Thursday, July 17, 2008


Is it rude to take knitting, stuffie sewing, etc. to meetings? A reader asked Dear Abby yesterday. Abby says doing handiwork in a meeting is rude. We should focus on the speaker instead.


As I explained to Mr.C. yesterday morning, if I didn't have sewing stuff with me at presbytery meetings (including committee meetings), I'd be jumping on top of pews hollering.


Sewing focuses my thoughts on the speaker. With a quick look up I can assess the room if something in the speaker's voice or a sound around me catches my attention.


Our meetings are contentious or boring, take your pick. Sewing keeps me occupied, focused and calm instead of jumping out of my skin.


I guess it would be rude to sew or knit during a counselling appointment or doctor's visit. I don't like the idea of handiwork during a worship service.


Women sewing or knitting looks peaceful to me. It's quiet, for the most part, relaxed and doesn't detract from the event.


Any thoughts?

St.Casserole, armed with the BE 1.0 Swag Bag filled with felted wool, thread and needles

18 comments:

Mrs. M said...

Looks peaceful (and somehow thoughtful) to me, too, St. Cass.

Songbird said...

I find it keeps me focused, too.
When I arrived at my current church, a lady asked, "Do you mind knitting during the sermon?" I said, No, although I probably won't do it myself! They seem to put it down during prayers and hymns, so it's okay with me. If I am at a meeting that includes prayer, I lay down my knitting during those times. I sometimes knit in my lectionary study group, but not during my support group, where I feel my body language matters in a different way.
Anyway, I disagree with Dear Abby, especially for large group events.

God_Guurrlll said...

I would have never gotten through seminary without my knitting. It saved me from jumping out of my desk, especially during the boring and contentious times. I am contemplating bringing knitting to church meetings, lately I've been a bit overbearing when the anxiety level is high (which lately has been often). This may help me be a non-anxious presence.

peace and love,

Presbyterian Gal said...

I also disagree with Dear Abby.

Further, I believe you have stumbled upon the reason that genteel ladies of olden times did not commit mortal or bodily harm more often upon their spouses.

Cathy said...

Obviously Abby is not a knitter/sewer.

Is it ok to doodle at a meeting? Many people do. What's the difference? One is productive in terms of producing an item with one's hands while the other fills the page with ink.

Knitting is frowned upon at school meetings, but doodling is not. A lot of teachers will not allow the students to doodle thinking they are not listening. It's the way some kids listen best - the same applies to adults.

Abby, you missed the mark on this one.

cheesehead said...

I'm envious of those who can do such things. I'm no good with my hands, only with my brain--sometimes.

Mary Beth said...

More agreement from me, and I'll be writing to tell Abby I disagree with her.

I am VERY BIG on being an active listener. I find it impossible to keep from engaging the speaker in eye contact, nodding, smiling, etc. I can do that while knitting.

But in larger gatherings, particularly those where I need not be so open with my feelings, I do knit.

I do not knit in meetings I lead. I would not knit during worship or prayer.
I do not knit at work (during meetings...often I'll knit when alone on a break).

I do knit at conferences.

I agree with Cathy that there are folks who CAN'T listen without something else to do. It's a learning difference. I'm cool with them doing what they need to.

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

it's america baby... you are free to do what you want. i sketch. some bring their wireless laptops. others mock the speaker. some knit. some even bring their dogs (i'm not kidding) and lavish attention on pooches during meetings... so in the grand scheme sewing/knitting/handicrafts seems like a milder choice no?

(PS - no i was not the one who brought the dog.)

Quotidian Grace said...

I'd rather see women knitting than men Blackberrying during meetings.

But no one is giving me a choice!

1-4 Grace said...

I take mine with me about everywhere...auctions, the big meetings of our denominational body (in regions), and anytiem I might be cuaght waitign somewhere. It is peaceful to me to knit, keeps me from pulling on my hair or rubbing my forehead.
I do focus better on speaker and feel tension leave my body.
Plus, I want ot get projects done for my "group" to pass on to those in need.
Besides, ACF knits, and she is way cool!

Ruby said...

St. Casserole and her craft bag on the BE 1.0? Peaceful, calm, focused and caring. Pure pleasure to be with.

My young staff attorney at our organization's board meeting? Inappropriate and incomprehensible -- and I had to be the one to tell her to stop. Ack.

At a large conference or a lecture hall? I'm sure it doesn't bother the audience, but I have to admit that, as someone who often speaks at such gatherings, I need eye contact and body language from the audience to guide me.

In a more relaxed group meeting? Just fine. In fact, I really like it when someone is knitting or sewing when we're meeting with a more intimate group.

And I have to agree with QG that the Blackberry is a waaay bigger problem than anybody's knitting needles.

mid-life rookie said...

There's a lot to be said for learning styles. I am an auditory and kinesthetic (movement) learner. Looking at the speaker often makes it harder to process what they are saying. While I'm careful to make eye contact during smaller converstions, it is really hard in lectures or sermons. I imagine knitting serves a kinesthetic purpose for those who find comfort in it. So whether or not it's good manners, it may be good learning. It sure beats clicking your pen or tapping your toes.

sherry said...

I read that Dear Abby and I think she is off the mark. My entire childhood, my mother knit. She knit during meetings, TV, Girl Scout meetings, campouts, family drives, while waiting for rocket launches (I grew up in the Cape Kennedy area), etc etc. The sound of metal needles clicking is very visceral to me, I only knit with metal because of that noise. It honestly never, ever occurred to me that someone might find knitting rude.

Mother used to say that she thought that her knitting was way less obnoxious than other folks smoking during meetings. I have knit during some very contentious meetings and times in my life and I now call it my Victorian Prozac.

Purechristianithink said...

I'd say it depends on the type of meeting and the type of knitting project. Big meetings like Presbytery where a lot of people are mostly sitting and listening to speakers up front seem fine for knitting. Small meetings where everyone needs to be actively listening and participating, it can be a distraction. And I can remember one time when the project the knitter was working on seemed to involve lots of extra paraphenalia and yarn switching--that was definitely a distraction.

ElastiGirl said...

Abby has to be wrong on this one - I loved watching you work with the wool on the BE trip! I also like to needlepoint during meetings where it is best if I hold my tongue or feel the need to hide my body language or am just plain bored but listening. I also doodle a lot if I do not have my needlepoint, so either way I'm moving somewhere while listening. In class I take meticulous notes on my laptop - same dynamic.

Towanda said...

My daddy used to (actually I bet he still does) draw baseball fields during presbytery meetings. I picked that up from him (I don't knit), and it's so helpful to both listen when necessary and not scream when meetings are boring or frustrating.

I have friends who'd knit in class at seminary. They said it helped them listen better, stay more focused, especially in the larger lecture classes.

Deb said...

My mom knit through many a concert, sports event, scout event... you name it. I always thought it was a way of redeeming the time...

Deb
who cross-stitched until her eyes decided she was over 40

Crimson Rambler said...

I knit in meetings -- if I'm not chairing them...
Not only does it prevent my getting up and offering violence to the speaker, as a number of Gals have suggested, but it keeps me from fidgeting...especially cultivating my hangnails, which HAS to be more distracting and disgusting for the people around me than knitting!
I knit in certain kinds of conversation where listening is paramount...I hear a lot of Fifth Steps, and I find I listen better if my fingers are busy. But in that situation I always ask permission first.
I don't knit things that require frequent reference to patterns etc.

Funny recollection, I was knitting at a diocesan clergy meeting, working on a big throw...the room was chilly, and I looked up to see the tail-end of my project stretched across the two clergywomen sitting next to me...with the third, on the outer edge, muttering, "Knit faster, can't you?"