Knitting in the public sphere

I made an interesting discovery this weekend: knitting in public places invokes social interaction.

I am an introvert, and when I travel my preference is to do my own thing in my cramped little space, be it reading, writing, sleeping, or knitting. In most cases, airplane neighbors are more than willing to accommodate these wishes and will ignore me until one of us needs to use the lavatory.

But when I bring my knitting project on board, a curious thing happens. Airplane neighbors, who otherwise would have likely ignored me, begin asking me about my knitting…

“what are you making?”

“you can knit? that is amazing!”

“my daughter knits and crochets too.”

…and the conversations develop from there.

On the flight to San Francisco, I chatted with a Bainbridge Island high school teacher (and mother of 3). She and her husband were on their way to Hawaii. We talked about the state of education, colleges, and Washington vs. Oregon (they used to live in Eugene).

On the flight home, I was seated next to a young man from Puerto Rico who had been going to school, working, living, and exploring his way across the United States for a few months. Jose decided to travel to Seattle at the last minute, picking up a ticket for a mere $70 less than 12 hours before the flight. He’ll be working 25 hours a week on a farm, somewhere east of Seattle and exploring Puget Sound on the weekends. Our conversation began with his excited enthusiasm at my knitting; learning to knit was on his short-term goals list. We parted ways with me listing off as many Seattle and Western Washington sites and activities I could think of.

Through it all, I managed to knit at a steady pace.

Although a part of me desperately wanted solitude on the plane rides, it was fun just chatting with people and learning snippets of their stories.

This weekend has shown that I am more approachable when I am intensely focused on not dropping a stitch, as opposed to when I am casually reading a magazine. Is it because these activities, at their core, were often done in groups? Think about your favorite Jane Austen (or period film), with all those ladies knitting or doing needlepoint together.  From my own perspective, when I see someone knitting or crocheting, I find that I can identify with them.

Do you find that being crafty in public draws more comment and social interaction from complete strangers? Do you actively engage others you see crafting in public?

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