Thursday, August 08, 2002

Knitting for the Masses
Now here's the thing about knitting in public that I find most disconcerting. It's not the inane comments, no matter how kindly meant. In my strictly unscientific, purely off-the-cuff observations, most people confuse knitting with crocheting but ARE interested in what I'm doing. What amazes me is that, once enlightened as to what knitting is, they then have the unmitigated nerve to ask, "Well, could you make ME something?"

I think not. My stock answer is, "I don't knit for other people." This is not strictly true. I have been known to crank out Wallabys for the grandchildren, socks for the daughters, an occasional charity item if I'm feeling charitable. I will knit for you if you have won my heart, no doubt about that.

The fact of the matter is, I don't live to knit for others. I'm a frustrated painter and sculptor. I can't draw a straight line. But I love color and texture. I love the fiber in my hands. I have momentary flashes of design inspiration that I try to translate into knitted reality. I did not learn to knit and study knitting all these years to make someone a Wool-Ease pullover.

The funny thing is, when I explain to those in dire need of one of my garments that it takes weeks and weeks and frequently months from start to finish and that I do what I do for the aforementioned reasons, they offer to pay me, without understanding that it is not a question of money, it is a question of design freedom and personal satisfaction.

And then get offended when I turn down their, um, generous offer of cash. So my solution--I do a rough calculation in my head of what it would cost them for one of my sweaters, using a base of $10 an hour, which is pretty cheap, all things being equal. And then I tell them.

Works for me. Am I an artiste with an attitude? Maybe. Maybe it's a question of educating the masses, not knitting for them.

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