What’s with all the Knitting?

I received this question right after I finished crocheting all of the giftwrap ribbons into flowers and thought, “Huh, why am I doing this?”

The short answer is that I don’t know.

At the most direct and obvious level, I knit (or crochet, but for the sake of this post, I will be collapsing most yarn-related arts under the term “knitting”) because it’s fun, fast, and easy, and end the end you actually make something.

Knitting is very portable. I love my 3D printer, but I can’t exactly pop it in my purse and take it to the park with me. I skateboard, but I can’t skateboard at the mall or on an airplane (well, I could, but then I’d be having an awkward discussion with security). Sometimes I make chainmail, but that’s full of fiddly little bits that you can’t really balance on your knees.

Knitting is also very cheap. I’d love to learn something like carpentry or glass blowing, but these skills require a lot of time, room and expensive equipment to learn. Learning to knit only requires two pencils (smooth pencils make perfectly passable knitting needles) and a few dollars in yarn. Crochet requires an actual crochet hook, which might set you back a few more dollars, but either way, you can get started for less than $10.

The learning curve is a lot steeper on these skills, too–if I mess up while building a table, I’ve got a ruined table; if I mess up while knitting, I just pull on the yarn and undo the piece.

So that’s why  you’ll see people knitting: it’s easy, cheap, and portable.

But this is only a superficial analysis, for Rubik’s cubes are also cheap and portable, and if not exactly “easy” to solve, you can certainly fiddle with them without any training.

But Rubik’s cubes are pointless, outside of the intellectual activity. With knitting, you get an actual item at the end.

To be honest, I think most women find many male-dominated hobbies, like sports or video games, pointless. I’ve seen many football games, and I can tell you the outcome of every single one: one team wins and the other loses. The world keeps on spinning and nothing changes except that some of the players get hurt. Similarly, men will sink hours into a video game and get nothing tangible as a reward.

I’ve said before that men seem to prefer hobbies in which they get to tinker. They like building their own rigs, repairing their own cars, optimizing settings, or trying to figure out the most efficient ways to do things. Women prefer to just get a product straight off the shelf, use it, and get the job done.

(Of course this tinkering does, long term, produce a lot of good things.)

The one sort of exception to this general rule is arts and crafts , where women dominate. A Norwegian study, for example, found that about 30% of Norwegian women between the ages of 18 and 50 had knitted something in the past year, but less than 7% of Norwegian men. Among older Norwegians, the gender divide was much wider–over 60% of women over 60 knitted, but the number of male knitters rounds to zero. So while most women you meet probably don’t knit, even fewer men are likely to pick up a ball of yarn.

I love the arts and crafts store; it’s like a candy shop for adults.

The desire to make little things for the home probably stems from the nesting instinct–a real instinct found most prominently in pregnant women, who are often struck by a sudden urge to make their homes as baby-friendly as possible. This urge is often far in excess of reason, resulting in women compulsively scrubbing the kitchen tile with a toothbrush or rearranging all of the furniture in order to vacuum under the couch. Personally, aside from all of the cleaning, I made things, including a child sized easel, train table, and stuffed animals.

So the ultimate cause is probably a mild version of the nesting instinct–a desire to make one’s home warm and comfortable.

Happy New Year and keep cozy, everyone.

Survey: What are your hobbies?

Dividualist has/inspires an interesting question: What non-STEM related hobbies do female nerds have?

Let’s expand this question to everyone who reads this blog: What are your hobbies? Are they mostly STEM-related or non-STEM? (And do you consider yourself a nerd?)

For example, hobbies like “building lasers” or “writing a blog on HBD” count as STEM-related; playing WoW or gardening is non-STEM.

(Then discuss whether this distinction between STEM and non-STEM hobbies is valid.)

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For myself: There’s an obvious complication that humans are social creatures and I do a lot of things because other people around me are doing them. EG, I play and enjoy some videogames with my family, but if I lived alone, I wouldn’t have bought a TV, much less a game system.

Similarly, there are things I would like to do if I had more time and money–billionaires can afford more hobbies than we mere plebes. These can be listed as “interests.”

Obviously my chief “hobbies” are writing this blog (which requires a fair amount of reading) and homeschooling my children. I won’t duplicate the blog by listing everything it covers.

I also enjoy writing fiction and reading about topics not covered in this blog, like physics. (Layman level reading.)

Navigation: I am strongly aware of the shape of the local geography and spatial relationship of the sun, shadows, curve of the Earth, progress of seasons, animal migrations, the way prevailing winds shape the local trees, etc. The slanting rays of the afternoon sun have a deep emotional effect.

I like plants and would enjoy having a small farm with more plants, bees, and some chickens. I am fond of afternoons in the woods and foraging for wild edibles.

I enjoy making things, like arts and crafts. I’ve made a number of toys for the kids, built them a small wooden “play house,” and recently finished sewing a dress. If I had money and time, I would invest in woodworking tools and a 3D printer.

I struggle to delineate, exactly, whether these are STEM hobbies or not; “STEM” itself is not a word I like, though I employ it because it is short and utile.

Things I have little to no interest in: sports, cars, travel, sightseeing, holding still (“vacation,”) makeup, celebrities, celebrity gossip, most TV or movies, cupcakes, drinking, bars, hair salons, modern fashion, handbags, and most striver bullshit. These are my misery zone.

 

What about you?