Thursday, October 7, 2010

Picking At The Rough Ends . . .

I know that when Roland Barthes wrote of the punctum, the tiny point or wound that punctures a photo's studium or field, that draws and disturbs the eye, he had much weighter poignancies in mind than disruptions to a fashion image. Although his semiotician's interest was certainly directed to the commercial advertising, and he may well have perused a Vogue or two as part of his cultural study.

But I doubt he'd have been as fascinated as I was by a particular tiny element of this photo from The Sartorialist last week. Perhaps only a knitter would notice that in an otherwise flawless outfit -- a gorgeous, youthful yet so adaptable, interpretation of Minimalism -- that handknit garter-stitched scarf has had its end unceremoniously lopped off rather than carefully woven in.*

Far from a perfectionist myself -- Oh, So FAR! -- I nonetheless take care with ends that are likely to show, and I have to admit that I'm surprised that someone as obviously concerned with Finish as this young woman (who apparently works at Teen Vogue) could ignore such a grievance, however tiny. I'm even more surprised that the offending stub of yarn caught my eye, that it bothered me -- am I turning into my mother? my old Home Ec teacher? an old grump?

To justify my response, I'd say that it takes so little time to do this right, and that if you can knit a whole scarf, you should take enough pride in your work to finish it properly. I deal with so much of this lack of care in writing -- apostrophes sprinkled near "s"s with no care for whether the noun is plural or possessive, approximate spelling despite the ubiquity of dictionary-equipped Blackberries, incorrectly-formatted documents -- my rant could go on.

They knew something, those generations who chanted down the line, "A job worth doing is worth doing well." Mind you, I also believe that a job worth doing is worth doing poorly, with tolerance, on the way to that improved eventual performance. Someone will show the inexperienced knitter, who will look with fond amusement someday on the crudity of her earlier technique. I know I certainly have . . .

Other knitters, chime in -- am I being way too picky? Or would you have spotted this as well? And the rest of you, want some rant space? Any favourite peeves around lack of care in simple tasks?

*As I've captured and re-posted, the photo is smaller and the bit of yarn even less noticeable than on Sart's blog -- but it's at the wearer's left thigh, at the scarf's lowest left edge.