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Long Read of the Week: Inside the Twisted Ravelry Controversy

A couple of weeks ago a large, large site devoted to knitting and made through the contributions and funding of its readers decided to essentially deperson and deplatform any member who was in favor of Trump. How the site came about and what its “owners” did in their twisted minds is covered brilliantly in — Inside the Twisted Ravelry Controversy |

Without civil society, we careen toward chaos, anarchy, and bloodshed, which wait, just below the surface, for our dedication to the civilization we inherited to slip. Consider how quickly doctors and nurses, confronted with Hurricane Katrina, started talking about euthanasia. Consider Gary Slutkin’s research that shows that violence is a contagion that can be amped up or tamped down with something as simple as human speech.

The rules of civil society are being rewritten. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, mainstream media, academia, and now Ravelry are redefining community. The Ravelry controversy represents the wider society in microcosm. Even folks who don’t knit should care about the decision of Casey Forbes, Ravelry’s founder and owner.

An article published in 2008, a year after its founding, reported that “Ravelry is an online community for knitters, crocheters, spinners, dyers, weavers, pattern designers, and all other manner of fiber artists … It is a personal organization tool, a yarn and pattern database, and an online community … Ravelry is the single greatest thing to happen to yarnies since the invention of the spinning wheel … It is just that awesome.” Ravelry claims to have eight million users.

On Sunday, June 23, 2019, Casey Forbes, Ravelry’s developer, owner, and administrator, released a statement forbidding users to post in support of Donald Trump. Further, Forbes equated support for Trump with white supremacy. “We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy … Note that support of President Trump or his administration … all constitute hate speech.” Forbes’ announcement hit national media. Stephen Colbert, oozing smug, oily, self-satisfied superiority, unquestioningly accepted and gave national attention to the demonization of all Trump voters as white supremacists.

If he had taken time to investigate, Colbert would have discovered that Ravelry’s members have published allegations that Forbes has allowed discussions of violence against Sarah Palin, and allowed projects that involved caricatures of Donald Trump as a voodoo-doll-like pincushion or toilet paper cover, and a Jeremy Corbyn Christmas tree topper. Note that Jeremy Corbyn is a notorious anti-Semite, and a project celebrating an anti-Semite is, again, allegedly, permitted. One YouTube video alleges that Forbes exposed the identity of a Ravelry member who wanted to remain anonymous. Another YouTube video alleges that an eleven-year-old atheist knitter group on Ravelry includes “vicious” anti-Christian material. One post in that group was a picture of a Bible with the caption, “The Good News Is Jesus Dies on Page 681” with a laughing emoji. I was told that Forbes permitted an avatar of Kathy Griffin holding a realistic replica of Donald Trump’s severed head, and that Forbes rejected an avatar of Betsy Ross. I was also told that Forbes was banning some Christian-themed needlework projects. I have no idea if these allegations are true – Ravelry is not accepting new members. I did see a screencap of a particularly ugly caricature of Donald Trump that was allegedly allowed on Ravelry.

If Forbes’ purge of politically incorrect knitters were made into a movie, would it be a horror movie, or a comedy? Both frightening and slapstick elements combine in this ridiculous nightmare.

In attempting to understand this bizarre story, I read hundreds of internet posts, and watched many YouTube videos, by those who support, and who reject, Forbes’ new policy. I joined two Facebook groups, one of former Ravelry members who did not support Forbes’ new anti-Trump-voter policy, and one of Ravelry members who do support the anti-Trump-voter policy. In the group that rejects Forbes’ policy, in my first post, I plainly identified myself as someone who is not a Trump fan….

MUCH MORE AT Inside the Twisted Ravelry Controversy |

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Casey Klahn July 27, 2019, 7:45 AM

    My wife is pretty upset about it. She told me a few years back how big the Ravelry world was online and it is massive.

    I would ask these liberals to give me an explicit quote of white supremacy by DJT. I’ll be knitting an afghan, king size, while I wait for that answer.

    We’re most of us upset by the direction of sosh media, but they are actually digging themselves into a grave. People are fed up with the Orwellian, Stalinist, Sci-Fi-level policies by these pimply-faced geeks of the interwebs. Not one of them would have made it past the time-clock at any american business in the Fifties. They’d have been either straightened out in short order, ot they’d have been shown the door.

  • Anon July 27, 2019, 8:16 AM

    I think it is really a mental illness. It is literally impossible to think Trump is a white supremacist it is only possible to say that as a blatant lie OR out of a mental inability to see reality. The race card is a childish “argument” played when you have nothing to support your views/biases, but it works because it touches a cord with the certain low information voters. That very fact alone, the fact that they are lying to exploit specific voting blocs, makes this tactic deplorable and heinous. These tactics are exactly what every despicable communist and fascist leaders have always done in history to consolidate, acquire and hold power. That someone like Ms Forbes participates in it is probably simply explained by the classic and so accurate phrase attributed to Lenin; “useful idiots”. But their mental illness prevents them from realizing that they are useful idiots used by the dark forces of fascist leaning politicians but rather that they see themselves as normal and everyone else out of step. Coincidently, or not, this is exactly the same common trait of people who are bi-polar, i.e. they see their own actions as normal and they exist in a world of people who are not normal. Therefore they persist…

  • Sam L. July 27, 2019, 9:26 AM

    There are just SO many people who just CAN’T “live and let live”. No, their stomach acid overwhelms what used to be their brains. Is bummer. B U M M E R!!!111!!!!!

  • Terry July 27, 2019, 10:49 AM

    These same a** holes converted my beautiful first wife into a leftist in the mid sixties while she attended SF State University. Totally a 180 degree swap of ideology. The leftists are masters of disguise to a naive country folk. And resultant divorce in my case.

    Keep your kids out of “public schools and about any university”.

  • rabbit tobacco July 27, 2019, 11:54 AM

    And the woman said, the serpent beguiled me…

  • Rob De Witt July 27, 2019, 12:14 PM

    In terms of “oozing smug, oily, self-satisfied superiority,” it’s hard to beat that photo of the 6 latter-day Madame Defarges congratulating themselves on their new pussy hats.

  • Rob De Witt July 27, 2019, 12:49 PM

    In terms of “oozing smug, oily, self-satisfied superiority,” it’s hard to beat that photo of the 6 latter-day Madame Defarges congratulating themselves on their new pussy hats.

  • FL Mark July 27, 2019, 4:47 PM

    A year or so an astronomer published a commentary in “Sky and Telescope” magazine on how her heavenly observations reinforced and augmented her Christian beliefs. The pushback was fiercely critical. The editor tried to say (as I recall) people stargaze for many reasons and we support all comers, but, between the lines, I sensed they’d never make that “mistake” again.

  • Rebecca July 28, 2019, 5:38 AM

    I used to belong to a knitting group at a local yarn store. I wanted to learn to knit.

    Although the infamous pussy hats had not yet made their appearance, the smug, sanctimonious attitude about all manner of topics turned my stomach.

    The man-bashing anti-male talk; the nose in the air show and tell; the vicious gossip and exclusion of new people into their gnostic confabs… ugh. I stopped going after a few months.

  • TC July 28, 2019, 6:09 PM

    There will be a lot of precious bodily fluids spilled one of these days, and certain members of the gene pool will no longer be able to continue wasting our oxygen. Side benefit, the roses will grow much better the next year with all that compost.

  • pbird August 1, 2019, 6:48 PM

    In addition, the funny thing is, most of them are crappy knitters. I have been knitting for sixty two or three years and I know crap when I see it.