I am very saddened and angry at much of the political discussion these days about building walls and reinforcing borders. I was born in the US as the Berlin Wall was being built, and rejoiced at its downfall decades later. I went on to live for 10 years in the former East Germany and to see firsthand the toll that a wall can have on everyday lives. Today, I am consumed by two upcoming elections, one here in the UK and one in the US, where much of the focus seems to be on the need for borders, both literal and figurative. We are painting ourselves into boxes marked ‘us’ and ‘them’ and fanning flames of fear. I have been astonished by the levels of vitriol and hatefulness that I see now on both sides of the Atlantic, and the intolerance and ignorance that breeds them.
This is not a blog about politics, but rather a blog about knitting. One of the most appealing aspects of the knitting community for me is the fact that knitters don’t need borders. Our love of craftsmanship and generosity of spirit can transcend geopolitics. This is helped by sites such as Ravelry, and many other virtual spaces in which knitters can share their craft. The knitting blog itself can transcend boundaries. In addition to geopolitical borders, knitters can transcend linguistic borders. I regularly “read” many knitting blogs which are not written in English. If the blogger is a skilled knitter, and if the blog is one in which there are many photos and a good sense of style comes across strongly, then the blog can be enjoyed and appreciated even if one is unable to read the text. Of course, there are translating apps available which can do (extremely rough) translations, but I must admit to the pleasure of reading blogs in many languages just to look at the photos and admire the knitting skills and creativity of the bloggers.
There are many additional pleasures I get from “reading” these blogs. I like seeing how different parts of the world approach knitting in many different ways; reading these blogs gives me insight into regional knitting styles and techniques. I also love having the opportunity to watch a knitter grow and evolve, and to develop an individual style – I see no reason why I should limit this to knitters who only write in English. Non-English language blogs often showcase patterns which I may not see otherwise. The backgrounds in the photos give a peek into different parts of the world and indulges the armchair traveler in me. The styling – shoes, clothing, hairstyles – give insight into different cultures and trends, and provide inspiration. Another perk is the chance to practice my language skills; there are many languages which I can read to various degrees – Spanish, German, and French, for example – and it is fun to try my hand at them, while reading about something I love and which holds my interest (knitting, of course)! Knitting blogs written in languages that I know not a single word of – like Finnish or Japanese, for example – I find equally interesting.
I don’t have much time these days for reading blogs, but regularly look at 30-40 knitting blogs, of which probably half are not written in English. Here is a list of some of the non-English language blogs that I “read” at the moment (which, yes, mostly means that I look at the pictures). I have only met one of these bloggers in real life, but feel as if I know something about each of them because their style and skill jump off the page. Each of them I found because I admired the knitter’s work on Ravelry. I list them here in no particular order.
- A’s Almanakk is a blog written in Norwegian by the astonishingly prolific knitter, Anne (annepaalandet on Ravelry). She’s been writing this blog since 2009, and I’ve been reading it for a long time. Anne is brilliant at stranded knitting; I especially love her many examples of stranded mittens. She has a fabulous eye for colour.
- Another Ann from Norway, the knitter known as Pinneguri on Ravelry, has kept a blog since 2006. Med pinner is a lovely Norwegian-language blog, and is really easy to navigate, with an extremely broad tag cloud and an extensive blog roll (here’s a good way to discover new knitting blogs!). The photos are great and her knitting is exquisite! All of Ann’s knits and designs are beautiful, but if you really want to drool, check out her baby blankets!
- A much more recent blog, written in German and dating from 2014, is Fadengold. This blog is written by Anneli (fadengold2014 on Ravelry) who I think is extremely stylish. Her knitting is impeccable, but what I really love is her confidence and style that seems to leap off the pages. (Make sure you check out her jackets!)
- Marzi is a Polish knit blogger, who can be found at Wełniane myśli. She first came to my attention recently on Ravelry (her Ravelry name is Maarzi, because “Marzi was taken”) when she put up photos of two gorgeous hand-knit dresses. Her knitting is pretty, but I get just as much pleasure from some of her other crafty adventures; I love her creative ideas and great photos.
- The Finnish knitter known as Nasti on Ravelry, is another extremely prolific knitter and blogger. Her blog, Pujolivvi, is gorgeous; it is frequently updated, contains loads of photos, most taken in the spectacular countryside, and showcases an amazing output of lovely knitted items. Like many of the blogs I cite here, she has an impressive blogroll (in this case, nearly 75 other blogs) which can keep you busily occupied searching out other great knitting blogs for weeks.
- I have only recently begun to read El Mon de Rosalia, the Spanish-language knitting blog kept by the impressive knitter Rosalia (known as rosalias on Ravelry). However, I have been a long-time “friend” and admirer of hers on Ravelry. She knits so many different things, but is a wonderful sweater knitter and has a very creative and joyful style which always makes me smile.
- The very talented Inna, known as Inchi on Ravelry, caught my eye not only for her impressive knitting skills, but for her styling skills; she knits many suits and dresses and other examples of workwear, and often styles each piece many ways so you can see how they are worn for different occasions. Her Russian-language knitting blog can be found here.
- Asjaknits is a Polish-language blog written by Ravelry’s asjaknits. She is a great knitter and her blog is filled with beautiful photographs. In addition to first-class sweaters, I love her location shots of interesting places – and the fact that she takes her knitting with her and photographs it in such cool spots.
- Wenche, known as knitnetty on Ravelry, is another of the very large contingent of Norwegian knit bloggers. Her blog, Wenches hobbyblogg, can be found here. Her stranded knitting is gorgeous, utilizing traditional techniques, patterns and colours. Wenche has been knitting since she was five years old, and it shows!
- The very accomplished knitter, Mia (miastick on Ravelry), has been writing her Swedish-language blog, Miastick, since 2006. This makes her (like Ann and Dominique) someone who has been blogging about knitting since before Ravelry began!
- Dominique (known as dominique003 on Ravelry) is the only knitter on this list who I have met. I had the good fortune to sit next to her at a workshop some years ago. Her blog, Dominique knitting, is also different in that it is essentially bilingual; she writes in Dutch (though I imagine it is actually Flemish?) and then she translates part of it herself into English. I admire this greatly, as well as her very skilled and prolific knitting. She’s been writing the blog since 2006.
This is just a tiny tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of knitting blogs written in dozens of languages. I urge you to explore them. You will have fun. Hopefully, you will discover that knitters don’t need borders, linguistic or otherwise.
Reading blogs from many places, written in many languages, demonstrates that we are more alike than different. The media may have us see hate and fear, which scarily do exist and are flourishing, but I also know that everywhere, and in every language, there are people who appreciate craftsmanship, beauty, a job well done, utility, the joy of creating, the feel of good wool in the hands, and a warm hat upon the head.