A few days ago I found myself waiting in line at the DMV to get my new drivers’ license. We all know how that goes. Fortunately, I was prepared for the humdrum wait with a knitting project and a backup New York Times crossword puzzle book. This time I opted for the knitting. I slid down the wall to settle on the floor for lack of actual seating, reached into my bag and pulled out my ball of yarn and knitting (which was resting on size 15 silver addi clicks). Not really inconspicuous. But, was I hoping to be? Interesting.
As soon as I got settled into my groove, clacking away, I became lost in my little woven revery. I found myself people watching, stitch watching, thinking aimlessly, and oh my! I was even eavesdropping! The teenagers sitting somewhat nearby were talking about me. Nothing cheeky or curt; just small comments about the fact that I was ‘actually knitting.’ I even heard one of the girls mention that she thought it was ‘cool’. Hmm. And this wasn’t the only quiet attention my behavior was earning me. I also started to notice people taking second glances, probably wondering what a young, seemingly stylish girl was doing knitting at the DMV. Even though I noticed this, and felt tiny spurts of heat in my face, I liked the attention. I felt proud and really cool! I stood out because I was doing something completely unique.
I’m reminded of this because today I received a small note from my sister in law in Spain attached to a magazine article from the Metropolitan, a local, English publication in Barcelona. The article was called Knit One, Purl One by Johanna Bailey and was about the growing knitting community in Barcelona. The author remembers sitting in a park on World Wide Knit in Public Day in June of 2005. She talks about feeling somewhat uneasy because of the series of double takes and “expressions of incredulous wonder.” Somewhat like knitting in the middle of a busy day at the DMV, no?
As I was reading, I felt especially connected to the part that discussed how knitting has become an empowering hobby for most who do it. For me, watching something beautiful appear from in between my needles makes me feel very in charge of myself and the things around me. Silvia Lopez, owner of the wool shop IFIL in Barcelona, Spain says, “Knitting empowers you when you see that you can create something. You can then take the empowerment and apply it to other parts of your life–maybe you’ll break up with your idiot boyfriend or leave a job you don’t like.”
So, there’s something to be said for the looks we have thrown our way when we pull out or wool in a busy DMV, bus station, airport, doctor’s office, or even the break room. People recognize our uniqueness and power. They can plainly see that we have it together enough to take our creative efforts outside and show them off. And why not? When it comes to women’s roles, most want to be liberated from the same old, same old. And even though knitting brings us back to our original place in the line-up, tending to the mending, it actually liberates us because it gives us the power to create whatever we want, wherever we want. So, needles up ladies and happy knitting!