If you’re planning to knit in public, be prepared to talk about it with complete strangers.
There I was, knitting a sock in the Atlanta airport when a woman rushed up to me, yarn spilling from her luggage. “Hi,” she said. “I’m boarding my flight but I just had to come over here. I wanted to show you this.” She dug around in her bag for a moment, producing a travel-friendly Knit Kit. As she did, yarn fell onto the floor. “You need one of these,” she said. She opened it, hands fumbling. “It has stitch markers, scissors — I have to get on my plane now, but it’s great to see another knitter!” She scooped up the yarn from the floor, shoved it into her bag, and then she was gone.
Sure enough, once I boarded my plane another knit-connection soon occurred. Sitting across the aisle from each another, we realized we were both knitting a sock with the exact same type of needle, both using magic loop. Few words were exchanged; all we needed to do was hold up our socks and smile. At the end of the flight, while other passengers grimaced, complained and huffed as they left the plane, I waved to my new friend and we exchanged one last friendly glance.
The connection between two kindred knitters is instant — and instantly easy. There are no awkward pauses, no struggling for what to say. There’s always kindness, respect and instinctive good will. Sometimes there are even squeals of delight, which is even better.
I can’t help but think that these connections we form are proof of those knitting health benefits we’re always reading about. Research reported by the New York Times shows that knitting can help reduce anxiety and improve self esteem. And I'm living proof that introvert knitters like me find it easy and even enjoyable to talk about knitting with people we don’t know. I’m sure conversations like these often lead to new friendships, joining stitch groups and plenty of other social interactions that can help us through our daily struggles.
It makes me happy to think of knitting connections as a way of finding a common thread. With so many divisions in our society today, if we knitters have nothing else in common, we share an obsession with our craft. When we’re talking about knitting, nothing else matters. I'm not so interested in who you voted for; I just need to know where you bought that gorgeous alpaca yarn.
Even if they only last a couple of hours on a plane, I always cherish my knitting "friendships," and hope that maybe they'll even spark something bigger, like being able to respect and understand the subjects we don’t fully agree on. But that's a topic for another story.