Monday, October 04, 2010

Spinning in Public

For a long time I have been an advocate for knitting in public.

It started in university, when I could not stand yet another class with Professor Valentin Boss. I loved, loved, loved him my first year. History of the Soviet Union was magic. The next year, The History of the Russian Intelligentsia was pretty darn interesting. But by the time I got to The History of Russia from Stalin to Gorbachev, I was done. Knitting a lopi stranded sweater was what got me through.

I positioned myself according to perceived prejudice and disapproval. I did all my reading beforehand, and I had my notebook and pen handy, but I didn't need them, or use them, as much as I had my other classes. My hands had to do something as my brain told me I had already heard this info several times previously.

I completed the sweater and gave it to my boyfriend who had just dumped me. Although we were no longer together, he did really appreciate the sweater and proceeded to wear it to Baffin Island on a medical rotation. That's the picture of the sweater on the island above.

I went on to knit a couple other sweaters during my final years of classes, and then on into graduate school. I usually knit when I had the felt need to do something productive, when the class was slow, when I already knew the material, or when I felt like scratching my eyeballs out. I almost always "hid" in the second row or further back, and didn't feel I needed to be taking many notes. It wasn't till graduate school that I felt I should ask permission, and I strongarmed the poor man into saying yes.

I never felt like a freak. I felt like a productive member of society.

I have knit in public many, many times since then. I have knit in airplanes, buses, trains, cars, and reclining bikes. I have knit in churches, nurseries, schools, and funerals. I have knit on field trips, in museums, and in aerobic classes. I always felt like I was enriching the lives of those around me. I rarely have people talk to me about it. I rarely see another person knitting.

Spinning is different. In the last week since I took the spindling class, I now feel confident as a drop spindler. I have taken the spindle on the road and spun at 3 cross country meets, a mall, and a Science Museum. I feel like a freak. People stare at me, and have no idea at all what I am doing. When I tell them, if they ask, they still don't understand, nor do they understand what I will do with the product when I am done. Only at the Science museum did one woman seem to "get it" and show enthusiam. My mother-in-law patently ignored what I was doing, never asked what it was or why I was walking around doing that.

Oh, well. Do others of you have this experience? Are there more spinners in other parts of the country, and so they don't encounter this? I can't ever remember seeing anyone else spindle, except at, maybe, a historical reenactment.

Any helps?

1 comment:

twinsetellen said...

I have spindled at airports, waiting for planes. But then I drop the spindle so often I get embarrassed and put it away. As I get better, it will come out in public more often.

Interestingly, I find my male engineering friends "get" spinning and wouldn't be freaked by me pulling it out at work, but knitting is too domestic for them. I think that they just don't understand that spinning is even more domestic - but it's unfamiliarity protects it from being seen as something trivial.