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?