How many times have you heard someone say “there’s no such thing as the knitting police”? Well, I’m here to tell you that there IS such a thing. They are unpaid volunteers, heroes– brave creatures who risk their reputation as a “nice person” to tell you the truth about your knitting or to keep you out of trouble to begin with. You may not want them to work in your universe, but in mine they are essential citizens. They provide criticism or advice as warranted. They are the ones whose compliments you trust because you know they will tell you the truth. They warn you of bad design choices– sweaters that will make your Rubenesque curves look like charging hippopotami, armholes that emphasize your aging, sagging bustline, negative ease that you should have left behind in the ’80s.
If you aren’t aware of the Laws of Knitting, these enlightened enforcers will illuminate your path so that you can obey them in the future. They may write you a ticket for bad grafting, but at the same time teach you how to do it right or refer you to source of proper instruction. They may give you a warning for curling button bands; they may point out the egregious nature of the stockinette you produced while drinking the fifth rum and Coke (thought you’d gotten away with that, did you?). They may even have the nerve to tell you that you will have to rip something back fourteen inches to fix it. They are your friends.
Not everyone loves the knitting police, and these seek to deny their existence. Many there are who believe that in this cruel world only kind and positive things should be said. Instead of saying words to the effect that short sleeves make you look like a sumo wrestler they say “oh, I’ll bet you’ll love those short sleeves in the spring”. Rather than telling you that your neckline pickup is sloppy, they’ll suggest you wear a scarf over it to “pick up the color of your eyes”. Not quite as bad as offering you aloe vera for your burns as you blaze upon the stake, but along the same lines. In the very wise words of the song from Ishtar (sung endearingly off-key):
Telling the truth can be dangerous business.
Honest and popular don’t go hand in hand.
If you admit that you can play the accordion,
No one’ll hire you in a rock ‘n’ roll band.
Of course it is possible for our knitting police officers to cite offenders with tact and compassion. The ratio of compassion (the “eggshell factor”) should be inversely proportional to how well the officer knows the perpetrator. Practically strangers? Approach with caution, use tact and euphemisms; do not scare the knitter into defensiveness. “Maybe it’s just me, but is that cable crossed incorrectly near the bottom of the back… I could be wrong. In fact I probably am. Don’t worry about it, it’s probably just the light.” Longtime friend? Fire at will. “Your increases don’t match and you left out the right bust dart“. Plain and simple, straightforward and honest. If more knitting police would come out of hiding, knitters would (probably) be grateful. Think of the times when you’ve had spinach stuck in your teeth. Your companion lets you know; you are grateful. It’s the same kind of thing. Really.
The Knitting Police Academy does teach that habitual offenders should be left alone. If they do not have a proper appreciation for the Laws of Knitting and fail to show interest or aptitude for such, they should be kindly tolerated. Like the colorblind cartographer who doesn’t care if his socks match or not, these known knitting lawbreakers pose no threat to society.
One more thing: there is corruption among the Knitting Police. Outliers on the Force will be intentionally cruel and possibly not even well-meaning with their interpretation of knitting edicts. They might be open to bribes in the form of delicately hand-dyed qiviut or combed merino top, but they will never help your knitting skills, so you’d best buddy up to a KP officer who is honest and perhaps curmudgeonly.
Ok, lecture over. Here’s a photo of what my fingernails look like right now. Cool, huh?
My left hand is worse, so I’ve got surgical tape over the first two fingernails. The official name for this condition is “Onycholysis” (some websites report the condition as “painless”, and by this it is obvious they have never endured it) , so I guess I’m officially an Onychoholic. Although by the grace of god I was able to put down the bottle of Taxotere and conquer my addiction to chemotherapy once and for all, I am stuck with this hurty condition until the nails grow out. Until that happens, I’m doomed to knit only a row now and then, but I’ve got a cushy side job. I’m high in the ranks of the Knitting Police.