Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Knitting Etiquette, Part 2

Yesterday's knitting post prompted some interesting comments. Here are some highlights:

Kelsey said...
I'd say any church service (wedding/funeral, etc.) is off limits. Lectures or adult concerts are okay in my book (expecially if you can look up while you knit). Kids concerts are a different because I assume kids and their parents are a little more sensative about people paying attention. Other than that, I think it's okay to knit just about anywhere.

mgmonklewis said...
I have to agree with azknitter's post about knitting being off-limits whenever one's full attention is expected. It doesn't matter whether one *feels* that one is still paying attention while knitting; there is a social contract being broken.

Lara said...
Like you, I have to be doing something to really pay attention, or I drift off into fantasy, speculation or writing.
I do make a point of hardly ever looking at my knitting, trying to knit as quietly as possible, and, for good measure, I'm often doing a charity project, so if anyone asks, they get to feel a little good will for not complaining about the hat I'm making for the homeless.

Linda said...
I can talk, look around, pay attention, etc while I knit. If I'm just listening to someone, I tend to get sleepy. Which is more rude - watching my head jerk as I struggle not to fall asleep, or seeing my hands move while I look up and make eye contact with a presenter? If they're so insecure about what people who are listening to them do, perhaps they need to find a new line of work?

Sean said...
I think I would get very upset if someone was knitting during live theatre. A movie, okay, but since there are live people there on stage, it is very rude.

ken* said...
I have heard it said, and I fall into this category, that knitters are actually paying really close attention to what is going on. I know of people who knit at faculty meetings and will be very quiet and then say something brilliant.

So I thought about all of these responses, and then I posted this:
It strikes me, too, that we could make many of the same arguments about breastfeeding (for or against). Does this discussion in any way have to do with what is perceived as women's work?

I'd love to know what y'all think about this - to what extent should the focus on preserving the illusion of attention overrule the actual ability to pay attention (e.g., knitting and staying awake v. falling asleep without knitting, or nursing the baby v. having to leave and go somewhere else in order to nurse the baby)? To what extent is the social contract around paying attention a gendered one? (Of course, I hasten to add that men knit. But it is nevertheless generally perceived as a female activity.)

Are there other activities that are considered more appropriate in group settings? The only one I can come up with is smoking, which is less socially acceptable now, but not for the reasons we've been discussing. There is also sketching - this is something I often see people doing in many of the situations we've discussed. Is this rude? Is it ok because we are more willing to see it as art than we are knitting?

And for more on the social location of knitting, check out the newest issue of Bitch, which has a piece that looks at the way knitting has been constructed - er, interpreted - by some to be a sign that women have rejected feminism in order to devote their lives to the domestic arts. The author argues against this, defending both the domestic arts and feminism. It's an interesting read. (If I can find the actual article online, I'll post it.)

* Ken actually said this later on, after my response, but it makes more sense if I put it here in this post.

1 comment:

Holly Burnham said...

Gosh....how often have I talked with friends about this. I guess our conscensus is, although a knitter knows you can knit and concentrate on things around you, to a non-knitter your action equates rudeness. So, until the entire world knits, I think knitting is off limits for me pretty much anywhere where someone is speaking or performing live.