Friday, 16 March 2007

Tall Poppy

In New Zealand we are raised with something we call Tall Poppy Syndrome. For everyone else other than kiwis and aussies Tall Poppy Syndrome is our belief that you are no better nor no worse that your fellow citizen. It doesn't matter whether you hold a powerful position or are their cleaner your role is important and it would be crass to put on any airs. It means we take pride in "knocking people down a peg or 2 when needed". Of course this can have drawbacks as it can sometimes lead to under-achievement but that discussion can be for another day. (Example of "Tall Poppy" at work; while doing a spell check it was recommended that I capitalise aussies but I just couldn't bring myself to do it, it just made them seem too special, know what I mean, it would be wrong, very wrong.)

Moving to North America was a real test for me, I was constantly amazed at the utter fascination and awe held for famous people; even when they behaved badly, were public servants like the President, did not deserve to be famous or quite frankly looked like revolting people! Moving to Southern California was just plain shocking. Whole conversations would revolve around star sightings. Many times I was asked "who I had seen" and I couldn't think of a single incident. It was not until recently that I remembered I once served Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter in a clothing store while I lived in Auckland, New Zealand, a long, long time ago. I don't remember what they bought, or what we chatted about while Rachel tried on the clothes or anything else about the encounter other than I refused Rod's traveller check because he didn't have ID. I remember he got cranky and I felt incredulous that he would walk around without ID just because he thought he was a "superstar". Can't remember anything else about it, it was a non-event even then, and I certainly didn't rush home and spread the word. That would make me seem like a fool.

All of this was before I became a serious knitter. Now I am a groupie. Did you hear Eunny Jang just became the editor of Interweave Knits? Wow I'm knitting her socks don't ya know. To this day I tell the story of how I spoke (very, very briefly) with Nicky Epstein at Stitches, it was also where I had my Lily Chin sighting. I know someone who took a class off Meg Swanson (it's true!). I read my EZ books like novels and I know her to be worthy of devotion and hero worship. Conversations start in my house with " So Stephanie was saying the other day that...."

My family and I were having dinner at a knitting friend's house and her husband asked what I was knitting. I kinda dumbed it down and said a sweater like your wife often makes. "Oh an Elizabeth Zimmerman then?" he answered. Floored I answered "yes". He went on to sing the virtues of Knitting Without Tears, how it is a classic and how wonderful it was that her 2 daughters were carrying on her legacy. "Do you knit?" "No but I live with a knitter and even I can see these are influential women worthy of respect".

And maybe that is why I am okay about letting go of my need to strike down the tall poppy on this one. While I don't think these designers think better, love better or live better than I they do have something that I crave. They have that wonderful, original, creative streak that I am not sure I will ever have, not in those sorts of doses. (And Ted if you are reading this, this is my blog so if I say it is true, it is true, but thank you anyway sweetheart!). So you can keep Rachel Aniston's hair, Elle MacPherson's ass and Britney's problems I would take a little EZ's knitting ways any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Tall Poppy begone, lets save you for Hollywood (especially winners of reality TV shows), we don't need you in my knitting world.

Is there such a thing as a Stefanie Japel fan club, like with posters for my wall and autographs and........

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