Public Knitting: Connecting with Strangers

It's Friday morning. I head into Katoomba early for my weekly pancake breakfast before teaching. I look forward to this time all week. I sit at the cafe, by myself, and knit as I wait for breakfast to arrive. My cafe of choice is Clean Slate. The place is always busy, which makes me feel a part of the local scene. The dynamic is just right so that I can have a relaxing beginning to my day.

Withot fail, someone strikes up a conversation with me about my knitting. They interject my meditation by saying, 'good for you, doing something other than being on your phone' or 'it's not often to see a young person knitting.' I usually smile and say 'it keeps me sane!' We have a bit if a chuckle together and that nearly always acts as an introduction for them.

This person then tells me an anecdote about how busy their life is and how they should really slow down to learn how to knit. 

This morning an older man went through this all too familiar repitoir of conversation. He followed it up by telling me a story. He, it turns out, wants to learn how to knit something for a baby that recently came into his life. As someone who seemed to be well past procreating years, I thought this was a curious thing to say. I did not yet know this man, so I did not inquire but instead smiled. He followed up by saying he wants to give this baby all his love because the baby was a product of a heroine addicted pregnancy. At this, I said that sounds lovely and I can teach you if you want. We spoke for a minute about how I teach at the knitting shop down the street, that he knew nothing about. 

This man then moved over to my table without invitation. He proceeded to ask me my opinion on this child's future prospects. Would this baby, who is now in the loving hands of his grandmother have a chance at a good life?

I could see the pleading in his eyes. He hadn't planned to open up to a perfect stranger. But there he was, completely vulnerable needing a bit of reassurance. I prefaced my answer by saying I am not educated to give an answer to this. From what I heard, this child will be nurtured and supported and have a great chance to be grow up to be a wonderful child. He beamed! 

Shortly after, he excused himself. He wanted to go home and tell his partner that he was going to learn how to knit. He said he couldn't wait to see the look on her face.

I've come to almost expect these encounters when I knit in public. Somehow this craft is an invitation for conversation and support. Sometimes, I admit that I get talked at for an hour and it's horrible. Times like this morning invigorate me. Someone opened up to a perfect stranger for a moment. It was lovely. 

Feel free to come up to me if you see me knitting in public. If i might speak for all artists here.. If you need a friend, we are always here to listen.


Thank you,