KIPing* Along [Knit In Public]

Vera says:

The great majority of my crafting life has been a solitary experience.

As a child, I spent many, mostly happy, hours alone with needles, hooks, books, and yarn pouring over patterns, learning and creating. I didn’t know anyone else who knitted or crocheted, but in a house with many siblings, it was nice to have some space.

Out enjoying Stitch ‘N Pitch at the local ballpark with my knitsibs

In those days, I rarely hauled out my handiwork in public, preferring to keep it a home or maybe overnights at a relative’s.  I wasn’t shy about it, just didn’t do it much.

Finding other knitters and crocheters on line spurred a knitting and crocheting renaissance nearly a decade ago, and I haven’t stopped since.  It also introduced me to local crafters and got my needlework out of the house.

Today, I pretty much knit and crochet in public on a regular basis and pretty much anywhere it’s allowed.  There’s something about needles and yarn that drops barriers and makes people feel that they can come up to me and ask questions, and the diva in me loves the attention.

Teaching in Public at a Knit and Crochet Out

The question I’m most asked is what is the difference between knitting and crocheting and which do I like better (a future post).  It makes me smile when men come up to me and confess that their mother, grandmother, aunt, or even father, taught them and they even passed it on their children.

One of the nicest experiences I had was at a classic music concert during Spoleto.  I was very quietly knitting a sock and I noticed one of the musicians staring at me. At first I thought she was annoyed but then she smiled and kept playing.  Afterwards, she told me that her grandmother in the Ukraine knitted socks and my knitting brought back pleasant memories for her.

To top it off, her grandmother was also named Vera.  How cool is that?

Although some of my friends have had their share of  negative experiences knitting in public (one was told she was being rude), I only have one.

I  brought my crocheting to the post office, it was during the Christmas season, I expected to be in line for a while, and wanted to pass the time finishing last minute gifts.  I had a nice time in line chatting up others and showing off my work. When I got up to the clerk, she frowned and huffed, “Well, we aren’t so slow that you have to bring your knitting.”

Since it wouldn’t go over well to tell her that I actually was crocheting, and I wanted my packages to arrive on time, I refrained pointing out her error.

A tank top in progress during Spoleto.

I don’t knit at work except at lunch.  The church I attend is very open to knitting during the service, but I don’t bring my knitting to other churches.  I will knit at a causal concert, not at an opera, and I take care to choose quiet needles and a pattern I know very well so I’m not thrashing about with instructions. I also take time to engage make eye contact with the speaker if at a lecture and clap and generally be otherwise present.

When in doubt, just ask.

Outdoors or with other knitters, it’s all about sharing and having fun.  Still it’s probably not the best time to graft that intricate lace shawl. Been there, messed it up.

Do you knit or crochet in public? Have any stories to share?

What rules/etiquette do you follow when doing needlework in public?

Gather up your yarn and hooks because a crocheting tutorial is on the way!

*KIP: Knit In Public–crochet too.


Vera Hannaford lives and crafts in Charleston, South Carolina. She took part in a World Wide Knit in Public Week event at the Charleston Museum and is excited about starting a Sunflower Field Shawl for a Tour de France Knit A Long, but is still stressing about the yarn.


  1. livinglavidanormal on July 5, 2011 at 1:25 am

    I generally keep my knitting with me, I take it everywhere. Sometimes I have more than one project with me depending on where I’ll be and what level of pattern reading and concentration is necessary. I love connecting with people about my knitting and I haven’t gotten a rude comment yet. Too funny about the post office!

  2. MelissaTurnerJones on June 28, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    A sewing needle should be ok and fingernail clippers work to cut thread! Granted, I’ve spent much of the last few years holding babies instead of handiwork on planes, but I think you should be ok. @KeterMagick

  3. VeraThomasHannaford on June 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    @KeterMagick I think it made the postal clerk madder when the other people in line behind me starting snickering.

  4. VeraThomasHannaford on June 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    @MelindaHamby That almost happened to me, but I was able to catch the ball of yarn before it began to roll. I can get lots of knitting in the round done at the movies.

  5. VeraThomasHannaford on June 28, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    @ReneevanB What a great story! I love it when someone recognizes a pattern that I knitted. One time a lady came up to me at a Farmer’s and said, “Isn’t that the Zoe Tee your wearing?” I love the connections that knitting and crocheting make.

  6. ReneevanB on June 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    fyi, i’ve flown within europe carrying my knitting on bamboo double pointed needles before. took care to put my scissors in my suitcase though!

  7. KeterMagick on June 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I like to travel light and generally knitting/crochet takes a fairly sizeable tote to carry it, so I usually just leave that at home. I also machine knit quite a bit, and that’s definitely non-portable. What I do sometimes carry with me when I know I’m going to have a long wait is a cross-stitch or needlepoint project, because that is easy to fold up compactly. I used to take these projects on airplanes and buses for long trips, but with the current paranoia, I doubt I could still do that.

    To those who would comment negatively: MYOB. It’s far ruder to make such an unsolicited comment than it is to sit there quietly working on a project.

  8. ev on June 28, 2011 at 11:18 am

    A number of years ago I worked with Cambodian refugee children and the church with which I worked was very formal. I would sit with about 15 children lined up in the pew; all of them were weaving with yarn through out the service.

  9. MelindaHamby on June 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I knit at movie theaters. I take a shawl or blanket, since I know the patterns so well I don’t even have to look to do it – which comes in handy in a dark theater. Though I once had the ball of yarn jump out of my bag and roll all the way down to the bottom of the aisle, under the seats.

  10. ReneevanB on June 28, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Oh I definitely knit in public – mainly on the train. I was once knitting standing up in a crowded train and saw the guy next to me tweeting about me knitting standing up. Turns out I was following him! We had a nice chat about knitting and tweeting in general. I get a lot of appreciative looks from old ladies, and curious looks from others. I think a lot of people are just curious to see what I’m making. It’s always fun to meet other knitters too, often they are very uplifting and unexpected encounters.

  11. Kris on June 28, 2011 at 7:46 am

    When my son was in Little League, I quilted a small lap quilt at his practices and games. I machine-pieced the top and put it together at home, then started quilting it when practice started in early April (here in upstate NY, snow is still flying, and I was happy for the extra layers!) and eventually finished binding it off at one of his last games. Nowadays, I carry my current socks with me – I can usually get a little knitting in before starting work or while waiting at the doctor’s office.

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