Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Do you mind if I knit?

Recently, Kim left a comment asking about social knitting and how I do it.

See, I have never mastered the knitting while entertaining or being at someone's house. People think I'm being rude, and I succumb to the pressure and quickly put my knitting away. How DO you do it?!

This was in response to my post, late on Saturday night, in which I said the pi shawl blanky was great dinner party knitting.

It got me thinking about knitting among non-knitters and the etiquette of doing so.

I think the short answer is that from nearly the first moment I took up knitting again about four years ago, it was with other people. I crocheted in isolation for a long time, but knitting happened because of a friend, Claire, who was a newish knitter and bursting with enthusiasm for knitting. She was very attuned to what was happening around the world. She'd heard of the Stitch n Bitch book and hung around on Craftster.

She learned that people were getting together in groups, going to cafes and pubs and although we were the only younger knitters we knew then, we set about trying to set up such groups ourselves. Almost right away, we started going to the pub near my house on weekend afternoons, knitting away with beers and all afternoon chatting.

Claire has long since left town but those early days of knitting socially, albeit with another knitter, set the tone for the rest of my knitting life. I'd taken my craft out of the home, away from the couch, and into the world.

Four years on, and I've taken my knitting to all sorts of locations. Most of my good friends now know that it will happen when I'm with them. If we're sitting, eating, drinking, talking, Bells will have her knitting out faster than you can say, 'another drink anyone?'

They mostly accept that me knitting doesn't mean I'm bored with them although I'm sure we all know of situations where knitting is a reaction to boredom. It just doesn't signify boredom. We'll knit whether bored or not, right?

The challenge comes when you take the knitting out around people who either don't know you knit or, if they do know, prefer it was something you did in the privacy of your own home. It's an afront to some people and that makes it hard to be brave enough to take your knitting out.

About a year ago, I told the story of knitting at an informal cocktail gathering with a bunch of women who were not all that receptive. There were some fairly snide remarks at the time about how all those women around the world who were knitting could be doing far more important things with their time. I admit it was a bit of a social experiment to knit that night, but it also hardened my resolve to do it more.

Now, I'm less militant. I try to be very light about it. Sometimes I'll ask, 'Do you mind if I knit?' and I might explain I just like to keep my hands busy and I can concentrate just fine. Some people will joke, 'Oh, we're that boring are we?' and I'll make a joke or just explain that actually it's a sign that I'm so comfortable I'd love to be knitting.

In fact, that's really my most common method of addressing any concerns people have. I make sure it's clear that knitting is a sign of comfort, not avoidance or boredom. Unless of course it is exactly about that, in which case, I just lie!

A quick couple of things:

- the garden appears to be fine. The little shits who abused me haven't been back;

- thank you so much for all your kind wishes about IVF. Those who've been around a while know we've been doing this for nearly a year - but we've just started a new level of treatment and well, it's not going so great so far, but thank you. Kind words and support are always appreciated. I might even write about it in a little more detail some time.