There is some interesting terminology over at the Ravelry website. On the page where you can contribute a design of your own, or a yarn you have made, spun, dyed, etc., you have the option of "adopting" a pattern or fiber. Apparently, we all have something to contribute, whether we originate a product or idea or simply pass it on.
Passing it on has become much easier in the age of cut and paste. Want to send a chain letter or a joke? Just hit "forward." Want to communicate an image? Hit "search" and find something that aligns with your vision. Just make sure you attribute.
Want to make a friend? Hit "add to my friends." The "Pay It Forward" swap (which apparently no one wants to join. How can I pay it forward if I have no one to pay it to? Can I pay it backwards, Lucia?)
Where was I?
Oh yes, the PIF swap. I have discovered that swaps, in general, are not my ball of wax (or yarn as the case may be.) As I disclosed last week, I am not an organized person. But, setting that consideration aside, there is still something a little unusual about making a friend by lottery, then shopping and creating for that friend in absentia, sans any real knowledge of the individual's desires and dreams.
There are people on Ravelry whose friends number in the hundreds. And that's nothing, compared to MySpace and Facebook, where our children hang out with thousands of "friends."
Doesn't real friendship require something more? Doesn't it require time, and patience, and the willingness to accept another person, warts and all?
Do we really have hundreds of "friends" or are they acquaintances?
I don't mean to kick the hornet's nest. I know that we can have both friends AND acquaintances on-line and off. I have made real friends on the Internet. But I didn't make them by pushing a button. I made them by investing myself in their world and allowing them into mine. That friendship grew over time.
When we knit, we have a choice. We can "adopt" the pattern as our own or we can choose to adapt it. When we adopt it, we are respecting the integrity of the original, embracing the vision of the designer. We are, in effect, saying, "I agree with you. This is the best way I can knit this item. I wouldn't change a thing."
We no longer live in a "one size fits all" world. Our digital age lets us customize. From blue jeans to web pages, we can "have it our way." I can print my book on demand. I can revise my patterns instantly due to customer feedback (and already have.)
If modifications make a square peg fit in a round hole, or a skinny-minny pattern into something that flatters a middle aged, chubby housewife (not that I know anyone who fits that description) well then, so much the better. Right?
My question is: What happens when we don't adopt a pattern, as is? Does adaption somehow subvert the original intent of the designer? Or does the adaption enhance the appeal of the original?
And what if we substitute people for patterns and pose the same questions? Does adaption of the individual somehow subvert the original intent of God? Or does the adaption enhance the appeal of the original?
Yesterday a 20 year old kid opened fire on a bunch of strangers in a Von Maur store in Omaha. Like the shooters at Virgina Tech and Columbine High, he felt disenfranchised. His family had kicked him out of the house. He no longer felt valued by his family or his society. When he said he was sorry for causing his family pain, he wasn't apologizing for the shooting. No, he thought that fine action would make him famous.
He was apologizing for his very existence. Did he feel unacceptable as he was? Did he think he needed adaption, in the absence of adoption?
The increase in gated communities points to an increasing isolation in our society. There are many days when I would rather brew myself a cup of coffee just the way I like it, cuddle up with my two laptops (the digital and the feline one) and hibernate. Go out? Then I'd have to pay for gas, go out in the cold, figure out where I was going, and wait in line once I got there. Much easier to stay home.
So what happens when we close ourselves up at night, retreat behind closed doors, and find our "friends" on the Internet instead of around the block? Do we adopt? Or do we adapt?
Someone I read yesterday asked if the Internet was replacing LYS's and Knitting Groups as a way to connect with other knitters. Lord, I hope not.
I love Ravelry and all my Internet buddies as much as the next blogger, but I hope I never skip a chance to meet in person, or pick up the phone and hear another human voice.
Above all else, we are a community. We need to commune. In person.
I can use the Internet to find people who think like I do, want the same things, enjoy the same pursuits, worship the same God, live in the same city, country, state. I can join a "knitter's who knit monochromatic, silk scarves, American style,with their left hands, on circular Addi turbo needles" group. If there is no such specialized group, I can start one.
Or I can use the Internet to expand my horizons and widen my perceptions.
I can ensconce myself within a collection of like minded souls. I can adapt my environment to fit my preferences. Or adapt my views, my words, myself to fit in. I can alter my pattern.
Or I can choose not to.
So Saturday, I promise I will haul my lazy carcass out of bed and spend my morning with the Broad Ripple knitters, and my afternoon with the INknitters at my local LYS.
Because sometimes, communion requires more than adaption.
Sometimes, it requires adoption and all the challenges that entails.