This morning as I worked, I was listening to the Never Not Knitting podcast. She brought up the topic of bobbles and how polarizing they are among knitters. Knitters seem to either love them (squee, they’re so cute) or consider them abominations that should not be allowed to exist, let alone take up precious fiber. Very little room for compromise.
I find that people’s reactions to bobbles are so strong because they’re tied to something primal in our guts. It’s a truly visceral reaction. I don’t know why it is, but I know I share it.
Bobbles and the Squick Reaction
Vogue Knitting seems to have a fascination with bobbles. I see more bobbles per issue in Vogue Knitting than in any other publication. And I have to give them credit, when they do a bobble they do it well. And I want so badly to love it. I mean, look at this stylish creation. It looks elegant enough for Grace Kelly. Or one of the lady-Trumps.
But then my eyes focus in on the bobbles. And I can’t look away. And I start to feel a trifle nauseated.
It’s totally unreasonable.
I wonder what my brain is doing. What does it associate with bobbles that causes this reaction? Do they look like:
- Lumps in my food?
- Chicken pox?
I know this last one is associated with a recurring worry of mine: that I will knit a sweater with bobbles and somehow two of the bobbles will happen to fall in two very wrong places. (Never Not Knitting mentioned this too.)
When Bobbles are OK
I don’t hate bobbles. In fact, in the right context, I love them.
I’ve knitted one adorable project where the bobbles were both integral to the design and extremely useful in terms of its functionality:
I’ve knitted this pattern several times and it’s just so cute! And the bobbles actually make this object a better dishcloth with all the little extra scrubbies. Scrubbing bobbles.
I would like to submit that dishcloths, as a category, should be exempted from the bobbles-are-abominations rule.
In addition, I find I don’t mind bobbles when they are used as little accents in trim, like this:
That looks elegant to me, and not all like the pox. It looks like round, decorative beads more than anything else.
Help me make sense of this. I don’t want to have unreasonable aversions to certain knitting techniques. It’s so silly.
In addition, if I ever want to knit Estonian Lace I’m going to have to get over it. Bobbles are a lot like nupps. (Lalalalalalalalala, not thinking about that, Lallalalalalaala).