This week we knitters were furious. To back up a little, following my post about my knitting dry spell I’d spotted my nicely wound up ball of sparkly purple yarn and decided to start training for the Ravelympics. For non-Ravelers, the Ravelympics is where knitters around the world are brought together by Ravelry, and we challenge ourselves to knit (or crochet, or spin, or dye, or weave) faster, bigger, better, during the period of the Olympics, usually while also watching the games on TV. There’s no competing, instead we set ourselves our own challenges and aim to achieve them between the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic games. I’ve observed and enjoyed the insanity on Ravelry in previous years, and this year I’m ready to get in there. I’ve joined Team P/hop, and will be knitting the Trinity Shawlette, which I started swatching up.
So, on Wednesday Ravelry received a cease and desist letter from the US Olympic Committee over the Ravelympics, and there was a bit of an explosion in the knitting world. Gawker was one of the first news sites to publish the story, and on Thursday #ravelympics was trending on Twitter. I was all ragey on Twitter myself, and some others vented immediately on their blogs, saying what I felt. There was indignancy, outrage, defiance, indifference, nastiness, the works; and in the middle of the mob there were also much needed calm voices. I think the general feeling, and certainly it is my own, was that we understood the need to protect trademarks, but were deeply insulted by the wording of the letter.
I was also already upset by the involvement of Dow Chemical and the IOC’s dismissal of the issue, as well as indignant over the other ridiculous situations like councils being charged through the nose for Olympic decoration for the torch relay, and LOCOG going back on their agreement with the Woolsack cushion initiative. So this was another barb that I took personally. It’s not the end of the world; I know it was “just” an insult to “just” another hobby group, but to value one pursuit over another is just wrong, I think. Knitting is just as valuable an activity as football, as stamp collecting, as birdwatching, as historic re-enactment, as stargazing, etc., etc. What earns respect is the dedication and effort put into any activity, and how good you become at it. Many are happy at hobby level, and some become one of the best at it, and inspire others. Additionally, the letter accused our particular event of not being in keeping with the Olympic spirit, when it clearly brings together people around the world to challenge themselves and support their athletes, and, well, we were’t going to take that quietly.
Later on Thursday though, the US Olympic Committee issued an apology, or non-apology more like, which really just grated on everyone even more. But after the backlash from that there was an updated statement which was more satisfactory. So here we are a few days later, the dust is settling and we’re breathing normally again… The Ravelympics isn’t cancelled, far from it, but it looks like it will probably be renamed (cue Braveheart’s “they can take our land, but…”). So I’m ready to draw a line under it all and get back to looking forward to the Mass Cast On during the opening ceremony. I’m still not impressed by a lot of the issues with the organisation of the games, but I think that will always be the case with something of this scale. And on the flipside, I do appreciate that at the very least, there is enough transparency to find out about some of these issues, and freedom to complain about them. I am still wholly a fan of the Olympic spirit, the ideals, the coming-together-of-nations; and having recently received my tickets in the post, I’m definitely looking forward to the
Rant over. Let’s look at some gingerbread piggies
They’ve been playing in the mud! 🙂