Yesterday, I took my Mom to the hematologist's office and spent two hours in the waiting room: one conversing with Mom while she waited to be seen and another while waiting for her to come out again. I stitched during the second hour. Now, I have gotten accustomed, over the decades and decades that I have been stitching, to the furtive glances cast at me by folks trying to figure out exactly what I am doing. I have no problem discussing stitching if I sense a genuine interest or even innocent curiosity. But I wonder why people feel entitled to comment condescendingly on one's work when one stitches in public. If you are reading in a waiting room, no one ever feels entitled to take your book from your hands turn it over to check title and author and then comment on your taste in literature. They don't make inane comments about how their grandmothers, great-aunts [substitute any really old female relative] used to read the same quaint authors. But when stitching is the topic, people tend to trot out the stories of all their ancient female relations who are dead now of course [after all, what living, i.e. modern, individual would stitch?] and the speaker's heart broke when they had to throw away all that useless [to them] equipment. I always suggest that, should such circumstances occur again, they donate the useless supplies to a woman's prison or shelter or group home. That generally stops the conversation while the folks ponder the relative meaning of the word, useless. Sometimes people offer a compliment referencing the intricacy of the work or the skill involved, but most people make some sort of vaguely dismissive I statement indicating the irrelevance of stitching in today's world. "I could never find the time for it!" To which the appropriate but likely unwise reply would be, "Oh, then you enjoy drinking endless cups of coffee while staring vacuously at a TV playing mindless drivel as you wait for the doctor?" Another common comment, "How do you find the patience?", might elicit my aging hippie/general crank lecture on how people have lost the capacity for stillness and silence and self-containment were I less still, silent and self-contained myself. And since I usually choose waiting room projects that don't require constant references to a chart, another frequent question is "How do you know where to put your stitches?" or the variant, "Where are the lines?" When I am feeling polite, I reply to these questions saying that I am at a stage where there is repeating pattern or that I am working on a "fill" area. When I am feeling less polite, I reply to the first question that I know what I am doing and to the second that I am working on linen and not on a child's coloring book. Sometimes the simple truth is that I am making things up as I go along and that really blows the mind of the questioner. But my oddest reaction came recently from a hospital volunteer, the kind that staff surgical waiting rooms to offer hospitality and relay messages from the OR to the relatives. Since I was alone in the waiting room, I asked if she could turn off the TV which was so very annoying. She harrumphed that she'd never seen someone bring their mending to the hospital before and that most people enjoyed the TV. The implication was that I might find a visit to the psychiatric clinic a more appropriate use of my time.
Tell me, gentle reader, have you had strange moments when stitching in public? Good or bad? Serious or comic?