Public Knitting VENT

Ok, I know I've been gone for oodles and oodles of time, so first things first- hi! Hope everyone is doing well =)

So I've been working on the Ravelry Cerys Baby Blankie by Leah J. Williams... only I'm expanding it to be a full size adult blanket (6'x6'). It's a great project, but on size 8 needles, it's taking some time. I opted to work on it on the train on my way to/from work. And here, gentlemen, is where I need some love and support.

I've knit in public before and have never been bothered, except by someone who was curious about what I was making, or something like that- never anything malicious. However, tonight I was riding home, tired, and working on my blanket. I had my headphones in, minding my business, when I noticed that the woman across the aisle had her phone pointed at me. She was probably about 28-30, dressed in a pencil skirt and ugly, beige, chunky heels. I saw her smirking, and as I looked up at her, she took a picture of me. "How do you know she took a picture?" you might ask- she left the flash on like a moron.

I didn't want to create a scene or become emotional, but I was very, very upset by this. I chose at first not to say anything, going back to my knitting. My hands were shaking, and my tension was so off I could barely move the stitches on the needle. I felt so violated, knowing she was probably putting that picture online somewhere with some snarky comment, or sharing it with friends, laughing at my expense.

After a minute or so passed, I became so angry that I put down my knitting, took out my headphones, took out my phone, and took several pictures of the woman with my flash on. I smiled, she gave an embarrassed smile and got off the train. I wanted to scream at her.

I felt so violated by what she did- so much so that even now I am having trouble letting the incident go. What a heinous violation of someone's privacy to take a picture of them without their consent for the sole purpose of belittling them. Has this, or something like it, ever happened to you guys? How did you handle the situation? I'm curious, since I'm sure I could have said or done something, but my anger was so enveloping that I could not even think what to say to her.




cacunn's picture

I believe that you are looking at this from the wrong side. How do you know that she did not take the picture to be able to say that she is impressed seeing a man knitting and that the piece he is knitting is so pretty.

We all seem to look at things from the negative.

We have to admit that it is still a little odd seeing a man knit much less knit in public that it amazes people. Do not assume that it was done for a negative reason assume that it was done for a positive reason.

Now I do believe that it is rude for a person to take a picture of a specific person without permission. A comment such as "Excuse I do not appreciate having my picture take, I believe it is an invasion of privacy and do not give permission for my image to be used in any way. To use it or to post it may result in legal action. Please delete the picture from your camera/phone"

cacunn's picture

I asked on my face book page:

"Just because you have a camera in your phone does this give you the right to take pictures of someone you do not know? A friend was knitting on a train and a lady pulled out her phone and took his picture. He feels that this was an invasion of his privacy."

So far everyone agrees that this is a violation of privacy.

I'm really sorry that you felt so hurt and violated. I agree with the other response, that it was very possible that she took the photo for a positive reason: to use your example to encourage men she knows to knit, to copy your blanket pattern, etc. You wrote that you were tired; it's easier to get upset and more difficult to fully orient to a situation when you're tired. Perhaps you can try to conciously make the opposite assumption unless shown otherwise. I, for example, have been knitting in public, on trains, airplanes and public transport, for 40 years, in many places (US, throughout Western Europe, USSR, Communist Poland, Communist Czechoslovakia, Israel, Mexico), and do not know of any negative reaction from a stranger. Maybe I have a thick skin, but regardless, it has helped make knitting a fun experience.

To be honest, I thought that I'd read that your problem was that the project was getting too large and was getting soiled on the train. My advice for that: stuff the project into a plastic bag and secure the top with string, letting only the area with "live" stitches currently being worked show. That way the completed portion of your work will be protected from dirt.

Relax and have fun!

There are a lot of rude people out there---do NOT let them get you down. Just aint no cure for stupid,

PieintheSky88's picture

I originally thought that maybe I was wrong/overreacting, but just watching her actions (all the smirking, quiet laughing, etc.) I knew it was not a positive situation. I appreciate your comments, and I should have said something at the time. Just felt very hurt by it- like you guys have said, I normally *don't* encounter people like this, which is why, I think, I was so hurt by it.

*All an actor has is their blind faith that they are who they say they are today in any scene.*
~Meryl Streep

Hal Huffman's picture

Hats off to you. I knit socks in public, and to anyone who gives me crap, I smartly say that men used to knit socks for our soldiers in WWI, by request of the Red Cross. Then, I say 'Too bad you are too stupid to create anything except useless wasted space'.

I'm gonna use the camera 'back atcha' move myself, next time I'm in this situation.

Take care!

CLABBERS's picture

Eleanor Roosevelt says it wisely when she said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." I think these are very powerful words that I have adopted as one of my mantras. It's a very difficult thing to do, but when it happens, you become totally in control of any situation, by simply continuing on with your knitting and simply ignore them. If you do speak to them, do so out of a kind pity for their shortsightedness. Of course, if they are just rude and wicked, knitting needles, especially the long metal ones may one hell of a weapon.

The long and the short of it, don't give people like that the time of day.

Be well, stay calm.


moltenchld's picture


Take heart, you're not alone. I used to knit in public all the time and still occasionally do. I get all sorts of responses, some good and some bad, and some downright crazy. And yes, the first time can be bracing, especially because you have to wonder in some places why people in this day and age are still so far behind in their thinking. But in my experience, I think if you take a step back and look at all the perspectives noted below, there's some really good advice. Mark, love the comments, think they are right on point, pun and all intended :-). It's good to know that someone else out there can relate and I have made some "pointed" comments on occasion.

Lastly, another option you have is asking someone flat out who behaves in this way, can I help you? or even just simply smile and say hello. I've been pleasantly surprised by some who've stared and some who decided to take photos.

So that's my two cents worth that I hope helps you know you're not alone and encourages you to not let any of this get you down. Please keep on enjoying your craft in public, shamelessly and brazenly if necessary :-).


Bill's picture

I'm so sorry...can't believe someone would take your picture without asking. Obviously the woman had no manners! Hopefully the next time you're aware of that happening, you can quickly remember how upset you were and challenge them.
In the meantime...since you have her might post it on lamposts in the area with an assortment of headings...
"Wanted" ..."For a good time call"...
( I'm sure you can think of something)
...even if you don't...knowing that you could may help you feel better!

Britannic's picture

I think it is very rude to take someone's picture without their permission first in situations such as you found yourself. If you're too afraid to ask then you should not take the picture.

However, I'm going to follow-up and agree with Chris (cacunn)'s comments. I wouldn't assume that her intentions were malicious. Maybe she was impressed by the fact that you were knitting and wanted to show someone else that men do indeed knit.

If it was malicious, then, don't be upset either. Pity her small-minded ways and feel sorry for her that in 2012 she cannot appreciate the great diversity of culture and interests that the many peoples of this world share and express in their daily lives. Maybe the next time you see her, if you do, strike up a conversation with her and ask her what happened. If this is a train you frequently ride on, chances are, she might as well. You never know, you may ultimately wind up educating her and maybe even make a new friend in the long run. I believe encounters like this happen for reasons. Make the most of them.

In any event, though, I am sorry you experienced an unpleasant situation and that you felt violated. No one should ever be made to feel that way.