Knitting and Crochet as a Social Outlet for Introverts

the woven road

the woven road

Since knitting, crocheting, nalbinding (and spinning if you are bold enough!) are easily transportable, us fiber artists often find ourselves crafting in public. Whether we are making our string creations while sipping tea alone or merrily joining in a boisterous wine and twine, our minds and our hands live in a wooly world.

To some, the barrage of comments and questions that arise when knitting or crocheting in a social setting can be quite annoying. But for others, it can be a great bridge to pleasant communication with strangers, or even lead to *gasp* friendship! There is one large (but still minority) group that can benefit from this social yarn-crafting, namely, introverts.

As an introvert, I know the struggles of interacting in social situations. For introverts, socializing requires a ton of energy; energy we only produce while being alone. Because we spend so much delightful, cozy (and real AF in our pajamas eating snacks and drinking wine) time alone, we might not have as much social experience as our extroverted counterparts. It's not that we don’t like people, we just need a lot of alone time to recoup some energy, and can be easily deterred by social uncertainty.

Yarn crafts can be a great outlet and social catalyst for introverts. 

Working on a project takes a lot of time, most of which, will be spent on your own. There are a lot of fabulous online resources to help you find a pattern, or to help you create a cohesive piece of your own, and you can do all of this without talking to a person!

"You can decide how much or how little to interact, and you can do it all without pants!"

There are tons of online fiber artist communities if you decide you would like to interact with someone, share your projects, or ask for advice. You can decide how much or how little to interact, and you can do it all without pants!

Knitting and crocheting in public is a great conversation starter. If you are like me, and would like to engage with strangers, maybe make a friend, but are terrible at striking up a conversation, this solution may be for you. Some great places to bring your WIP are coffee shops, bars, your kids’ sporting events or hobby meet-ups, if you are dining out alone, or pretty much any time you will be surrounded by a bunch of strange humans. If someone is interested enough to ask you what you are making, chances are, you already have one thing in common.

Keeping your hands busy will comfort you.  The bamboo needles softly clicking away, and familiar rhythmic muscle memory will ensure that you always have an old friend by your side. Perhaps you can even harken back to those times when you were crafting alone, using some energy from your memory to take your hip fiber artist persona conversing and socializing well into the evening… maybe even past 9pm!

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Yarn-crafting while socializing helps to sooth inevitable awkward silences. They say that you don’t know someone well until you are able to sit comfortably in silence with them. That may be true for your oldest and dearest friends, but after walking in cold to a new craft group, silence can sometimes feel like a small failure. Of course it is not, but with all of the things going on in your lap (not like that, naughty), if there is a lull in conversation, everyone can look down at their WIP and pretend not to notice.

"I have been called out for being anti-social when I bring my knitting to a party, but that gives me an opportunity to explain why I see it as a kind of social lubricant."

You may find yourself more eager to attend social events if you know you’ll have your wool and sticks by your side. If the din of the other attendees becomes a bit tiresome or overwhelming, rather than whisking yourself off to the guest room with the jacket covered bed just to get a few quiet minutes to yourself, you can instead settle yourself into a corner of the couch, and proceed to turn string into things. You can chat when you like, and when you feel like being silent, just look down and engage with your work.

Of course knitting, crocheting, spinning, nalbinding etc. are not only for the introverted among us. But for those of us who spend a hilarious proportion of your daily energy just making small talk with acquaintances, yarn crafting can be a wonderful catalyst to friendship. True, I have been called out for being anti-social when I bring my knitting to a party, but that gives me an opportunity to explain why I see it as a kind of social lubricant. Knitting at parties is like having a combination of booze and a therapy dog, without the hassle of people trying to take either for a walk.

Are you a yarn-crafting introvert? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below! 

10 Travel Tips for Fiber Artists

The Woven Road

The Woven Road

It is no secret that fiber artists, no matter where we are or what we are doing, will find ourselves fantasizing about our craft.  Inevitably, we're going to find ourselves wishing we had brought a project along with us.  Some projects lend themselves better than others to an "on-the-go" lifestyle.  (Good luck with THIS.)  Here is a list of 10 tips to make your take-along crafting run as smoothly as possible.

1) Plan ahead: Choose a project with a pattern that can be easily memorized.  This way, if you have to put it down at a moment's notice, you won't have too much of a hassle figuring out where you left off.  (I'd also like to note that I almost never follow this advice, and love to bring colorwork with me wherever I go! It is slightly more difficult but I love it too much to leave home without it.)

2) Go Digital: Download your pattern onto your mobile device, just remember to keep your device charged!  Aja recommends keeping a hard copy of your pattern, just in case your device is stolen, or runs out of battery.

3) Designate a bag just for your take-along project:  I don't know about you, but I used to constantly be untangling my yarn from various pens, keychains, gum wrappers, spiral notebooks (now that I write that, I realize I may have a larger problem on my hands...).  Invest in a nice project bag, one that provides all of the organizational pockets you could dream of.  This way, you'll never have to go digging and untangling before you can even start working on your project. (Spoiler alert: The Woven Road will be releasing our own line of project bags next year!)

4) Needle stoppers/point protectors are your friend: Keep your knitting on the needles and your peace of mind.  Check them out here, or some groovy handmade ones here.

5) Knitting needles are indeed TSA approved!: There is always some skepticism and I know many knitters that do not bring their needles in their carry-on just in case.  But they are indeed allowed (even large needles).  I have indeed heard the occasional anecdotal story about some folks getting their needles confiscated, so if you are concerned, choose wooden needles if you can.  I have also seen videos of folks using a drop spindle on an airplane (a bit to the dismay of the person next to them...)!  As long as your needles or roving do not contain more than 3oz of liquid, you'll be alright. ;)

6) Scissors with a blade length of more than 1 inch are not allowed in your carry-on luggage. I do recommend a Clover Yarn Cutter Pendant if you foresee a need to cut your yarn id-flight.

7) If weaving is your, thing: A simple frame loom, or the Woolery's Cricket Loom might be the best options for taking your crafting with you while you are traveling.

8) Ball your yarn ahead of time:  Let's be honest, crafting in public always acquires a few stares.  But you know what acquires stares AND awkwardness? Spreading your legs on public transportation so that you can place your yarn around your knees and wind it into a huge ball.

9) Locate yarn shops and textile museums:  So many places around the world have interesting traditions rooted in textile culture.  Know where you are going? Locate and plan to visit nearby museums.  While traveling in Nepal, my group paid an unexpected visit to a Tibetan refugee community and we were able to watch the women in their weaving, creating carpets to sell to tourists.  Finding things like this is a great way to see how traditional knowledge is being employed to support contemporary communities.  This was also a GREAT place to spend your money, because you are able to directly interact with the community you are supporting.  Here is a beautiful photo gallery of textiles from around the world.

10) Try a new craft in the style or tradition where you are traveling to: how delightful does it sound to plan your next travel adventure will be hopping around the British Isles and Scandinavia, knitting Welsh dragons, fair isle, Norwegian mitten patterns on tiny size zero needles, gazing out over the sheep and the fjords.

11) Sign up for a textile trip: They do exist, and pretty much all over the world. Most popular in Europe, you can sign up for a week of tours, classes, lectures, group craft-ins and more.  One popular fiber festival with a bit of a focus on local tradition is Shetland Wool Week.  What great fun it would be to learn a cool new style of crafting tradition while learning about its history from some of the most famous names in the business!  Iceland and Ireland are popular places for this type of fiber tourism.

On a final note, crafting in public is almost always a great icebreaker.  If you are undecided about whether or not to take your projects with you (whether to a sports match, or to the other side of the globe), we whole-heartedly recommend that you do!

Have any more recommendations? Send us your thoughts and experiences, and we'll be happy to share them!

-Meadow