On Rudeness and Knitting in Public

12:11 PM Posted In , , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
While at a recent local knit night (knight?), the perennial topic of knitting in public came up, specifically in lectures/classes.  Nearly every knitter has come up against the perception that knitting while in the presence of others is rude.  We're going to completely bypass the history of knitting, and how "women's crafts" are believed to be kept in the home.
Knitting's for pussies
People who perceive crafting in public to be rude assume that everyone else processes their experiences the same way that they do.  For example, we all know that everyone has a different learning style (i.e. visual, audial, or tactile).  Most people fall into the former two categories, and when it comes to retaining complex material I have to take written notes.  Written, not typed, in order to properly engage my visual tendencies.  If the topic is less strenuous, then knitting helps to occupy the visual and tactile parts of my brain while leaving my auditory portion to focus on the speaker.  For example, as I write this, I am also listening to The History Channel on the TV.  That is my experience as a knitter, and how my mind works.  Your mileage may vary.
If I am unable to occupy my brain on several levels, it wanders.  If I had music playing instead of America Unearthed, I would be distracted by every other thought that came through my head or jumping up every few minutes to go do some chore that occurred to me.  (While I have never been diagnosed with adult ADD, I am pretty certain that I have at least a mild case of it).  Knitting works in much the same way for me.  As long as it's not too complex a pattern, it occupies the part of my mind that wants to wander away from the task at hand.  When I first began knitting, some of my friends were offended that I brought it to Dungeons and Dragons night.  They were convinced that I wouldn't be able to fully participate and/or would distract the group.  I made the DM a deal: if my knitting became a problem, then I would stop.  Until then, let's give it a try.  The first time I came without a project, since I had just finished one, the group called a break and told me I was to get myself to the nearest craft store and pick one up.  Without my knitting, I was fidgety, drew other players out of the game with side-conversations, daydreamed, and generally unable to sit quietly and wait for my turn.  In other words, I was more distracting without my knitting than I was with it.
Sums up most conversations with me
Most of those who cast such judgment are typically not, themselves, crafters.  They find themselves distracted by the activity.  How many of us have been approached while knitting in public with questions such as "Are you knitting?" "What are you making?" "How are you doing that?" (I get this one a lot because of my tendency to knit socks two at a time on one circular) and other variations that come from a consumerist society.  Instead of possessing the willpower to focus on the speaker/main activity, they allow themselves to be distracted by the crafter.  The resulting frustration is then directed at the crafter, who was minding their own business in the first place, rather than taking responsibility for their themselves.
They forgot "No, I will not knit for you"
Now that doesn't mean you should sit front and centre and knit, as that might be distracting to the speaker/teacher/lecturer.  As long as you aren't likely to drop metal needles down a sloped floor or constantly elbow your neighbours, there is absolutely no reason you should be considered any ruder than the person who smacks their gum, plays video games on their laptop, or texts the entire time.  You know how your mind works better than anyone else.  If you will focus and learn better while keeping your hands busy, then no one else has the right to keep you from doing so.  Unless you're in a courtroom.  They tend to frown on people bringing garrotes into courthouses.
More dangerous than nail clippers, but I don't want blood on my alpaca lace