January 18, 2022

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‘You could be so much better’

A swirl of drama has been surrounding the knitting Instagram community — a more active group of social media users than you might assume — after a microinfluncer posted a yarn giveaway that used “social justice warrior” (“SJW”) language for each of her creations.

Maria Tusken caused an influx of furious comments and backlash after she made the announcement on Feb. 14.

According to Tusken’s Instagram caption, these are the names of the yarns participants could win in the giveaway:

“Colors from top to bottom, left to right:
Echo Chamber – Dark Teal
Othering – Light Green
Em-ocean-al Labor – bright ocean blue-green
Purity Spiral – lavender
Virtue Signal – calm purple
Gaslight – Lime and olive
Sitting With My Discomfort – calm mint
Problematic – bright orange variegated
Woke – bright pink-red
Microaggression – pale blue with olive and rust speckles.”

She also describes the colors as “inspired by current culture and polarization of ideas.”

Tusken’s Instagram account has slightly over 12,000 followers, but she’s gained notoriety in recent days and mixed reactions on her post.

“There’s so much drama in the knitting Instagram world! Look at these color names!!! Why is yarn being used to mock people??? Omg,” one commenter wrote.

“Asking you to sit with your discomfort in racial injustices is not an invitation to use the phrase to mock or belittle to concept. You could be so much better,” said another comment.

“Thanks for announcing that you’re an unsafe space. Makes it easier for me to warn people about you,” claimed another Instagram user.

In a video uploaded on the Unsafe Space YouTube channel (which collaborated with Tusken for her yarn giveaway), Tusken recounts how she became a hated figure within the knitting community before the yarn announcement.

She said she had tried to publicly defend another knitter who was accused of “fetishizing” a trip to India — that woman, Karen Templer, sparked a “witch hunt” after posting a blog titled “2019: My Year of Colour” (both Templer and Tusken are white) about her upcoming trip. After Tusken stepped in, she faced backlash in the community.

Tusken explains in the video that her yarn re-naming was in response to the hateful messages she was receiving after she defended Templer.

Many people, however, seem to side with Tusken — at least on her point that the names of the yarn are not offensive nor controversial. Comments on Tusken’s newest post, from Feb. 19, still has people discussing the color names.

“Yay! I just ordered my Micro Aggression! Maria— thank you so much! Not just for the beautiful yarn but for your bravery/tenacity to rise above the awful things that have happened,” one person wrote.

“Just came over here to support your freedom of speech. Lovely yarns all the way!!” said a third.

The drama might have even raised publicity for Tusken’s business, with one person commenting: “Would not have ever heard about your page if people weren’t so upset about the yarn names 🤣 it’s some good-looking yarn!”

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