There is one review of my book on Amazon that drives me absolutely batty (I’m still working on my thick skin, as I’ve blogged about before). I’m convinced the reader saw the word “feminism” on the first page and immediately shut down and missed the point of the book (or stopped reading altogether). She said it was too political. Too political?

My first thought was: oh, I’ll give you political, honey. But some recent conversations with people have made me realize that I’ve softened quite a bit. I am in such a different place right now compared to my 20s, when I was always fired up about something—and usually certain that my liberal humanist way of thinking was the only right way.

Like everyone else, I had a journey: I grew up Catholic, but long ago rejected it (and religion in general, if you want to know the truth). I never rejected the idea of values though, and am a huge believer in the golden rule, which I’ve simplified even more: don’t be a jackass—not because of some judgment day quid-pro-quo. Rather, just because you shouldn’t be a jackass. That’s all I need. It’s been my truth, and I’ve spent a lot of time (and editorials) fighting other people’s narrow-minded beliefs, railing on about hypocrisy and devising smart comebacks when they told me they were praying for my agnostic soul.

But as I’ve gotten older and met lots of interesting people who have beliefs quite different than my own, I’ve realized that it’s not about right and wrong or stupid and smart. It’s about knowing your truth, and accepting that other people get to have their own truths. After all, part of not being a jackass is not judging other people as stupid just because they believe in things you don’t. How well they live by those beliefs is their business, and likely very complicated. What I get now is that tolerance is pretty hollow if I simply spend all of my time accusing other people of not being tolerant, and never look inside myself.

Why in the world am I writing about religion? Here? (My niece is about to graduate from college and wants to work in PR and she just started a blog to become more fluent in the world of social media. I told her: just don’t write about religion! Way to break your own rule, Judi.)

So why here? Why now? Simple: I’m tackling the big taboo “R” because of knitting.

Stay with me, please.

Knitting is one of those things I’ve tried on and off that I can’t get into. The needles don’t feel right in my hands. I don’t get into a flow when I do it, and I’ve never been able to get motivated to stay with it. Now, people create beautiful, amazing, unbelievably inventive things with knitting, and I appreciate it and drool over it. I see that yarn gets other people through the day.

But when I tried to knit again recently, it crystallized for me: it’s just not my truth, and that is okay. I have other truths.

I’m happy that people have their knitting, and I want them to go create lovely things with it that make the world happier. If they try to legislate their "knitting" in public institutions, then we have a problem. But otherwise, it’s live and let knit for me.

So, yes, it’s metaphorical, but also it’s very, very real. Creativity can be transformative in so many ways, including forcing us to examine our own beliefs about things as disparate as religion, women’s history, and childrearing. I truly believe that I am a more tolerant person because of crafting. And I also have a bunch of super-cute bags and skirts, so it’s a win-win.

What do other people think about this? What unexpected soul-searching journeys has crafting led you on?
2/12/2011 03:20:33 am

When I first started knitting I read Elizabeth Zimmerman's classic book Knitting Without Tears, in which she boldly states - if you don't like to knit, why bless you dear, don't. Go find something you do like to do.

In the end I found that I enjoy knitting, but I also found that lace knitting drives me quite literally to tears and I have no patience for patterns that include special instructions for every single row. So I stick to the knitting that I do like, and admire the handiwork of others in the areas that I don't like. I think it's one of the beauties of being a part of a community of crafters (or any community for that matter). We all have different strengths to offer.

2/14/2011 09:12:45 pm

I just had the same experience with knitting, too. I had to realize I was not quitting, it was just not my bliss. Speaking of bliss...if everyone were just nice to each other, the world would be a better place. I hear what you saying (or more accurately, I read what you are writing). Good for you!

2/15/2011 03:15:21 pm

Ha i had to laugh because i was given your book by my boyfriend who thought ti was just a craft book for christmas. when i read the back of it out loud he said 'oh god i bought you some femminist rubbish' and i secretly thought the same. Luckily i read it! I'm the type of girl who treats my fiance as the head of the house despite me being a professional who earns more then him. It's my choice and I respect the choice of others. I LOVED your book and read your blog every update!

2/15/2011 10:36:31 pm

Tiffany, thanks so much for leaving that comment. It reaffirms everything I'm thinking now about tolerance and respect and learning from others even when you don't agree. Thanks for your comments as well Patricia & Kathleen!


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