Posted on 5 Comments


Breathe in, breathe out. Yes. Relax.

Ok. Comments on my previous post depressed me. There, I’ve said it. Now I’m recovering. I shall address your concerns point-wise. 🙂

1. First, desi, I can occasionally be sarcastic, too, you know (ooo, imagine that!). A big craft store is as much progress for India, as Macdonalds, Imax, Archies, Starbucks, Domino’s, Valentine’s Day….and the rest of it. If we can be invaded by Hollywood (dubbed into Telugu, no less) and Marks & Spencer selling underwear starting at Rs 450, why can’t we share some of the crafty goodness as well?

2. I can produce busloads of aunts (and grandmothers) with the creativity to produce miracles without patterns and directions as well. Sadly (for me) I totally missed the bus when the creativity gene was being handed out and I’m afraid I couldn’t create to save my life. I can only follow directions (I’m *very* good at that), so patterns are a godsend for me.

3. I rely heavily on our local craft stores, as well, and sometimes wish I did enough crafts to take full advantage of all they have available. See #2 above to know why I don’t. Deneen, of course women in India do crafts. Our smallest towns will often have mom-and-pop stores (bangle stores, they are called) which sell everything to tickle your fancy, from said bangles and cosmetics, to thread for sewing and crochet, crochet hooks, knitting needles, painting kits and satin ribbon, crepe paper and bindis and rubber bands and lining cloth…you get the idea, all in one small 10″ by 8″ space or less. These are our staple.

4. I am weird (no, really!) and I like browsing in stores, without having to consult salespersons until forced to. No hovering over me, please. Given #2 above, I go into crafty stores without any clear idea of what it is exactly I want and feel shy of asking for a nebulous “thing” (what have you got to tickle my senses today?). So a store that allows me to browse through crafty stuff sounds wonderful. (The same thing applies to me and books, by the way).

4. I agree wool isn’t required in most of the country, but the same thing could be said of concrete building materials, for example, which are totally unsuitable for our climate but have almost completely replaced our traditional construction material, or the synthetic materials that make up so many of our “readymade” (and therefore affordable) clothes. Why couldn’t we have natural yarns available, like cotton?

5. It’s a bit like you aren’t happy with the education system in India and you go abroad to study and work (there’s no future in India, sweetheart/the US has *dignity of labour*, and that’s why I can work in Macdonalds to support myself there, but would die before doing anything similar at home, dahling). I guess it’s a side effect of the global spread of information and seeing what’s available has made me greedy(ier).

6. This isn’t to offend anyone, just my views. Debate is welcome. The longer the comments, the happier I’ll be, since it means someone is reading me and thinking about what I say.

Phew, it’s hot on this here soapbox 😉

Footnote 1. I was depressed because I was reminded of my lack of creativity in comparison with what (busloads of) Indian women generally have.

Footnote 2. Creativity to me means the ability to conceive and execute something wholly out from one’s mind, not the ability to follow directions blindly (or otherwise). Ergo, I am not creative (and the polls are closed on that one, lovey, move on).

Let me now catch my breath and hear what you’ve got to say.

5 thoughts on “Elucidation

  1. I know exactly what you mean by creativity. If I make something people will say “oh, you are so creative”….actually no I am not! I have a talent for figuring out things…like patterns! I may be able to take a pattern and tweek it a bit but that ‘s the limits of my creativeness! If you are ever looking for a pattern…you know where to find me…..I’ll send international….no problemo!! Now step on down from your soapbox….there’s yarn with your name on it!

  2. You might not believe it, but there aren’t that many craft stores in Germany. A couple of the big DIY building chains have started stocking a presentable selection of craft supplies, but many craft stores are family-owned ventures. Which means, of course, that you can hardly escape the attention of the salespeople, which I often would rather do (I’m with you there on #4).

    Not everyone can come up with designs on their own, from scratch. Just because one needs or prefers some guidance, doesn’t mean that one isn’t a darned good craftsperson. No reason to feel bad!

  3. Swapna, I kept checking back to see because I was afraid I had jumped the gun and offended you, and if I did I’m really sorry. Your gracious response has me smiling and nodding, and I wonder why I didn’t see the sarcasm in your earlier post earlier (you know what i mean). It’s the very things you listed that make me stop and think sometimes about “progress” and it makes me shoot my mouth off, and it also made me think that it would just reinforce the stereotype of “oh they’re so backward they don’t have craft stores even.” So I’m really sorry about that.

    But you’re absolutely right about the construction materials analogy. I wish more cotton yarns were available there – lord knows “made in India” cotton yarn is available here in the US at a highly marked up price, like many other exports (just wait till alphonsos disappear from the domestic market next year). I hope we can develop the confidence (as a society, not just you and me personally) to preserve that which is different (whether store-fronts, or creative patterns or busloads of aunts!) and develop it domestically, even as we progress in the standard indexes in the global economy.

    Finally, you’re not weird at all (no, really!); I like browsing too and I also began knitting seriously only when I learned to decode patterns. One of the things that makes me wish I’d been on that bus too. And I love reading your blog, and I read it carefully: you write well, you write wittily and I hope to hear more from you about many of these issues, books, crafts and everything else.

  4. Swapna,

    I followed your link from the CP list and was glad that I did.

    I may be a newbie at the fiber arts, but I think I can safely say that you have no reason to envy the busloads of aunts.
    Your work is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

    I’m quite certain you’ll be making up your own patterns just as soon as you feel comfortable in following the patterns of others… if I did it as well as you do, I’d be quite proud of myself!

    Hoping some major craft stores come to India, they are surely missing out!

    Best wishes,


  5. Hi glad I found this site. I had the good fortune to visit Rajasthan last year and was impressed by the knitted vests the men wore. I never saw textured patterns like that before. I would like to know where I can find resources and patterns – are they printed or handed down from mother to daughter?

    i only had 3 weeks there so didn’t get to suss out many craft stores. I saw street traders selling cheap acrylic and the needles appeared to be British sizing. Can you tell me about traditional knitting before the British came?

    i hear you on the creativity front. My idea of creativityis taking the stitch pattern from one garment and using it in a different garment. Sometimes I come unstuck with my tension!

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