What a relief to know I'm not alone in my worries - your replies have been amazing. I feel tremendously reassured that there's still a strong and intelligent core that won't fray no matter what ridiculousnesses happen.
The common view seems to be that the media is the prime culprit. That is, they seized upon the knitting fad and are exploiting it until the very last drop has been squeezed out. To quote one of you (name withheld to protect the marvelously guilty), "Getting the print mags this past year has been like opening
up the fridge and finding just an old cold bowl of couscous and a hunk of week old roast beef."
At least we seem to have seen the last of the "Knitting is Hot on College Campuses!" articles (is it me or did every mag have an article on this topic?) as well as the "Knitting Relaxes You" articles (ditto, although I think the mags ran at least two of these before giving it up). I guess it's useful for people trying to decide between knitting and pilates for their new relaxation regimen.
Another of you - fella, you know who you are! - works in a busy knitting shop and remarked that most new customers only want quick, cast-on-this-morning-wear-it-tonight projects.
I'd like to think we're finally getting over our need for super-quick, super-easy, super-bulky projects and are ready to return to the realm of the more challenging. Fast projects offer a different kind of reward than the ones you've painstakingly worked on for possibly months and months.
Mind you, I'm one of the most impatient people on the planet. And yet recently I've started to eye fine shawl patterns that would normally give me a terrible headache just reading. Who knows, I might be ready to consider my lifelong dream of knitting Sarah Swett's Kestrals Alight Cropped Kimono from Knitting in America. (At 8 stitches to the inch, I could possibly be done before, oh, Christmas 2009?)