I watched the knitting world with interest this last few weeks. Organisers of Woolsack, an amazing project asking knitters to make cushions for every Olympic athlete involved in London 2012, were promised a stand at the Games to distribute the cushions. The London 2012 organisers renaged on the deal, despite accepting cushions paid for by the knitting community and have steadfastly blocked any means for the cushions to be handed to athletes in favour of handing the stand to a corporate sponsor.
Surely the whole ethos of the Olympics is to bring people together from all races, creeds, colours and social/economic backgrounds in the spirt of sport, achievement and community? What's sporting about blocking a kind and thoughtful gift which athletes say they'd absolutely love to receive?
Can it get worse? Oh yes, members of knitting community Ravelry.com were told they can't have their knitting olympics the Ravelympics, something instigated by the same knitters and not by the site owners, as knitting insulted the dedication of athletes who train for a lifetime to acheive their goals. How pathetic can the USOC be with their fat cat salaries and corporate greed? More people worldwide watch the games as result of events like the Ravelympics. These are the same people who year upon year knit for charities, make chemo caps for cancer patients, sweaters and blankets for the homeless, toys and clothing for those in need across the globe. Isn't that exactly the community, tolerant and supportive spirit the Olympics meant to embody? Designers of knitting and crochet patterns on Ravelry often donate proceeds to disasters like Haiti, the Japan earthquake appeal or to things closer to home such as liver research or cancer charities. These are positive things with money going from kind and generous people.
Did the knitters and crafters of Ravelry pick up their pointy sticks and attack the nasty USOC? No, they used social media and their brains, knitters across the world bombarded the USOC and Olympic team facebook and twitter pages with comments, forcing an apology which had to be issued twice as the first one was almost as insulting as the original letter. Their idea apology asked knitters to make them yet more free stuff so they can benefit at our cost? That doesn't sound like an apology to me, it's more like begging.
I genuinely wish all the athletes every success, particularly Team GB. But, I won't now be watching any of the coverage and I certainly won't buy ANY memorabilia with the Olympics logo plastered on it. It's time these people realised they are not the masters of the public, they work and are paid using public money provided by taxpayers like us. They work for us, not the other way around. I've never liked bullies and this smacks of bullying for the sake of it. No one is making money out the Woolsack project, the Ravelympics or any other charity knitting. The knitters and crocheters give their time and yarn lovingly and with an open heart.
Many charities use knitting (or other crafts) as a way involve people in their community and raise awareness of important issue. For a lot of people on low incomes, who are disabled or elderly, this is their one chance to actually feel like a part of the Olympics and a core of people seem determined to spoil that.
Let's see more projects like Woolsack, events like Ravelympics and St Mungos Woolly Hat Day as they make the world a better place to live in and I'm proud to support them.