Sunday, 30 April 2006

And she knits her life away

Before I get into the subject of tonight's post (which, surprisingly, is knitting and left wing politics), I have to say that I discovered a great cure for the blues today. Driving.

We were supposed to move this weekend, or at least start moving to our new house, but thanks a stuff up by the seller's lawyer last week, settlement was delayed until tomorrow. As a friend said in an email the other day, 'mm, how surprising for a ****wit lawyer to be the cause of someone's problems!" Enough said.

So instead of sitting around a half packed house feeling glum, we went for a drive to the Southern Highlands instead. I think any time we're feeling down, if we can, we should take a loved one and get in the car, put on great music or podcasts (we listened to Cast-On and The Dawn and Drew Show) and just experience some different scenery for a day. And what beautiful scenery it was. Sorry, no photos - but autumn in the Southern Highlands is so beautiful. Greenery, trees in all shades of golds, reds and browns. Just lovely.

We ate great pies at the Famous Robertson Pie Shop, drank tea and coffee at a little cafe and I bought some yummy soaps from the Robertson Soap Shop. By the time we got home around 5, we both felt MUCH better. Blues cured.

Now, for today's subject.

I never thought I'd do this, but I'm going to take issue with one of my great heroes, English Leftie singer-songwriter, Billy Bragg whom I have loved and admired for going on for 15 years now. I've even met him a few times and he's a great bloke. One of my sisters found him first, and we fell intensely in love with his work - both political and poetic, he was pretty much the first of my singer-songwriter loves and still is. Anyway, yesterday in the car, his song The Passion was playing on my ipod and I heard, as if for the first time, the line "And she knits her life away".

Two things struck me.

1. How often does knitting rate a mention in music? I'm kinda curious to find out now. Google, here I come.

2. He sings those words as if knitting your life away is a bad thing!

Some context. This is not a happy song. He paints a picture of domestic life that is, to say the least, pretty ugly. A pregnant teenage daughter (who's pregnancy is never spoken about), an emotionally absent father, and a depressed mother who "knits her life away."

Sorry, Billy, I love you dearly, but this isn't very nice and I think I can point out why you should reconsider this view (which, let's face it, you wrote in the late 80s and a lot of your views have changed since then, so maybe you don't believe this any more?)

I was thinking about this while listening to Episode 2 of Cast-On today (I'm trawling through the archives since I joined late) and Brenda Dayne wrote and read a wonderful piece called The Knitter's Manifesto, which was simply inspiring. It could apply to any craft we love. She describes powerfully the reasons why we make things with our hands, one of which is the creation of an alternative economy.

When we make gifts for loved ones, we're placing value on the craft, the act of spending time, which is of course valuable, on creating something. It's anti-consumerist in the most wonderful and enjoyable way, for those of us who love doing it. And there are many of us out there. If Brenda Dayne has her way, knitters will take over the world! She has very serious plans for world domination by knitters. As she put it, the non-knitters have been screwing the world up long enough.

Billy, don't you think you and the knitters of the world might have just a little more in common than you suggested in The Passion?

Knit on!


ps I know I'm raving about Cast-On a lot but damn she's good. Just can't get enough.