So the big duvet is in the big dryer and with my cup of tea I settle in to knit while waiting. There was an older lady waiting for her drying too (it seems that she had washed her clothes at home, but brought them in to dry...). She hadn't said anything to me previously, but when she saw me get the sock (Smiley Socks on Ravelry) on double pointed needles out she tried to catch my eye. I smiled at her and then she went into this super-friendly chatter about how she didn't think young people knit anymore and how wonderful it was to see me doing it.
It's not the first time I've had older women come out of their London-barriers to speak to me about knitting - it especially happens on the tube, and I'm sure I'm not the only younger knitter to have experienced it.
The woman was lovely. She told me about how she has knit since she was a little four-year-old girl in Bosnia and how she came to the UK in the 1950s, where she had her children and continued to knit for them. She asked me about the sock pattern I was using and said that she never uses patterns herself - that she can just look at a garment and either replicate it or do something her own way. She said she used to knit a lot, but has trouble finding the 2-ply yarns that she used to use. I told her that these can often be found online, although it seemed to me that wouldn't be much help to her. She said she also used to crochet, embroider, make table cloths, and outfits for her daughters. It seems strange, but it felt like, I, the young knitter, was inspiring her, the experienced knitter, to get back into it! She seemed really nostalgic, telling me about how when she came to the UK in the 50s, it was actually cheaper to knit things yourself than buy them. And I, in turn, told her about how I like to re-knit charity shop sweaters.
It was so lovely to speak to her - and it was nice for once to feel like I have nice neighbours here in the big city - I suppose knitting does that. Her husband came in not long after we started chatting and sat down next to me. "Oh, you are doing that very well, young lady. Are you making socks for your boyfriend?" Me: "Well, yes, for my husband." Him: "Your husband! Good girl." Although probably bordering on infringing on my feminist principles (not that there is anything wrong with knitting your husband some socks), he was very sweet and told me he had never seen an English woman knit on 5 needles before. He said that was the continental way. "But you are not English, are you?" When I explained where I was from he said, "Yes I knew you were not English," with a smile.
Then the conversation turned to the fact that I looked young to be married. "Are they not getting older before they marry in America?" I said oh yes, people are waiting longer before they get married, etc. etc. and the lady said, "Yes, you see, they get to have a life first, like the men always have! I was married very young and look where it's got me!" She pinched her husband's cheek.
"Oh you're very happy and you will have been very happy for 50 years soon!" replied the husband and she winked back. They were so cute.
I love hearing stories about knitting. Every knitted item seems to have a narrative, and now my sock will too. They soon left but had made me feel all warm inside. They wished me good luck with my sock and said, "See you next time!" It's enough to make me want to wash my duvet weekly.