The Fine Art of Knitting in Meetings

Sadly, I am inspired to write this because I have no knitting to take with me to a meeting later today. It’s not that I have no knitting, just that I have no meeting knitting. And that realization led me to the thought that perhaps I might try to sum up what I’ve learned over the years about effective strategies for knitting in meetings. It all boils down to a few simple rules.

1. Speak up early and intelligently. The best way to keep people from resenting your knitting or viewing it as a distraction is to make it clear from the get-go that you are fully engaged with the non-knitting activity at hand. When I bring my knitting to a meeting, I carefully look for an opportunity to contribute a worthwhile idea or comment early on. Help those around you realize that knitting does not limit your ability to participate.

2. Keep it simple. Meeting knitting is knitting that involves little (preferably no) referring back to patterns or counting of stitches. Needles and yarn in hand can blend into the background–a stitch dictionary, multiple pages of notes, row counters and the like will draw unwanted attention. If the only projects you’re currently working on (my sad situation) are complex, leave them at home.

3. Share the space. Be sure your knitting project is small enough that you’re not spilling over into others’ territory. One of the miseries of meetings is the way they force us to sit packed together in unfortunately small spaces. Don’t let your knitting contribute to anyone else’s suffering.

4. No tinking. The minute you realize you’ve made a mistake, put you knitting aside. You’ve gone from knitting to problem-solving—and problem-solving on a secondary topic is going to interfere with participating in the work at hand.

5. Don’t be flashy. Certain kinds of knitting—socks on multiple double-points, for example, or colorwork involving several balls of yarn—can be particularly attention-getting for non-knitters, even if you have them mastered and don’t need to refer to patterns and the like (see 2). Remember, you knit because knitting is fascinating, but you don’t want to fascinate anyone else when there’s other work at hand.

By actively pursuing 1 and staying mindful of 2, 3, 4 and 5, I’ve been able to comfortably integrate my knitting into workplace settings.

What about you? Any suggestions for subtly and effectively integrating our obsession into workplace and organizational settings? Successes you’d like to share? Horror stories we can groan over together?

October 03 2007 11:23 am | Uncategorized

12 Responses to “The Fine Art of Knitting in Meetings”

  1. Ellen Strauss on 03 Oct 2007 at 3:22 pm #

    Eons ago, when I was in college, we always had to ask each professor whether they minded if we knit in class. Most did not. However, more than one would stipulate that only simple projects were acceptable, which in those days translated to “No Argyles!” I learned early how to keep a pencil in my right hand to take notes, and this was made easier because I knit in the continental fashion.

  2. Cathy-Cate on 03 Oct 2007 at 6:38 pm #

    Ooh, knitting and note-taking simultaneously! Now I haven’t quite gotten that far!
    I have often started little projects just to have ‘meeting knitting’. Legs or feet of socks, scarves, baby blankets or afghan squares, sleeves, even fingerless gloves (the simple thumbless version). I agree with piping up, and making eye contact early on and throughout! However, if I’m leading the meeting, I don’t seem to be able to knit….

  3. Jo on 03 Oct 2007 at 7:34 pm #

    I can not facilitate and knit at the same time. However, knitting is a distraction when people start driving me nuts in meetings. Like the folks who must respond to every comment being made, or the person who isn’t listening and repeats what has already been said, etc… Knitting keeps me from losing it and reaching across the table and choking them like a chicken.

  4. Eve on 03 Oct 2007 at 8:08 pm #

    #1 is something I don’t do enough and I should remember this for the future. These are fantastic tips!

    A big thing I always do is make eye contact with the presenter/prof/other folks at occasional moments while I’m knitting, even just for a few stitches, which lays it down for them that I’m actually paying attention and that the knitting is automatic. If they think I can knit with my eyes closed, they’ll believe that I can knit and participate in a meeting at the same time.

  5. Ruth on 04 Oct 2007 at 3:45 am #

    Knitting socks saved me at a meeting once. It was a huge meeting (2 days) in a ballroom and I could knit under the table. I was told I had to cut my only staff member just before the meeting started. Knitting that sock kept me from doing something horrible. I cast on and finished it in those two days!

  6. Needle Exchange » kpkpkpkpkpkp… what? A who where underlying what memory in mammals? on 04 Oct 2007 at 4:03 am #

    […] I felt a bit weird knitting in a lecture, seminar series and committee meeting today, so I’m glad that Sarah-Hope recently put up a great post on The Fine Art of Knitting in Meetings. […]

  7. Lisa on 04 Oct 2007 at 5:04 pm #

    I brought my knitting assembly project to a meeting today. Small, quiet stitching. Handwork keeps my nerves calm, when there’s tedious debate, for example.

  8. Tanya on 05 Oct 2007 at 3:22 am #

    All very well put. I wish I had been a knitter in college…then I might have had a better chance of staying awake in those 8am classes!

  9. izlekop on 29 Oct 2008 at 10:25 pm #

    Small, quiet stitching. Handwork keeps my nerves calm, when there’s tedious debate, for example.

  10. Julie Harkey on 26 Oct 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    I am the editor for the Memphis Knitting Guild monthly newsletter. This article is wonderful! I am wondering if you would give permission for me to reprint it in our newsletter. It comes out in pdf format and is sent to our membership, about 45 knitters. I will happily give you credit.

    A fellow meeting knitter,

    Julie Harkey

  11. sarah-hope on 05 Nov 2011 at 10:26 am #

    I’m delighted you’d like to do this! I’ve emailed you back.

  12. Anne on 07 Dec 2011 at 9:39 am #

    Great article! I find that knitting helps me stay alert and engaged with a meeting, no matter how tedious – and those frequent are very tedious.

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