Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is Knitting a Profession or an Obsession?

When I meet people for the first time and they ask me what I do, I usually answer, "Oh, I'm a flight attendant." And, the conversation usual goes as follows:
Do you like it?
What's your route?
How long have you been flying?

Someday, I'm going to truthfully answer the "What do you do?" question with "I'm a knitter and I fly so I can knit and pay my bills."

Is knitting a profession?
According to my MacBook dictionary, profession is a noun that means a paid occupation, esp. one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification. Hmmmm, paid (sorta), prolonged training (does self taught, years of hands on experience, trial and error and a few YouTube videos count), formal qualification (card carrying member of TNNA). It's a stretch.

Are there any true professional knitters?
When I Googled professional knitters, I found things like FairTradeKnitting, a cooperative of professional knitters in Ecuador who make a living by knitting, and How to become a Professional Knitter, a knitting blog about career transition, personal development and the search for fulfillment. I was hoping a picture of "Sweater Quester" Adrienne Martini, "Yarn Harlot" Stephanie Pearl-McPhee , or Uber Color Knitter Kaffe Fassett to name a few.

When I googled, "is knitting a profession", 6,950,000 results popped up in 0.35 seconds. The ninth option down was something about Jane Pauley (who I've always liked), Reality Check and (in Bold) Knitting- AARP.org. So, I clicked and here's what I found:

Reality Check: Knitting as a Career

Knitting is a great hobby, pastime and social activity. What it's not is a practical way to make a living.

Not many knitters are professional knitters. Betsy Lee McCarthy is, since she wrote a popular book on the subject and teaches the craft at events nationwide (and even on cruise ships). Yet despite her name recognition as a knitter, McCarthy, 67, is hesitant to describe knitting as her job.

"I don't make a lot of money from it," she says, explaining that after buying yarn and other supplies, her trade often incurs as much cost as it does income. "I'm lucky if I break even," she observes. When McCarthy left a well paid career in health administration in order to pursue her passion, she did so with both a nest egg and a clean financial slate. Her two children were grown, her home and cars were paid off, and her husband had a steady job that provided insurance.

"I knit because I love knitting," she says.

We have found our first professional knitter, Betsy Lee McCarthy, 67.
There is a lovely video of Betsy being interviewed by Jane Pauley that I'm trying to link for you---but it's not working. :-(

I guess for now, I'll keep answering the "So, What do you do?" with....flight attendant, it's okay, don't really have a set route and 13 years, blah,blah,blah... and my obsessions are knitting and googling.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post!I'm the writer of How to Become a Professional Knitter. It is difficult to find an appropriate label for what I'm doing. When I'm asked what I do for a living by non Knitters no matter what I say it leads to some discussion because we don't really have an formal title like most working people. I have quit my full time job to pursue this. I am earning money but I'm in the red right now since I started in April 2010.As most small entrepreneurial pursuits I expect it to take a while to balance income with expenditures.There are a few Professionals who are in the black. Generally they have more than one income stream. They design, teach, tech edit or retail knitting products. Hopefully I'll get to that place soon but truthfully this is a passion that I will pursue no matter what the financial compensation turns out to be.