The big ones are now over. The summer Olympics, what I had time to watch, were amazing as usual. Loved the coverage of London and lots of venues outside the city as well. Swimming, gymnastics, marathon runners, all very inspirational.
The knitting community at large have been involved in supporting the Olympics by holding what has been called for a number of years, the Ravelympics. (Ravelry being the online site that knitters and crocheters go to to get pattern inspiration, buy patterns and belong to social groups around different aspects of the craft). It’s a huge, worldwide group with over 2 million members. So as the Ravelry “olympic” teams began forming in the late spring, the knitting community was handed quite a stunning slap, I guess you can say, in the form of a cease and desist letter from the US Olympic committee. We as a knitting community were told that it was trademark infringement to use the name “olympics” and that furthermore we had some nerve equating our knitting team challenges with super athletes (some of the competitions for knitters being things like the Afghan Marathon, Works-in-Progress Wrestling, Sweater Triathlon, Shawl Sailing, etc.). Ravelry changed the name of the challenge to Ravellenic Games in the end, which didn’t bother me and most adopted without much fuss. But the letter did not just demand that Ravelry cease and desist from using the term and the Olympic symbols, it went on to make disparaging remarks about how knitting “tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.” (excerpt from the C&D letter sent by Brett Hirsch, law clerk for the USOC which I read at this Gawker site). It also spoke about the fact that athletes train all their lives in order to compete in the world arena which is sometimes the pinnacle of their career. And our knitting while cheering on our athletes is taking away from their accomplishments? Ok, I guess it will continue to be a head-scratcher for me!
Needless to say, the knitting community rose up in anger, to put it mildly, and after flooding the USOC committee’s Facebook page and Twitter connection with comments, they sent an “apology” letter which just made matters worse, as the tone was just as insulting as in the original. There are many links online for a better coverage of the whole thing, but I agree with many who have commented that the committee and its legal representatives should maybe have done a little homework on this deal before writing a letter that inflamed almost 2 million people with pointy sticks who take their knitting very seriously. And to totally ignore the fact that this self-challenge in the knitting community was meant to support the viewing of as many hours of the games that members could manage (and in the process be subjected to the advertising that goes along with NBC’s coverage).
I never had intended to blog about this whole thing. Many before me have covered this more eloquently. I am a committed fiber junkie and love to knit, spin, weave, felt and work with fiber in any form. Knowing that the summer is chock full of catching up on farm work and housework that I can’t get to during the schoolyear means that I don’t give myself much tv time in the form of sitting and watching during the day, but I really thought that I would be more motivated to get two of my knitting projects finished if I joined in the fun of being on one of the Ravellenic teams (Team Sasquatch as I am an avid fan of many knitting podcasts). But as the games went on, I found myself almost not wanting to do any knitting and I stopped visiting the team boards on Ravelry altogether. I think that knitting is still viewed by society in general as being something done primarily by women (which is not true and historically incorrect) and therefore not given much status. Which gets my old ’60s sensibilities inflamed as I still believe women’s equality has not come as far as I had dreamed of in my teen years.
So I have not succeeded in accomplishing my “olympic” goals, oh, sorry, my “Ravellenic” goals, and probably gotten less done than I would have had I not joined. The whole thing still leaves me with a litte bit of a bad taste which I am sure I will get over. But I am not sure that I will ever be moved to participate in the games ever again! Which annoys me, annoyingly enough. Oh well, I still intend to finish these two projects before October, when I am sure to want to be wearing them, not just talking about them. I think my next Netflix movie may just be the ticket :*)