Saturday, 17 November 2012

Public Indecency?

No, this is not a reference to Karen's hilarious True Confessions posts over at 'Did you make that?' - apparently there are a lot of near naked sewers out there!

I'm talking about crafting in public, I have a crochet hook in my bag at all times and I'm not generally afraid to use it. However, it occasionally provokes some strong reactions, so when is it OK to whip out a bit of knitting or crochet? Are there social conventions I'm not aware of?

I started to think about this the other day, I was copied into a comment thread on Facebook. It went a bit like this:

  • I'm in a seminar and whilst the speaker is talking I can see a lady in front of me knitting/crocheting!
  • Wow, that's a bit cheeky.
  • If I was the speaker that would really put me off!
  • So she's not even paying attention!
  • I can see her too!
  • Is it Jacq? (this is the point I got copied in by my bestest friend - who staggeringly can knit with her eyes closed, blows my mind!)
I did reply, said I'd quite like to be crocheting in a meeting but it wasn't me. I pointed out I actually found it helped me concentrate (I wouldn't pick a complicated pattern or take a king size blanket project!) and that there was a lot of evidence to back that up, especially if you were skilled (like my J with her eyes shut).

What I didn't say, because my politeness gene does sometimes kick in, was I bet the lady knitting/crocheting (why can't people tell the difference? I don't much care for sport but I can distinguish between football and rugby!) was paying more attention than the attendees posting on Facebook ... And I've been fuming with myself ever since for not making that point and defending that anonymous crafter more robustly. Especially as it was a conference for educational professionals - I'd hope there would be some understanding of kinaesthetic learners :(

So forward wind to this week and it's still bothering me. I'm in the handover period between my old and new jobs and attended a Conference in London on Monday with my new boss. I've got a little crochet project in my giant work bag. I happily did some on the train, most people don't comment at all and, if they do, I've generally found it to be along the lines of "oh that reminds me of my Gran", which I think is lovely.

But I restrained myself at the actual Conference, I'm still in my handover period and wanting to make a good impression. I'd met lots of new people and was really focussed on taking in new information. I spent the morning taking copious notes. But in the afternoon session I would actually have listened better if I'd crocheted. And I looked round the room at people tapping away on iPhones, iPads and laptops and wondered how many were taking notes and how many were catching up with Facebook or writing their shopping list.

Would you be offended if you were a speaker and somebody started to knit or crochet? I've delivered lots of training, it wouldn't bother me at all although I don't tend to go for the 'stand at the front and talk' method of training so there wouldn't be much crafting time. Interestingly I know trainers who get irritated if delegates eat snacks too. That doesn't bother me either, a hungry person is not paying attention. Perhaps I'm just more tolerant than I thought!

I know when I get settled in my new role I'm going to get to a point where I'm going to need to decide to just do it, this is who I am. Perhaps I start small at a little internal meeting and see how it goes. I spoke to some colleagues and one of the young men in the office (not a crafter) said "you're always juggling several things at once, passing me notes with the answer to questions I have when you're on the phone dealing with something else. Why wouldn't you be able to crochet as well?". I quite liked that, I might make myself a badge!


  1. This is a very interesting post Jacq! I've read lots of similar discussions on Ravelry and opinions are always very divided.

    I have to say I would never knit/crochet in a meeting or training session, but then I would never spend time tapping away on my phone (or iPad if I had one). I know some people find that being occupied in this way helps them to concentrate, but I find the opposite - I'd be putting more of my concentration into what I was working on and how it was going to turn out, rather than listening to the speaker.

    And I hope I don't offend any one when I say I actually think its quite rude to the speaker/meeting participants, but no more rude than playing with electronic devices! Perhaps I feel that way because I know I wouldn't be concentrating on the meeting as much as I should be.

    But each to their own - if you're happy to do whatever helps you listen/learn and it doesn't offend anyone else, then go for it. More crafting time is always a good thing.

    Sorry for the long rambling answer!

    1. Morning Sam
      That's not rambling, that's a really interesting response. I guess it's all about perception really. I'd be concerned as a speaker if delegates were on Facebook - apart from anything else I would clearly be boring them senseless!
      I took notes on my iPad during the morning session last week - but I can take shorthand and touch type so it doesn't impact on my ability to pay attention, I have a colleague who struggles to take notes because then she misses what's going on. So for each of us to pay equal attention and get the most out of the situation we need to take a different approach.
      My concern is that I don't create a poor impression - I wouldn't want anyone to think I wasn't concentrating.
      I suppose the technology is moving so fast, it's still pretty much considered unacceptable to have a phone on in a meeting but with multifunctional devices people can tweet, use Facebook and text throughout.
      When we were in Japan we saw they have a total ban on phone calls on public transport, you can text but no talking - it was really striking the difference this made. I cringe if I have to answer the phone on the train & always cut it short but younger colleagues wouldn't think twice. Perhaps I'm just old!

    2. I think I'm getting old too! I am exactly the same if I have to answer a phone call on the train etc. LOL!

      Your comment about not creating a poor impression is exactly how I feel. Aside from knowing I wouldn't be giving my full attention if I was knitting etc, I would be most worried about how others were viewing my behaviour.

  2. Go for it, I say. Is the opinion of the speaker at the meeting important to you? Don't people doodle anymore?

    I haven't attended a conference in yonks, but I live in a fairly crafty neighbourhood and attend a fairly crafty church. People knit and crochet during church and no one is offended. I don't knit or crochet (because you have to draw the crafting line somewhere and I already own too much fabric) but I have brought a bit of hand sewing to church from time to time - usually it's something rather brainless, like stitching in a lining or doing up a hem. I don't often do it because I don't often have something that is as repetitive as knitting/crocheting might be.

    I tried playing around with embroidery at church once, but I felt like there were too many tools required and I was distracted. So most of the time I draw during the sermon. Doodling, sketching, taking one word or phrase and working on lettering - whatever.

    It's not offensive. We all acknowledge that people listen and learn differently. Some folks need to sit near the front. Others need to stand or pace near the back. How about we trust the adults to do what is best for themselves?

    1. Hi, your point about doodling is very interesting, I used to doodle all the time at school and college and i don't think I'd miss a beat if somebody was sat with a pad and pen. Perhaps the crafting raises eyebrows if people aren't used to seeing it in that environment. :)


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment :)