Sunday, November 8, 2009

Knitting in Public

Hand Knit Socks drying on the line on a beautiful autumn day.

I'm feeling opinionated about all things knitting, so be warned.

The DH and I were at our polling place voting on Tuesday like all good citizens should have. (Don't complain about the government you have, if you don't vote.) It was startling to see the mechanical lever voting booths were no longer being used and paper and pens and scanners were the new method of casting your vote.

The usual gray haired ladies and gents were manning the tables and one lady was knitting to pass the time, since there is usually plenty of spare moments on off, off year elections. As I was waiting, I heard the usual comments when there is a lone knitter in a group , "I don't have time to knit", "I used to knit but haven't for a long time" and the classic "My grandmother used to knit".

It reminded me of the many reasons I don't knit in public. I call it the annoyance factor.

No, let me clarify that a bit. I choose the places I will knit in public carefully dependent on the annoyance factor. That is, if someone is being annoyed, I don't do it.

Subways and buses: Some knitters wax poetic about the amount of knitting they get done while on the bus or subway. I took the subway to and from work for 17 years. Most of that lovely 25 minutes of free time (about all I got in those days) I spent reading. The one or two times I took knitting with me, I found myself actually making eye contact with the other passengers (I don't look at my work and there is nothing to look at through the windows except black tunnel on the subway). And someone would inevitably say one of those above mentioned phrases which would mean I would actually have to talk to them! No, I don't want to interact with the other riders, not at 6:00 am.

Concerts, lectures, theater and movies: Some knitters take their work to events such as these. I don't. It annoys my DH, who is all things supportive about my knitting but it disturbs him if I knit in these places. If it bothers him, it may bother or distract others in the audience. And in the case of live performances, even the performers. I don't like to be distracted by others at events where I paid good money to be entertained and I certainly don't want to be the cause of it. There was a comment made by a certain knitter who was at a lecture knitting and someone chastised her and asked her to stop and pay attention. The response, she thought cleverly, was that she didn't need her hands to listen. All well and good, but here is the annoyance factor. She was a disturbance. That, my dear, is not being clever, it is being rude.

Airports: Yes, yes, yes. I wouldn't be caught in an airport without knitting, books, ipods etc. Everyone is usually in their own little space, inner and outer. I annoy no one, no one asks me ridiculous questions, and I don't implode.

Airplanes: It depends. If I am in a middle seat between two over sized gentlemen, then maybe not. If I can make my own little nest by the window seat, probably. I always take it with me and make the best judgement.

Waiting Rooms: Yes. See Airports, above.

So where will I knit? I always have a traveling item and knit while waiting for the littlest school kid to get out of class, while watching kids after school, while riding in the car, with other knitters at coffee shops or Knit Nights, sometimes at the ball park while watching a game.

When I was in my 30's, it didn't bother me to have people make the "My grandmother used to knit" comment. I felt I was doing my part to change the image of knitting from something only little old ladies would do. Now that I am a grandmother, I resent the stereotype, but feel I am adding to it and it falls on deaf ears for me to protest that "No, no. Many many younger people are knitting these days". So it is better for my blood pressure to just avoid the conversations and not knit. I have nothing to sell, I am not an evangelical trying to convert all I see to becoming a knitter. After all, if they don't knit there will be more wool for me.

I do get my knitting time, however, and have completed 2 out of the 6 Who? hats for the granddaughters for Christmas. At this rate I may have them all done before Thanksgiving.

No comments: