Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Opinion Poll: Miss Manners Says Knit Knit Knit Away

PhotobucketI'm late to the party.

Oh, why do I live under the rock I live under?

Here's a link to a reply Miss Manners gave to a reader who had a problem with knitters knitting when they should otherwise be paying attention.

Generally I entirely agree with Miss Manners. There's a few exceptions, but I find most of the advice she gives seems to be common sense.

Except this nugget.

I don't happen to think it's common sensical to knit in a place where you would otherwise be expected to pay attention. In a place where your apparent (apparent, to non-knitters, of course) lack of attention is read as insulting and rude.

I know I can pay attention to the world around me and knit at the same time. I know my knitting isn't loud, I'm not moving around and creating a distraction for other people.

But, a lot of living in society, dealing with other people, and operating under the banner of politeness dictates that you must take other people's feelings into account: act empathetically.

I figure most people (especially non-knitters, but knitters aw well) would read one's harmless knitting as rude.

Your thoughts?


Denise said...

As you know I am a knitter!, but saying that there is sometimes that it is rude to knit in a meeting. Especially when it may be a difficult lace pattern. lol But saying that a simple pattern that allows you to do while looking at the speaker does no harm.

Alex said...

I think it depends on what you're doing. I wouldn't knit in the front row of my friend's piano recital (or at a wedding, a funeral, or any other special ceremony type thing), but I'd knit towards the back of a large lecture hall. When I was in college I knit in class all the time, but the professors knew I was still paying attention (and participating, since they were usually conference classes) and it was fine - I was hardly the only one in most classes, haha.

I will say, though, that I'm really only concerned about whether or not the speaker/presenter/performer/etc thinks I'm rude. If I know the person I'm paying attention to doesn't mind, that's what matters. If someone else in the audience wants to get all super offended about it, that's their problem.

ChrisC said...

I think it depends. I would absolutely NEVER knit in a work meeting. You're being paid to be in the meeting and fully engaged with it, and anything that can be construed as not paying attention is a big no-no in my mind. Nor would I knit during class -- I think it's antithetical to what you should be doing in a classroom: taking notes, raising your hand to participate, etc. (And as a teacher, I would ask any student who WAS knitting in my class to put it away).

However, recitals and church, or a lecture, absolutely. I choose my knitting by the setting, though. Only easy, fairly mindless knitting for times when I want to knit when I'm also paying attention to something else. The kind of participation demanded of me in those situations just doesn't seem like it's impacted by knitting.

Marguerite said...

I've found that if I'm not doing something with my hands while sitting for long periods of time, I get antsy. Classes, meetings, and movies are places where my mind tends to wander. I can knit without looking and normally have a simple project on hand for these sorts of situations. I usually take notes in class, to stay focused, but some of my professors teach from powerpoints which have too much information to copy down before they're gone, which leaves me struggling to recall past slides as the teacher is moving on. So, I give up and knit. I got a nice pair of legwarmers out of my reading methods class last semester, as well as an A for participation. If my classmates seem to be distracted, I'd put it away, and if my teacher voiced a complaint, I'd explain myself, but give it up if he or she insisted.

I have no problem knitting at concerts. I have friends who are musicians and actors, who know I knit at their performances, but also know I'm engaged. I've knitted in Bible studies, but not during regular church services. I think as long as you're not standing up and down a lot, or elbowing the person next to you and are discrete, it's fine.

WorstedKnitt said...

I personally won't knit in company of non-knitters in public, like concerts or so, but I don't find it offensive either, I just don't like to do it myself.

Vicky Myatt said...

I would not knit anywhere that there needs to be give and take in a conversation (unless it is about knitting). I am more offended by people texting on their cellphones that by any knitter!

LittleCanoe said...

I think knitting in a situation where you should have your full attention on something else could be considered rude. I would never do it unless i was in a knitting group. I'm too concerned about how other people might feel. Just like I would never text, draw, play solitaire, make a sandwich, or do yoga while at a concert. It doesn't matter what the activity is, if it could be distracting to others and make their time less enjoyable, I wouldn't want that. I'm fine with knitting on my own time, it's more relaxing for me that way anyway.

Julie said...

Interesting topic! I think that knitting can be something interesting to watch, judging from the amount of supervision I receive when I knit in waiting rooms and on the subway. So it's easy for me to see howsome people might find it distracting when they are trying hard to focus on something else. if it were a lecture/performance, somewhere near the back would be ideal, adn something easy enough that I barely had to look at my hands- people assume that your attention is wherever your eyes are. Movie theatres are good, because it's dark and people can't really see you! Basically, if the person who is talking can see me knitting, then it's probably not a good idea- I bet they would find it ditracting, and their job is probably hard enough already.

Kelly H. said...

I would hope that any knitter who's comfortable knitting in public would also be able to pick an appropriate project for the environment. Somewhere you don't need to pay as much attention (public transportation, waiting room, etc) is fine for projects where you need to think/watch what you're doing. However, a project that does not require your attention (socks, plain work) and allows you to knit on auto-pilot, should be fine for anywhere else that you're comfortable knitting.

You make a good point, that others may construe what you're doing as rude, however if you're body language, otherwise, shows that you are indeed paying attention (eye contact, good posture, focus on what you should be focusing on) I can't imagine it being a problem. Knitting can help some people to focus *better*. Organizing a mind and distracting those little inner voices.

Chantal Boucher said...

Such an interesting subject... i always feel a bit uncomfortable to knit when i'm in a social environment. At work, forget it, it's not the place. I agree with Chris. I'm always concerned by people thinking that i'm not listening... I wish i could go beyound the "préjugé"

Anonymous said...

As many have said, the situation dictates the type of knitting; only simple, rote work when I'm paying attention to someone or something else. I have had an elderly aunt make a comment about my work at the very beginning of our time together, but after it became obvious that I was paying attention she was fine. In fact, she became very interested in the work itself. I would never knit in church or in a situation where I thought it might distract others, but otherwise, I don't have to watch my hands to knit. I also tend to chew my nails when my hands are not busy, and that is distracting to a lot of people, too.

I have a question for Chris C.- What is the difference in your class and someone else's lecture?If you can pay attention, why can't your student?

I think it's a matter of personal comfort and some consideration for others. If I'm not physically bothering anyone, I see no reason not to knit.

Anonymous said...

I think it is generally okay to knit in largish meetings, talks, movies, concerts etc. If I attended religious services, I would probably not knit there, nor do I knit in small meetings. I have to say that knitting helps me to focus on the event/meeting/talk and prevents me from doing things that are actually distracting (like email, writing to-do lists and the like). I have had colleagues/friends express some surprise and maybe annoyance, but generally people have no problem with it. And honestly, once they see that I actively participate in the meeting even while knitting (although I do have to stop when I try to talk ;-) they realize it is not a problem.