Sunday, July 30, 2006

Knitting in Public

Today I felt like a rebellious knitter. Mo and I went to hear Mary Cowhey read from her book Black Ants and Buddhists at the Cup and Top Cafe. Mary Cowhey is a progressive teacher of first and second grade in Northampton. From her background as an activist and organizer she has an amazing ability to draw on the resources offered by people in the community. She described using primary sources to teach about the cruelty inflicted by the conquistadors, and making signs to encourage voting in order to teach handwriting.

So where does the rebelliousness come in to play? We showed up early to get lunch, and knit while we waited for our food. After we ate, we nursed our drinks, and kept knitting. As empty space became scarce, we relocated to the steps of the hardware store, and continued to knit while we loitered (I should mention that the hardware store was actually closed). Then, most daring of all, we went back to hear Mary Cowhey's reading, and knit through the whole thing.

Even though I'd heard something about World Wide Knit In Public Day before it happened this June, I didn't really understand what it was about. It isn't that I'm a secretive knitter; I've knit in the library, and in the math forum, and I've certainly walked around campus with a ball of yarn stuffed in my coat pocket. But it felt somehow different yesterday. It could have been the difference between knitting in a library and knitting as part of a gathering. No matter how interesting you find someone's knitting, you can't have an enthusiastic discussion in a library about when you made your first baby sock or how you learned to knit from your mother. But I think the largest difference was because Mo and I were both knitting. Seeing one person knitting is interesting, and perhaps unusual enough to ask a question. Seeing two people knitting makes it into a group activity and an invitation to join in. I may have missed WWKIP day this year, but join me and mark your calendar: June 10th, 2007.

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