I have a long term interest in the way we all use language both to reflect and to shape the world around us. In choosing the words we use we not only let people know what we are thinking, but often also how we feel about what we are thinking. Just lately I've been concerned (yet again) by some words that are used among knitters. Those of you who know me can probably guess what's coming next - this is not something about which I've been silent in the past.
I become very uncomfortable when people - particularly when knitters - use such terms as 'granny knitting' or 'nana knitting'. These are not neutral terms. They're invariably used to describe a style of knitting that the person using the term doesn't like and thinks is inferior. Such terms are a short-hand way of describing knitting that is some or all of the following - old-fashioned; unaware of what current fashions are; knitted from cheap and/or synthetic yarn; knitted in a colour or combination of colours that is unsubtle/unfashionable/generally unattractive; knitted to display technique regardless of style or attractiveness; unadventurous...I could go on, but I don't need to. We all have an idea of what the term encompasses.
Of course, many of us find this kind of knitting unappealing and may wish to publicly judge it to be so. What I have difficulty with is that the words 'nana' or 'granny' are used as a summary of these characteristics. I don't need people to reassure me personally that I'm excluded from this category. I'm an older woman and a grandmother and I'm sufficiently confident of my taste or disregarding of others' judgments to knit what I choose and not care what others think about it.
However, by associating a group of people (grandmothers) with a negative characteristic (unfashionable knitting) such phrases contribute to the unthinking devaluing of older women in our society. Well, I hope it's unthinking, because otherwise such language use is both unjustifiable and unjust.
So, if you don't like a particular kind of knitting, please think about what it is that you don't like and find appropriate words to describe it - is it an inappropriate combination of yarn and style? is it mismatched technique and pattern? is it unfashionable? is it boring? do you just not like it?
I can't imagine that the real reason some things are disparaged is just because they've been knitted by grandmothers.