Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Occupations Myth....

I know that it is easy to have preconceived ideas about people in certain occupations. For one thing it makes life easier to believe that doctors exist to heal, teachers live to educate and writers strive to create, chronicle and/or entertain.

However, we have all met doctors who are artists, teachers who are entrepreneurs and writers who are freelance detectives writing about their adventures.

I must admit that I get a little irritated with people who presume that everyone one who knits is an unemployed grandmother, sitting at home just waiting to be asked to knit someone a sweater. This is the perennial image that was reiterated again this year by WWF for their sweater day on February 7, 2013.

OK, most people have probably just seen (older) women knitting, at home, in the evening, with family. It is a sedentary activity, which doesn't seem very intellectual and the product - often socks - is well, pedestrian.

Few realize that there is an industry out there that provides yarn, patterns, tools (needles & gadgets) to these knitters. That there are teachers, synonymous with entertainers, who make a living by spending several weeks a month (every month) travelling to yarns stores, craft markets and various other events to teach/entertain for a living. There are knitters who design for books, magazines and famous design houses. And there are knitting themed travel excursions, trade and consumer shows and a huge on-line community that caters to 2,000,000 knitters world-wide - a good number of knitters make a living organizing and participating in these events.

There are also authors who have published books based on their knitting community and there are knitting blogs that rival the Huffington Post for daily hits - one of these happens to be a male knitter and a Harvard graduate.

In fact, it is rare in my knitting/business circle, that I would encounter anyone without a basic university degree. Many have advanced degrees - a Phd from Cambridge or multiple degrees - engineering and an MBA for example. Somehow they have all found a creative outlet in knitting and sought to make it their life's work.

As focused as I am on the niche market of knitting, I am as guilty as the rest of the world for wearing blinkers as far as other occupations are concerned. For example, I could never imagine a vegetarian butcher, or an manicurist with a Phd. I think that we can all see the many layers within our own niches and perhaps fail to see the layers in others, because, there is just not enough time in the day and creating categories makes our life easier.

Well, I had my eyes opened today. I go to a hairdresser about twice a year. Although, I hate cosmetics, I recognize the need to be "presentable." So, I managed to find a hairdresser a few years ago that was very good at her craft and very interesting to talk to. I had an appointment today and in the course of our conversation, I found out that she was planning a holiday in August - this was not the expected trip to the cottage or a convenient "packaged" vacation - Cathy has planned a road trip on a motorcycle across Canada to BC to see her son and 3 grandchildren. She then plans to go on to the Black Rock Desert in NV before coming back to TO. She will be travelling on her own, with just a sleeping bag and a few essentials. She has already bought a 2007 Kawasaki bike and is waiting to get her license to ride it.  I was in awe. Cathy went on to say that she was used to travelling on a shoestring and that she once went to Greece for a few months with just her handbag, which also carried her flute.

Freedom to ride - at any age!!

I am still in shock.  This is an adventure some people dream of, but few ever do. Having known Cathy for a while, I'm sure that she'll do it and I have the greatest respect for someone who follows their dreams. I begged her to do a blog on-line, but she said "no." that this was just going to be her and the earth and the moment. I want to live her moments!!

So be on the look out for a leather jacketed grandmother on a black motorcycle, who just might be someone's hairdresser. She is fulfilling a dream, that many with occupational status, degrees and much more, would love to do.

Motorcycle Thunder Bay - gotta get a hog!!

Have an awesome day.


  1. Judgemental types are many and I personally havent the time of day. You can have all the degrees you want..."you can leed a horse to water, but you cant make it drink" The knitting community was once known to be kind and welcoming, but for me personally, I am embarassed for some. I have found bitter old minded B. On the other hand, when judgemental types are shoved asided, the kind, creative "come join me" men and women still exsist, hard to find, but they do exsist.
    Congratulations to Cathy for being her unique self! there are still some unamong us!

  2. Beautifully said Carol. We do often make judgements which are often unconscious and they are so far from the mark half the time.

  3. We all love to categorise people, don't we? It makes our life so much easier.
    I suppose it is in our genes: sometimes we have to judge. I hate to think of all the missed opportunities because of such attitudes. Cheers to your hairdresser!