Moving Forward, One Stitch at a Time

You may have heard about Ravelry's policy update last Sunday. It's stirred up a lot of emotion and controversy among it's users. We've stayed away from posting anything about it because while we agree with their stance, and support inclusion, we weren't sure how to express that in a way that didn't sound like we were patronizing the marginalized or jumping on the bandwagon. (Read Ravelry's update here, if you haven't already.)


Words truly are powerful. We all know, deep down that the old song "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." isn't true. Words can hurt or help, inspire or incite, spread love and kindness or promote hate. And thanks to the internet words now travel at the speed of light and can reach people miles away from the speaker/writer - making it ever so much easier to hurt one another.


I suspect this policy change may anger many of you because you feel like politics have no place in knitting or crocheting, after all, you do it because it's relaxing, or rewarding; you don't crochet/knit to "get all political". And that's precisely why politics have become a part of the fiber community - It's not about keeping politics out the crocheting/ knitting community, or turning fiber into a political movement, it's about making every community welcoming, and the fiber community is very large; and as a very large community, it's got it's own set of problems.


Trying to maintain the peace in such a large community / platform, like Ravelry, is no easy undertaking. Haters get in. It only takes a few mean people to ruin a good time. I'm sure you've experienced this at some point in your life. All is going well and then bam!, that one person says or does something so uncomfortable that the moment is lost, and the mood changes.


Or, think about those weird warning labels on products - “Contains peanuts.” in big bold letters on the jar of peanut butter, “Does not give wearer power of flight.” on the cape of a superhero costume, or “Does not prevent accidents.” on the inside of a helmet. Have you ever read these types of warnings and thought “What happened that they have to say that? Who did what that we need to remind people of the obvious?”


Well, consider this, something was posted on Ravelry that was so jaw-dropping, eye-popping hateful that they had to have the discussion among the creators and moderators as to how and where to draw the line. Think about that for a minute. Let that sink in. Something was so wrong, so hurtful, so full of hate that they had to actually write up a policy and determine where to draw the line. Can you imagine that?


What if someone said something to an important child in your life while they were playing on the school playground. What if it was so horrible that you couldn't even repeat it with out choking up or getting angry at the person that said it? Wouldn't you want the teachers and school to do something about it? I do not envy the folks at Ravelry the job they undertook when trying to create an anti hate speech policy.


Darn Yarn is located in a predominantly white neighborhood. Which was another reason we hesitated to respond. It feels self-serving or like we're pea-cocking to say that we're an inclusive shop when physically, there aren't many differences to be noted in our community. It feels like we're cheating somehow - it's pretty easy to say we're welcoming to all when everyone in our community looks like us. And that's also the point I'd like anyone in our local community who feels threatened or offended by the new policy to consider... not everyone on Ravelry looks like you or has had the same experience on Ravelry that you have had.


What I mean by that is that Ravelry is a much larger community than our little physical area. It's community members are a beautifully diverse group of creative people. Just because we didn't see the harmful posts, doesn't mean they didn't exist. In order for Ravelry to remain a diverse and welcoming community some boundaries against hate speech and white supremacy needed put into place. (Actually, I personally found the need for the policy more shocking than the policy itself.)


We will continue to use Ravelry, and we hope you will as well. We will also do our best to keep Darn Yarn as welcoming and open to all as we possible can. If you love fiber, you're welcome here. One stitch at a time, we'll move forward.

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