I was recently promoted to full professor . . . yay! . . . and I’ve decided on a few resolutions for the upcoming years in the profession. Among other ideas, such as stress less, I’ve added “knitting at work” to my list. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have long knitted while traveling for work, at symposia, while listening to lectures, etc. But I am upping the game here, folks! I’ve decided to use my new status to authorize knitting during meetings. This excludes meetings that I am chairing, dissertation defenses, and any time that I need to be writing at the same time as I am listening; I also want to be sure my grad students know that I respect them and their presentations. But run of the mill faculty meetings, check. Random committee meetings, check. Faculty senate, check.
You may have noticed that I said I would use my new status to authorize knitting at work. And I really do meant what I said. I have some privilege now and feel that it’s important to help–particularly American–audiences understand that handwork/craftwork is a perfectly acceptable thing to do *while doing other things–especially listening!* I, for one, know that I can actually pay better attention if my hands are engaged with fiber and yarn. I am a better participant when I am working acres of stockinette. But, the thing is: not everyone knows this! A lot of folks assume that knitting (or other handcrafts) are a distraction, that the crafter is otherwise engaged and tuning out–and, sure, some crafters and at some times, this is the case. But meeting knitting is my way of being an even better citizen: I’m more relaxed, more engaged, and I feel like my time is not being wasted, so I am more likely to be in attendance and ready to chat when the time is right.
During the time I’ve spent in England and Europe as a whole, I’ve found knitting to be a far more accepted practice during academic events. When I was in Berlin last Spring, knitting away during the presentations, I found that it was an excellent conversation starter and that other academics wanted to talk about what I was making and even get into their own interests and crafts. It was a fun community and I loved that they scoffed (just a bit) at any American academics who were less than supportive of knitting in public meetings.
Now, that said, I did find plenty of fine folks at my faculty meeting today (in the US) who asked about my knitting and were super supportive. So, perhaps the tide is already turning. Even so, I’ll be doing my part to make knitting a recognizable element of my everyday work environment. I want to make space for others who may be nervous about doing something with their hands while they sit through meetings. And I want to dismantle the assumption that public knitters are disengaged, unprofessional, or bored.
We just want to knit while we talk to you or listen to you or sit quietly.
I suppose this is a manifesto of sorts . . . who’s with me?