January 30th, 2019.
I received a text message from a friend on the other side of the world.
We had met nearly two years previous at a yarn festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Both feeling alone and a bit awkward among the crowds of people who all seemed to be with friends. She was quiet and reserved, but I could sense a spirit of adventure in her. We wound up meeting the next evening for dinner at a cute little spot off the Royal Mile. After parting ways and going to our homes in different countries, we kept in touch through text message and Instagram and YouTube. She is a knitwear designer and designed a beautiful wrap in my yarn. She gave the pattern a name that meant "friend".
The following year we planned on actually going to the same yarn festival together, sharing a room in Edinburgh and then spending about five days traveling further north into the Scottish highlands. What an adventure! We rented a car and nervously made our way north on the "other" side of the road. We saw castles, The Isle of Skye, and Glencoe shrouded in misty clouds and rain. Scotland is one of my favorite places in the world, and it was so much nicer exploring it with a friend.
We continued to stay in touch. She designed another pattern in my yarn. For Christmas she sent me a lovely little package including a handmade ornament and some delicious candies from her country.
A week or two into January of this year an American woman who owns a very well-known knitting-related company wrote a heartfelt blog post about her excitement to travel to India in the new year. She is reserved and hadn't traveled much. Going to India was a big deal and a bit scary for her. At one point in the post she compared it to going to Mars. And she explained how she had always been so enchanted by the culture and the people.
In the course of a few days this post had been shared throughout the knitting community as a prime example of white supremacy and racism. This is all anyone was talking about. She was called a bitch, a racist, a white supremacist, and accused of "white fragility" on multiple accounts. One screenshot I took that was being shared around by one of the most prominent "activists" read thus:
This gem: I used to just hate her because her brand is white privilege aspirational and her shit is unaffordable. Now I can hate her for being a clueless racist, too. Boo? Yay? (laughing with tears emoji)
It seemed like nearly everyone was jumping on the bandwagon, condemning her and also apologizing for their own whiteness (if they were white, which most of them were). In an article published a month or two after this event one of the anti-racist activists said that what happened to this woman was "...shitty, but if that’s what it takes to get the conversation started, I have trouble spending a lot of time feeling bad about it"(Vox.com) Ah, it makes me feel so much better knowing that this isn't keeping her up at night.
This writer of the India blog post did apologize profusely after a day or two. She even went over to one of the main "activist's" Instagram accounts and left an apology in the comments on her latest post. This activist accused the author of harassment and "stalking". Mind you, the activist had been sharing around a detailed outline of how racist and wrong this woman's post was. It was all public and in the open for anyone to see and read (and thousands did). And this activist accused the writer of "stalking" for simply going on her public Instagram account, apologizing and trying to defend herself in the comments.
For many the apologies weren't enough, and they said her future actions would be proof of true repentance. In the midst of this, other companies were targeted for being racist or not inclusive enough. The activists speaking out against them set up donation accounts where you could pay them for their "emotional labor".
I spoke with people privately who agreed that things had been blown out of proportion and it was causing a huge divide in the knitting community. The activists relished the chaos and said it was a good and necessary change.The words used were "inclusive" and "safe space", but the reality was quite the opposite. But the people I spoke with had businesses that would be targeted if they said anything. So, silence or submission were required.
My gut told me something wasn't right. I felt that this wasn't about racism or inclusivity. It didn't focus on celebrating and loving all people of color, but rather on vilifying those deemed "problematic", including yourself if needed.
Even though the writer of the India blog post had apologized and seemed to be accepted back into the fold for the most part, it still seemed like there would always now be a stigma attached to her products. I did feel bad for her, and knew that behind the pretty pictures on Instagram, this was probably affecting her greatly, and would continue to do so for a long time. I knew this could happen to anyone. It could happen to me.
I left Instagram and said why. I didn't feel safe. Hatred and chaos were reigning supreme. Gossip was spreading like wildfire. I didn't want to be a part of it. I don't know if this was the right decision, but I did it anyway. They said I left because of my "white fragility", and I was able to leave because of my "white privilege".
A week after leaving Instagram I talked about this in a YouTube video. I talked about how I thought they had taken a good social justice issue and used it as a way to go after and attack other small businesses. I believed it wasn't about the issue they claimed it was about, but rather an excuse to throw dirt on others in order to make themselves look more virtuous. This was my gut feeling and I shared it. The activists found the video and had a field day...or rather, a field fortnight. Soon I was the most hated person in the whole knitting community. I received hundreds of negative comments and emails. Many from people I knew personally who wanted me to come out with a public apology. To this day I am still trying to figure out what sort of apology would've satisfied them.
A few activists were frantically going around hunting down my followers or anyone who had designed a pattern in my yarn. They told them to unfollow me and remove my name from their patterns...or else! One of these designers was my friend from the Edinburgh yarn festival. Someone had sent her a message saying she needed to remove my name from her wrap pattern knit in my yarn.
So, she sent me a text asking me if I was a racist. Her tone was very serious. I told I was very sorry that any friend of mine was caught up in this. I truly felt awful. I said I was not a racist, nor a Nazi, as that was the rumor being spread around. I received her reply the next day.
"Our views on the subject of racism and the importance of talking about it existing in the world today are clearly different. I was perhaps a bit naive in thinking we were on the same page about it. I have posted about this on Instagram today as I felt I needed to be clear about not supporting your views. I am very unsettled and saddened by all of this on so many levels."
This is very sad, but I understand.
That was the last I heard of her. I laid down in bed and cried and went to sleep. Those who hate me will say sarcastically that these were "poor white tears". I didn't know what else to say to her. The weight of all the negativity directed towards me had left me so tired and worn out and sick. The knowledge that she had publicly denounced me on Instagram was perhaps the most hurtful single event of the whole episode. I could never imagine doing this to someone, especially a friend.
Her pattern retains the name "friend" (in a different language), but my name has been erased.
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Linda Schultz says...
I can sympathize with you over the loss of your friend. Our oldest daughter has cut us out of her life, we haven’t seen our granddaughters in almost 2 years. And they only live 10 minutes away from us. Why you ask? Because we support Trump and are politically and fiscally conservative. I have vowed to not let them beat me down. I know what is morally and ethically right. I will not be blackmailed or let my grandchildren be used as weapons to force me to bow to her desires. I just hope that when the grandkids are grown they see the light. Our door is always open to them and their cousins have made them aware of this. These SJW’S are mentally unstable and dangerous. They don’t have any scruples and there are no depths they won’t go to in order to twist people to submit to their goals. They just need to remember that Karma is a bitch and bites hard. Someday it will be them on the receiving end of the abuse and there will be no one to care. Stay strong and know that you are not alone. I don’t know how to knit yet, I only crochet. But I plan on learning and when I do I plan on ordering oodles of your yummy yarns.
October 06, 2019
Leah Kabaker says...
I am much older than you, and I can tell you that over the years I have lost many friends over politics. When they discovered I wasn’t like them. It hurts, the hurt really doesn’t go away. I watched Sockmatition this week. My heart goes out to him. They literally almost killed him. I know I’m going into conspiracy theory territory here, but something very nefarious is going on. There is some big money going into this destruction of lives. It takes time and money to do all the research these people are doing. They claim not to be able to afford certain yarns, and yet have the time and money to research how to destroy lives. I’m very happy that you are still around, making and selling your yarns. I’m thrilled that you didn’t fall into the trap of ‘apologizing for nothing – that is the first hook they use to destroy people.
What is very clear to me is this is an effort to simply destroy, once they have destroyed the independent yarn world, they will move on to bigger targets. Heck they already have with that wonderful kid from Iowa, Carson King, who raised a million dollars for a Children’s Hospital. Luckily there are people who are fighting back on his behalf.
As to there being a ‘knitting community’. There never was, there was something that allowed people to make a small living through the internet – but no community.
Stay strong and keep on making your lovely yarns. I don’t buy as much as I used to, but when I have a project that can use one of your yarns, I will be making a purchase
October 02, 2019
I remember when this was going on Maria. People were talking about some horrible white supremacist Dyer of yarn, then bragging about how inclusive and tolerant they were, all the while telling people to shun this woman, dont buy her yarn etc. It smacked of the typical leftist bullying, so I sought to find out more information. At the same time I was really put off by this. I was/am planning to sell my patterns online. I am by no means any racist. But i started thinking, "Are these the people I want to be working with? Is this even a safe community to be in? At the time it wasnt. I did seek you out, I had never even heard of you before! But your yarn is beautiful and I plan on buying some soon! As for the fair-weather friend, forgive her and move on. It does cut to the bone, no denying that, but new and true friends will come. Best wishes for you!
September 25, 2019
Rational Knitter says...
I’m disgusted and outraged by the cancel/outrage mob mentality in the world today. There is nothing inherently wrong with being any ethnicity and I can’t believe the last 40 years have landed us here? Hatred towards whites for being born white. How preposterous and revolting!
Anyone that ghosts you for not cow-towing to SJW a$$holes isn’t worth having in your life. Her loss, not yours.
May God bless you and yours; never let the ba$tards grind you down.
October 04, 2019
I’m so sorry for what you went through,I hope you are surrounded by better friends, real friends x the treatment you received was uncalled for and beyond ugly, and I hope you realise there are people who know this x
September 23, 2019