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Posted by Miss Knotty on July 27, 2006

Okay, my knitting thread on YahooGroups has had an interesting thread lately, and I’m going to post my thoughts here, rather than eating up threadspace:

As an avid KIPper I have to pay careful attention to when and with whom I knit, and what I knit, also.

When: If I’m intentionally KIPping, it’s because I want to invite comments and talk about my hobby, invite people to join me and talk about projects, what I’ve got that I’m working on, what they’re working on, etc. It’s for me to spread the joy that I find in knitting to as wide a group as possible. I get a number of responses. Here are some of the more common ones:

1) Snotty smirks from middle-aged and older gentlemen – this usually happens if I’m KIPping alone – they won’t come near a group of women knitting – they know better… theoretically. (I’m 25 – if he’s older than me by 10 years and I can tell – he’s middle aged or older) – ‘you KNIT? I thought only OLD women knit. My GRANDMOTHER used to knit…’ that sort of thing, or something offensive about women’s work and setting back women’s lib. I usually ignore these comments or put on my best squeaky annoying-voice ingenue impression and say something to the effect of ‘ really? you think this is old women’s work? Hmm. I’ll have to ask around at knitting guild. Thanks for stopping by to tell me that.’ Then I go back to my knitting and don’t bother further engaging said person in conversation. Then I get the ‘intense’ look. See Below.

2) ‘Hip’ women around my age (I can tell they’re ‘hip’ by the trendy clothes) who, sometimes with rude tone and sometimes with sort-of-longing tone (this depends on whether they’re with their friends or not, generally) say ‘oh, I don’t know how you can do that. I tried and it all tied up in knots in my hands.’ Or – ‘I did that when I was younger…’, or, my particular favorite, ‘I don’t know how you find time to knit!’ (and then they go sit down with their girlfriend at the next table and chat for the next 30 minutes. Oh, the irony.)

3) Kids. Kids are fascinated by crafts. Kids are particularly fascinated by people who do crafts in public. If a kid comes up to me, and there’s an adult attending to said kid, I’ll get a nod from the adult in question and then talk to the kid about knitting, about how I learned, about what I’m making, and (if their hands are reasonably clean), I’ll let them touch the fiber – (look how soft! that kind of thing). If the kid is by itself, I usually will just give it a little nod and look anxiously around for SOME adult that is (or is supposed to be) watching this kid, but won’t engage the kid at all, if possible. Sometimes I’ll even ask the kid where its Mom, Dad, babysitter, relative, etc. is. I’ve been known to be rude to kids, if they’re rude to me – it’s not my responsibility to teach them manners, and if they don’t have any manners with me, then I’m not going to bother being polite back. It’s these kids that I’ll usually say something like, ‘excuse me, I was talking to this lady. I’ll talk to you when we’re done. Or ‘That’s really rude. You should know better. Where is your [insert caregiver name here]?’. It’s not that I don’t like kids – although I’ll freely state that I don’t like unruly and/or undisciplined kids. At all. – It’s just that in a society as litigious as ours is in the good ole US of A, I don’t want to get sued for talking to a kid. And it could happen. Stranger things have happened – Old people get millions of dollars for pouring coffee on themselves and then complaining that they didn’t know it would be hot. I’m not having some huffed-up parent suing me because I talked to their kid. Noooo way.

When: I knit a lot. I freely admit this. Most of the time, my KIPping events are specifically set aside for that. I’m meeting up with girlfriends TO KNIT, or just find myself with some free time, so I go get a cup of coffee and knit in the coffee shop. I have no compunction about KIPping alone, no fear or shame if I’m not with friends. I love knitting, and I love to share it. I generally take my knitting with me everywhere, but where and when I knit is usually a matter of the circumstances. If, for example, I’m at a restaurant with a bunch of friends, finishing up lunch, and conversing, knitting does not come out. Unless I’m talking about a project and want to show part of it. But no active knitting takes place. At church, I\’ll knit before service starts, and between church and Sunday School, if I’m not chatting with people, and I put it down/away when I am chatting, and during Worship. There’s a time and a place, obviously.

I’m sometimes (EXTREMELY rarely) not above using my knitting as a weapon, as something that IS off-putting. It’s usually when I’ve decided to make my project first priority, and talking is second or third priority. This happens very, very rarely, for me, because knitting makes me happy, and I want to share happiness. Generally, if it’s a KIPping night and I’m just not up to being around people, that desire for solitude willl include my girlfriends. It\’s not common, though, so when I’m in ‘hey leave me alone’ mode, I’ll just not KIP.

What: Now, KIPping projects for me have to be simple. Socks are a favorite (except when I’m turning the heel) – baby projects, garter or simple stitch patterns, stockinette, something relatively mindless – so that I can chat and talk to people and not worry about where I am in the chart/making a mistake/etc. The hard/heavy projects stay home for when I want to be challenged/engaged and can give 100% of my attention.

It’s less off-putting to people, I find, if you’re still actively engaged in conversation, meeting peoples’ eyes, looking up from the project, and kind of making sure that it looks like the knitting is secondary to the conversation, not the convo being second to the knitting. I.E. not looking intense. Yes, it sounds silly. But I have been around KIPpers working on very involved projects – and those people can be intense. And sometimes you’re afraid to talk to them/ask questions/engage in conversation, because a) you don’t want to mess them up because involved projects can be SO beautiful, and b) you don’t want them to yell at you if you talk to them and they don’t want to talk back – meaning that the knitting really IS first for them.

So anyway, that’s my take on KIPping. Sorry for the long length. I’ve just got a lot to say on the subject, I guess, being an avid KIPper myself.


2 Responses to “KIPping”

  1. LaurieM said

    I don’t get it. I guess knitting in public for me is no big deal. I’ve never, ever, been told it’s only for old women.

    Once, when I was in my early 20s, someone told me that I couldn’t knit and call myself a feminist. Which I found ludicrous in the Nth degree.

    Oh god it just hit me! Maybe I look like someone who is supposed to be knitting, like an old woman. Whaaaa!!!

  2. Good luck, your life seems interesting!

    Peace and Love!

    Dominic Ebacher

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