Fruit of the twine

kNIP – Knitting In Public

Posted by yarnberry on June 7, 2007

This Saturday is World-Wide Knitting in Public Day.

To be honest, every day is Knitting in Public day for me. I have a long bus ride to work/school, and it’s a great time to work on a project.

Some people have theorized that knitting in public can be a feminist statement1, a way of rebelling against the way feminine pursuits have been sequestered in the home, or reclaiming the value of traditionally female work2. I like that idea, but if I’m honest, I have to admit that I started knitting in public because it never occurred to me that people would find it weird. After all, plenty of people read in public.

I hadn’t bargained on knitting’s antiquarian reputation. Debbie Stoller has said that when she started knitting on the bus, she “might as well have been churning butter, it was so strange” to the other passengers1. Friends who live in bigger cities have told me that KnIP doesn’t attract too many stares on the subway anymore, but I guess the movement hasn’t arrived here yet. People are constantly surprised to see someone my age knitting or crocheting. I get a lot of comments — especially lately when I’ve been knitting socks. There’s something about those size 00 dpns that people find fascinating.

Unfortunately for me, one of the reasons I knit in public is because I’m a bit of an introvert. I like to zone out with my knitting or crochet project and ignore the crowded bus around me. I never know what to say when people ask me about my knitting, especially when it’s one of those “hey the sky is blue” comments like “wow, those are really small needles!” (“Yes, yes they are”) or “Why are you knitting with more than one colour?” (“Because the pattern has stripes”).

I know that people are just trying to be friendly and make conversation, but I don’t seem to play well with strangers. This leads to a lot of awkward, knitting-filled pauses. I hope this kNIP thing catches on soon, so I won’t stand out so much.

  1. Brown, J. (2001). Do it yourself. Salon.com.
  2. Minahan, S. and Wolfram Cox, J. (2007). Stitch’nBitch: Cyberfeminism, a Third Place and the New Materiality. Journal of Material Culture 12(5)

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