As an introvert it is often difficult for me to interact with people for long stretches of time. Difficult may not be the right word, really it just wears me out and unfortunately when I am worn out I can be a bit…cranky. One thing I love about blogging (and reading other blogs) is the amount of interaction I can have with others. I can spend hours reading through a variety of different posts, commenting and interacting with all of you fine people. It is one my favorite parts of the day, being able to talk about topics that interest us both (another reason that I, like many others, enjoy Ravelry so much I suspect.) There is one disadvantage with all of this that I can see and that is, the ability to live within your own little world.
Now to clarify, this isn’t the worst thing in the world, but rather it does present a bit of a culture shock when you venture out into the “greater world.” Take for instance a few weeks ago. I attended a meetup of my women’s fraternity, there was a social (dance) and the following day a chance for the alumnae (like me) to meet and mingle with the actives (the collegiate’s.) There was the usual gentle ribbing about being old (and a bit of lamenting over the differences in life stages and childhood memories, points for the ladies who got the movie references.) There was also discussion of plans after school as well as the coming and goings of current life. This was great, but as we sat around the group chatting and hanging out, I pulled out my knitting and began to work on the sock I keep in my bag for travel. I got some odd looks, some curious stares and one or two inquiries as to what I was doing/making.
While all of this is fine and to be expected in terms of the “greater world” I realized that after a little while I felt out-of-place with my knitting. Now I haven’t attended a knitting group in almost a year, but for the most part I knit when I am out and about and there is down time. In other words I am used to other people not knitting, and it wasn’t as though I shouldn’t be knitting, we were just chatting, no one felt as though they were being ignored (as far as I could tell.) As I looked around the room I began to realize one thing that made me feel out-of-place was the fact that I knew of only one other person who knew how to knit (and since she learned around the holidays and as far as I know had not knit since the scarf she made for her sister, she isn’t nearly as obsessed with it as I am) I felt alone.
As I knit a few more rounds, I sat and thought about what it meant to be a knitter, spinner, weaver, fiber artist in general. There is this entire subculture that exists, as the fiber arts (with the deviations for various manifestations being even further subsets.) There are the rock stars (the names that almost everyone knows and or follows) there is a lingo all our own, avenues for expression and congregation (sheep and wool festivals, stitch and bitches, guilds, groups, local yarn shops, blogs and Ravelry.) It’s so easy to fall into my own fiber based world and completely forget that someone may not know what I mean when I say I love lace for the limp noodle before and spectacular after (aka blocking) or they might not understand the difference in wool types. It is probably something obvious to a lot of people, but as the afternoon continued onward I realized how entrenched I had become in this little world. This is not to say I don’t have other areas of interest/focus , but rather it is a remark at how easy it is to forget that not everyone is into the fiber arts. Not everyone likes debating the benefits and disadvantages of super wash wool, or the latest pattern sweeping the community.
For the first time in a long while I wasn’t surrounded (virtually or otherwise) by other knitters. I had become so used to talking about the fiber arts, to thinking about the different aspects of a variety of things, that when I was placed in a “world” where these things weren’t discussed/shared/thought about I felt foreign. My knitting needles seemed out-of-place as the group discussed a variety of things and even though no one was rude, I put the knitting down. (Never mind the fact that I picked it back up a little while later, the down time was driving me a bit crazy.)
It seems a little funny to me, this whole realization of my own little world. As a recovering academic I was used to being in a field that was made up of other like-minded individuals (in terms of topic interest if not opinion) I am also used to being within a small group (aka not everyone is interested in Early Modern European Reformation) but in the last year I have steadily replaced that subculture with the knitting one. I can’t say I consciously did this, but rather looking at the events that happened that weekend I can safely say that is what is happening. Even now as I glance at my bookshelf, gone are the text books on various theologians, and biblical history. In their places are pattern books, stitch dictionaries, histories, yarn designs and knitting philosophy/humor. My life was emptied by the decision to leave academia and that void has been filled with fibery goodness. I have reconstructed my own little world, one in which I can read about a new technique, learn a new skill or share some of my own knowledge with a group of people who are just as interested in it as me.
One thing is for sure, there are few things better in life than feeling like you are at home among your people.