Thursday, January 15, 2009

Who? Me?

I don't have a problem. I really don't. It's just that the rest of the world doesn't understand me, that's all.

It all started out innocently enough. A sweater here or there. The occassional sock. Harmless, social knitting. All in fun, really.

Then the kids came, and layettes were needed. And as the kids grew, new sweaters and mittens and socks had to be knit. After all, kids grow so fast. And since I was knitting for my kids anyway, why not knit for others as well? I mean, I was getting paid for it, so I HAD to do it, right?

When the local yarn shop closed, there were a few rough days. Sure, I started eying the cats and wondering how many brushings it would take to get a sweater...but I didn't actually DO anything.

It was Steve who brought the spinning wheel home and said, "Hey, Honey, try THIS." I see now that that may have been the beginning of the end. As yarn was spun, it had to be knit, and as the yarn got knit up, more had to be spun. It was a vicious circle from which there was no escape.

In order to spin faster and better, I travelled to learn the craft. The more I learned, the more I needed to know. I became a Master Spinner. I learned to weave and dye and felt. But the knitting was always there, waiting. A warm comfort at the end of the day. Something to do in the car or the airport. A quick escape from the pressures of family, work, or school. Something to take the edge off.

Only, recently, I have begun to wonder if I may have developed a dependency.

I mean, keeping a mitten in the bathroom cabinet to knit while I was in the bathtub was really just part of the Christmas knitting subterfuge. I couldn't knit that mitten out in public where Julia might see it. That would ruin the surprise of the gift.

Carrying a sock in my purse to work on in doctor's offices, or while waiting in the car for kids, has always seemed so safe and practical. But a couple of weeks ago, after checking my purse to ensure that I had my keys, my cell phone and my knitting, I set out on a series of errands. And at stop number one, I discovered that I had left my wallet at home. BUT I HAD MY KNITTING! So I knit a couple of rounds to calm down, then I went home to retrieve my wallet. Everything was fine.

And the fact that I have barely left the house since the beginning of the New Year has nothing to do with the fact that I have been spinning cotton for 4 hours every afternoon, or the entrelac sock that I just have to knit one more row of squares on. It's because it's been really, really cold and the road conditions are really bad.

But I've noticed that people are beginning to stare.

We recently travelled to Banff for a family wedding at the Banff Springs Hotel. Steve's family doesn't gather together very often, with so many family members scattered so far apart, so it was a wonderful reunion of his siblings and all of their offspring. The weather was bitterly cold, but the wedding was beautiful and the company was warm and convivial.

With the chill in the air, so many tourists were bundled up in their woolly best. Apparently, though, people don't appreciate you following them down Banff Avenue, staring at their heads, trying to figure out the stitch pattern on their toques.

And there was nothing wrong with stashing a sock in Julia's purse on the way to the wedding ceremony. I didn't knit on it until we were having lunch in the lounge afterwards. Well, I mean, the service was really slow. C'mon! Why were people looking at me like that?

Sure, we went back to our hotel room for a rest before the reception and I finished a button band on my llama cardigan while Steve and Brendan snoozed, but I did go to the reception without my knitting. We were late for cocktails, but that was because it took so long to get a cab, not because I wanted to sew the buttons on before we left.

The woman who stood behind me in the Starbucks on the way home, who looked at my knitting and said (somewhat patronizingly, in my opinion), "Oh, aren't you industrious!" gave me pause, though. Industrious? Is that what people think this is?

The other woman, who was admiring my handspun, handknit scarf at the grocery store last week and asked "Where do you find the time? Don't you have things to do?" also made me stop and think--once I calmed down and got over the urge to gouge her eyes out with my dpns. What do you mean "things to do"? Isn't knitting doing a thing?

So I started to wonder if maybe I did have a problem. Not being able to go out the door without something fuzzy in my purse, but forgetting my wallet. Knitting to calm my nerves in social situations. Stashing knitting in odd spots in order to get in a few rows while no one is looking. Just a few rows to help me relax before bedtime. That sounded like an addiction to me. I started considering a twelve-step program.

Then I remembered that the British Royal Navy actually encouraged sailors to knit to keep them from other, less desirable pursuits. That Ghandi taught the people of India that spinning for two hours every day would lead them to independence. That Victorian ladies believed that knitting was a far more suitable occupation for women of good breeding than housework.

And I remembered that this is my job! People pay me to knit them sweaters and shawls, and to teach them how to spin and knit for themselves. If someone brings their laptop home from the office to finish a report, they are admired for their work ethic. If someone carries their Blackberry in their coat pocket and checks it in the grocery store line-up, they are dedicated to their work. I am simply doing the same thing with my work.

So, I have come to the conclusion that I do not have a problem.

And now that I have that off my chest, I'm going to go work a couple of rows of ribbing to settle my nerves.


  1. Cindy M6:38 PM

    I just discovered your blog via Twist of Fate (after receiving some of her lovely hand dyed for Christmas). Any way, I am so glad you've come to the conclusion that you do not have a problem because as I read, I realized that I've knit in pretty much all the same situations (and really, some weddings are rather long - why not there too?) and received some of the same comments.
    Thanks for the chuckle!

  2. I didn't knit at a wedding or reception but I did knit at the shower! I knit while I read but only plain knitting, usually socks. Wish I could knit while walking too but I tend to trip. Looking forward to taking your "Fistful of Colours" class at ANWG.