"You're Too Young to be Doing That"

Monday, November 12, 2007

So now, I can think of lots of things I could do that that phrase might be appropriate to. Viz: applying for social security retirement benefits. Asking for the seniors discount on ice cream. Reminiscing about the good old days before electricity. Wishing those darned kids would turn down their music.... ok, so I'm having some trouble here.

Knitting is NOT one of the things I would list. And yet, the [can't call her nice, Southern in me can't be overtly mean, let's just leave off adjectives] AFLAC rep in my gynecologists' office this afternoon said just those words to me. I believe we are the same age. At least, she didn't look to be out of her thirties, and I hope she wasn't younger.

I was shocked. Shocked! You'll be glad to hear (unless you're Cass) that I kept my tongue and did NOT say the things my brain was screaming to say. Instead, I said this: "I've been doing it since I was 10, actually."

And does she get the point? No. "Oh, I learned in Brownies too, but didn't keep up with it!"

This is when I truly got irritated. I said (and Mom, I apologize if this is not technically true), "Actually, my mother taught me. As her mother taught her when she was little, and so on back six generations at least, to the women who were actually Scots."

Suddenly, a vision of all the sweaters my grandmother and mother made for me when I was little (and my mom was in her 30s) flashed before my eyes. When does this woman think people knit for their kids? She said something obnoxious about how she had crocheted (!) a baby blanket for her daughter "and it took a long time, so I haven't tried it again. It's just not worth it."

Holy cow, shut up, I mean, just shut up, you've managed to insult me, my mother, my entire maternal line, the nation of Scotland (or whatever it technically is), as well as the entire knitting and - let's face it - fiber industry, all in the space of a minute!

So, in the interest of reaching the few non-knitters who read my blog (that would be you, Dave), here are the appropriate things to say to me when you see me in public knitting and are driven to say SOMETHING:
"That's lovely, what are you making?"
"What beautiful yarn, what are you making?"
"Gosh, you make it look so easy, when did you learn?"
"I wish I could knit like that" - NOTE: Never follow this up with "but I don't have the time". I have a full time job, a husband, a child, a house, a full garden, and an active volunteer life. You FIND time for things you care about.
"Can you recommend somewhere I can learn to knit?"

There may be others, but those should get you started. Never, ever, make comments about how you don't have time to knit (see above), could never get the hang of it (it's easier than driving), or criticize the knitter's technique/yarn/item being worked on. The AFLAC rep was on the other side of the room, otherwise she may have gotten a needle in the well-padded side (the blood actually might have gone well with the Jayne Hat I was working on).

It is always appropriate to smile at a knitter and not say anything. The knitter is probably counting stitches, rows, or otherwise thinking about something. The knitter is NOT BORED and does not need you to amuse her/him. That's why she/he is knitting. Maybe, if you're bored, you should take up a hobby that is incredibly portable, useful, calming, and earth-friendly. Like, maybe, knitting?


  • S/V Maeve

    Not to diminish your excellent arguments about the properly genteel (southern) response to another person's chosen passions, but the Scots ancestry goes through your grandmother's grandfather, so it is not technically maternal for six generations. Oma knitted in a style peculiar to a lefty who learned from a righty (actually her great Aunt Bertie, a charming lady who also tatted and crocheted while managing the family business). We have both inherited that unique style. I love recognizing something so physical that connects generations!

  • Michelle

    I so have been in your place before.. and I just wanted to yell at the person.. but, like you... I used my 10 years earned Southern lady to be cordial ;-) It's so sad that people see knitting as a granny activity... :-( grrrr

  • Cass

    Amen and Hell Yes! What is WRONG with people!?!? Let me the fuck alone and let me knit- that would have been my (southern) reply. ;)

  • Gnat

    Nice rant. :) I agree...If your going to inturupt me you better be asking to learn or how beautiful and great whatever I'm working on is.

    Thank you for commenting on my contest. I hope that your daughter always remembers to tell people she loves them when she feels that way. I tell my boyfriend I love him many many times a day. Took me a very long time to say it to someone because I didn't not hear it very much as a child from my father. Now I feel it so strongly I just have to tell him. :)

    Thank you for sharing and stopping by.

  • Alison

    Another inappropriate thing to do when encountering a knitter in the wild is to reach out and touch the sock she is knitting without first attempting to engage her in discussion. That was the last time I knit on the subway.

  • KT

    Ooh, you're right. I HATE that. Hello? Fragile? And do you really think I want your dirty paws on my fragile preemie hat? Hint: NO! ;)

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