I settled into a chair in the waiting room at the orthodontist’s office. “Thirty minutes,” I thought to myself. “Thirty minutes to knit.”
I pulled out my purse project, a Triple Seed Stitch Cowl, and set to work. The orthodontist is very efficient, and they’d called Eric back just about as soon as we’d walked in the door, so I knew, just like clockwork, he’d be finished with his monthly adjustment in 30 minutes flat. The TV in the waiting room was set to The Food Network. Other parents who were parked nearby idly surfed the web on their phones, watched TV, or thumbed through magazines.
The cowl I was knitting was almost done. I was using about 50 grams of yarn left over from making mittens. Mountain Colors yarn is too pretty (and too expensive!) to waste, so I decided I could knit on a cowl until the yarn was used up, thereby being thrifty with yarn and making something that I could claim for myself or place in the Finished Gift Items pile in my sewing room. As a plus, the cowl could be my purse project. No wasted time, no wasted yarn, no idle hands.
Thirty minutes of knitting time translated into about an inch on the cowl. The cowl had travelled with me for the past several weeks, providing me something to do while my hair color processed at the hair stylist’s, and also at various doctor appointments. Now I’d probably just about finish the thing at the orthodontist’s. I was feeling pretty darn good about my use of time.
The orthodontist’s assistant came to meet me in the waiting room with some paperwork to sign. “Oh, what are you making?” she asked with enthusiasm.
“A neck warmer,” I replied, putting down the knitting to sign the papers.
“That’s really pretty,” she commented. “I tried knitting once.” Her voice trailed off, telling me that the knitting thing didn’t go so well for her.
“I enjoy it,” I remarked, taking my knitting back up again. “It’s not for everyone, though.” Sometimes, when I’m having The Knitting Conversation with non-knitters, I have to console them when they seem a little guilt-ridden over not knitting themselves.
“Oh,” the assistant replied, “I couldn’t just sit around, you know. I couldn’t just sit there.”
At this, I was somewhat taken aback. Actually, I’ve heard even less polite remarks when I’ve had The Knitting Conversation, but still. I looked around the waiting room. As far as I could tell, I was the person most actively engaged in an activity in the whole place.
“But,” I protested, “I’m not just sitting here. If I were just sitting here, I’d be watching The Food Network. I have to be here for thirty minutes, anyway. While you’re adjusting my son’s braces, I can make progress on this neck warmer, which will wind up under the Christmas tree next year.” I held up my knitting, smiling, hoping that she’d somehow get it. That she’d somehow see that knitting isn’t, can’t possibly be, passive. It’s the opposite of just sitting there.
“Well, I can’t just sit there,” she repeated, and turned to go back to the treatment room.
I sighed and resumed my knitting, thinking about this latest Knitting Conversation. Having a purse project means knitting in public. Knitting in public means that I’ll more likely than not have The Knitting Conversation on a fairly regular basis. I totally get that most people don’t knit. I don’t really care whether they knit, crochet, quilt, cross-stitch, train for triathlons, climb rocks, or do anything else that ignites their passion and makes them want to wring every last bit of usable time out of their lives to devote to whatever it is that turns them on. What I don’t like is when non-knitters conclude that this person, busily knitting in front of them, must have time to burn, must enjoy just sitting there, doing nothing.
Truth is, if I’m ever forced to just sit there, doing nothing, I go crazy pretty fast. Watch the waiting room TV? It’s OK if I have knitting in my hands. Surf the web? Once I’ve checked email and Ravelry, what else is there to hold my attention? No, lady, I can’t just sit there, either. That’s why I knit.
Here’s what not just sitting there looks like:
I finished the cowl, which is my second addition to my gift pile. It was a good use of time and yarn, and infinitely better than just sitting there.