I had another knitting-in-public encounter yesterday, and it was probably the cutest one yet... although it's been happening more and more lately, so I have a lot to choose from.
These days, I still have Mondays and Fridays off for the most part, but I don't like to take N. out of daycare those days because it makes his transition harder. So, I have two choices - go home and get stuff done around the apartment (and knit), or stay on campus and get errands done (and knit). I'd like to stay home for the day, even if just to keep on top of the laundry, and it would mean I have access to food and all-day coffee that won't cost an arm and a leg. The problem is - I can't seem to bring myself to leave N. on campus and go home without him; I feel like I'm abandoning him if I don't stay within a few minutes walk of the daycare center.
As a result, my Mondays and Fridays go something like this:
8:30am - catch bus to campus
9:00am - drop N. off at daycare, check in with teachers, kiss chubby kid cheeks
9:20am - buy coffee/bagel, hunker down at hospital caf (attached to my lab building), read while eating breakfast.
9:50am - commence knitting
11:45am - meet Hubby for lunch
12:10pm - recommence knitting
12:40pm - run errands, go to Walgreens, buy stamps, check on lab experiment
1:30pm - buy coffee, recommence knitting
3:30pm - visit Hubby at his lab to check email
3:40pm - recommence knitting
4:50pm - pack up knitting
5:00pm - pick up N.
5:20pm - on the bus back home.
It sounds very eventful, I know ;-) and I love having the time to put on my knitting and reading (I was an avid reader until N. was born, then lost the extra time to do it in). The problem is, I don't have a functional iPod right now (actually, I just don't know where it is) and the hours alone in the caf can get quite lonely. I really like it when people come up to me to ask me about what I'm doing.
Oftentimes, it's a group of two or three ladies that are there to eat lunch, and on their way out, they ask me what I'm making. When it involves a baby sweater, there are often comments on the "lovely colors", and those make me feel a little guilty. I don't feel like I deserve to be complimented on picking out the gorgeous hand-dyed yarns I use - those compliments should all go to the talented color artists like Tina Newton at BMFA and the talented people at Dream in Color. Sometimes I get the whole, "Gosh, that's so complicated - you're so patient and skilled" etc etc., and that one also makes me uncomfortable; I can follow directions when they're well written, and I'm selfish in knitting - it relaxes me. (And, these people are neurosurgeons and researchers half the time - if they don't have the skill and patience to knit, I'm thinking I don't want them poking about in my brain.)
Yesterday, though, was one of those "send out vibes and they'll come back to you" days. I ended up sitting in the middle of the caf, directly behind the cash, because it was really crowded and I couldn't get my usual quiet corner. But, I took out my Shipwreck Shawl anyway, since I really want to keep moving forward. I got to the point where I had to shift hundreds of beads down the yarn to be able to keep going, and as I was doing that I noticed one of the hospital volunteers watching me over her empty tray. She was the cutest little old lady, but made no effort to hide her staring. I smiled, and she came over to me to ask me what I was making, so I showed her the photo on the pattern, rather than taking an amoeba and trying to insist it would flatten out to a lace shawl.
She admired my handiwork, then started asking me about how I found time to do it, if I worked, if I was a mother, etc. I always love hearing people say things like, "You young people, I don't know how you find the time to do it all!" but it was nice to hear her add, "Sometimes you don't get to do it all, but the things that you should let slide are the cluttered house and the unfolded laundry - enjoy your kids and enjoy your hobbies, the house will always be there." She was amazed at the affordability of the yarn (she thought it was much more expensive, especially after hearing it was a silk blend), and that was kind of fun to talk to her about internet ordering.
It turns out she used to knit years ago, but has put it down lately in favour of painting and quilting due to macular degeneration. The wonderful thing, though, was when she spent a few minutes looking at the pattern, and at my knitting on the needles. She lit up and said, "I can see that! I can see the pattern and I can see what you're doing!" She told me she had a half-finished fisherman's sweater at home, and that she was going to see if she could pick it up again. There's nothing quite like hearing, "Dear, I'm so happy I stopped to talk to you. You've inspired me to knit again, I'm so thankful!"
(She was so excited that she left without taking her empty tray and garbage, and came running back two minutes later)
I told my mom about it last night, and then of course she and I got into a whole different discussion about knitters and knitting philosophy. I know in some ways it's just a dorky hobby, but I really feel like I belong to a wonderful, diverse community of talented people, and if I make someone's day a bit brighter, it's all worth it.