There’s a certain kind of knitting in public that seems to cause a lot of debate. I have OPINIONS and have decided it’s time to come clean.
I knit in meetings: in public, in front of coworkers, on the clock. Apparently this fact would be SHOCKING to some people. But I don’t completely understand why. Let’s review the basics:
I pay attention.
I make eye contact.
I take notes.
How then, could my knitting be a problem? I don’t think it is, which is why I keep doing it. For those of you who are squeamish, but wishing you to could be knitting at work here are my suggestions.
First, maybe a little background would be appropriate. I work in science, (not always a female dominated field) I knit in lab meetings, and at national DNA conferences. Only you can judge how open people in your field would be towards knitting. You need to take into account a combination of things. How will your direct supervisor view this? Management? Are you looking for a promotion? (hey, in my lab knitting might be a positive for that question) These are all key questions. I don’t pretend that just because I can “get away with” knitting at work means it’ll work for everyone.
I didn’t just show up at a lab meeting one day with my knitting. Before taking this step I asked permission. After all, I AM on the clock at lab meetings. I actually stopped into the lab director’s office during break and asked. He looked at me thoughtfully for a moment, and had an interesting response. He explained there was a woman who showed up at town hall meeting day every year with knitting. And she had opinions, she was involved, she spoke up frequently. The lab director said if I could be that involved while knitting I was welcome to. Clearly I owe a lot of knitting time to that woman at town hall meeting day.
I also think this brings up a key point. How involved can you be while knitting? I can knit a plain sock cuff in the darkness of a movie theater. Touch knitting isn’t any harder than touch-typing, but both take practice. I don’t bring complex lace to meetings because I don’t want to be distracted. Judge your own skill level when you consider knitting at meetings. I can work simple repeats and decreases with markers while following a sub-titled movie, and so I stick to that level of complexity during meetings.
Asking permission of the presenter (or your lab director) is a great way to make sure they’re not offended by your knitting. It gives them a chance to say “no.” My rule of thumb is to ask permission in any small meeting where my knitting might actually distract the presenter. If the group is 40 or more people chances are good the presenter won’t even notice me, halfway across the room, subtly knitting under the table while taking notes.
Because yes, I can take notes and knit. I have this technique down to a science (heh, I’m so punny.) My tension is generally tight enough that if I let go of a needle the thing doesn’t fall out of the stitches. So I can stop at any point: mid-chart, mid-row, mid-decrease, to use one hand for writing. I always have a note pad (or presentation print-out) in front of me. And I leave the pattern tucked underneath (because remember, whatever I’m knitting is simple enough I can check the pattern once every 10 minutes or so) It helps a lot that I’m left-handed, knit right handed, and I throw instead of picking:
My left hand is never really doing anything beyond maneuvering the needle. So long as I’m not doing anything crazy like cabling without a cable needle (bad plan in meetings) I can stop at any point to write something down.
Once I was comfortable knitting in lab meetings I started to think about larger venues. A four-day conference is a lot of knitting time! I started knitting at conferences later than knitting at lab meetings. It helped that my coworkers had gotten used to seeing me knit and take notes. The other person who helped was the crocheter at the back of the room the very first time I attended a national conference. I figured if she could craft, then so could I. In fact, my knitting has encouraged several other folks who attend every year to bring theirs as well. We’ve practically got a little knitting circle going! We sit together, taking notes, and knitting. There’s strength in numbers my friends, and you never know how many other knitters might show up until you try.
Honestly, I haven’t had ANY negative reactions to knitting in meetings. These days a lot of people comment that I’m clearly paying more attention than the folks playing with smartphones. I’ve had other colleagues comment that I appear to be the only one not drifting off after lunchtime. Anyone who thinks my knitting is odd must be keeping it to themselves. The people paying attention can see that I am too, by the way I ask questions, give opinions, and react to the speaker. And the people paying more attention to the crowd than the presenter? I decided long ago those people’s opinions don’t really matter.