Thursday, 27 August 2009

When people don't know that you knit

I recently moved to a new team at work. This wasn't a choice. It was a restructure in which our lovely team was carved up and spread out across the department. The girl I work with and am friends with came with me but other than that, everybody is new to us.

It was because of this move that today I found myself remembering that not everyone in the world is a knitter. Nor does everyone in the world know I am a knitter.

I know! Can you believe it?

For a little while I was working in a team full of women of a certain age, and they knew about knitting. Although none of them were any longer practicing knitters, they knew stuff and so when I came to work wearing a newly finished cardigan, or with one of my small winter shawls draped around my neck like a scarf, there was stuff to talk about. It was fun! And can you imagine how it's been with all the baby knits I've been churning out for Alice? For the grandmothers in my team, there was always something to coo over.

But now? Not so much. I haven't 'come out' yet. I was wishing I had, because next Monday we have a branch planning day and historically, the only way I survive those arduous ordeals is by getting through the better part of a sock while listening to discussion about strategic plans and core competencies and all manner of less than riveting subjects.

How, I wondered, was I going to just casually whip out the knitting and deal with the inevitable questions? (Note: I don't always get questions at such events. I'm pretty low key about it. I try to spend the day with the knitting held down low, hopefully sitting as far back in the room as possible!)

Today, I came out as a knitter to my new boss quite by accident. On Thursdays, a small, merry bunch of city based workers have been getting together at lunch times to knit in a cafe that is so accepting of us they now book the big wooden table for us and one week, when the table wasn't free, provided chocolates as a token apology.

The cafe is a hop, skip and a jump from my building and today, my new director walked in and couldn't help but see me sitting at the big table. He pointed, stared, laughed a little and made general noises of surprise.

'I had no idea!' he declared.

'This is my other life!' I replied. (One of other knitters present corrected me pretty quickly - this is actually my life. Work? That's something I do on the side!)

Later, back in the office, my director turned to me and said, 'So, was that knitting?' Yes.

'And who were those people?' (Sean said I should have told him they were random strangers who just showed up spontaneously!)

I explained who they were.

'And you just go there to knit?'




'And what? You just, I dunno, chat? While you knit?'

You bet.

'Wow. How did that start?' I told him.

Again, 'really?'

By this point, both amused and slightly irritated by how long it was taking him to get it, I wanted to cry out 'Yes! Yes! We knit. In public. Together. Often. And by choice!' but I forced myself to remember that not everyone knows this.

I was wearing my Forest Canopy shawl. He pointed at it and said, 'And is this one of yours?'

'This is one of mine.'

'You clever thing!' I half expected him to pat me on the head.

I must say this just amused me, lest the way I've written it is coming off as me being impatient with my director. The slightly patronising tone bugged me a little but you know, he's clearly not got any knitters in his life (otherwise he might not have been so taken aback by it all) so I can forgive him that, and pity him a little. Who doesn't need a knitter in their life? I mean, really.

Still, it got me thinking about how this thing I love so much is just such a huge part of who I am now, and people around me are just so used to it that having to explain it, even in some small way, pulls me up short and makes me realise I take so much of what it means to me for granted and we should never take the good stuff for granted, should we?

I'll leave you with the start of my Shetland Triangle shawl in the glorious Socks that Rock yarn I bought recently, in Winter Solstice. This is a fabulous counterpoint to my black lace stole, which, frankly, has been killing my eyes. I needed some lace that wasn't sending me blind!

Shetland Triangle Shawl - beginning

Pretty huh?