30 Days of Knitting: Day 20

Day 20: Do you knit in public? Was anyone offended/incredibly happy/curious that you were doing so?

I knit in public almost every day! ♥

My preferred knitting time is during my commute to and from work, and anything else where I’m riding the train or the bus. Sometimes if it’s super-sardine-can-crowded I have to suspend my knitting activities until later, but usually there’s at least some time to get a round or two in. I know that a lot of people prefer to read when they’re on a bus or train, but that’s not a good option for me because reading in moving vehicles gives me motion sickness-related headaches. I don’t like to play around with my phone on public transportation because I’ve witnessed device on more than one occasion. The chances of my partially-finished sock being snatched out of my hands is a lot lower.I ride the train or bus on almost a daily basis, so I’ve experienced all sorts of reactions.

Sometimes it’s the common every-knitter-ever-has-heard-this-from-someone phrases that get tossed off by not-so-interested-but-still-bored-enough-to-comment-passengers, like:

“I don’t have that much patience.”

“Are you knitting?” (You’re crocheting.)

“Are you crocheting?” (You’re knitting.)

“What are you making?”

“You should knit a hat/scarf/socks for me!”

“How long does it take you to finish that?”

Other times, someone has been really, really interested in what I’ve been doing. I’ve had other riders get up and move over to sit next to me so they could watch and ask questions.  Recently, one young man (probably in high school) was so intrigued that he wanted me to explain each stitch and describe how heels are shaped into socks. (I stuck with cuff-down gusseted heels because that’s what I’m most familiar with.) Sometimes people get nostalgic and reminisce about how their grandmother or mother or aunt or beloved is or was a knitter.

I’ve also been hassled; thankfully it’s less frequent than cheerful curiosity. Middle-aged businessmen, in my experience, seem to think that knitting is only worthy when done for profit. They want to know what I sell it for (I don’t sell my projects), how long it takes me to make something (a darn long time), and why I’d bother making something I could just buy (it’s my hobby). I’ve also been accused of putting other riders at risk of injury because knitting needles are pointy and I might impale another passenger.

Most people don’t engage with me when I’m knitting, but they do like to stare at the process. Some riders, when they notice that I notice that they’re watching, will sheepishly admit that, “It’s just really interesting and I can’t look away.”

I don’t knit exclusively on the train. I also knit in casual restaurants, in bars, in parks, and anywhere else where I need to pass some time. I think the Yarn Harlot got it right when she theorized that knitting grants patience, rather than requires it. I don’t knit because I’m a patient person, I knit so that I can distract the impatient part of me. I was knitting a sock at the venue the last time my husband’s band was playing a show; it really confused the other patrons, but it kept me focused and calm even though I’d been sitting in the same place for hours. Some friends invited me to watch a televised fight with them at a bar, and I knit during that as well since fights don’t really enrapture my attention. (And my friends loved it–one of them said that knitting was the best thing that had happened at that bar and requested that I always bring projects with me if we watch fights in the future. XD)

I plan to continue to knit in public for a long time; it’s convenient! When I’m at home knitting is fun, but when I’m out and about there’s not much else I’d be doing with that time. Knitting is just unobtrusive enough that I can continue to do the things I like to do while still feeling occupied enough to not be bored out of my mind!

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