I let out an audible sigh of relief and collapsed into my Metra train seat. As I pulled out my knitting bag, I forced myself to relax. My day long meeting in Chicago was over and the Union Pacific West line to Geneva was about to provide me with 52 minutes of uninterrupted knitting. I happily began purling, but quickly had the feeling another set of eyes were watching me. I looked up and spied a fellow meeting attendee. He didn't say a word, but his eyes said, "Boy are you pathetic. Only grandmas in rocking chairs knit." Apparently, the risks of KIP (knitting in public) include obvious pity from nearby observers.
If you haven't knit in public, a wonderful world of ogling awaits you. The reactions vary from fascination to irritation. In hopes of preparing our readers for what's out there, I queried the Daily Knitter editors for their KIP stories. Here are two of my favorite.
One Daily Knitter editor recalled knitting an afghan during a viewing of The Incredibles. She raved of the knitting she completes while chaperoning her children's movie outings. "I can only do the mindless type of knitting in the theater's darkness, but I sure get a lot done," she explained. The bulk of the afghan rested on the empty seat to her right. Unfortunately, the child sitting in the next seat took a liking to the afghan, so much so that he began unraveling it. "The afghan was so large that I didn't notice what he was doing. It was the first time I ever knit for 90 minutes and ended up with something smaller than what I started with," she chuckled.
Another Daily Knitter editor recalled knitting in a doctor's office waiting room. She was working a sweater on circular needles and preparing to switch to shorter needles for the turtleneck. Because there were so few stitches left on the needles, switching became a challenge. "I had no idea the receptionist was an avid knitter," she stated. "She had been watching me for 15 minutes and as soon as she saw me struggling she came out and took the needles from my hands." The receptionist easily accomplished the switch and actually completed the entire turtleneck. Meanwhile a long line was forming at the desk. "I was happy to have the impromptu lesson, but the dirty looks I received from waiting patients indicated they were less than thrilled."
Throughout my interviews, a consensus among The Daily Knitter editors became clear. If you are bothered by someone looking over your shoulder, KIP may not be for you. Strangers may touch your yarn, provide unsolicited advice, or just simply stare. But as long as they aren't unraveling your work, who cares!