Thursday, April 14, 2011

Making a Public Spectacle of Myself

I love that knitting and (if you're using a drop spindle) spinning are such portable hobbies. I never leave the house without a project (or three) in my bag, in my purse or in my pocket. The one thing that I actually like about commuting to work every day is that I've got two 45-minute long blocks per day to knit while I'm on the train.

I'm pretty well known on the 6:13 train out of Penn Station and people who regularly sit near me not only ask me about what I'm knitting and notice when I've started something new, they recognize things that they've seen while I was working on them. I've even noticed some of them pointing me out to newcomers like proud parents showing off a child's artwork.

I tend to get much more attention when I spin than when I knit. Most people have seen someone knitting before at some point in their lives and it's something that they more or less recognize. Spinning, though, they don't usually get. Even when I try to explain it to them, they don't seem to always understand how the fluffy stuff in my hand is going to eventually be turned into a piece of clothing via the twirly-stick-thing that I'm holding. When I spin on the train I tend to see a lot of heads popping up over the backs of seats like little urban prairie dogs. There also tend to be a lot of camera phones pointed oh so casually in my general direction.

Usually if I catch the eye of one of my observers I'll just give them a little smile or a nod. Sometimes it scares them away and they quickly look down at their book or their phone, but sometimes they'll take the opening and ask me what I'm doing. This is followed by a general sigh of relief in the immediate area that somebody finally asked and other people will sometimes take the opportunity to ask additional questions.

Some of the most frequently asked questions I've gotten:
Is it cheaper than just buying yarn? (It generally takes me a few seconds to stop laughing after this one) No, it is not cheaper. Not by any stretch of the imagination, but somewhat perversely, the more labor intensive something is, the more money my friends and I are willing to spend on it.

Why do it if it's not any cheaper? Because knitting isn't weird enough and spinning is hugely entertaining. Also, I will have yarn when I'm done that isn't like the yarn that anyone else will have.

What do you do with it? Frequently nothing. I spin the yarn faster than I can knit it and I have so much in the house that I usually forget where it is. My intent when I'm spinning it though is to eventually knit or weave something with it.

Is that the natural color of the sheep? Occasionally the answer is yes, but frequently the answer is "although it would really be cool if someone were to manage to breed a blue sheep, this particular fiber was dyed. "


teabird said...

Ah yes - the sheer joy of using a twirly-stick thing to make more expensive yarnz that you have no immediate plans to use! And then explaining that to strangers. Love it!
(In fact, as you know, I do love it!)

LICraftgal said...

And as one lady said, "we do this so we don't need prozac"!! Yes spinning yarn is great!