The Smugness of Knitters

I was thinking of ruminating on the pictures of Ken Livingstone putting out the rubbish half naked, but I have decided to save readers this delight. Today's post takes a distinctly domestic turn:

We've all seen them, the Shoreditch Knitters: sitting smugly on the tube in their skinny jeans, deftly crafting a pair of exotic-looking socks from recycled yarn. Every time I see one, I feel a pang of resentment as the multi-coloured fabric pours from their trendy second-hand 6mm needles.
How dare they know how to knit so well? How dare their rib stitch come out so smooth yet pleasingly stretchy, whilst mine becomes a thick mass of knotted string? How VERY dare they look so smug as their hands dance across the gently vibrating wool?
As any career-woman on maternity leave knows, it is pretty much an obligation to turn one's hand to the ancient handicrafts during the times of confinement. Headteachers, businesswomen, actresses, all will have been tempted towards the crafting shop as they push their little one around the neighbourhood.
With no prior experience, I have happily spent the last eight months stabbing my hands with felting needles during the creation of a tiny and pointless mouse.
I have given myself cramp in the hands knitting wonky dishcloths and even an apple cosy.
There are few soft furnishings in the house that have not escaped my obsession with blanket stitch. Only my recent return to work has saved me from felting embarrassing sheep and clouds onto my jumper collection.
During the time off, crafts save you from that feeling of endless, pointless toil that never ends. While the cycle of sweeping up sick and half-eaten food will genuinely go on forever, you might just embroider a pair of jeans with a daisy by 9pm. It's pointless toil, but there is a goal. Women of work need a goal, even if it is just the production of a felt finger puppet.
But the crafts also consign you to endless hours of disappointment and frustration - a similar emotional landscape to that created by life in an office. The pressure to achieve is greater now, too. The internet means there is no excuse for a lack of crocheting knowledge.
Perhaps we thrive on it, this angry, frustrated busy-ness. It wouldn't be enough simply to relax and enjoy the fabulousness of our babies.


  1. I feel like I should apologise to you. I'm by no means a Shoreditch knitter - I don't think I've ever been able to fit into skinny jeans - but I am someone who knits socks on public transport. In case it helps, we don't do it to make other people feel inadequate, it's because socks are easy to carry around and you don't need to move your elbows around too much so don't bother other people. I'd be happy to show you how to knit socks if you'd like :-)


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