Steinberg: Covering knitting and yarn craft from now to November

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Columnist Neil Steinberg is taking up knitting to deal with the chaos of presidential politics. | Sun-Times file photo

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The year is half over, and you’re wondering how the knitting vogues ballyhooed at the start of 2016 are faring. You remember when Skeinoblog laid out its “Knitting Trends 2016: What’s Hot This Year”? Just how popular were these new “super-bulky yarns” anyway?

“Hand-knitting follows the fashion industry,” said Cindy Cooper, owner of Elemental Yarns in Plainfield. “Yeah, we have some super-bulkies. But a lot of the influence comes from television shows, like ‘Game of Thrones.’”

Then there’s the issue of sustainability, which . . . .

OK, so I can’t really devote my column to knitting. I’m tempted to. As the presidential campaign veers deeper into farce, a bone-deep revulsion sets in at the prospect of reaching my hands into the mess and trying to arrange its gloppy, putrid contents into some kind of order.


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On Saturday, Donald Trump retweeted a white supremacist graphic that shows Hillary Clinton against a sea of money and a Jewish Star. He does that a lot — tweets neo-Nazi tropes to his 9.5 million followers. That’s why they love him. Well that and his slurs against racial and religious groups.

People who care about such things howled. Yes, there is no hard bottom to the depths that Trump will plunge. We get that. And yet each new low makes us react as if his fans are weighing the data, trying to decide whether or not to support him.

Not to overlook Hillary Clinton; easy to do when Trump is twirling in the spotlight. The FBI announced Tuesday that her use of a private email server is not a crime, though it was “extremely careless.”

The Republicans venerated the FBI when it was investigating Clinton, forgetting that the FBI also spent a year investigating the lyrics to “Louie Louie.” Now they decry its decision not to prosecute. It’s reminiscent of how the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land when it agrees with the GOP and a bunch of activist, unelected judges when it doesn’t. They forget “extremely careless” could be Trump’s campaign slogan.

Trump, of course, stood by his anti-Semitic tweet.

“It’s a sheriff’s star!” he cried, the kind of disingenuous ruse that is a distinguishing characteristic of haters. They smirk and shrug, never quite saying what they mean, hiding behind a little fig leaf of deniability should any responsible adult notice and object.

Then, as if he lost a bet and had to top his original insinuation, Trump tweeted an image of “Frozen” that used a six-pointed star.

“Where is the outrage for this Disney book? Is this the ‘Star of David’ also? Dishonest media!” Trump wrote.

It was at this point that a gear slipped in my brain and I thought: “Knitting! I can be the knitting columnist.”

Knitting seems so calming.

“Totally,” said Adrienne Levin, of Three Bags Full Knitting Studio in Northbrook. “It is so relaxing. The most zen-like of all the handcrafts.”

“Just a really wonderful stress reliever,” added Mary Colucci, of the Texas-based Craft Yarn Council.

Zen will be necessary to live until November. Because what is going on now is surreal chaos. Facts are just rocks to throw at each other. In a non-crazy world, Trump stiffing vets the million bucks he promised them, not cutting the check until the media came barking after him, would give pause to his supporters who might feel the tickle of suspicion that his whole “trust me and you’ll get tired of winning” schtick is just a huckster’s lie. But no one’s doing that.

Knitting. I’ve never tried it. But I’m going to. I called Three Bags Full and asked about classes. Could I sign up for Friday? “You don’t have some vetting process, say, with the government?” I asked, slyly. “No,” Levin replied. “You don’t need to have any papers. Just have to want to learn.”

“Want to learn” is my middle name. I’m thinking, a reddish orange scarf, perfect for the gales of November.

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