What the flock?


So, I’ve got this other photo. You know the one, me knitting in the bathtub, but without the towel? Yeah, the one with more of my flesh than you’ve ever needed to see? Silly is how I describe it, although I sarcastically called it provocative in a previous post.

I use it as my avatar on ravelry. Tonight, I received an email kindly requesting me to change that picture. While the writer states that she “hope(s) not to offend,” she continues, citing the community guidelines:

ravelry is for all ages:
No naked avatars! Naughty bits will get your avatar turned off.

My avatar is 100×100 pixels. That’s it—tiny. While nudity is implied, no bits are showing. I’ve written Jess for her opinion, but I wanted to open it up to y’all.

  • Should I switch the pic to one enshrouded by a towel?
  • Should I chalk up her request and opinion as an extension of her self-proclaimed values (gleaned from her profile and blog title—no links, play nice, kids).
  • Should I stand my ground, by which I mean stay seated in the tub, and keep it up?

I am not flaming her. Nor do I wish anyone to contact her regarding her opinions… it is a free country and knitting is a diverse community. She and I are different ages, live in different parts of the country and have different beliefs.

Besides, she was otherwise very friendly, complimenting my messenger bag design. She admitted to laughing at the photo (which is something I’ve heard again and again from strangers on ravelry), and joked about the trend it could start of less desirable bathtub portraits.


26 Responses to “What the flock?”

  1. stariel Says:

    What? First off, you’ve had that avatar for months now and no one has said anything until just now? Also I agree – there aren’t any naughty bits showing. You go out in public like that to swim all the time, right?

    I *like* your avatar, it makes me happy to see your hot bod on my friends page whenever I click. 😉

    I’d wait for Jess’s response, and then if she also thinks you should change it (somehow I don’t think she will) you should put up the one you used for this post, as sort of an inside joke/protest.

  2. Micia Says:

    Ohhh, how disappointing…I think the naked avatar is terrific. And brave. And somehow innocently naughty. Since the requester was polite about it, I’d just let her know that you’ve referred the question to Jess and leave the photo in place until you get official guidance.

  3. Eikon Says:

    Cry Havok!

    Seriously ignore this woman. Is she even part of some sort of governing body or merely a prude?

    People are distressing sometimes.

  4. bockstark knits Says:

    Keep it!!! I loooooove your avatar!

  5. Emma in France Says:

    I second Micia’s advice. It seems that she was very polite and friendly in her request. If she’d had a ‘Change your avatar or God will smite you’ attitude then I’d have told her where to go.

  6. Kari Says:

    I love your avatar, don’t change!
    It shows nothing bad.
    Some ppl need to grow the f up!

  7. Eric Says:

    Leave it unless someone important askes you to take it down.

    My guess is that the people who matter have seen it already.

  8. sean Says:

    hmmm…I don’t love this Big Brother-esque. Perhaps just a misunderstanding on her part. I would appeal.

  9. craftyminx Says:

    keep it until more than one or two people are offended by it. An implied picture isn’t going to hurt anyone.

  10. caro Says:

    It sounds like she took time and thought out how she would approach you about it, so I give her credit for that. I don’t think that you need to change it though. I’m sure that the Ravelry Powers That Be have seen it, so I wouldn’t worry about it until you hear from them.

    There’s another user who has her dogs as her avatar and from the thumbnail it looks like fresh dog poop in snow. I *wish* I had the nerve to contact her, ’cause personally I’m more offended by dog poop than by implied nudity.

  11. Cece Says:

    I would leave it up to the Raverly folks! Geez. Some people.

  12. Trish Says:

    I’ve seen your avatar and it hasn’t bothered me at all. Then again I’m not easily offended. Personally, I’d leave it and see what Jess and Casey have to say about it. They are the great creators!
    I’ve gotta give the lady credit for being respectful and not getting all pissy with you.

  13. meg Says:

    keep it.

    glad she was polite about the way she handled it but really i wouldn’t change it unless jess maybe says so. it’s a great picture and makes me laugh every time i see it.

  14. WonderMike Says:

    Okay, I’ve answered you privately but here’s my two cents for the others to read. A

    t first, I was extremely offended. Like, why is the freakin’ moral majority here on Ravelry? I sincerely think that this puritanical obsession/fear over sex and the naked form are what make America so regressive. But then I realized that I was really responding to a lifetime of prohibition (not expressing my gay male identity, no PDA in “straight” settings, no camp-speak at work) and I was taking it all out on this woman. I personally find nothing wrong with the picture. You are not showing any “naughty” bits (and how I loathe to say that…) and you’re not doing any thing lewd (like sucking on a size 50 needle or placing two balls of yarn where yours would be), so I say leave it up and wait for Jess and Casey to rule.

    Now, having said that, if you were seriously wishing to open up some minds, I would say starting a dialog with this woman might be good for her. I would ask exactly what she has a problem with. Is it that your bathing? Is she afraid that your knitting might felt? Is she concerned that you might start doing it in public? Her answers could be interesting and would allow you an opportunity to say that Ravelry is a big community and if she doesn’t like your avatar, she shouldn’t visit your page or use your designs.

    Finally, I love the pic of you with the towel over your head. It’s another opportunity to tell this incredible story.

  15. Kristen Says:

    I’m good at giving advice, but not really good at giving GOOD advice. My first instinct is to stand your ground until you hear back from Jess. You’ve been around long enough that if The Founders thought your avatar were actual nudity, they’d have said something.

    My next instinct is to wonder whether you were msg’d by an actual moderator or just someone who felt compelled to stare at your avatar for perhaps an inappropriate length of time.

    Finally, I say don’t worry, because even if you do have to change avatars, the one with the towel is adorable.

  16. Claire Says:

    I think the tub one is funny like “No sheep for you” how can that be a cover for a book but your picture be bad. Ooo bad knitting pun…. baaaaahhh-d

  17. Rachael Says:

    That is my fave avatar on Ravelry. I hope you keep it. It’s perfect.

  18. Chickadee Says:

    Here’s the complete email:

    Messenger Bag and Avatar
    Sent at 9:32 PM September 23, 2007

    Hi Stephen. I would like to let you know that I think your messenger bag is great. I plan to start one in the not-to-distant future. I think the incorporation of the bicycle tube is a stroke of knitterly genius!

    Also, I hope not to offend you, but could you please change your avatar picture? The Ravelry community guidelines are posted here:


    States: ravelry is for all ages

    * No naked avatars! Naughty bits will get your avatar turned off.
    * Remember that ‘mature content’ settings haven’t arrived yet.

    I will be teaching classes at one of our LYS’s soon and hope to introduce each of the students to Ravelry while in class. I’d hate to have any of the little, old ladies swoon or have a heart attack and get an injury of some sort…or to shock anyone, especially a child. I’d also hate to see your avatar totally turned off by the Ravelry gang.

    I did really get a big laugh though. When there is the link on the Patterns page to see all the designers and your avatar is the very first, I laughed so hard my husband came in from the other room to see what was so very funny (because you nearly do get to see all the designer). And, if you start the bathtub picture trend, I’m sure that many of the pictures won’t be anything we’d want to see. ; )

    Have a great upcoming week!


    No, I’m not a prude….my husband and friends would howl at that one! I may live in a different area of the country and have different beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that I’m angry, spiteful, or judgmental. We have many gay friends that we love dearly and the majority of our wedding party were gay.

    Obviously, I read this blog, too….and many others. ; )

    Just as many of you don’t appreciate being cateorized based upon incorrect stereotypes, I’d appreciate the same courtesy. It is painful when the effort to get to know someone isn’t applied and sweeping judgments are made with no true knowledge.

    I do have strong beliefs in a loving heavenly father, but not a faith full of judgment or hypocrisy.

    And, thanks Stephen for not putting a link to my blog or Ravelry info. I think I might have been flooded with slams before anyone got to know me at all. Although, I hope I am wrong.

    I’m really looking forward to cooler temps and loads of quality knitting time. I also hope to make many new friends here and through Ravelry.

    Knit to your heart’s content!

  19. Michelle Says:

    I would wait to see what Jess thinks. Personally I love the pic and am not offended by it, but obviously there are those who are.

    For all anyone knows, you may have a skin-tone speedo on.

  20. hizKNITS » Blog Archive » Until further notice Says:

    […] « What the flock? […]

  21. isela Says:

    I am late to the party but I want to voice my opinion on this issue (hehehe, want to sound all eloquent, hehehe). Anyways, the avatar rocks, so keep it. I love it and many others do too. It brings a smile to my face everytime I see it.

  22. colin Says:

    Oh Dear me! I thought it was very funny. Also, it cannot be seriously considered that it would offend anyone. I think the person who told you to remove it was being over zealous in applying the rules. From the side of the pond you Americans are very strange-guns and murder all over but a little bit of flesh gets you all foaming at the mouth(i.e. Ms Jackson) Yes, before you say it, I know not all of you!

  23. Kelly Says:

    I say you leave the avatar. It’s great.

  24. melissa Says:

    Laaaame! Of course you should obey the rules of Ravlery (which is a great site and its FREE, so we should OBEY)… but c’mon. Its the human body, and no naked ‘bits’ as you put it. I’ve seen stuff about 100 times worse on myspace.

  25. irenesol Says:

    Hi you. Your picture is right now a topic on a Norwegian forum for knitters, and we all think your picture is innocent and funny! Keep up the knitting and have a great evening.

    Irene from Norway

  26. Julie Says:

    I thought your av was hot, and the fact that you are a knitter made it even better.