Tag Archives: Hipster

Is Knitting Cool Now?

Anytime I see something out of the ordinary 4 different times in the same day, I have to assume that it is the ‘next cool thing’.  I don’t receive whatever memo gets sent around, and I’m not on the same wave-length as whatever pop-star, or reality show actor (did I just say actor?) is setting the trends these days.  As a result I’m often late to the party.  I’m just a stand-by passenger on the ‘cool plane’.  The last to board assuming I even get a seat.  I do ride the subway system though, so if I seem to have my finger on the pulse of urban trends, it’s because if I can stay awake long enough, it will smack me in the face.  What smacked me in the face this past week was young people knitting…..EVERYWHERE!  Guys too!  I mean girls get a pass on this, but young guys knitting?  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I compromised with subtle indifference, followed by a Monday blog.

As a proud owner of several Hawaiian shirts for a 3 month stretch in 2001, I would like to state that knitting being an ‘in thing’ kind of took me by surprise.  I mean, you see old people knitting all the time, but they’re from a different time, and that’s something that people did back in the day.  If you needed some socks, and there wasn’t money, or a store nearby, you knitted a pair.  Done!  If you got good at it, maybe you made a sweater for Johnny’s birthday, or a toque for baby Felicia.  There were lots of acceptable reasons to knit back in the day, and when I see old people still doing it, it’s just part of their charm, like sending handwritten letters in the mail.  When I see young people doing it in thriving urban locations????  I just don’t buy it.

Is this some sort of strange and wonderful renaissance where people have discarded their ‘does everything but scratch my nuts’ mobile devices in exchange for the simple pleasures of an old school hobby?  Or is this just some weird extension of hipsterism that I don’t get (not that I got any of it before this)?  I think it’s a fabulous thing for the universe, that something like this could actually be ‘coming back’.  It’s skillful, crafty, and all of the things that this generation doesn’t seem to be.  That’s why I’m having trouble believing that this became cool for the right reasons like it’s practical and creative.  I believe that a hot teen vampire must have done it in a movie.  That’s the only possible explanation.  Am I right?

Whatever the case may be, I saw this 4 times in the same day.  Is it the next big thing?  Maybe.  Is it just some crazy randomness?  Possibly.  If you want to be on the cutting edge of cool, best to not follow my predictions.  I’m full of all sorts of wonderful information, but don’t hitch your wagon to what I think is the next big thing.  Also, if I can give any advice, don’t buy into a fad too early.  It’s always awesome to say that you were doing ‘whatever’ before everyone else, but if not everyone else ends up doing it, and ‘whatever’ was knitting on the subway???  It might not look as cool as you think.

My favourite example was in Chinatown on the bus.  There was a young guy talking to these 3 Chinese chicks (he was white).  He had just the right amount of calculated deshevelment to his appearance to pull off that ‘I’m interesting, but not a bum look’.  He was charming these girls, and they were eating it up.  I could tell that they had just met (they might have been from out-of-town though, and giving him that ‘happy tourist’ flirting), but I was sure he was saying/doing all the right things (based on no audio, but just visual cues as I was listening to my Ipod instead of him).  Then in a move that I’m sure he thought was going to put him over the top, he pulled out the knitting he was working on.  They started to giggle, I’m sure he thought in a ‘wow this guy is sooo interesting’ way, but to those of us who’d been around the block a few times it was more of a ‘wow this guy is fuckin weird’ way.

The moral of that story is that even if knitting is the next big thing, if you’re a young guy, you have to make sure that everyone is fully aware of how cool knitting is before you make a play like that.  It’s like holding an ace which can be the best card in the deck depending on the rules of the game you’re playing, but it can also be a one.  My Chinatown guy left the bus without any phone numbers, and I’m pretty sure it’s the knitting that cost him.  It was a ballsy, cutting edge move, but not a universally cool one.  Maybe in 6 months after this thing takes off a bit better he would have reaped the plentiful rewards that ‘knitting for cool’ had to offer.  Not yet.  He’s a trailblazer though.  I know that for sure!  Someday he’ll be able to wear his ‘scarf of Chinatown rejection’ like a hipster badge of honour!  I salute him!