A sort of lifestyle magazine. The "style" is "bookish indie girl with an arts-and-crafts fetish and a spendthrift fashion habit"; the "life" is, strictly, my own. It's a niche publishing operation.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Gentle Jane

I've been cogitating on my response to the Pinnyporn furore for most of the last week. (If you need a bit of background on Pinnyporn, have a look at this blog, this book, this column, and this interview.) There have been a couple of barriers to me setting out my feelings on the matter, the most crippling of which is that I haven't read the book. I've been intending to go to Waterstone's and flick through it: unfortunately, children, housework, errands and thesis-work have denied me that particular luxury (and yes, that massive clunking noise was the sound of a Heavy Irony drawing attention to itself). If that doesn't convince you that my commentary is going to be ill-informed and speculative, please bear in mind that I don't read Yarnstorm either - having recoiled from the blog in a combination of class discomfort (a bit like Alice) and downright jealousy.

I read plenty of blogs. Some blogs, I check in on simply because I don't like them and I need to pick up a bit more fuel for my ire every once in a while. But disliking Yarnstorm wasn't a fun sort of dislike, because it felt a bit like being mean to Jane Brocket, and being mean to Jane Brocket would feel a bit like kicking a kitten. She's so gentle. She likes what she does, she does it well, and she gives every impression of being a lovely and intelligent person with a very nice camera. She exudes a contentment which is essentially precious, and I would hardly like to be the person to spoil that bliss. (A bliss which, as Needled points out, is sustained by a system of privilege and exclusion.)

And yet... Brocket doesn't make me happy. Reading her blog leaves me with a gnawing feeling that my life is Not Quite Good Enough, a troublesome thought that if only I would Try Harder at the domestic stuff, I might find there all the satisfactions I go looking for in my nascent career. (And yes, I feel that this is a personal failure, not one I share with my partner - even though the housekeeping and childrearing are shared responsibilities. This is the gentle art of domesticity, and the adjective gentle belongs to the class of female attributes, places the domesticity squarely in my purview.) This, to my understanding, is the grammar of pornography: the object that elicits desire, the desire that elicits dissatisfaction, the dissatisfaction that drives one back to the object.

So, I can't rouse any indignation about the Pinnyporn moniker. Yes, it's clearly wrong to dismiss baking, knitting and other female-dominated activities as "unfeminist" (I've blogged about this subject before). Yes, attaching porn to domestic pursuits is a quick and devastating way to draw in, unfairly, a whole culture of female subjugation. Yes, it's crude and a bit lazy (and funny, too - it wouldn't have any sting if it wasn't funny). But looking at the strange, airy world of Yarnstorm with its mouth-watering pictures, I find the comparison hard to deny. I've heard pornography described as the propaganda of the sex wars; Yarnstorm is the propaganda of the bun wars.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Boring through

I had an epiphany. It came as I reached the waistline of the wrapover raglan. Goodness, I thought, I wish I'd thought of something more entertaining to knit. While it was very satisfying to discover that I hadn't tossed out my maths skills with my school uniform, and that I can work out my own pattern, it turns out that the kind of thing I worked out wasn't the kind of thing I felt like knitting. So enjoy this (left), fans of unidentifiable masses of dark yarn (I know there are some of you out there, right?), because the next time you see a huddle of black stitches sitting on my needle, it will be something entirely different. Look (right)!

The problem with the raglan? Too much bloody stockinette. So why I thought this might be the ideal "alternative" project, I have no idea - except that a large amount of chunky yarn had come my way via the charity shops of Bath and inspiration was low. By the time I'd separated the body and sleeves, inspiration was threatening to pop her head in the gas oven and put an end to it all, so after a desultory start on a sleeve I heeded her cry for help and stopped the torture. The capelet is gone now, back to the ball of Sirdar Nova whence it came. I never expected to be the knitter who gets bored of stockinette, and I can only put it down to having been spoilt by the perfections of Matilda Jane and the joyful details which trick that cardigan out to make the simplest stitch into a fascinating knit (yes, she is finished; yes, she is lovely; no, you can't see her yet).

It turns out that there is a place for stockinette in my knitting bag, but not too much of it, and only with something about it to hold my interest. Now this is fun to knit, and the most fun part is finally being able to move the Noro Aurora out of my stash and onto the needles. My feelings on the virtues of stashing have been refined from "cautious" to "absolute horror" by having to lump my yarn collection halfway down the country and the knowledge that in less than five months I'll be moving all over again.