On “Stick to your knitting”

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There is a trend, in defending things like knitting, to compare them to STEM job; in particular coding jobs. Yes, it’s true that crochet, and knitting, patterns are programs. That determining sett is easier if you not only know, but understand Ashenhursts rule*, etc.

None of which is at all material. The value of a thing isn’t determined by how much math it takes to do. The person who does “nothing but housework” is just as productive a member of society as the dudebroº who wrote Alexa.ª∞

People are people. What they do for pleasure (or profit) has value. It has value because it pleases them. The same is true for paid labor. I’m even going to argue that flipping burgers is just as hard a writing Perl. There is a lot to keeping a griddle working. If it gets too hot, the meat overcooks on the outside, and the centers don’t get done; too cold and the centers overcook, and the outside doesn’t char.

Keeping track of that, in the context of how many orders are running, how many are in the queue; whether the onions and pickles in the upper right are going to be enogh to unload the surface, etc., are, in fact, complicated equations, done on the fly. You can’t toss that up on GitHub and get feedback. You have to make quick decisions. If you’re wrong it’s not the that the code won’t run; it’s that someone gets bad food.

It’s not that I think the math, and programming aspects of fiber arts aren’t valuable. I think they add a definite emotional depth to them; I like things which have layers, on layers of skills, and techniques. I like them more when you don’ need to know how to do things A, B, C, to end up with finished product D.

Lots of musicians have no idea how to read music, nor much (formal) musical theory; but in the styles they play they can pick up the music, and do the work; it’s been absorbed. They are skipping past all the “book learning” to get to the meat of the matter.

How? People are amazing. We make things. That’s what we do˚. It doesn’t matter if what you do is primarily cerebral, or mostly physical. It has value because people have value.

*Ashehurst rule is that WPI = .9 √YPP, which at variance for the rule that WPI x .7 = maximum sett. I think it has to do with the thinning of yarn under tension when wrapped; the same thing which makes niddy-noddied skeins actually measure a bit shorter than turns indicate; which is why one either makes allowances (e.g. my counting meters as yards when niddy-noddying yarn) or has to go to the effort Alden Amos did to get an equivalent to the Ashenhurst rule to avoid being guilty of false advertising, but I digress

ºYes, I am making assumptions about the people who designed Alexa, Siri, Cortana, etc. I really dislike the Internet of Things, and the idea that we ought to be willing to have people aiming to profit on our habits spying on us 24/7, esp as it’s used to get around “reasonable expectation of privacy” and so void the fourth amendment.

ªMore, in fact, housekeeping is ridiculously underrated. If one has to pay to have it done, even to the level of a cluttered home… it’s gonna set you back a few grand a month. The folks who come in for 200 bucks, once a week, aren’t doing the actual housework, they tidy. They are parlor maids, not scullery maids. You have to already be reasonably tidy for them to even take the gig.

∞That too has it’s problems. Our value a people is irrespective of our “productivity” Not having a job doesn’t change one’s inherent worth.

˚We do lots of other things which “separate us from the animals˜” Language being the one which probably controls all the rest; but I digress; again.

˜Well, no, we are animals, we just have a lot more in the way of tools than all the rest

  1. Jenny Moser Jurling

    On the question of burger-flipping: that job also requires awareness of & adherence to sanitation protocols that prevent the spread of foodborne illness. There’s a lot of trust involved in eating food prepared by a stranger, but we don’t really think about that as we roll up to drive-through windows.

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