Isaac (mr_t00by) wrote,

Thoughts from a heterogametic knitter…

For me, knitting is like swimming: I have only vague memories of learning how to do it and when I knit I don’t really think about it. The way my legs and arms move to keep me afloat in the water, so do my fingers move in a way that just seems natural.  Over the past 20 years or so I’ve knit everything from simple scarfs to complicated sweaters. I find it to be the perfect combination of Zen meditation and creative productivity.

Oh, did I mention I’m a 27-year-old man? Yeah, that part gets people a bit mystified, especially when I’m stitching away at a multi-colored sock on four double-pointed needles on a crowded subway or in a busy restaurant. I’ve become familiar with the many different types of looks I get... There’s the blank, wide-eyed “I-simply-can’t-process-what-I’m-seeing” stare that's especially prevelant here in China, a more curious “Hmm, you don’t see that every day” kind of twitch, and even a jealous “Wow, I wish I could do that” gaze. By far the funniest is when I see a woman nudge her husband or boyfriend and point with raised eyebrows as if to say, “Where are my socks, huh?” I don’t knit in public places just to get these reactions; they’re just an amusing by-product. The reason I do it is simple: If I have downtime, why not do something productive and relaxing at the same time?

I learned to knit amongst my peers at a Waldorf school in 1st and 2nd grade. If you’re not familiar with these schools I’ll spare you the details as the depth such a description requires goes far beyond the scope of this simple post. In short, it’s an artsy school that focuses on educating the entire individual, not just the mind. Hence, hand-crafting is a central part of education from Kindergarten all the way to 12th grade. We learned simple finger knitting in Kindergarten, normal knitting a bit later on, and my first sock was completed in fifth grade (holes, extra stitches and all). By the end of eighth grade every student is armed with the ability to create a panoply of garments, from knitted and crocheted hats and scarves to woven blankets and needle-felted leg warmers. We learned as many methods of making these things as we did things to make: throughout my Waldorf education I learned how to finger-knit, crochet, sew (by hand and machine), weave (by hand and loom), and even to cross-stitch and embroider. It never occurred to me that it was odd that I crafted because everyone else in the whole school did it, boy or girl. (For more info check here)

There was something magical about the 45-minute blocks we spent twice a week, sitting in a circle and working on a similar project. We’d chat as we knit about all things under the sun while creating something useful in the process. It was one of my favorite subjects at school. Should any educators argue that it was a waste of time, I would only invite them to ask any of the countless people for whom I have crafted garments and other useful things as gifts for Christmas or for birthdays. I’d also recommend taking a brain scan of what my cerebral cortex looks like while I knit, as I am sure that crafting has beneficial effects on the mind.

So here I am now, sitting in my classroom during my lunch break, knitting my fifth pair of socks of the season, to be given to my colleague as a gift for Christmas. Will she remember the $1.15 it cost me for the materials? I doubt it. Will she think of me when her feet are warm in the winter? I’d like to think so.
I’m a man who knits, is proud of it, and would encourage any of his fellow men to give it a try. Next time you see me knitting on a public bench at rush hour, stop and say hi. I’d be happy to give you lessons.
Tags: crafting, knitters, knitting, waldorf
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