Conquering the Hekspoffer (Hexipuff) and oh gods not this fight again

Bee Keeper's Quilt: Tiny Owl Knits pattern hon...
Photo credit: chronographia

I have spent the past few days working out how to make a hexipuff type thing — a double sided hexagon that can be stuffed with fleece or scrap yarn — via trial and error. After a lot of the first and more of the second, I have finally come up with a working pattern for it and can start making the little buggers.

Now, you may ask me, Why would you do this Morag? There’s a pattern out there by Tiny Owl Knits that you can buy; it’s for the whole Beekeeper’s Quilt! Why would you put yourself through knitting torture?

Well, for one, I don’t have $5.50 for a pattern right now, nor will I for quite some time, and I am impatient. I wanted a hexipuff-thing now, or now-ish, and it only took me 3 days of working it out on my own (with a little help from this video, which gave me a starting point for casting on).

Two, far as I can tell, the original pattern calls for sock yarn and tiny needles, and I…do not work well with those. I wanted something in worsted weight, with bigger needles, because I have big hands and big hands hurt with small needles and small yarn.

And three…I don’t really want to financially support Tiny Owl Knits. For all that there are many cute patterns on that site that I would love to give a whirl, and gods would I love a copy of Woodland Knits, there is this pattern. And there is something very wrong with this pattern.

The title has a racial slur in it.

(Ok, actually, there are two things wrong with it — one is the racial slur, and the other is that it’s not a bloody petticoat. Petticoats are underskirts, not jackets with ruffles.)

I mean, come on, World, we’ve had this argument before! I see this all the time in the pagan netosphere, and the pagan meatspace-o-sphere, and now I’m seeing it in the knitosphere too. “Gypsy” is a racial slur. It’s not a word you should be using for your religious path and it’s certainly not a word you should be using for your knitting pattern. Not only that, it’s completely unnecessary — I often seen people complaining about being called on using the word “shaman” incorrectly, because “There are no alternatives!” Well, there is an alternative to gypsy. Bohemian.  No, it’s not entirely unproblematic — but it conveys the same sense that people are trying to get across when they use gypsy, and it’s not a fucking racial slur.

We have romanticized the lives of the Rroma and other Travelling peoples and adopted what we think of as their culture because it’s shiny and flashy. Meanwhile we ignore the very real marginalization and oppression going on against them, and use a word that we have no right to reclaim.

I’m sure Stephanie Dosen is a fine person, and I’m not accusing her of being some terrible racist monster. Her patterns are gorgeous, including the one that’s unfortunately named; she obviously is a very talented knitter. I’m sure naming the pattern “Gypsy Petticoat” was done in ignorance and perhaps no one has called her on it. Which is why I’ll be sending her an email, if I can find her email address.

Or heck, maybe she is Rroma, and I’m in the wrong here. I’m willing to admit when I’ve made a mistake.

But until I know for sure either way — and if it was done in ignorance, until she’s taken steps to rectify it — I won’t be supporting Tiny Owl Knits.

I will be knitting my own double sided hexagons, for my own blanket or quilt or jacket. If you don’t stuff them, they are flat enough to make clothing that would be pretty warm. I know this because I was so tired as I finished up the last test run — the perfect one — that I forgot to stuff it before binding off.

If you sewed enough of the flat ones together, in a certain way, you could probably make yourself a reversible jacket or sweater. In fact, I’ll be experimenting with that — half of them I’ll stuff, and half I’ll keep flat.

I’m calling my little guys hekspoffers.  (Heks means witch. Poffers means pancakes. They’re witch pancakes. Because, obviously, when a witch makes a pancake, it’s six-sided and reversible and done in stockinette.)

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