Is Knitting for Grannies?

Knitting Circle


I am curious…what is reaction you get when you tell people you knit?

Are they surprised in a sort of looking-down-upon-you/that-is-so-out way? Do they look at you as if you are a bit of a looner?

How does that compare to the reaction you get when you tell people you sew?

A bit of background…

Up until a month ago, I had never done much knitting. I knew how to knit and purl, and even knitted a ribbed sweater and a scarf over 10 years ago. But never got addicted. It seemed to take way too long, I didn’t quite like the final result.

Fast-forward that to a month ago when I finally decided I shouldn’t get 15 angora balls go to waste and decided to pick up the needles again.

I got myself some circular needles, got myself a Ravelry account, watched loads of Youtube videos, took a one-on-one Skype class and kind of got hooked.

So much so that I knit on my way to work! Why waste a 20-minute return ferry ride, right?

Well, to cut a long story short… pretty much everybody around me has been having that sort of condescending reaction. Sort of…sewing is cool, knitting is for grannies. I was even told that the only worse hobby could be crocheting ;)

Not that I care much really…I actually think that there’s more hype around knitting than sewing…I even heard about yarn bombing

However, I was wondering if you experienced the same reactions.

If not…well, it would be a great test to do…you know how much I love surveys! (BTW give me a few more days and I will publish the results)

Looking forward to hearing from you. By the way…maybe in 30 years time we could all meet up and knit together at London underground station! Must be fun!

Sono curiosa… Come reagisce la gente quando gli dite che fate la maglia?

Rimangono di sasso e vi guardano con  condiscendenza o del tipo sei una nonna? Vi guardano come se aveste perso la testa?

E’ diversa dalla reazione che avete quando dite che cucite?

Ma facciamo un passo indietro…

Fino a un mese fa non avevo mai fatto molto la maglia. Sapevo fare il dritto e il rovescio…ho persino fatto un maglione a coste e una sciarpa piu’ di 10 anni fa. Ma non mi e’ mai venuta la passione! Mi sembrava un lavoro lentissimo e non mi piaceva molto il risultato.

Fino a un mese fa…quando ho deciso che non era il caso di sprecare 15 bellissime matasse di angora e ho deciso di riprendere i ferri in mano.

Ho comprato dei ferri circolari, mi sono iscritta a Ravelry, ho guardato una quantita’ spropositata di video su Youtube, seguito una lezione di maglia privata su Skype…e mi sono un po’ appassionata.

Al punto che faccio la maglia mentre vado al lavoro. Sarebbe un peccato sprecare un viaggio di 20 minuti, no?

Be’, per farla breve… quasi tutte le persone che mi circondano hanno avuto una reazione simile. Della serie… cucire e’ figo, fare la maglia e’ da nonna. Qualcuno mi ha anche detto che se facessi anche l’uncinetto toccherei il fondo ;) 

Non che la cosa mi interessi… In realta’ credo che la maglia sia attualmente piu’ in voga…ho anche scoperto che esiste una cosa che si chiama yarn bombing

Pero’ mi chiedevo se fosse successo anche a voi.

E se non ci avete fatto caso…be’ sarebbe fantastico se faceste una prova anche voi…sapete quanto mi piacciano i sondaggi! (A proposito ancora qualche giorno di pazienza e pubblico i risultati)

Sono curiosa di quello che mi racconterete. E poi magari tra 30 anni potremmo incontrarci tutte insieme a Londra  per fare la maglia insieme alla fermata della metropolitana! Sarebbe divertente!

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Author: Sewing Princess - Silvia

Join me for a journey to making my own wardrobe, pattern drafting and getting involved in the sewing community


  1. OOps… I meant “airlines”!
    Stephanie recently posted..Sunday vintage (and other!) inspiration

  2. Maybe it’s who I hang out with, but I mostly get asked, Can you teach me?

    Quilting, every once in a while I get a granny comment.

    Show them Debbie Stoller’s Stitch and Bitch!

  3. I started knitting before it became this trendy thing, so I used to get the “granny” comment a lot here in the US. I was an exchange student for a year in Japan and during that time, it was completely cool to take out some knitting and knit on the trains. These days, there are others who are knitting on planes and trains in the US so it doesn’t stand out as much.

    • Whoa! The knitting revolution started in Japan then. I am yet to see anyone knitting/crocheting in public (apart from craft fairs) last one I saw was my grandma back in 1984! I guess I hang out in the wrong places or knitters hide when they see me ;)

  4. I think in Australia knitting is quite trendy – there are stitch and bitch sessions in pubs for people to get together and knit!
    Kristy recently posted..Burda of the month: printed pants 10/2013#127A

  5. I get the same reactions. When I say I can sew the reaction is usually “ooh, that’s cool” (quickly followed by “could you sew a ____ for me?”). But when I say I can knit (and I can only do basic stuff), people tend to think it’s a “grandma” skill… So sad!
    I can embroider and crochet as well, and I’m pretty proud of my skills!
    Paunnet recently posted..Backstitch: New Look and Competition

  6. If I have an appointment I always take my knitting. Without fail, I get no knitting done as at least one person will want to comment and ask questions. People are intrigued. I got talking with one old man and it turned out his hobby was making grandfather clocks. Imagine! He was making one for each of his grandchildren.

    Often, people reminisce about the old times, and it seems to make them happy.

    I also take my hand sewing with me, so I can slip stitch my collar or whatever.

    I find that people really appreciate that there are those of us still creating hand made items slowly, in a world that moves so fast.

  7. Here, I think knitting is considered more “trendy” than sewing and I’ll see younger people knitting in public occasionally. Naturally, you’re not going to see people out sewing, though. The rare times I tell people I sew, I’m usually met with silence. Or the assumption that I just sew little girls’ dresses.

    • How interesting, Joy. I would have expected they assumed you made quilts just because so many people do that. I get the silence part too… As in…I can’t relate to that, it’s so alien, don’t know what to say. I also get the: are you a professional seamstress? They can’t see it as a hobby. Funny.

  8. Where I live, most people don’t knit or sew, so I’m not sure that it’s associated with grannies. but my 20 year old daughter loves having me sew and knit her clothes. She’s away at university and I just mailed her a sweater knit from lace yarn which she promptly wore for 2 days the minute she received it!
    erin recently posted..pastel for her, grey and black for me

  9. I knit in public (including planes) all the time and often get the strangest looks from people. Canadians are, in general, very polite so I don’t ever get people saying anything to me but I have overheard Spanish speaking people on the streetcar talking about how I must have learned from my granny (which I did not) and “que raro mira ver esa chica tan joven tejiendo”. Little did they know I understood every word – ha! I also had a co-worker just last week tell me I was surely “old fashion” and “traditional” because I knit and sew. That really made me laugh because I am anything but traditional. I think there really is still is a strong bias in people to relate knitting, sewing and any sort of so-called “traditonal” craft with a sense of all things past. Having said all that, I would totally meet you in thirty years (or three!) at the London tube for a knitting in public session – fun times indeed!

    • My experience has been very different from Andrea’s…in fact I am surprised that she has had people giving her funny looks. When I am knitting on planes or on buses people inevitably start talking to me about what I’m making, how they’d like to learn, what their mom or sister knits, etc. (I’m 43, born and raised in Toronto, although I live in Ottawa now, and have also lived in other places across the country, e.g. the west coast). I’ve always been a knitter and know many knitters (particularly in my age cohort). In university, several of my friends knit in lectures!

      It’s true that knitting fell a little bit out of fashion among younger generations, but it has been picking up again for at least the last fifteen years. In every city there seem to be knitting groups and shops frequented by people of all ages. The Yarn Harlot, who is from Toronto, has a very popular blog and has written many books that have sold well. I have already taught two people in my office at work to knit (including one boy!), as they expressed interest after they found out that it’s a fond hobby of mine. My track coach used to knit socks as he was watching us run!

      Knitting is also fairly popular in Australia, at least in my memory. I lived there in the late 1990s and found that good knitting yarn was readily available. I used to knit on the bus on the way to work everyday and received positive comments if anything. I always figured that for both Canada and Australia the acceptance of knitting had something to do with our significant English/Scottish cultural roots. Also, in the case of Canada, let’s face it, it’s cold most of the year, and it can also be cool in Canberra and Melbourne, where I lived for a while in Australia.

      Anyhow. I’ve always thought that both knitting and sewing are super cool! What’s better than being able to make your own garments?!
      Stephanie recently posted..Sunday vintage (and other!) inspiration

    • Well they got the young part right at least! It cracks me up when people come to conclusions just by looking at your hobbies! I would start making up stories about how traditional you are…just for fun!

  10. Hola Silvia! Pues yo creo que por aquí lo de coser en principio les parece algo antiguo pero cuando ven las cosas que te vas haciendo la opinión cambia.
    Yo tambien acabo de empezar con el “knitting” y la verdad es que es más cómodo que coser…te sientas en el sofá y ¡Hala! a hacer una del derecho una del revés hasta que te aburras. Eso sí ya he tenido que deshacerlo todo un par de veces…

  11. *lol* Maybe Italy is a bit backwards? Or maybe it’s Germany that’s a bit backwards, because most kids here still learn both knitting and crocheting at school. And I guess there’s a bit of a hype now and then, too. At uni, I regularly had at least one or two others in a lecture hall taking out their knitting. I have at least one acquaintance who I know also knits on the bus/tube. And, well, it’s also a bit of a thing here for a girl to knit her boyfriend a scarf in winter. Funny that, at least from my perspective, it looks like it’s more of a thing for either the granny generation (my granny kept me in handmade socks until she got arthrosis) or the teens&tweens.
    Alessa recently posted..Verity

  12. Yo acabo de iniciarme en el mundo del punto y ganchillo, de momento nunca he tejido en público pero cuando he visto a alguien haciéndolo en el tren las reacciones son buenas, el próximo puente me llevaré mis grannies, tengo ganas de ver las reacciones.

  13. I was once asked by some children if I was knitting ‘like in the olden days’! Otherwise not much reaction, apart from fellow knitters who are interested in what I’m making.

  14. When I was in my first year of Uni in 2008 I was seriously addicted to knitting (in the way I am to sewing now!) and would knit on the train home at weekends and every night when I got a chance. The most reactions on the train would always happen when people were getting on or off and therefore walking past my seat. I remember often getting strange looks, but I don’t remember anyone speaking to me about it. I once heard a fellow knitter on the train (the clack of needles!) but rarely saw any. Last year I used to crochet on the train to Manchester and had more conversations about it, mainly with middle-aged women about how they crotched too or about how they would like to start again! I never dared to knit or crochet in busy places at uni for fear of strong reactions, but I often find that people my age (20s) do knit or crochet, but like me they don’t go around shouting about it, but they do proudly sport their self-made items! Great question!
    Anna recently posted..Maxi Dress to Skater Dress Tutorial

  15. I knit on the tube every day and other than the normal London reaction of ignoring anyone and everyone however random their behaviour, most reactions are really positive, including a hilariously curious drunk lad recently. I once sat next to another fellow knitter which was very odd. Were I to get any grief, I’d point out the crap acrylic scarves being worn all around me while I snuggle up in 100% merino.

  16. I often knit in public and get some very mixed reactions. Mostly though people are curious because I’m invariably knitting a sock on 4 needles, which most people haven’t seen. Children are the best…they are mesmerised. And, as you rightly point out, knitting is a fabulously portable project.
    PendleStitches recently posted..Chorizo and sweet potato soup

    • You’re right dpns are fascinating! I’m so annoyed you are not allowed to knit on a plane! Must be due to all those guerrilla knitters out there ;)

      • Have you tried it? I usually take my knitting on airplanes (I’ve invested in wooden needles, although I’ve also taken normal metal DPNs and circular needles) and I’ve never gotten grief yet. Then again, I probably look to unassuming… ;)
        Alessa recently posted..Verity

        • I haven’t dared doing it. Easyjet (the airline I use the most) has knitting needles on their forbidden list. I have wooden needles too but I didn’t want to
          risk them being confiscated ;)

          • This is interesting, Silvia, as knitting needles have been taken off the forbidden list by many airplanes. I can knit on cross-Canada flights and also was able to knit on the transatlantic flight that I took to go to Italy this spring (can’t remember if that was with Air Canada or KLM or Swiss Air…I have come over so many times). At any rate, I have the impression that knitting needles are being taken off the list by many airlines. At one point, right after 9/11, I remember being stopped with my knitting needles and forced to check them in a cardboard box. Prior to that, i.e. in the 1990s, I had to go to Asia frequently – e.g. Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and knitting was how I got through those long flights! (There also used to be more arm room though. When I was knitting a baby sweater as a gift for an Italian baby friend in the spring I found knitting on the transatlantic flight more difficult for the lack of arm room than anything!)
            Stephanie recently posted..Sunday vintage (and other!) inspiration