Archive / June, 2019

Tolerance is for Tuna Sandwiches

Ravelry’s recent policy change is making headlines

Yesterday, one of the yarn and fiber world’s biggest names took a strong stance against white supremacy. Ravelry, a well-known pattern resource, info hub, and social forum for us fiber folx, declared a new policy banning support of Donald Trump on their website. The full declaration, which you can read here, goes into the reasons and gives specific details about what this policy change will mean for those who choose to use their site.

It’s pretty standard, really. A private organization makes a policy change, makes the rules clear, and moves on. As is also sadly standard, there is much backlash and brouhaha today. The fiber arts community has a particular brand of drama, and Ravelry’s recent decision about how to do things on their own website seems to poke right into the squishiest parts of it.

I could say things about that, but XKCD said it better a long time ago:

No, what I want to say here is specific to the calls for “tolerance” that I’m seeing posted in response to this policy. There seems to be a cry for “tolerance” of Trump, Trump’s policies, and Trump’s allies and supporters. Now, just writing that last sentence, I saw the problem, but maybe it’s not as obvious as it seems to me. So let’s spell it out: what you tolerate, you condone. What you don’t openly oppose, you tacitly endorse.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Tolerance is for tuna sandwiches, specifically for those who eat them in enclosed, shared spaces like offices or airplanes. Tolerance is for people who put/don’t put pineapple on their pizza. Tolerance is for those who put the TP over/under on the holder. Tolerance is for typos. Tolerance is for people driving slow in the passing lane. Tolerance is for socks with sandals. Tolerance is for honest mistakes accompanied by a good faith effort to apologize and do better, complete with action. Tolerance is for people who like and do things you don’t, and it only extends to a point: Tolerance is extended up to the point where it causes harm to another.

Someone’s preference for bamboo knitting needles over metal, or the inverse, is highly unlikely to ever cause someone actual harm (though this, too, has been the topic of many a Ravelry kerfuffle). A policy that actively separates children from their families and detains them unlawfully in inhumane conditions is a whole separate level of problem that cannot, MUST not be overlooked or tolerated. Someone whose policies actively denigrate, diminish, and threaten to destroy whole communities and groups of people is NOT someone to be tolerated. The policies of the Trump administration, and Trump himself, should be actively opposed by anyone with a conscience who believes in human dignity and basic decency.

That this is even a conversation we need to have is an embarrassment.

To tolerate policies that clearly violate human rights is to actively endorse those policies. Making space for those who actively endorse those policies to have equal airtime for their position is the same as saying “we are okay with this, and we welcome it here”. With their recent policy update, Ravelry has made it very clear that they don’t endorse, support, or tolerate Trump’s abusive madness.

In case it wasn’t well-known already: neither do I.

Shot of the floor at Newseum’s Berlin Wall exhibit

There’s a separate post to be made about the calls to separate the art/craft from the politics, and who that stance would harm/benefit, but it’s going to have to wait for another day because I’m out of spoons. As a placeholder, I’ll leave this image from the Newseum’s Berlin Wall exhibit, which was haunting.

Lucky and Well-Loved

We’re going to Peru! Let the research begin!

If I was ever on a plane before I turned 17, I was too young to remember it. The first time I flew, at least that I can remember, I flew from LAX to Gatwick with a handful of “new friends” on a school-sponsored trip to England, Ireland, and Wales. I’ve flown domestically a few times since, but that was my one “big trip” adventure to date. I love traveling, and I’d hoped to see more of the world than I have so far, but time and circumstance and all of that.

When I found myself a newly-single mom (almost a year ago now), I figured that was it. What little I could make would keep me local. We could go camping, which I also love, and have done a bit of already. But flights were cost-prohibitive and international travel seemed a far-off dream, at best. “Maybe I could chaperone my daughter’s school trip some day” was the big hope.

On a particularly rough day of parenting, I vented to my dearest friends that I’d had enough and needed a break. I whined about wanting a vacation, the way people who drink say they want a glass of wine or such on a bad day. I didn’t expect anything to come of it; I was just blowing off steam. But these are my friends, and they heard what I wasn’t quite willing to claim for myself: I desperately needed a change of scenery and a reminder that the world was so much bigger than what I was going through. One thing lead to another and soon, we had an idea: if The Powers That Be were amenable, maybe we, collectively, could pool enough resources and pull enough strings to get a trip off the ground.

And then I had ALL the feelings about this idea, because AnxietyBrain.

And OOOOH, did I have to sit with my feelings. It was rough. All sorts of issues about whether or not I “deserved” to go, or could ever repay the kindness of all of the people offering me help and funds to pull this off. I got poked right in the worth! But I kept chipping away at parts of it. Baby steps. “Well, I’ll just apply for passports” was the first part. So we did.

These little cheesers
Okay, that step is set. Now what?

When we’d finished submitting our passport applications, we looked into the logistics. Where we would stay was already taken care of, because my friends are mighty. They also came through with a good chunk of what it would cost to get us there, so the next step became finding a flight. Of course, this isn’t as simple as it sounds when you’re traveling with kids. My oldest flew as a baby, but has no memory of it. Youngest hasn’t ever been on a plane at all. Both are pretty open to adventures, and neither is particularly fussy about much, so I have that on my side, but there were still a lot of variables to consider. I decided we’d take red eyes there and back, and try to sleep on the plane. Found a couple of reasonably well-timed flights, held my breath and bought the tickets.

They’re totally posing in this pic. The attitudes!

Every step I took was more than matched by friends or chosen family, waiting in the wings to offer support, guidance, or a gift of some kind. A well-traveled mom friend let me know that kids under 12 traveling with a parent who has TSA Precheck can also bypass the security screening lines, and gave me the application fee as a gift because she knows what my brain will do with all these to-dos. When you’re bold about sharing your anxieties, people who love you can help you clear obstacles and try to smooth your path.

The red-eye doesn’t scare me, because I know my kids can sleep like this!

My kids are pretty pro sleepers at this point. I’m not, but I like coffee. I’m a mom, which means I have plenty of experience with low-sleep days and long nights. Still, I wanted to at least try to set myself up for in-flight sleep success so I asked for advice. A few days later, these showed up on our doorstep:

Headphones, eye mask, and a Trtl Junior pillow so their necks don’t bend at those odd angles while they snooze in their seats

There was a kit for each of us. Two days later, we each got a travel blanket (with a caution to avoid using the blankets on the plane, especially at the end of the day). I didn’t even know to ask for these things!

What I *do* know how to do is sell wool to make ends meet. I have to admit: I’d been stalling, partly because of fear and partly because of self-pity. This travel opportunity is the push I needed to fully commit to my business and get moving toward my goals here. The first step I had on that list was the streamlining I posted about a couple weeks ago. The second was reaching out to my local community, which starts with teaching weaving later this month. The third step will happen once I’m back from my trip, but the planning and preparation phases are already underway.

And the most joyous thing of all is this: I have hope. For the past year, I have tried to find any sparkle of hope I could hold onto. Every crumb, however small, helped to keep me from collapsing under the weight of the rubble of a failed marriage and the stresses of parenting alone through the festering suck of a messy separation and impending divorce. On the darker days, I held onto the hope of hope, the hope that, someday, I might genuinely feel what I was trying to intellectually create. Maybe it’s not “smart” to travel right now, but the hope and joy I’ve found just thinking about it are worth an awful lot to me. I can’t imagine I’d ever regret taking my kids on an adventure like this. When else will I ever have such an incredible chance again?!

So: We’re going to Peru! I’m looking forward to sharing the details here. A thousand thank-yous to all the incredible people who have come together to help make this possible for me and my daughters. I may never be able to pay you back. I hope that, someday, I will be able to pay it forward. We are so incredibly lucky to be so well-loved!

Weaving New Stories

A quick little rainbow weaving sample for a class I’m teaching this month at Rhizome DC

Sometimes, we need to tell ourselves a new story. After a significant life event, like a job change or a breakup, we have an opportunity to take stock of the stories we tell ourselves about the world and our place in it. Obviously, the end of my marriage and my new adventure as a single parent has meant doing some deep inventory about who I am and where I am in my life and where I want to go with these things.

One story I have told myself is probably familiar to a lot of folks: a story about how I’m not enough. Not good enough, not pretty enough, and maybe even not smart enough. I soak in a culture that profits from making me insecure about pretty much every aspect of human life, so this isn’t surprising. It is, however, something I can address. Therapy helps. Having a neutral outsider’s perspective on my life makes it easier to see the habits and patterns that keep me stuck. Major life shifts, like a separation/divorce, can crack patterns wide open and reveal all sorts of wonderfully painful truths about what I’ve tolerated and why I’ve made the choices I’ve made.

And then, the real fun begins! What to do with all that information? Information alone is not change. It’s just a doorway. Change requires being brave enough to cross that threshold and move into something new. As an artist, that’s part of my work. As a mother, that’s part of my work. As a human, that’s basically my whole job. So one of the things I’ve tried to do over the past year is set myself up for shift and change, with the idea being that this would happen whether I wanted it to or not so it was best not to fight.

One of the changes I’ve tried to make over the past year has been making better connections. I started by reaching out to my friends and chosen family when the excrement hit the air conditioning. Since then, I’ve worked toward building a bigger network, both socially and professionally. One of those connections led to an opportunity to teach a class in my neighborhood! I’ll be teaching an Introduction to Weaving workshop at Rhizome DC at the end of June. I’m excited to share what I love with local folks.

I have another exciting adventure story coming up, but I’m making sure my affairs are in order before I announce that. I am enjoying the experience of pushing myself beyond what’s comfortable and familiar, and I’m excited to see where these opportunities take me. Forward I go!