Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's your worst insult?

Time was, when every stitch of clothing was carefully, painstakingly, made by hand. The fibers were grown and harvested. Then they were carefully separated from debris, carefully treated and spun. The resultant strands were plied and skillfully, woven and knit into fabrics that could be shaped into clothing. Making a piece of cloth was a time and labour intensive process. Fabric itself had such worth that we have historic references of clothing being highly valued. Think of the soldiers sharing out the garments belonging to Jesus and gambling for the tunic that was woven in one piece. Or what about the reference in Dickens "A Christmas Carol" where the ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge a vision of the charwoman and the laundress selling his clothes and bed linen.

In these days where fibers are spun by the thousands and fabric manufactured by the bolt, we can go from raw materials to finished garments in a single day. There are machines that can weave or knit, machines that can cut stacks of pattern pieces in one go and machines that can be used to assemble the pieces. What used to be a labour of months is now done in minutes, making the average person depreciate the value of things done the slow laborious way. Does that mean that the things which are done carefully and methodically by hand has no value, because that which is done by machine is faster?

We've all had it happen. We're merrily working away at our chosen craft whether it's tatting, knitting, crochet, cross stitch or quilting and someone utters a comment that just sucks all the joy out of it. Comments like, "No one has time for THAT." or "Only people that can't afford to BUY gifts, make them." or "It's not worth making it, I can buy the same thing at WalMart for a couple of dollars."

Years ago I was showing some tatting that I had done, when a lady came up to me and said, "People don't have time to bother with that any more." It made me feel about 2 inches tall. All I could think of saying in reply was, "What am I, chopped liver? I'm a people, and I bother with it." Afterward, I didn't know whether I should be embarrassed because I was wasting my time with something real people wouldn't bother with, or angry, that someone would thoughtlessly and ignorantly, denigrate a pastime that I enjoy, and use to create all manner of delightful articles for my own amusement, and for the pleasure of the people I gift it to.

What's the all time most insulting thing that anyone ever said to you in regard to your chosen craft whether it's tatting, knitting, quilting or some other endeavour? Come on, share the insults.


Lace-lovin' Librarian - Diane said...

When I was in high school, my mother knit me a beautiful red and white coat... the warmest coat I've ever owned. The first day I wore it, one of the kids at the bus stop came up me to the and asked why I was wearing that "thing"... didn't I know it made me look like a red and white polar bear? I almost burst into tears!

I was raised with the notion that hand-made gifts were the ones to be most valued, and to that end, I try to give my daughters a hand-made gift every year for Christmas. Luckily, I have never again felt such a stinging insult. I've also learned to get a feel for people's likes and dislikes before spending time on a hand-made gift. I don't want to invest time and effort on a gift that will be unappreciated.

Clyde said...

The worst comment I have had lately was about a doily I was finishing and someone who was in the waiting room came up to me and after asking me what I was making said " what ever would someone do with something like that nowadays". I just thought to myself well I guess your house must be lacking in the decorating department.

Gina said...

Guess I don't give much thought to those insults today. I know they simply don't have the same values I do. I saw someone on a blog recently cutting up tatting they bought for some CQ and yes, they were using it to make something else beautiful, but I cringed anyway and it wasn't even my tatting! It was the tatting of an elderly gentleman who had died, large pieces exquisitely done, from what I could see.To me, it was a treasure to be studied and explored - gone forever. Saw a fellow on youtube yesterday showing how he did something artistic, which involved "altering" a 100+ year old book. Are there really that many 100+ year old books around? I, on the other hand, would gleefully haul off an old car to the junkyard. Someone else may invest thousands of dollars and months of time restoring it. Neither of us is "wrong" but it certainly is a challenge to one's senses at times. I just try to stick with people who do value the same things I do and not resent those who don't. Diversity. (smile)

TattingChic said...

This is the way a lot of women respond, "Oh, Yeah, My grandma CROCHETED, too!" It's not just the fact that they don't know how to distinguish tatting from crochet (because a lot of people don't know how to do that and I try to be sensitive and kind about that) It's the SNIDE TONE OF VOICE! I hate it, but I don't want them to know that and I generally take the..."well, here's a learning opportunity" route and explain the difference between tatting and crochet if they are truly open to learning. Usually the SNIDE-ness of the tone of voice is inversely proportionate to the level of OPEN-ness to learning, LOL! That's a reflection on that individual, not me! :)

Msquared said...

The worst comment I have heard,
"I saw a machine do that once"

I would personally love to see a machine do this!

Or those people who know ABSOLUTELY nothing about what you are doing fein to tell me I "Missed a stitch"
A definite exercise in exasperation...

Iris Niebach said...

During my exhibition in South Italy Matera, which was till now my best and most beautiful exhibition, there came one lady and said: oh, nice, but I tat with much thinner yarn, I'm tatting a double bed spread in 80 yarn!!!You can immagine my thoughts.

Randi said...

After carefully choosing materials to co-ordinate with the bride's decor, I spent many hours crocheting a fancy edge on a white microfleece blanket for a wedding gift. Some months later I saw it at her mother's home and Mama told me " just doesn't grab one's attention as being something special."

Oh,'s the thought that counts, right? :)

dani, the geek said...

living in a hippy outpost like Ithaca means i get a lot fewer of those comments than others, and stuff like "what would you do with a doily" makes sense to me, as my house isn't really doily friendly (cats + mess + lazy...)

but my friend moved to an area with a large community of older folks who came over from the old country, and the women seem to be quite disdainful and/or confused. "but you can buy socks/blankets/doilies, why would you bother to make them?"

they see it as a symbol of poverty, items they used to have to make because they couldn't afford to buy them.

Lebasi Aneres said...

Para mi, el mayor insulto ha sido, cuando alguien ha querido comprar alguna de las cosas hechas por mi.... y al decirles el precio.... han dicho ¡¡que CARO!!....Aqui, gustan las cosas hecha a mano, es un valor; pero a la hora de pagar.... les parece caro

For me, the biggest insult has been, when someone has wanted to buy some of the things done by me .... and on having said to them the price .... they have said ¡ that EXPENSIVE!!.... Here, the things please done to hand, it is a value; but at the time of paying .... it seems to them expensive