One of my favorite knitting podcasts is Sticks and String. Every week the host, an Australian "bloke" named David Reidy, offers up interesting talk, peaceful music, and truly insightful essays. A few weeks ago, he offered up his musings about why knitting is such a revolutionary act.
Although many of us spend way too much money on yarn and fiber, fundamentally knitting is an anti-consumerist activity. Even if we hang out on Ravelry, read numerous knitting magazines and blogs, and go to every local yarn store in every place we visit, we are not constantly being marketed to by huge corporations whose advertising budgets partly go to psychologists who can tell them the best way to brainwash consumers. Far more often, our money goes to local businesses or small companies with very few advertising dollars. This is an economy that is much more sustainable than buying products made by child laborers in developing countries and sold for cheap at big-box stores.
On top of that, the money we spend actually winds up not seeming like a lot (even when we buy luxury yarn) when we consider that we get, as Reidy says, "multiple sources of pleasure" from each of our fiber purchases. Instead of paying for some entertainment or other, we get to do the planning and knitting of what we are to make. And then, afterwards, we have the thing itself. A sweater to keep us warm (and allow us to keep the heat down)? A lace shawl to show friends and relations how much we treasure them? (A felted tote bag to carry our way-too-much yarn and way-too-many books?)
Fundamentally, knitting is not about buying STUFF to bring us instant (and fleeting) fulfillment, or the "convenience" of no work. Instead, knitting teaches us to be patient, to work hard and to work creatively, to appreciate these handmade items because we spent hours (or days or months) of our own time in their making and stitched ourselves into each one, to expect something different from cookie-cutter perfection when we look for beauty in the world.