Great Knitting Debates – Knitting in Public edition

I love when blog post ideas just come to me, especially on the day that I want to be publishing a post!

Today, I’m looking at another Great Knitting Debate.  The subject – knitting in public.  I’m not necessarily talking about heading to the park and setting up the needles.  I’m more specifically talking about knitting at meetings, in the movies and other places in which knitting is not the main purpose.  I love knitting in public when knitting is what I’m supposed to be doing.  I struggle more with knitting when you are supposed to be doing something else.

For me, it really depends on who I’m with and what exactly I’m doing.  I’ve tried knitting at movies and I just don’t like it.  I feel like I’m not paying close enough attention to either one.  When I’m at home and can turn on a light or rewind (ok, this term is probably showing my age) the movie if I miss a part because I dropped a stitch I’m good with it.  But if I actually go to a movie at a theater I want to focus on that, especially because most of the time I go it’s with my friend’s kids and I like to stay in the moment when I’m with them (I’m pretty sure they are not going to be wanting to go to the movie with me very soon 😦 ) Also, movies are expensive – I want all my money’s worth while I’m there.

In recent years, I’ve seen people pull out knitting at continuing education classes I’m required to take for the day job.  As much as I would love to do that (and I would LOVE it) I can’t make that leap.  Here’s my thought on this – odds are slim that the instructor is a knitter.  Non-knitters do not understand that we knitters can knit and listen, comprehend and even converse all while knitting.  They seem to think that what we do with strings and sticks is magic and requires all of our brain power to accomplish the magic that is knitting. Based on that underlying assumption, I feel that I’m being rude by pulling out my knitting during these classes.  This is what stops me most of the time.  Now, if it’s a video replay, then we’re talking!!!

This issue came up this morning (aha, and a blog post is born!).  I had a board meeting for the non profit I serve and at the meeting I was being elected President.  This means I have to lead the meetings.  At the last couple I have quietly knit on my socks kind of under the table and by now our board members are used to me knitting at meetings.  Currently, I’m working on a test knit with a deadline and I have a LOT of knitting to do on it yet so 3 hours of time was a lot of knitting time.  I did pull it out (it’s not quite as compact as a sock…) and worked on it on my lap and led the meeting.  I think it helps that everyone there is accustomed to me knitting during meetings and have learned that it does not interfere with my ability to contribute.  In fact, many are well trained and ask what I’m working on. I managed a number of rows this morning (everything in the light pink!)


In the end, I guess I come down in the middle of this one.  I’m not anti knitting in public but I do believe there is a time and place for it and most of it has to do with where I’m at, who I’m with and what I need to be doing while I’m there.  I almost always have a sock with me so if the situation presents itself I’m all set.  And, I do believe (and this might be slightly controversial) there are times when we just need to put the knitting down and enjoy what’s going on around us!

10 thoughts on “Great Knitting Debates – Knitting in Public edition

  1. Interesting! I used to be an academic, and I knew some women professors who would knit at conferences (and I think department meetings). They were at the top of their field, and also always actively engaged in the discussion, so they got away with it, but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable trying it – I was *not* senior, and I think it would have looked like I wasn’t paying attention, and it would probably distract me, even just plain stockinette. So while I really liked these women, I did look a little askance at them. But I think you’re right that context matters – in a small department meeting where everyone knows I knit, it would probably be fine; at a conference where there are going to be people in the audience I don’t know, I don’t think it looks quite right.

    I would never pull out knitting where I work now (law) – it would just look like I was trying to take a break. I have knit over lunch very occasionally, and it always raises comment (though not in a bad way).

    I wouldn’t knit at the movies myself because I know I’d make too many mistakes, but I don’t have any problem if someone else does. Similarly, I wouldn’t knit out at a restaurant with friends (or alone), because I don’t feel like eating and knitting mix. But I also don’t see any issue with doing that (and I mostly knit big projects so they’re just not very portable anyway). I see people instagram pictures of knitting from bars and that looks like fun – I just don’t go out to bars anymore!

    I had a student once who asked if it was okay if she played with a ball of playdoh during class, because it really helped with her ADD and helped her focus. I said of course and never once even really noticed that she was doing it. I can see how knitting might serve a similar purpose for some people.


    • I totally understand – I also work in law and very rarely take it out. Even when I was alone in my office on a conference call I would feel weird about it. I agree with your whole (very thoughtful) comment 🙂


  2. I agree that there are times when knitting is acceptable and times it isn’t. I frequently knit at meetings, but actively participate enough that others know I’m paying attention. Other times, it just doesn’t “feel” right. I generally go with my instincts in the situation.


  3. I knit in church all the time. My pastor knows it, maybe someday I’ll knit him a pair of socks 🙂 I haven’t had a job in years where we had meetings so I can say I would or wouldn’t do that, but I have knit at the movie theater. For the more exciting movies I tend to leave the Knitting at home.


    • Church?? I love it, sadly that would never go over during a Catholic mass 🙂 By the way, I’ll keep you posted but I might be in Denver for a week this summer doing work for my non profit – would love to meet up!


  4. I find knitting helps me focus in meetings; I see it the same as doodling. That said, I also know that it looks like I”m not paying attention so agree that there are times when it is not appropriate. Hey, loving the test knit and I can’t wait to see the final product. Boy, that looks like fun!

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