It is an established fact that I knit at any given opportunity. My handbag almost always contains a piece of small easy knitting that can be whipped out at traffic lights, in queues (Godâ€™s little gifts of knitting time) and while walking around in general. I have been known to knit and push a supermarket trolley with my tummy.
It was not unusual, then, for me to be knitting in the queue for the supermarket checkout yesterday. A woman in her 60s began a conversation that ended with me conducting an informal knitting in the round tutorial based on the problems she was having with her current project of a baby beanie on dpns.
On Saturday, at a Blue Hat Project follow-up, we were discussing the portable nature of knitting, how it lends itself to social and group activity and why was it so?
I ventured a thought that knitting in public is rather like walking the dog or being obviously pregnant â€“ other people feel that they can speak to you (or the dog or your abdomen in some cases). There is a pretext for conversation and perhaps a commonality of experience that allows people to contravene unspoken but strong social taboos around personal space and talking to strangers (try starting a conversation in a lift/elevator and see what happens!).
So next time someone asks me â€œWhat are you knitting?â€� or even the annoying and ridiculous â€œAre you knitting?â€�, I will not roll my eyes, even metaphorically, and through gritted teeth reply, â€œYes, I am knittingâ€� adding internally â€œyou moron.â€� But will smile and acknowledge that for a brief time another person wanted to make contact with me and that something I was doing allowed them to transcend powerful social taboos and I will rejoice - any positive (or even benign) human contact nowadays is a very Good Thing TM. :)