I was asked this about a week and a half ago now and to be honest I've been puzzling over it ever since. On the surface, it's a fairly straightforward question, begging the long look and slow back away of one faced with the criminally insane. After all, it really is only crazy people who sit and fidget when they could be knitting socks now isn't it?
But as I sat watching my latest piece of Shetland knitting grow and listening to the canoing on the telly it occurred to me that the poor souls who don't knit really are missing out. But how to explain? For example, if I didn't knit I would have stiff hands, far less patience with idiots, higher blood pressure and a greater propensity for violence. I am a nicer person if I knit, ergo, if the questioner knitted, they would also be a nicer person. This therefore is yet another reason for insisting upon knitting as a route to world peace.
So, the first part of the question answered, I move on to the second. Why knit this item when I could purchase it down the road at a shop and pay a tiny proportion of the amount of it cost to produce. It's all the same. Well, no. It really is not all the same. Not anywhere close to all the same. The yarn will be completely different for start offs. Most of the time, cheaper, tackier, nastier. This then leads on to quality. If the quality of the yarn is inferior, so will the entire item be. (It will, promise). I could not afford to wear cashmere, silk, yak, Shetland etc if I had to buy the garments, at their true price, but I can afford to knit them.
Which brings me to the last throw away comment which joins this group, "I'm not interested, as I wouldn't be able to wash it!" First off, not asking them to be interested! (9 time out of 10, it was the crazy person who approached me. The tenth time is the optimist in me breaking out, I knit in public, what can I say?) Secondly, and for the last time, natural fibres do not require weekly laundering as they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. Dirt does not really stick (there are exceptions of course, but isn't it about time we all stopped eating curries in front of the telly whilst wearing cashmere?).
I suppose the bottom line is this, I shall go on knitting my calm, quiet, way through life, pitying those who don't and being totally unable to understand those who won't. Because believe me, there really are odd minutes all though the day, that fit a row or two of sock and a week or so later I'm wearing my soft, snug, warm pair of made to measure socks, and they won't be!