Monday, April 03, 2006

Knitting in public

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 (God’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 – 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 “What are you knitting?� or even the annoying and ridiculous “Are you knitting?�, I will not roll my eyes, even metaphorically, and through gritted teeth reply, “Yes, I am knitting� adding internally “you moron.� 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. :)

1 comment:

Jejune said...

I like your thinking on this one - it's so true. People almost always make some comment if I knit in public - at a cafe, doctor's waiting room, on a bus, at a school function. Although I haven't got so far as to knit at the traffic lights - that is a little mad, Taph ;)

I've had people literally stop in their tracks, amazed to see someone knitting, and start telling me their story of how they knitted on the train to work during war time... and there is a strong sense of connecting with the past or present.