Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life


Look! I made this on the bus.

I am continually amazed at the talent of people like Stephanie Pearl McPhee, who can knit while walking about, traveling on buses or sitting in movie theatres. She manages to knit beautiful, complicated things while doing this. I am in awe. How is this possible? If I tried to knit while walking outside I would long ago have disappeared under a bus, or been sued by some passing stranger that I had managed to impale on a needle. And how do you prevent the balls from rolling away down the street?

I would like to be able to knit while doing other things. Life would be so much more productive. I suppose I could knit in a movie theater, but it would have to be the plainest of garments, and the movie could not be exciting at all, to avoid the risk of very tightly knitted rows that matched the tense moments, or dropped stitches coinciding with the scary parts. Is it even possible to cast on in the dark? The mind boggles.

And I’m not sure I could even manage knitting on the bus. It’s so bumpy! And as I have had my fair share of bus mishaps when I wasn’t knitting, I’m afraid to add needles into the mix. I have fallen down the stairs on a double-decker, got jammed in the exit doors, and have got off at the wrong stop on numerous occasions. If I attempted to knit on that mode of transportation, I would almost certainly put my remaining good eye out.

This question of knitting in locations other than my living room is one I have pondered ever since reading about how knitting in public is becoming more and more common. I was very interested to read this report of knitting among the audience at scientific meetings. Kudos to those who do that! That is another risky venue. Would the speaker understand that a person can listen and knit, or would they be offended that their presentation was not sufficiently astounding to merit abandonment of the craftwork? I don’t think I could knit during a meeting at my work without risk.

Knitting on the plane would be ideal. It would be an excellent way to pass the time on a long journey. But I’m afraid of the security arrangements. I have had the teeny, tiny nail file that comes with nail clippers ripped off and confiscated by airport security before—how would they react to a knitting needle in my hand luggage? I’m afraid of being arrested.

Today I went to my son’s football practice. There was a lot of sitting around as the team went through it’s paces. I noticed another parent who had come prepared and was cozily knitting away as she sat in her deck chair waiting for her son to have his turn. “Aha”, I thought, “I have finally found a public location where I could manage to knit”. “I should have brought my knitting” I said to my son. “I could knit at a football game. There’s plenty of light, I don’t have to move about, and it will pass the time”. “No!” he cried, squashing all my newly found hope. “That would be too embarrassing!”.

So, I can’t knit while walking due to my own clumsiness, public transportation is out due to security concerns, and I cannot knit anytime I am accompanied by my son. Nevertheless I feel that I should step out of my comfort zone and risk a public display of knitting. I think I’ll start small and work my way up. Now, if I could just think of a suitable place to start!

5 thoughts on “Public Displays of Knitting

  1. Michele says:

    Isobel, in 2003 someone tried to knit during an EEG, and it didn’t go too well (link to the PDF of the case report: ) . But, as my husband will attest, the mind of a knitter is a confounding thing…


  2. Isobel says:

    I will now strike “Knitting while getting an EEG” off my options for places to knit as well. Dont want to cause any unexpalinable artifacts!

  3. I grew up with a Mom who knit in public. She never knitted while walking but if she could sit somewhere, she could knit. I have had many nice sweaters over the years to prove it! Most of the time she could have a conversation with me while she knit unless, oh my, she was counting. Then she would get angry at being interrupted Thankfully she had a certain look when she was counting (maybe her lips moved) and I knew not to talk to her at that point.

    Oh … and I did not inherit the love of knitting gene. I did learn to knit but it wasn’t for me.


    1. Isobel says:

      I still remember a yellow sweater my mum made for me when I was little. She didn’t knit a lot, but I remember really liking that sweater.
      I have just managed to find a place where I can knit in public without danger. I took a sock along to the skate park and managed a few rows while the boys were skating. They were to busy skating to be embarrassed.

  4. terri j says:

    I understand that my great grandmother could knit in a movie theater.

    I recently saw someone quilting at the airport. Could not believe she had gotten her tools – especially the scissors and 2 inch straight pins – through security.


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