Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday Tens: Ten Close Encounters of the Knitting and Crochet Kind

Sorry I'm late tonight. Here's your Tuesday Ten.

When you knit in public, other people notice. And most of those time, those people don't knit, and don't quite "speak the language." (In fact there has been some debate about calling these people "Muggles.")

When non-knitters and crocheters make comments or ask questions, I try to find a good balance between earning my "Proselytize Knitting" merit badge, without sounding like a know-it-all or boring people.

Here are ten examples of common (or in a couple of cases, unique) reactions I've had from non-knitters and crocheters who see me knitting or crocheting in public. Sometimes these people have a small amount of experience in the past, but for the most part they have no knowledge about what I'm doing.

1. "You must be very patient to do that." or "I don't have the patience to do that." Ironically, more than half the time someone says that, I'm knitting or crocheting to the pass the time somewhere boring. I'll be in a waiting room at the dentist, doctor, mechanic, sitting behind a booth at a craft show or killing time at the airport terminal when someone makes that comment. I usually say I'm too impatient not to knit. I know they're thinking about how long it takes to get to the finished product. But while their pondering this, they're usually just sitting there waiting, while I'm occupied.

2. Usually from some guy I barely know who's a little (or a lot) full of himself: "So when are you going to knit me a sweater?" It's understandable for closer friends and family. But for the random guy you barely know, (or sometimes don't know at all) it takes on a different meaning.

I remember once in high school I was running around the block for exercise, and some neighbor on their porch yelled out "Hey baby, are you running for me?" I feel like that's the tone these kind of comments take on from my point of view, although I will forgive some ignorance of the craft. Usually I counteract with some sort of price quote, ranging from several hundred to several thousands.

BTW - This type of interaction is not to be confused with a genuine interest in commissioning a sweater. Usually the price discussion turns them away, but the exchange has a different tone. I genuinely try to help them understand why the price is so high, and I'm not sarcastic about it.

3. "Is that knitting or croquet?" That's not a typo. A guy from my job has asked me this three or four times in the last month. We share a kind of mutual, friendly sarcasm, which means I'm a little more harsh with him than I would be the average person who asks the same question. Especially when he asks me what I'm sewing, or how my needlepoint is going. But I think he truly confuses the word croquet with the word crochet.

Since I grew up familiar with these types of crafts, I have to remind myself that the difference between types of needlework that are obvious to me aren't obvious to everyone else. I have the same problem when someone mentions a sports team. Half the time I may not be able to identify what sport that team plays.

Or sometimes their grandmother or aunt did both and they get confused. Usually I say a good rule of thumb is that crochet usually involves one hook, and knitting usually involves two needles. Or in my coworker's case, I might tell him to wait and ask the Queen of Hearts.



4. My grandmother taught to make these square things... I'm surprised at the number of people who have at one point learned how to crochet a granny square. I think Jules even did it once or twice.

5. I tried once, but I couldn't get the hang of it. or Maybe someday I'll learn. I usually mention the videos on knittinghelp.com as a good resource. I know they're not looking for a lesson right this second, but it's an easy website to remember at some point down the line.

6. I tried knitting with that stuff once but it was so hard, I gave up. I got this a lot when I was doing craft shows in Florida. I'd be knitting a furry scarf to pass the time, or someone would be admiring one I had for sale, and they would talk about how they tried to make one once. Because these scarves are always garter stitch, they are sometimes recommended as a beginner project. Or a friend will say "Oh, that's easy" because they know garter stitch is easy. But working with this type of yarn is not for beginners. I usually recommend trying again with a non-furry yarn, and then trying the furry stuff, or holding a strand of the furry stuff together with a non-eyelash yarn.

7. The enthralled toddler. I was sitting in airport working on this monstrosity a while back, and I caught the attention of a toddler sitting near by. He laid down underneath the it a looked up at the dangling knitting. I let him touch it, and he was thrilled. Little kids are often interested in seeing people knit. Usually I'll let them touch it, especially if it's really soft yarn. But I've never encountered a kid quite as amazed as this little boy in the airport. The Mom thanks me for letting him feel the yarn. It kept him amused for a long time.

8. "She's doing it the old fashioned way. Nowadays they do that on a sewing machine." This relates to number three and number seven. I was at my craft booth, working on a sweater. The little boy said this to his father as they crossed the street away from me. I remember wishing I could tell him more, because he seemed genuinely interested in what I was doing. I would have loved to teach him a little more, but I wasn't going to chase after him to do it.

9. "How do you make two of them?" I've only been asked this question one time, and it was baffling. I was knitting a sock in the break room at work when a coworker asked me this. I told him that I did the same thing twice. I wasn't trying to be sarcastic, but I was at a loss for an answer. It made a little more sense when he asked me how I knew what to do twice. I showed him my pattern, my notes in the margin, and my row counter, and explained that those were the ways I kept track. I think he just said "That looks really hard," or something like that.

It's probably the only question I've gotten that has truly stumped me. Of course, I can't even begin to comprehend this co-worker's fantasy football team. It seems incredibly tedious and complicated in my eyes. I try to remember that everyone is coming from a different point of view.

10. "It's a lost art, isn't it?" I usually just smile and say "You'd be surprised."

1 comment:

Cobbalicious said...

Nice post. The one that really gets me is how people suggest that you knit them a body suit or something.