Nutty Knitters

For the longest time, I didn’t understand the knitting phenomenon. I assumed it was just something the ‘old ladies’ did when there wasn’t anything else to do but be a wife and mom and make cheap (and ugly) clothes for your family generations ago.

My grandma, much like our very own Edith Bunker, would knit and crochet her little heart out in between household chores or while watching Dan Rather on the news.

So when the knitting explosion hit again while my oldest was little, I was shocked. Twenty and thirty-somethings were knitting their hearts out. Blogs went up online with every conceivable personality behind them, telling the world about their lives and their obsessions with knitting. Books with fashion models covered in yarn creations litter the aisles of every sewing shop or craft store (before most of them went bankrupt).

Finally, I figured out why this is all the rage.

Knitting is mind-numbing. It’s cheaper and safer than narcotics or illegal drugs and not as embarrassing or debilitating as a drinking problem. You can stick knitting needles in your hands — without the track marks. Maybe a few calluses, but nothing to hide behind long sleeves.

You can escape your life without injury or jail time, and no need for prostitution to pay for your habit — unless your spouse controls all the cash. You can retreat into your own mind where kids, partners, jobs, neighbors, pets, and laundry cannot reach.

You temporarily lobotomize yourself with the sheer boredom of it all, and there’s no need for shock therapy or four-day insurance covered “vacations” without your shoelaces in a sterile room. You can sit on a comfy couch and lose yourself in the monotonous work of stitch after stitch after anesthetizing stitch.

You become a knitting zombie, and yet somehow you simultaneously engage your entire brain and use all your concentration might to get through it. I find this stressful, but then I find zombie behavior stressful and yet they’re probably really happy.

Now, where were you? Was that k2, p1, yo? Or did you just k1, k2tog, p3?

Some women try to control knitting the way they do their life, with new patterns and harder projects. They feed on stress and cannot seem to stop themselves from picking up too many books and new styles to tackle. They uber organize their materials, buy all of the cute little non-essentials and grandma bags and baskets to sit next to their comfy spot.

But after a while you catch them drooling onto their Lion’s yarn, their brain in hibernation, like everyone else while a 15-foot behemoth of a baby blanket is being produced. stitch. after stitch. after stitch.

Knitting and crocheting are like sharing a piece of history — of silent hysteria and obsessive-compulsive behavior under the ruse of a “hobby” with past generations. You’ll know when the madness hits them as they stalk nearby towns and cruise strip malls, their eyes glazed over at the sign of a yarn or craft store.

They’ll stare at babies — not because they’re cute, but because they hadn’t yet perfected those kinds of booties and they curse the woman who has.

They will ogle fashion magazines that give them a glimmer of hope that their hobby is indeed worthwhile. Oh, they do try to be fashionable and find things we all might like.

Once in a while, a new style of scarf, baby poncho or pillow sham takes the nation by storm — feeding their justification for crafting. Everyone’s looking for new, contemporary yarns that mask the fact that the item is indeed KNITTED.

Knitters are nutty. They never stop knitting more things and buying more patterns and finding more people to unload their crap on. They truly believe you want this stuff.

And you want to really trust that you’re doing a good thing by accepting a crocheted blanket or knitted mittens and it won’t avalanche into more knitted co-dependency where they are driven by a need to produce more and give them to you. And you don’t want them, but you can’t say no, and by not saying no, you’re just encouraging them.

You want to feel like a good human by acknowledging and appreciating that they’ve put so much hard work into this creation. And yet, you find yourself wistfully longing for the scarf you saw or resenting the fact that they were too cheap to get what you spent all that time registering for.

You realize if you accept all these gifts, your offspring will be the only one in your neighborhood not modeling the new Baby Gap line this fall.

And despite how you would rage at others for being so vapid, and you’re downright jealous that your friends and family members can do these amazing crafty things, you still catch yourself wishing you knew fewer knitters.

Another knitting piece (Knit One, Hurl Two) was inspired by this one and is posted on my blog