We’re used to most people underestimating the knitting community.
A perfect example of this is when non-knitters experience the Rhinebeck Trunk Show. They take in the extensive displays of indie dyed yarn, the range of handmade products for sale, the diverse shoppers wearing colorful sweaters and shawls that took months to design and hours to construct. They see those shoppers enthusiastically scoop up armloads of artisan skeins. I can tell by the looks on their faces that they’re thinking: Wow, I had no idea that knitting was like this!
So, when I learned about the two non-knitting men who purchased the domain knitting.com for $80,000, looking to earn $7.5 million from it within four years, it seemed like the epitome of every person I’ve met who has no idea what knitting is actually about.
Except it’s even worse.
These serial entrepreneurs plan to fill the site with keyword-rich content, presumably knitting patterns and instruction from underpaid designers. They plan to use this content to sell their yet-to-be-revealed but supposedly “incredible” products. (Judging by their previous endeavors in off-roading and adult coloring books, this likely means slapping their own label on yarn and needles already being manufactured overseas.) And they actually refer to knitting tools as widgets in an episode of a podcast aimed at aspiring tech millionaires.
They want to swoop into a community they don’t even care about and take whatever they can.
Sexism and ageism in knitting
Of course, it didn’t take them long to invoke a tired, sexist and ageist knitting stereotype. They claimed on their podcast that current knitting content comes from either 10 large companies or other “unsophisticated competitors” like “grandma, who has a little blog that she’s run for the last 20 years.” Dudes, do you know how much valuable knitting knowledge grandmas have?
So, the knitting community is super complicated and intense. These dudes think they’re marketing to Rose from Golden Girls when they’re actually trying to sell stuff to the anthropology professor from Community who blow darts the students she doesn’t like. https://t.co/3HIQcH6t1S
— disasters! sustainability! cats! (@erin_bergren) February 24, 2022
Unsophisticated? How would you know what sophisticated knitting content even is if you barely know how to knit?
— bestest blep buddy (@McJigglemeats) February 24, 2022
Why would you insult the very customers you’re looking to reach before you even launch?
In another eye-opening segment of the podcast, they talked about China-based sellers on Amazon. Those sellers do a “terrible job” of creating knitting content because “you can’t really have Chinese models in your videos.”
The knitting community certainly needs to do more work to be truly inclusive. But these people think their business has an advantage because their content will only include “Western models.” Way to bake racism and xenophobia into your business from the start!
Support handmade knitting businesses
This duo certainly has no regard for the thousands of small business owners, most of them women, BIPOC, LGBTIQA+ and people with disabilities, who have spent years working in the knitting industry. The ones who raise sheep, dye yarn, design sweaters and socks, sew project bags, craft stitch markers and manufacture knitting needles. We buy these products because we want to support the people in our community. These two don’t care about us — except for the fact that they think there are millions to be made! Of course, those of us in the industry do this work because of our passion for knitting and yarn, not to make a quick buck.
I'm getting more annoyed the more I think about this, you know.
I mean, these two have multimillion dollar businesses already, and now they want to come in, disrupt incalculable small businesses run by marginalised and disabled folk?
They don't need our incomes.
— Aoibhe Ni – Where There's Wool, There's a Way (@AoibheNi) February 24, 2022
For their market research, the pair apparently visited a big box craft store and browsed knitting products on Amazon. Michaels and JOANN in no way represent the vast array of knitting yarn and knitting tools out there. And many small yarn companies and local yarn shops supplement their revenue with Amazon storefronts.
Did they even think to visit their local yarn shop? You know, those “unsophisticated” business owners, who actually deserve the eight-figure revenues these two think they can earn in a few years? No mention of WEBS, whose owners snagged the coveted URL yarn.com way back in 2003 (when keyword-focused URLs mattered much more)?
How we shop as knitters
Do they even know how knitters shop for yarn? When I’m ready to cast on a new project, or add to my ever-growing stash, I definitely don’t head to the search field on my browser. They may think they can influence crafters on social media, but they’ll need to spend a lot of money on Instagram and Facebook ads to make up for their clear lack of authenticity.
They probably hope this backlash will support their get-rich-quick scheme by bringing more traffic to their sites and increasing the possibly over-inflated value of the knitting.com domain.
Welcome, new knitters!
So, if you came across this post as a new knitter — welcome! Maybe you’re looking for knitting instruction, or the best way to cast on, or the best knitting needles or yarn to buy. There’s a wonderful world of designers who turn knit and purl stitches into wearable works of art. There are yarn dyers who lean over steaming pots to create colors that make your heart flutter. And there are creative, knowledgeable knitters who won’t hesitate to recount why they love their interchangeable needle set. Indie Untangled brings together all these talented people. We’re so glad to have you as part of our community!