I do quite a bit of knitting in public. I knit in coffeeshops, I knit while waiting for movies to start, I knit anywhere that I have to queue for a long-ish period of time. I knit at bars and in restaurants, at concerts and orchestra performances, on buses and trains and planes, in parks and on my own front porch. I almost always carry a sock-in-progress tucked away in my purse, and anytime that I have to wait I'll pull it out and work a few rows. It keeps me from being impatient, and if the wait runs long this way I end up with a half inch of sock instead of a frayed temper. It keeps my hands busy, and keeps me from feeling like I've wasted any amount of time.
That's all well and good, but -- and this may just be the gleeful nonconformist in me speaking -- I think that my favorite part of knitting in public is watching other people's reactions to it.
Most people will ignore it, quite obviously and deliberately. Some are better at this than others, but most will glance at it, then look away and very studiously avoid looking back.
Other people will stare. Long and hard and without making eye contact with me at all. They'll just watch my needles and yarn with an expression that will range somewhere between mild bemusement to utter bafflement.
Those are expected, typical even, for me to encounter. But I've never yet run into anyone who appeared to actually dislike my knitting. I ran into someone like that the other day for the first time, which is what prompted this entry.
I tagged along with Jason, who is in the market for a new bike, when he went over to a local bike shop to try a couple of their bikes out to help him narrow down his decision. While he was off taking them for a test run, I took advantage of the nice weather and stood out on the sidewalk in front of the shop and knit away on my hat. Most people were either ignoring me or staring at the yarn.
Then an older gentleman approached from up the sidewalk, eyeing my knitting with a furrowed brown and a small frown of mild consternation on his face. As he drew closer and got a good look at what I was doing, his expression changed to the exact expression I'd have expected to see on someone if they'd caught me performing a mystical voodoo ritual in the middle of a public sidewalk, complete with animal sacrifice and a bubbling cauldron. This guy actually crossed to the other edge of the sidewalk so that he could pass by as far away from me as he could get, all the while regarding my knitting with extreme repugnance. I should mention that not once did he look at me. Just at my hat-in-progress.
So, confusion? Yes. Disbelief? Got that one too. Revulsion? That's a new one for me. I'm still not quite sure what to make of it.
That's not to say that everyone is weird about knitting, of course. A surprisingly large number of people will come forward to comment that their mother/grandmother/aunt/cousin/whoever knits, and they'll tell me a bit about the knitter in their life. Or I'll get asked fairly often what it is that I'm making, which is a good safe question, and then we'll chat a bit about that and how it's nice to have a warm hobby when I live somewhere with cold winters. And of course, knitting in public is like throwing up the Bat Signal to anyone else who happens to knit themselves, and those conversation are always nice.
I just can't get over that guy. Maybe he had a bad experience with knitting in the past, though I'm at something of a loss to even imagine what.
Anyhow. Oh! Along the topic of knitting in public, I just got this cute little bag that makes it so much easier.
It's from Stitched by Sasha. She's got an Etsy store, and her bags are also for sale through my LYS, Natural Stitches. They're very well made, sturdy and thick enough that an errant needles won't poke through, and fully lined with a complimenting fabric on the inside. A ball of sock yarn fits perfectly into it with plenty of room left for the sock-in-progress. Best of all, they've got a handy little loop on the top that's just the perfect size for hooking over my forearm so that I can knit while standing up, and the ball of yarn is right there so that I can tug free more yarn whenever I need with a minimum amount of fuss.
The most difficult part about buying this bag was trying to decide which fabric I wanted. I settled for this one because it's bright pink, but in her shop right now she's got really cute ones and I sort of wish I'd taken a browse through there rather than buying from my LYS. (although I needed to do that for my Bingo card, so even if I could do it over again I'd end up with this bright pink one.) She chooses such great fabrics for these bags that no matter which one I pick, I'm pretty much doomed to finding another one I like just as much.
I've currently got the travelling sock's mate in there (as pictured above) as my on-the-go project since it's the only thing I've currently got on the needles right now that's simple enough to be knit while I'm out and about.
Everything else is coming along nicely. I finished the intarsia bits on Secret Christmas Project #1 and pinned that down for a quick blocking last night. Intarsia and fair isle (yeah, I totally cheated on part of this and did fair isle instead of intarsia) always look better after a blocking evens everything out, and since the finished project isn't a nice flat easily blockable thing, I went ahead and pinned it out and used my quick and dirty blocking method that's proved useful in the past. Rather than a full soaking and because I don't own a spray bottle, I pin down the project around the edges, dunk a washcloth in water and press it to the areas I need to block. Just those areas end up wet, and the whole thing dries in less than a day. I pinned it out last night, and by the time I got home from work it's dry enough for me to get it back on the needles tonight. Easy peasy.
I'm off to go knit on it some more. I think I can get the fiddly bits of it done tonight, and then I'll be onto the easy parts to take it into Knitting Night tomorrow. Wish me luck!