy was deliberately trying to stir up trouble or traffic to his blog

2. He thought they were ugly, and said that they were, for the exact same reasons that people say that they like something. They like to be heard.

3. Because your blog isn’t a living room. Unless people randomly walk into your living room at all hours of the day.

  I once experienced the Hive Mind when I critiqued some knitting magazines…boy, that was a violent altercation. I was basically called all kinds of moron because I didn’t like something and I talked about it. OMG, the heresy!!!

 The point is that while all those posters could legitimately disagree with her, they seemed outraged at the very idea that she would express a differing opinion. Why would someone possibly bother to offer a negative or dissenting opinion? Why would someone possibly want to express their mind? For the record, I’ll bet that Stephanie would firmly support anyone’s choice not to enjoy her blog. She seems like that kind of gal.

 But this is when I find the crafting community disengenous. It’s OK to be different, as long as you’re being positive and happy. It’s OK to review something, as long as you liked it. What then happens is that there is  a reactionary movement, and that

is going to become part 2 of this two part series. The Hive Mind: Backlash will be posted this Friday! Be sure to check in for the conclusion.


March 30, 2008. Tags: , , , . Snark Editorial.


  1. Jen replied:

    Well said. I’ve seen some of this on a knitting forum I belong to. Frankly, I don’t understand people who think you shouldn’t say something negative. I don’t think you should say it rudely, but if someone puts something out in a public forum, they should be doing it to invite honest feedback. If they aren’t, that’s their problem. Heck, if I post something and someone doesn’t like it, I hope they say so, and tell me why. It might be that I’m looking for just that kind of feedback so I can make changes.

  2. pixie replied:

    I think you make a great point about the overall bandwagon sensibility of the blog-sphere. I have wanted to say something about a bad experience I had with a very popular online yarn reseller, but I was afraid of getting flamed so I decided not too. I also thought maybe the person had a bad day and I would just let it go.

    However, I have to say I think it’s rude to go onto someone’s blog and say you think something is ugly. I certainly didn’t like those socks, but I would never go commenting on her blog “oh those are ugly, why would you knit them?” anymore then I would say to many of my knitting friends “that sweater your knitting is ugly” and I have thought it on many, many occasions! I think it would be rude of me to say it out-loud to a friend, or online to a stranger.

    Now if it’s my BFF and she is asking about wearing said ugly sweater out on a date, I will tactfully tell her it’s not sexy 😛

  3. Dava replied:

    I agree with you and Jen completely. Seriously, if you have published a book, you should be able to take some criticism. These days, free speech is getting pushed around, let’s protect it wherever we can.

    And your response to the living room quote is well put; I don’t let everyone into my living room, at any hour of the day.

    I look forward to Friday!

  4. sarahkatie replied:

    I don’t really have anything to say about your post, but I like your new template.

  5. Lolly replied:

    Well said. Your tag “attacking the sacred cow” made me laugh! 🙂

  6. Kaya replied:

    So people can’t have their own opinions? People are so stupid some times. People are going to say what they want to say. You can’t get EVERY nice comment. I could see if she was getting only 5 or 6 comments, but she gets HUNDREDS! It’s not like she replies to everyones comments, and it’s not like she reads them all anyway. She’s just trying to keep Yarn Harlot the “perfect knitting blog were every comment is good!” DOES THE GUY HAVE TO GUSH YOU UP AND SAY THAT YOUR SOCKS ARE THE MOST WONDERFUL THING IN THE WORLD?!? Hell no! He has a right to say that they are ugly. If you don’t like what he says, delete it. Simple as that. No need to call attention to one little person and have everyone jump on him…or get sympathy from everyone. Gee wize, some people sure are hind kissers.

  7. jinniver replied:

    Whew! I’m glad someone else mentioned the new format. I thought I was losing it there for a second–nothing looked the same! 🙂 Very nice and clean look.

  8. Yarn Harlot Threatens Legal Action Against the Lumpy Sweater « The Lumpy Sweater replied:

    […] 1, 2008  In my recent post I asked if knitters were just part of a hive mind mentality.  I discussed the Yarn Harlot blog […]

  9. The Hive Mind: Are Knitters Just Sheep? Part 2 « The Lumpy Sweater replied:

    […] April 3, 2008 This is part two of a two part series, find part one here! […]

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