I'll occasionally drift onto a knitting tangent, but one of the benefits of being an academic is that you have plenty of excuses to think critically about the things you love, which means you can - guilt-free - give yourself more time to contemplate the things you love. Like knitting, in my case.
With the election going on in the US, the knitting community has been abuzz with its own often perplexing, often really very amusing takes on the political agenda.
Over at the Panopticon (that's one for those of you now familiar with Foucauldian theory), there's a campaign in swing for Dolores, the sassy sheep. The Yarn Harlot has a different campaign in mind, involving candidates being photographed holding a sock in progress. She was inspired by another blogger's success with Barack Obama. Seriously, the photos are wonderful. Says the Yarn Harlot: "I'm not sure why this moved me so much, but I just can't stop thinking about it. Perhaps its because I think that politics sometimes does more harm that good in the world,or perhaps it is that the image of a person out to promote their own purposes being asked to momentarily have to serve ours - frankly, just charming. Perhaps it is simply the juxtaposition of a candidate for Head of State holding a sock is just so wholesome, that I am amused to no end. Perhaps it is simply that there is a part of me that really enjoys seeing powerful people befuddled and confused by a handknit ...." (October 4, 2008) Perhaps participants should be knitting their socks with these yarns from Schaefer Yarn. Yes, a range called 'sock the vote' that celebrates the women of the campaign, Cindy, Hillary, Michelle and Sarah. Personally, I love the Michelle colourway - make of that what you will.
The point is, many, many knitters are constructing their own political agendas and opinions with their needles, to stretch the obvious metaphor. There is much talk of limitations of niche media and while the online knitting community may be 'niche', I think it illustrates, too, the potential richness of such niches as they participate in - and even pervert - mainstream channels of communication. I really hope at one point there will be prime time coverage of a candidate holding a sock in progress!