Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Does this knitting make me look unemployed?

Sometimes on Ravelry I see threads with titles like, "I hate telling people what I'm knitting" or "Do you hate knitting in public?"  I can't relate because, actually, I love it when people open the door to talking about knitting.  It's one of my favorite topics, and while I try not to bring it up too much with non-knitters (the same way I hope my son doesn't talk exclusively about Minecraft) I'm happy to give real answers if people ask me questions about what I'm making, about the patterns I write, or about knitting in general.

In the same way, I'm a big Knit in Public person.  I don't like to feel like I'm wasting my time in waiting rooms, or while hanging out while my kids do this or that.  So if I'm out in public for any reason other than maybe running errands, I probably have my knitting in my bag, just in case some free time presents itself.

This past Saturday, we went out to watch a parade that our son's marching band was in.  I knew we had a 30-minute drive to the town the parade was in, plus we would be sitting at the end of the route, so I knew we'd have a little wait before anything exciting happened, so of course I had a project with me.  The sweater that needed a new hood-top, actually.  As I was sitting there, I had quite a few comments....some pretty typical, but one guy who caught me a little by surprise!

One lady marching in the parade walked by me and yelled, "Hey!  Are you making a scarf!?"  I didn't yell back that it was an almost-finished sweater sitting in my lap.  Maybe that lady likes her scarves extra-large!  Next, a politician walked by in the parade, shaking hands with anyone he could reach.  I could see I wasn't going to get away with leaving my hands full of knitting, so I put it down to shake his hand.  He said to me, "I just saw a tv show about that!"  Yes, Mr. Politician, I bet you watch lots of knitting shows.  Maybe I should vote for you because you're just like me! ;)

Then an odd man ambled up.  He approached my family and said to no one in particular, "You know how you can make $135?"  No one was answering, so I said something like, "Nope.  How?" hoping the answer was going to be appropriate to say in front of my kids.  He told me, "You can go across the street to the court house and sign up to be an election judge!" 

With good humor, I asked him, "Do I look unemployed?"  He told me, "No! I mean, I'm retired, and I've done it."  (I'm 37, and I don't think I'm knocking on the door of being confused with a senior citizen quite yet.)  I asked him, "Does knitting make me look like I need a job?"  He just went on about what a great gig being an election official is, and how it's so easy to sign up.  We nodded and smiled and he decided to move on to another group of victims fine citizens farther up the street.  They weren't knitting, so I guess he has other ways of figuring out if people might want to be election officials. 

It just gave me a little moment of pause because that's honestly the first time I've been a little surprised at someone's reaction to the fact that I'm knitting.  I have read the threads about negative reactions on Ravelry,  and it's not like I thought people were making that stuff up, but it's just not part of my world-view that people would see a person making something with their own hands, mind & creativity and think that it deserved anything other than appreciation and respect.  I come from a family of people who can make all sorts of things, and among the people I know, those skills are celebrated, not looked down on as something "quaint" or "something to do if you have nothing left to do".

I'm sure there was a chance that this man didn't target me because I was knitting, but I was sitting there with my two kids and husband while a senior-citizen woman was sitting alone a couple feet away from us.  I do find it interesting that he approached me (who I would think looked like I had plenty to do), but completely skipped the lady next door.  

At any rate, I think I'll pass on the election official gig!

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