I love seeing handknits in the wild. It fills me with joy when I notice someone wearing something handmade, and wonder to myself whether they made it themselves or if they’re loved by a fiber crafter. I get absolutely geeked when I see people stitching in public, as though I’m getting a sneak peak into their crafting studio as they work on whatever is on their needles/hooks. And I wonder what people think when they see me stitch in public.
I used to do it a lot more than I am now. Mostly you would find me at my favourite coffee shop downtown with friends, our needles flashing as we gab and laugh. It’s actually how I met my best friends – A and C. I met A when I felt brave and social and decided to go to a Knit in Public event (it was June 2012 – KIP events are always June, so I’ll never forget). We were the only ones who came (basically), so we sat at a small table, stitching away. It felt a bit weird and awkward, sitting with this mostly-a-stranger, not knowing if we really had too much in common. I was working on a sock at the time, and had just finished turning the heel. As I’m apt to do (because I’m a funny girl who sometimes doesn’t consider the audience and whether they’ll appreciate the joke or not), I held up my sock for her to see, and commented on how my sock penis was coming. Next was 10 solid minutes of laughing so hard neither of us could breathe … and I had never really had an experience where someone went from stranger-to-insta-best-friend … but there it was. A few months later, another public knitting event, A invited C along, and over the next year or so the three of us became very close. These women are my rocks right now, and have been with me through some very difficult times, and I can’t imagine life without them. ♥
As I mentioned previous, I’m a bit behind on a ton of projects I’d like to get done, so I’ve been bring my knitting with me frequently. Both last week and this week I brought knitting to bowling, I even had knitting while sitting at a brewery waiting for friends. I try my best not to overthink it – it’s not any different to reading in public, or playing games on my phone in public … …
But sometimes people will come up and comment on it. And I love educating people whereever I can. Multiple people at bowling asked me what I was crocheting this week (when I was knitting on socks for The Husband), so I was happy to explain the difference if they wanted to listen. I enjoy the looks of shock and awe when I knit without looking at my knitting (especially for simple easy patterns, like the 3×1 ribbing on the leg of the socks I’m working on). I enjoy the compliments (who doesn’t!) on how skillful I am, or how quick my fingers move. On the other hand, we currently exist in a society where most people feel they can comment what they want on something they see, without considering if it’s rude or insensitive. I was asked if there was something “I wanted to tell everyone”, which was followed by making a round motion in front of their belly (as though to imply I was knitting because I was pregnant). I have frequently gotten comments on being “old” and “how old are you?” as I knit, as though this particular craft is reserved for a certain age group. I am the first in a lot of lines to break a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions … but if my anxiety is spiked for any reason (which is was on Tuesday at bowling where some of these comments were made), it gets a bit more difficult to want to continue to knit in public.
I mean, for me, your comments aren’t going to stop me knitting if it’s something I need to do (and it’s crunch time right now). But it is going to give me pause about whether I should bring it if I don’t absolutely need to. It gives me pause about talking about my knitting with others. And, most sadly, it gives me pause about knitting for others. Especially now when I’ve launched this blog, and other social media sites, and advertising my knitting as well as the mental disorders I fight with knitting. I want to knit for other people, and since I’m a process knitter who can’t knit much more for myself, if I can knit for someone and make some money from it why not? What the comments make me want to do is speak louder about knitting and benefits of it. It gives me great hand-eye co-ordination. It keeps my hands busy from fidgeting with my wedding ring, or pockets, or the cuffs of my shirt, or a necklace I might be wearing, or whatever else my fingers may toy with to try to distract an anxiety spike. It gives me a sense of pride and joy to have this skill, use it almost daily, and share it with others. It has helped me deal with a long distance marriage, an eating disorder, a polyamorous break-up, an anxiety disorder, and the stresses of day-to-day life through everything I go through.
I think I need to knit more in public. I think I need to seek out hole-in-the-wall or lesser known hang out places in my city, and bring along a friend and knitting and just enjoy myself. That’s the whole point – enjoying the process. I enjoy knitting in public, and I hope you do too.