14 August 2012

Knitting in Public

Every week, I meet up with my knitting group. There are nine of us, and we vary in age, background, beliefs... pretty much any possible way you can differ. They're some of my most favorite people to hang out with. Our location changes, and we rarely talk about actual knitting, but we meet up and let our fingers do the crafting while we share histories, stresses, excitment, and TONS of laughing.

I could brag on my knit group for an entire post, but one of the best unintended consequences of being in the group is we knit in public, but no one bugs us about it. Maybe it's intimidating to approach a group, or we just give off a hostile vibe. (Ha!)

That seems like an odd thing to be thankful for, but it's frustrating to be out somewhere, probably a doctor's office or airport terminal or some other horrifically boring wait-cage, and have someone sidle up to you with pity and "helpful words of encouragement," like:

"Did you know you can buy those things pre-made? Hurr Hurr"
No, friendly stranger, I had no idea. Pre-made socks and sweaters? I do declare. Now I'll have all this free time to navel-gaze or flip through a five-month-old, greasy copy of Reader's Digest. Thank you for your thoughtful insight!
Here's the thing... I know I can buy a sweater for much cheaper than I bought this one. I also know that it may have synthetic content, making it machine washable. I know that I can buy fifteen of them from fifteen stores in fifteen days and still not finish my one handknit one. But you know what? I decided to make this one with my hands. It fits me perfectly, since I adjusted the stitch count to compensate for my proportions. I picked out the color I really wanted that no one seems to carry right now, and I spent my nights knitting it in front of the tv-- feeling much less guilty because I was actually accomplishing something. And that's valuable to me. It's valuable in the same way that building a house or rebuilding a car is valuable on a personal level. So go buy your own sweater at Wal-Store, Jack.

"Gosh, I just don't know how you find the time to do that. I'm so busy, I just couldn't even finish something!"
Wow, this is like a condescending hat trick! I must be bored, lazy, and less interesting than you!
Or I'm doing it in the 45 minutes that I've been sitting here waiting on the doctor (and how are those docs allowed to DO that, anyway?). I've been knitting while I watch tv or read a book or sit in the car on the way to work. I've knitted on planes or in line at the DMV. I don't mark off hours on my daily planner to sit down and work in an uninterrupted manner. It meshes with my life. It's portable. Portable enough that I'm going to get up and walk over here now, kbai.

"What are you, like 60 years old?!"
No, really. I have actually had a total stranger say that to me. One with a soul patch.
First off, if I haven't made it abundantly clear with the Golden Girls references, I see no issue with being compared to, like, a 60-year-old. You can be active, interesting, and share a condo in Florida with your three best girlfriends and go out all the time. Seems to me that 60-year-olds are just 20-year-olds with no jobs and retirement funds. Sign me up.

Secondly, it's apparent that people of many ages knit. See, I can prove this because I am knitting and I am in my 20's. Children can knit. Get this: men can knit, too! You could be making use of your hands for something other than a tired Trent Reznor impersonation by learning a skill!

I love interactions where people are genuinely interested. I'll always answer if someone wants to know what I'm making, or what craft I'm doing ("Are you sewing something?"). I'll point them toward resources if they say they always wanted to learn, or I'll say thank you if I get a compliment. Those folks are awesome.

So there you have it. Be nice, or face the wrath of Blanche!
- YX

(Win some patterns!)


  1. I've gotten a few of those comments as well. Oddly enough, never at airports or on planes, where everyone else is just envious that I'm not bored out of my mind like them.

    1. It DOES make delayed flights and layovers seem like a great opportunity to get ahead a few rows... :)

  2. I have a dear friend that once helpfully told me I could BUY a scarf instead of finishing my Peaks Island Hood. WOW, I had NO IDEA.

    Months later, we were at the movies and she leans over and says "Are you KNITTING?" I reply "Yes, yes I am. What are YOU doing?" "Nothing," she responds. I gave her a disdainful (and teasing) "Oh, hmmph" as I went back to my knitting/movie watching. She hasn't teased me again. ;)

    1. Knitters are smug? The newest Garfunkel and Oates parody?

  3. I love this post! I'm 18, so I guess there's really no age limit to knitting. :) Funny how people insist that knitting is for old, retired women.
    One of the things I hear the most is: "I just can't believe YOU have made this! I could never do such a thing - I will never learn how to knit..."

    1. "I just can't believe YOU have made this! I could never do such a thing - I will never learn how to knit..."

      With that attitude, it's a certainty! Just wait until those people start asking you for sweaters, like you can just crank one out on a weekend. I don't have time for that... Matlock's on!

  4. I admit I read this post with a sense of relief. I hate it when people talk to me about my knitting when I am out in public - sitting outside, on the train, etc. But I always felt guilty for not liking it - like I had some obligation to explain the craft and defend it, when all I want is to knit in piece and continue not making small talk with strangers.