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Coffee Shop Knitting

A lot of the photography for this blog has taken place on the front steps of our apartment, partly because that space has good lighting and some good framing devices, but also because it’s a favorite knitting space for me in particular. Since the weather in this season is highly unreliable, though, and because I missed the conjoined activities of knitting while people-watching, I’ve been taking time a few mornings a week to bring my knitting to a coffee shop for a few hours. So far, it’s been excellent.

Knitting in public does a number of good things, both personal and in general. Personally, I can get a boost in productivity and focus on nearly any project when I introduce occasional changes in setting, and knitting is no different. I blew through the end of one project and got a lot of physical and mathematical work done on another. Almost more importantly, though, knitting in public means that I am being seen.

A nearly-finished baby vest – just needs buttons!

It’s pretty much a constant wherever I knit (except the front step – students passing my home on the sidewalk stick to friendly nods or waves at most) that someone – usually of my parents’ generation or older – stops to comment on the knitting with something along the lines of “my mother/grandmother used to do that, I’ve no idea how, it’s a lost art, good for you.” I find it almost sad how universal that experience seems to be for a lot of people, but by being seen knitting, we can directly challenge the idea that the arts of fiber crafting are lost or inaccessible. Knitting isn’t dead – it’s right here, happening in front of you, in a startling variety of styles and colors, and if you chat long enough and show enough interest we’ll probably share our favorite online tutorials.

This week, I met one man who couldn’t tell my knitting from crochet but still thought it was beautiful, one middle-aged professional who talked enthusiastically with me about having just started learning to knit this winter, one lady who’d never seen a circular shawl before, and one entire friend group of older women who oo’d and ah’d over the lace charts in my notebook. I made half a dozen temporary friends, and got some encouragement about the value and skill of my work – and that never would have happened if I hadn’t taken my knitting out of my nest.

My current commission project is going spectacularly so far, although I’m beginning to get into the longer and longer rows as circumference grows on this circular shawl.

I’ll look forward to front-step knitting as the weather continues to get warmer (and may even steal a few hours out there this afternoon if sunshine doesn’t turn to rain), but I think I’ve found another excellent public-knitting place this week- and what’s more, it’s not dependent on the capriciousness of April showers. I’ll be back, project bags in hand and a latte at the ready, and see how much work – knitting and being seen knitting – I can get done this time.