THE Barb Brown: Public Display

Ive been knitting my whole life,and I have knit every place Ive been. Its just a part of me. I knit at lunch break in school, lunch and coffee break at work, waiting in doctorsoffices. I always have a pair of socks on the go, because they are a small project thats easy to pack around, and easy to stop and start.

Until the advent of the internet, I never thought about this. And then one day, I discovered that I Knit in Public! I discovered many people questioned if they should do it, and wondered how to reply to comments. I found lists people had made of the pros and cons of it.

Strangely, I have never found mention of one the chief joys I derive from my public display of knitting! Its the amazing people I get to meet. Id like to introduce you to couple of them.

I was sitting waiting for my husband in an auto parts store, knitting on a sock. An elderly gentleman stopped and said That brings back so many lovely memories of my Mom! Do you mind if I watch?Of course I invited him to sit down. He stayed for half an hour, and I heard of his life on the prairies before 1920. Driving to town once a month in the wagon, the time his brother fell out, how lonely it could be so far from any other family. And all the memories of his Mom and why he missed her. It was amazing to hear, and his memories were so clear. He got up to leave and told me Thats the first time in years Ive thought of Mom and remembered all that.

Conversation ith an old man about coyotes in a campsite.

A little girl about 8 or so came over while I was waiting for the doctor and asked what I was doing. I looked at her Mom, who nodded okay. The girl and I talked about knitting and crafts, and she got up the nerve to try a few stitches. The Mom came over and asked if I knew where her daughter could learn to knit, and I gave her some information. That kid was so excited!

Encouraging and 8 yr old to try a few knitting stitches.

I was waiting for the ferry, sitting in the bench in the sun, knitting away at a stranded pattern sock. A lady stopped and said Ive always wanted to learn 2 colour knitting. But its so hard!We ended up chatting, and by the time the ferry was coming in, shed done 2 rounds on the sock in 2 colours and was loving it! She left with a list of some of my favourite designers and some good yarn brands to try for a start.

While I was knitting on my Omars Carpet socks, a lady came up and said That looks like socks from my childhood!It turned out she had immigrated from Turkey as a child and had recognized the two traditional Turkish patterns I incorporated into this pattern. I heard all about how she came to Canada, what she loved about our country, how she wasnt so fond of winter, how many kids she had. When I had to leave, I was sad we would likely never meet again!

Chat with a lady who immigrated to Canada as a child.

Almost every sock Ive knit has memories of the people Ive met while knitting on them out in public. Of course, not everyone has been pleasant! But I just forget about those ones as soon as theyve walked away. Thinking of the stories Ive heard, the faces of kids, the hands of people trying a few stitchesI think that all helps the socks seem even more warm and cozy!

Conversation with an artist on the importance of friends while waiting for a meeting.

8 thoughts on “THE Barb Brown: Public Display

  1. Barb, I am so impressed with you and your knitting expertise. Loved your stories about people you have met while knitting in public. Just wish I’ d taken greater advantage of your skill when you lived here in Port Hardy. My “to do” list includes learning how to knit , although I remember you tried to teach me how when you lived lived here. How wonderful that you get so much pleasure from it.


    1. Thanks Heather! I’ve met tourists from Russia, Japan, and who knows where? A world famous mathematician, and about 15 yrs ago a WW11 Vet. I remember teaching you a bit, but you were kind of busy with 3 kids running you ragged, then I was busy with 2 kids….we always think we have for ever and then suddenly we don’t! There is a knitting group there! I bet they’d teach you!


  2. Love it! It is a great conversation starter, but I imagine most people observe quietly. I have never heard a negative comment towards me, but I can’t even imagine how someone could be negative about it in the first place!! Some people!!
    My only real interesting story is this: I am a paramedic, and I like to have a small project with me that I can pick up in between calls. A couple of Christmases ago, I was trying to get a few hats done in time, and was a bit stressed about it. We were waiting for quite some time in the Hospital ER with the patient on my stretcher, so I finally asked the elderly gentleman (my patient) if he minded if I knit while we waited. He said of course not and I hung my bag on the end of the stretcher and we continued our conversation as if nothing was any different! I got some funny looks from other patients and family members as they walked by, but overall it was well received! Not sure my supervisor was too impressed, until the patient told him that he had given me permission!!
    Thanks for sharing your stories!



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