Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lost Art

Drawing courtesy of SaraSchool from DeviantArt

I am one of those people who knits in public. While a professor drones on unintelligible things which I don't need to write down I knit. In moments before and after classes where I need to write I knit. Riding the bus or sitting on a park bench I often have knitting with me.

A few weeks ago I was riding the bus to school. I do this from time to time as it is free for uni students to ride. I get a little exercise walking to the stop, save money, and increase my knitting time. People like to talk to you when you're knitting on the bus. Many people have their own opinions about knitting and want to tell you them. As a young woman I don't fit the prejudiced image of what a knitter should look like and therefore, I think, I confuse people. I become intriguing. Often I listen to my mp3 player which often discourages the public from talking to me. However, I've lost my headphones and so, on this particular day, I was knitting and my ears were available for comment.

I've ridden the public transit system for many years. In my city there is quite the variety of interesting characters. I don't mind the bus riding experience itself so much as I mind the creepy people. I have developed quite the radar for these people in an effort to keep my interactions with them to a minimum and to protect myself. I'm a city girl and I'm not stupid about these things. Most of the people that ride the bus are nice folk, but I've still had enough encounters with creep to be wary.

On this day a few weeks ago I got on the bus and made my usual scan. No one too out of the ordinary and no one who seemed like I should keep the pointy objects out of sight. I sit near the front where there is a better view as the bus drives past the ocean, put my backpack on my lap, unzip the top and start knitting. I keep my knitting in the bag as then all I have to do is rezip and get up to exit.

Near the university a man who has been riding since before I got on gets up to walk off the bus. As he passes me he says, "That's a lost art," and walks off the bus.

As my dark navy knitting was sort of buried in my bag I am doubtful he could have seen the cable work. But perhaps he had. I am sure he meant his comment as a sort of compliment, as a way of saying, "Wow I'm amazed anyone still knows how to do what my mother did."

I wanted to show this man all that is not lost about the art of knitting. About the thousands of people making beautiful things out of knitting. Ugly artful things. Useful things. Boring things. Meditative things. Funny things. Gifts of love and tenderness. Color work that takes my breath away. If knitting is a lost art, then why are people inventing new techniques, new ways to bind off, new ways to knit a sock? I wanted to go online to Ravelry and show him the vibrant communities of people together forging a language of knitting for today. I wanted to prove to him that it's not just me, that I and my art are not lost.

I do have to say that I am profoundly grateful for the internet and for my ability to access it. Without it I too might have the opinion that knitting was a lost art, that I was one of only a handful of people left who knit. But through the internet I have come to connect with a vast network of knitters whose everyday practice of the craft proves unequivocally that knitting is anything but a lost art.


isisonearth said...

Great post.

I took a knitting class with a friend. I found Ravelry but could never convince her to check it out. Guess which one of us kept knitting?

Kristin said...

Agree. The internet and Ravelry have become an amazing source of knitting inspiration for me! I don't know what I would do without them.

Crystal said...

It is thanks to the internet that I am knitting too. I mean, my mother taught me how, but it wasn't until I found Ravelry that it really took of for me. Plus I can combine my loves, beads and yarn. Heavenly.