Going Public


It was a holiday weekend and I didn’t get to do what I really wanted to: go somewhere and knit. Don’t get me wrong, I did plenty of knitting. I finished up a pair of opera-length mitts and made a quick Calorimetry head band to match.




I also got another four ounces of some core-spun yarn made (which I’m not showing you right now. Nope. Not gonna. It’s the subject of a future post and you have to wait. 😛 ) All in all, I got more done then I thought I would in between running errands, weekend lessons, and pet sitting.


But I didn’t get to take my craft out roving. I’m Jenn and I’m a Roving Crafter. Even though it’s kind of a pain to pack up my knitting/crocheting/spinning and take it out into the public, I still do. I seem to get less crafting done out there in that distracting world, natch. I do it anyways.


So I thought I’d share some thoughts and some snark on the kinds of things that happen to you when you craft out in the big bad world. I think that reactions from non-crafters who see someone knitting (or crocheting or spinning, or embroidering, or needle felting, et al) generally fall in to three categories. There is the amazed “OMG are you making an actual sweater for actual person?” reaction. That’s a nice one. There is the “Awwww, how sweet! My wrinkled up old Nanna used to do that” reaction. That’s…. not as nice. Then there is the “Huh. You know you can buy socks/scarfs/hats at Walmart right?” reaction. That’s the one where you want to jab them with a knitting needle but you control yourself because a trip down town to police booking for aggravated assault will seriously screw with your crafting time.


Let’s face it, the non-crafting world is always surprised by the crafters in their midst. We all remember that dust up raverly had with the United States Olympic Committee in 2012 over Ravelympics right? The news sites I follow (I’m a news junkie) at first made fun of this little group of knitters and how thought they could fight the Olympic committee. Within days the committee had caved (don’t mess with crafters!) and those same news weenies were blown away to learn that there were millions of people on this raverly site. Millions??!!!!

Heh. We shock them I guess. Sometimes, though, they shock me. Here are the…oddest encounters I’ve had with the public while crafting:


Encounter #1: I was in my twenties, living in southern New Mexico, crocheting a bag out of some horrible boucle yarn while waiting for an oil change. I was stuck in one of those dingy waiting areas with stale coffee and People magazines from 1984 and having all kinds of anxiety that the mechanic soon pop in to tell me that everything was fine and it would only be 15 more minutes but the transmission was on its last legs, needed to be overhauled, and that would cost me $54,000.  I was channeling all my negative energy into that terribly frustrating, loopy yarn when an old woman got up, walked across the room, stood over me and said “You’re doing that wrong!”. Yep. She didn’t like the way I was holding the working yarn. There have been several people over the years who haven’t liked the way I hold the yarn and just as many who think it’s funky and cool. It’s not, not really, it’s just what my hands do when I’m not paying attention to my tension. Anyways, I told that old lady “This is how my momma taught me” and she huffed but went away. That’s a lie. My mom holds her yarn the right way, lol. But if you’re in a small town and you tell someone that you doing something the way your momma/daddy/granny taught you, you get a pass. It’s like the law.

Encounter #2: I was sitting outside Quacks in Austin with a cup of chai (they have the best chai ever, btw) and spinning batts of undyed alpaca when a huge Labrador came bounding up the sidewalk, trailing its leash. It stuck its head in my fiber basket and swallowed a big mouthful of alpaca. I was defending my fiber stash when the owner, a vague looking guy in his thirties, came up and apologized. He offered to pay for “damages” and then tried to figure out what I was doing. I don’t think he understood my explanation as to how yarn was made. I don’t think he understood that his dog was going to have real trouble pooping out all that fiber. I know he didn’t understand my drink order (I declined payment for “damages” and opted for another chai) because he brought me a latte.

Encounter #3: About a month ago I was waiting for a friend outside Casa de Luz. Now, Casa de Luz is a very, very Austin. It started as the cafeteria for an on-site private school/education center then morphed into a successful restaurant. It only serves organic, vegan, gluten free, trans-fat free meals. There is no menu, there is only one meal per day and customers eat whatever has been prepared. Its WILDLY successful. I was outside, at a table alone, and knitting. I was putting an improvised picot border on a Zeotor when I realized that a middle age woman was taking my picture with her phone. She didn’t say a word to me. She didn’t smile or wave. In fact, she was so started when I looked up, that she dropped her keys. She picked up those keys and walked away… very quickly. Actually she was kind of running. Was she afraid I would get up and chase her down? I don’t think so. I had 100+ stitches left to bind off!


So why we do do it? Why do we go out and craft in public knowing that we could be faced with disapproving elderly, fiber munching canines, and tourists who think you’re an exhibit at the zoo? Well, I know why I do it. I love my craft. Part of loving it is sharing it with the world, even a world that doesn’t really understand.


“ the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. “ – C. S. Lewis


Have any encounters with the public while crafting of your own? Feel free to share ’em in the comments!








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1 Comment on "Going Public"

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Shirley E.

When I craft in public, I seem to be invisible. It’s like nobody even sees me. I can deal with that. So far, no dogs, either, but I don’t get to go crafting outdoors much. The stuff I make, however, is a different story. I get comments on that all the time. “Where did you get that hat?” or “What is that bag made of?” or even, “I suppose you made that, too.”