We had a houseguest recently who was quite interested in my knitting, and admired all the gorgeous yarn, and sighed: “I wish I could knit.”
Now isn’t that a phrase that just makes you burn? I generally assume that it’s a polite lie for “I have absolutely no interest in this, but I see that you quite enjoy it, and I wish I had something that I liked to do so much.” Because of course, if you take the bait (“You can! It’s so easy! I’ll show you!”) – well, that ends in nervous looks and stutters and a desperate bid for escape. So, as much to remind myself of this as anything else, I generally respond with: “I understand that knitting’s not for everyone, don’t worry, I don’t mind if you’re not interested.”
But Tongtos insisted: “No, really, I would love to knit! I think it’s wonderful! I really wish I could! But I’m terrible at it!”
“Oh,” I said. “Well, have you tried much?”
“Yes, back in third grade, we did it in school and I just couldn’t pick it up.”
Now I ask you. Third grade. Please, when I did it in school I was the worst in the class. Seriously. What an idiotic idea to carry around with you: you couldn’t do this when you were eight, so you can’t do it ever.
And therefore I tend to revert to my initial interpretation: lack of interest. Because in the intervening 20 years, I’m sure Tongtos could have tried again if she wanted to. But of course this was the absolute worst thing she could have said, in terms of making me itch to convert her. I didn’t try – I didn’t see enough of her in the two days she was with us, and besides, there’s that lack of interest thing. It just got me thinking again about the desire to spread the love of knitting far and wide.
I try to rein myself in, I really do. I absolutely know that not everyone wants to knit, or will like it if they try. I do tend to suspect that if someone says they “tried it, but didn’t like it”, they might have changed their minds if they just had better yarn, or needles, or a more fun project, or a better teacher… but I accept that very possibly, they Just Don’t Like It. Different strokes. Okay. I can understand all that.
But you know what I really, really can’t understand? What leaves me completely baffled? Knitters who like to knit, who are happy to occasionally talk about knitting… but who somehow have escaped the complete obsession that seems to take hold of so many of us. Knitters who haven’t used their Ravelry account. Knitters who can pass by a yarn shop without even pausing for a moment. Knitters who admire what I’m working on, maybe ask how it’s done, but don’t actually want me to show them the answer, or to be introduced to the great patterns available online; knitters who you’ll never actually see with knitting in their hands. How does that work? Casual knitters. It mystifies me.

6 thoughts on “Knittyvangelism

  1. I used to be one of those. I started knitting in school, did very well at it and then didn’t pick up a knitting needle for 10 years. Not due to hating it or lack of interest, I just didn’t have anything to knit that wasn’t required by primary school needlework class.
    Then, for some reason, I got the urge to knit a jersey when I was about 20. Once I finished that, I knitted a giant Aran for my love and then friends started having babies and I knitted small baby things. I still counted myself a casual knitter: I never went to yarn shops, I bought cheap acrylic yarn and plastic needles at Shoprite and I didn’t yearn (it’s funny how that word is one letter away from “yarn”) to knit with bamboo or silk.
    Then you started infecting me with the lust for better-quality yarns and I ventured to Wool World and then Orion. Now knitting is eating my brain, I long to try out soy/bamboo sock yarn (socks! me?!) and visit Orion at least once a month. I organise Knit In Public Day events. I’m on Ravelry all day. Sigh. I’ve even forsaken sewing in favour of knitting. I get antsy when I don’t have anything OTN :(. I’m planning my year’s knitting long in advance.
    Give me my life back, dammit :P.

  2. Ayup.
    What I like even less is, “Oh – you knit. That’s so impressive. I get bored too quickly to knit.”
    It’s one of those compliments that’s supposed to parse out to be complimentary to the knitter, but is in fact a self-pat on the back to the nonknitter for having such a quick and agile mind.

  3. What I don’t understand are those who, rather like my mom, buy all these knitting accoutrements, yarn, needles, books etc. They have about a million projects started. But they NEVER knit! They say they don’t have time, but really, do any of us have time?

  4. Sing it sista!
    A former coworker and friend had knit in school (they didn’t teach knitting in school in the US) and really did want to learn again. I gave her some needles and some yarn (not great yarn, but what I thought was good to start), and lent her a number of books to re-learn basics, look at beginner projects, etc. She knit away, returned the yarn and went and bought her own y
    arn to make a cushion cover. Now she clearly really wasn’t interested in knitting because she paid no attention to the basics and has been knitting that cushion cover for about 18 mos now. Back in August I tried again – different needles with some dishcloth cotton to make a dishcloth of course as she really liked the one I gave her. I also thought maybe it would give her a project that was quick enough that she’d get a result and wouldn’t get bored. Guess what, she’s got about 1/8 of it done. Maybe it was all a ploy to flirt with me 😉

  5. I once was a “casual knitter”. I had only ever knitted scarves, and thought everything else was beyond me. Then, I met real life knitters, discovered Ravelry, and developed and obsession with all things knitting related…now, there’s no turning back…I’m full on obsessed!

  6. I consider myself a casual knitter. I like knitting, but until I master reading while knitting, my knitting isn’t really going to go anywhere big. But I could NEVER pass a yarn shop without at least oohing and aahing at the window. That would just be wierd.

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