Friday, December 01, 2006

I Am a Knitter

I am a knitter. I have earned the title not through any great talent or expertise, but through my love and passion for knitting. My work dyeing yarn is merely an extension of my love of knitting and fiber.

Now as a knitter, I admit that I am prone to certain behavior that may seem odd to those who know nothing of the obsession. I was at Nordstrom’s Rack recently and came across a table of sweaters. One in particular caught my eye, as I didn’t recognize the textured stitch. It was a finely knit sweater and so to examine the stitches more closely was no easy task. I’m right on the cusp of needing bifocals and have found over the past six months that seeing anything small requires me to hold the item so close to my eyes that I might as well just rest it on the bridge of my nose! I thought nothing of doing this right there in the middle of the store, because I am a knitter and needed to know what type of stitch it was.

The trendy looking girl in her early twenties who was browsing the opposite end of the table of sweaters from me didn’t seem to think my behavior was so rational. She gave me a look of disdain and condescension that no girl in her twenties should ever give to a woman in her forties, regardless of whether that older woman appears to be burying her face in a sweater. Perhaps she thought I was attempting to surreptitiously wipe my nose with the garment?

The other night, at my weekly bowling league during the 15 minutes or so before start time when folks are milling about, I noticed a fellow bowler sitting at a table intently focused on knitting what appeared to be a simple scarf. Being a knitter I had no choice but to approach her, despite the fact that we had never before exchanged a word. You know the drill, right? I walked right up to her and asked her what she was working on. It was obvious that she was new to knitting by the way she held the needles and slowly wrapped the yarn tightly around the needle and carefully pulled each stitch through.

I was polite. I smiled. I took an interest in her work. She was rude. She frowned. She took no interest in meeting a fellow knitter.

This gal will never be a knitter. She’s a fantastic bowler, carrying an average around 200. She’s young and has attitude to spare (no bowling pun intended, but feel free to wince nonetheless). Her response to my friendly approach seemed to come from a bowling place rather than a knitting place. I could see the thoughts behind her cold, mean eyes. She was wondering how this 40-something woman who struggles to hit the pocket consistently and is known to miss easy spares could dare to speak to her! I think it took every ounce of restraint she had to remember that one should be at least reasonably cordial to others within the league. I believe she wanted to tell me to get the hell away from her and not dare speak to her again until I brought my average up by at least 25 pins.

I just continued talking a bit about knitting while I internally boiled at the lack of respect this gal was showing toward a far more experienced knitter. And then the devil took hold of me. I reached out and touched the end of the ugly green acrylic scarf she was knitting and – before departing abruptly to return to my bowling teammates - said something along the lines of: “Well, have fun with your knitting. Just keep practicing and your stitches will eventually look more even and neat. You won’t always feel so slow and awkward. If you really enjoy it, maybe you can even treat yourself to some decent yarn.”
Of course, I said this with a smile and even added a bit of extra sugar to my tone.

Yes, I thought I had cut her down to size with my wicked tongue-lashing. But alas, my cutting words were lost on her. She just looked relieved that I was walking away before any of the other twenty-something-year-old, 200+ average bowling gals in the league saw her in conversation with a middle-aged woman who throws a pathetic 12-pound ball!

Nope. This gal will never be a knitter.

Over the summer, at one of my husband’s softball games, I had a similar encounter. Well actually, not similar at all, but it started off about the same. I spotted a young gal in her twenties watching the game from behind the opposing team’s dugout, knitting a scarf with some type of hideous neon-colored eyelash yarn, intently focused on each and every stitch. Just as with the bowling incident, I got up from where I sat and approached her.

At the time when I spotted this gal, my knitting was still in my knitting bag and I was thumbing through a book of Fair Isle patterns. When I got up and walked over to this gal, I still had the book in my hand, with my fingers marking the spot where I’d left off. As I went through the drill of introducing myself and starting a conversation about knitting, this young gal’s eye caught the book in my hand. When I saw her looking at it inquisitively, I held it out to her and said something about how it was a book of charted color patterns. On the cover of the book was a photo of a beautiful, intricately patterned Fair Isle sweater. The young woman reached out tentatively and barely touched the cover of the book, the tips of her fingers grazing the shiny surface. She looked at me wide-eyed and slightly awestruck and asked, “Can you do that?”

That young woman at the softball game will be a knitter some day. The gal at the bowling alley, well, she’ll never be a knitter and she’ll likely always be a …. Oops. I won’t say it. No need to be nasty.

Happy Knitting all!


DebbieKnitter said...

HAHAHAHA OMG I am DYING laughing. That bowling alley bimbo deserves every bit of sarcasm you can give her!! You know, being someone who has a hard time walking up to someone to make friends, I have adorned the fact that whenever I take my knitting somewhere, there is always someone who comes up to me and starts a really nice conversation, and believe me, it is always a relief to have this happen because then I can comfortably chat with them and not worry about my "shy nerves". Shame on that gal!!!! I hope you never stop chatting with "newbie knitters" it can make all the difference in the world to someone who is shy!

Tandi said...

That is too funny and so true! I always have people come up to me when I knit in public and I usually have to go talk to people who I see knitting. Shame on her for being so stuffy.

Erica said...

not all twenty-somethings are ___. Granted I am a later-twenty-something who has never really felt like a twenty-something, but that's besides the point. :) I do know what you are talking about though. I was at work the other day and the daughter of one of my patients was knitting a green garter stitch scarf. I was caught staring at her because she was holding the yarn in her right hand. (I mention this point because I held the yarn on the right only for a fraction of a second when I was then schooled in the "right way of doing things" by my grandmother and haven't looked back since). Seeing how I was caught mid-stare I then had to explain to her that I knit... that I am going to show a woman how to knit after the holidays and thought it would be a good idea to refresh in case she wants to hold the yarn on the right... She then asked me what I was knitting and I told her of the holiday projects and what I was planning on knitting after that... I got the wide eyed look and she told me that she could never do the "more complicated" stuff... and asked me how I learned to do it... I had to think for a moment and then realized that the thought had never occurred to me that I couldn't knit something - instead I usually just envision the completed project, dive in and figure it out as I go. I don't know that I consider myself a knitter yet though, the passion and the desire are definitely there but there is just so much that I want to knit and create that I haven't been able to do yet. Maybe one of these days I will join the ranks of the Knitters, but until then, I give you your deserved respect and honor as you've undoubtedly earned it! :) (that goes for all Knitters out there btw)

Stacey said...

So true, so summed it up so perfectly!!!

nicole said...

I am a knitter, too. I don't always approach people who I see knitting because I typically fear the worst--that they will react in the way that the bowler did. However, whenever I am approached I try to respond and engage my inquistor.

Recently, a co-worker was on a plane and noticed someone knitting. She was interested in the stitch pattern that the woman was knitting, so she asked, "What are you knitting?" The other woman responded, "A scarf," then turned her back to my co-worker. Turned her back!! Can you imagine?

P.S. I recently bought some of your yarn. It is lovely!

loribird said...

Well, I'm still (for a couple years, anyway) in my twenties, and if you ever see me knitting away, feel free to come over and chat - in fact, I'd consider you rude if you didn't!
And I also inspect sweaters in stores - I go even farther, though, and loudly announce "Checking out the stitch pattern!" to anyone who dares give me the hairy eyeball...

~Tonia~ said...

Hahahahahaha!!! That was too funny. I think the bowling alley girl need to stick to holding balls in her hand than knitting needles. ;) How sweet that the girl at the ball game. Looked like a deer in the head lights at the amazing things that can be done knitting. Yes she will be a knitter. Have you seen her since? Just wondering how her eyelash scarf turned out.

Lynne E. said...

When I was twentyish (many years ago), I was extremely self-conscious about my knitting. Thus I didn't welcome the attentions of the "busybody" on the California Zephyr (Chicago-to-Omaha run) who spotted me knitting English-style, and sat down in the empty seat next to me saying she could show me a better way to knit. Presumably, she wanted to teach Continental style, but I just wanted to knit! So I froze her out, and I don't have any particular regrets about it today. But now if she came over to teach me something, I'd listen, and enjoy the opportunity to gab about knitting.

That said, I'm off to cast on a pair of socks in your beautiful Citrus colorway!

anne said...

hahahah! i'm sucha goofball about knitting that i never even catcht those kind of signals—i just keep on talking and talking. if they are going to knit, they might as well see what they will turn into some day. i make them walk away from ME! (it's that they back away that makes me wonder . . .)

MonicaPDX said...

ROFLMAO! And really, it makes it even funnier that the bowler didn't seem to register the setdown. [eg] Not only stuck-up, but thick! You're right. She's never gonna be a knitter. What do you bet she never makes it beyond garter-stitch scarf stage, and still thinks she knows everything about knitting?

Great giggle for the day, Deb - thanks!

(Heh - verfication sswvw - gee, sounds like a knit abbreviation...)

Dorothy said...

I can so identify with your post! I do approach people who are knitting in public and it's pretty easy to assess within the first minute who has the potential to be Knitter (capital K) versus a knitter (small k). It is discouraging sometimes, though, not to be appreciated by the knitters. A couple of years ago, I wore my new lace shawl to a party - intricately knit in laceweight. Do you know who got all the attention? One of the other party goers who was showing off her new fun fur scarf! Sigh.

Knitting Bandit said...

Loved your story. A funny thing (kinda sad too) happened as I ead it--I thought how embarassed I was that girls my age act like that, then I realized --Holy Crap! I'm almost forty! It's awesome when I forget that! I'm looking forward to getting my lost yarn in Bath, Michigan! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I had the forty something person who was rude to a 20 some(this was a long time ago) thing attempting to knit. I still knit right handed and I knit a lot but, this woman wouldn't talk to me about knitting until I learned the "Proper" way. I still look for others who knit right hand off the needle to wrap the needle hand back on the needle to finish stitch. Then I tell keep it up! LoL karen

Katinka said...

I've been knitting for about 11 months now, and when the knitting-for-decades grandmother down the street asks me how it's coming, I'm thrilled to pieces. When she asked me for the lace pattern of a scarf that I was making for my own grandmother, I felt like I'd *arrived*. :D