Thanks to everyone who commented on the boys vs. men issue. Since the consensus appears to be that it’s really no big deal, I won’t be making any changes to my line of buttons. It’s not like I’m trying to make a ton of money of these things anyway. Now I’ve got another issue for you to consider.
As a regular mass-transit rider, I have many opportunities during my week to squeeze in a half-hour of reading or knitting. If I can get a seat, it’s knitting (unless I just got the latest issue of Harper’s). My wife often does the same thing, and although we don’t take the train at the same time, we do get the opportunity to compare notes at the end of the day. Recently, those notes contained the observation that almost no one on the train ever engages her in conversation about her knitting, while I can’t knit a single public stitch without someone chatting me up about it.
Most of the time, this is just fine. I love talking about knitting, and having a conversation helps me tune out the five, six, or ten cell phone conversations within my earshot. I’m also a glutton for attention, and knitting in public is a great way to show off. But when I’ve had a long day, and I’m tired, and my stutter is giving me a particularly hard time, and all I want to do is get home to be with my wife and my cats, the last thing I want is to be stuck in a random conversation with a stranger. I’ve tried warding people off with my iPod headphones, but that doesn’t work against the most persistent folks. Sometimes I’ll opt out of knitting, even though it’s what I really want to be doing.
Our culture has social barriers against talking to strangers, and we only step over them under a few circumstances: shared inconvenience, like being stuck in an elevator together, or a perceived shared interest, like when someone is reading the same book as you. Those barriers are different heights, depending on gender. A woman chatting up a woman comes across as pretty harmless, but a man chatting up a woman is a different story. Not too many other knitters on the train are talking to my wife about her knitting—so what is it about being a male knitter that lowers the threshold for public conversation? What goes through your mind when you see a guy knitting out in public? What’s different about approaching a man about his knitting, versus approaching a woman?
Comments, comments, comments! Tell me what you think!