Called out for Knitting

I haven't posted in a while but needed to rant a little (please forgive me because I can't do this on Facebook). I am a teacher by trade and today was a workday. I knew I would be in meetings until lunchtime so I took a scarf I was working on (my wife and I are doing a bazaar tomorrow and I was working on inventory). My principal asked us to put away computers, phones, knitting...for a short activity. I gladly participated and picked up the knitting when we were discussing in small groups, etc. When the activity was over our Testing coordinator started a powerpoint presentation (which we were all given copies of) on guidelines for the upcoming tests in May. I am not a teacher of a tested grade but still required to be trained in case they need me as a sub. I was following along on the handout as I was knitting when I heard the Testing Coordinator call out across the room, "Mr. Boyd put away the knitting." Needless to say I was in shock, mad, and confused.
I complied but was so thrown that I was out of it for about half an hour. I have never had this issue before and wonder if anyone else has. I am an auditory learner. I can't take notes because I lose track of the speaker when I try. The knitting helps me when I have to sit for hours. I take it in the car. I take it to workshops. If I think I am going to have to sit for half an hour or more, I want to have something to pass the time. I am very ADD (I have a son who is ADHD so I know where he gets it from). I am not sure how to approach this with the person and avoided her the rest of the day. She is the guidance counselor so one would think that she would know and be sympathetic to persons with attention issues. My initial thought was to order the tshirt that says :

Knitting in Meetings
(because falling asleep)
Is Rude

Any advice would be appreciated.


Bill's picture

If that happens again...just call out "No."

potterdc's picture

Nice one, Bill!

Think less, enjoy it more.

Bill's picture

I was being flip...but it didn't sound as if the presenter was really the boss...merely insecure.
As a retired professor...if a student explained to me privately, that they had to knit...I'd certainly understand.

EricJT's picture

lol. Bravo.

Or stand up and repeat from memory the last three points she made to demonstrate you got what she was saying. Then sit down and continue knitting.

"Knitting your brows won't knit you a hat."

EricJT's picture

If this person is someone you may encounter again in such a situation speak to her asap to help her understand your learning style and need. You could say, "As an educator, I'm sure you understand."

"Knitting your brows won't knit you a hat."

cacunn's picture

I have had the reverse experience. I was at a training session and was knitting during a break. When the session started back I put my knitting away. During the session there was a exercise during which the instructor came back to me and asked why I had put my knitting away. She said that there studies that showed the mind process much faster than a person could speak. In many cases by having the mind focus on a simple task it would be less likely to wander and get lost during training and meetings. I wish I could cite where the study was performed.

Having said that I would talk with the speaker and explain why you are knitting and how it helps you. It is my opinion that the issue was not as much the knitting but that the speaker did not feel the center of attention and the her ego was hurt.

As an aside:

As I understand ADD qualifies as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Therefore your employers is supposed to make allowances for this disability in the workplace. Knitting is a quite way to for you to compensate and perform your best in meetings.

andyz280f's picture

I Sympathize. I, after 53 years, have found out I too have ADD, but will be going through the testing on the 7th to confirm/negate this diagnosis. At least I have a name for why I have failed all these years and maybe, just maybe I can recoup something in my life.

andyz280f's picture

I just got prescribed stratara 25mg. to start. Hope it works.

potterdc's picture

Hi Russel, I'm sorry that happened. Its demeaning and patronizing - you're a 40 year old professional for crying out loud. Shouldn't you be able to gauge what helps you and what detracts you from paying attention? (the correct answer to that is YES). Your rant prompted me to do a quick google search into the mental health benefits of knitting, and here are some interesting articles:

...and so on and so on and so on. Your guidance counselor needs some guidance.

Yours in the absurdly loud and distracting art of knitting,

Think less, enjoy it more.

Tom Hart's picture

Wow, Russ. I don’t know what to say. I feel like I’ve been slapped across the face just reading about it. I think I’d have done the same thing you did, i.e., avoid the person. It’s weird, unsettling and inappropriate for one adult to talk to another that way. I liked Bill’s response. But if you knew him you’d know that no one would even dream of saying something like that to him to begin with :)

rmbm612's picture

I find it annoying and rude when members of a group meeting are engaged in activities other than the purpose of the meeting. If knitting is truly necessary for you to sit through a presentation, then I think you have an obligation to let the presenter know BEFORE the program starts. Even then I would hesitate to participate in whatever activity other than actively listening, especially if I was in a group that wasn't privy to ADD or whatever the reason. How would you feel if you were the presenter and your audience was engaged reading magazines, texting or checking emails on their smart phones, knitting a scarf, etc.? I'm assuming you and your colleagues were being paid to attend a mandatory instructional meeting. If that is true, then I think the speaker had every reason to expect your undivided attention. You are after all a teaching professional and would expect your students to stay on task during learning activities. I don't condone her for verbally drawing attention to your knitting publicly but you should have talked to her before she started. Hope you learned a lesson. I side with the guidance counselor.

AKQGuy's picture

I have to say I fall into this category myself. Maybe it makes me a bad knitter; though I am a very public knitter, I would never dream of knitting during a meeting or presentation that was work related. Yes, it may be in my bag or jacket pocket for breaks, but I believe the presenter should be able to expect me actively listening and I was brought up (as a dyslexic and hyperactive kid) that this means I am giving eye contact, note taking, or giving other verbal or behavioral feedback to show that I'm actively listening and knitting is not any of those things. Knitting takes my hands and often my eyes away from the presentation material, and my guess is like most people, if it's taking both hands and your eyes at times, it's probably taking your brain away from the material a well. With that said, I'm a multi-tasker. I have worked in high stress go go go jobs most of my life where you not only have to be paying attention to your work but have a high level of situational awareness to your surroundings and often interacting with said surrounding at the same time. Overall, I feel I could knit and absorb most of he presentation, I do it with audiobooks an tv all the time, but when I'm expected to partake in a meeting, traiing or a presentation, I think the expectation that I'm "all there" is implyed. especially should I be getting paid.

michaelpthompson's picture

That certainly does seem like the instructor was rude, but perhaps it appeared you weren't really paying attention. Without knowing your specific context, I can see how that might happen.

"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."

smalltownknitguy's picture

To clarify, I had a power point sheet in front of me and was attending to the information she was reading from the sheet. I was not being rude and attended better while I was knitting than after I put it away. If I needed to take notes or highlight, I would not have been knitting at all. I may be naive, but if I am required to sit in a meeting for 4 + hours, I don't see anything wrong with what I was doing. It wasn't like I could complete lesson plans or make copies for the next week. Sorry to have offended those who would have been offended by my ability to attend to important information.

AKQGuy's picture

I can only speak for myself, but I'm not offended. You stated "any advice would be appreciated" and mine simply is I wouldn't have been knitting in a meeting. I think the real problem is she offended you by "calling you out" and my guess is that she was offended by you appearing to not be actively listening to her presentation.

Now you're here looking for affirmation of your hurt feelings stating you can't do this on facebook (is it because she can see it there? This is mot a closed site to members only an he could possibly, though improbable see it here too.). Any time you take something to a public forum, people are going to see things differently. Thats always something I ty to keep in mind when just writing my own blog. Heck just look at some of the conversations here as to how to do some simple techniques. Theres hundreds of differnt kniting styles and just as many "opinions" behind thiesevstyles and why they do it that way. This situation is exactly the same. Some of us would never have been knitting, some would, and many might have tried hiding it under the table.

On that note, I think you should find out who else in that room might have been upset or offended by your knitting, because I can promise you the counselor was not the obly only one bothered. I think you need to start there at your school educating them regrding your knitting/ADD/listening style because they're a mire immediate issue regarding your livelyhood.

gardenguy42's picture

As a fellow educator and one who does frequent professional development with teachers and administrators I will say that I think the guidance counselor was way out of line. Just as I would not expect a teacher to treat a student in this way I would expect a counselor to have better skills in dealing with adults. If she had an issue with your knitting, whether she found it distracting herself or was worried that she'd lost your attention, she should have waited until a break in the presentation and approached you privately, stating her concerns or made a general statement to the group asking for close attention to what she felt was an important part of her presentation.

Anyone with the slightest experience in such a setting knows that you can't demand or force people's attention and absorption of the material. Many of the most successful presentations I've attended actual put out Play-Doh and little Slinkys on the tables to allow kinesthetic people to occupy their hands so they may pay better attention. Being a test coordinator does not make a guidance counselor a supervisor of other teachers, who are actually colleagues of equal footing, and she has no authority to call out a colleague in a public setting like that, knowing that it will embarrass them.

I'm sorry that a colleague chose to publicly embarrass you and treat you like you are an errant child, especially since that is not a professional or ethical way to treat even an errant child, let alone a colleague on equal footing. A fine example of doing what we say rather than doing what we do -- any principal would rightly call out a teacher for embarrassing a student in that way in a public setting.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

CLABBERS's picture

Well said, Brian. I have been an educational presenter at the local, state, and national levels. I would never had done what yours did. She lacks the self-control that is so desperately needed for her to be a proficient educator of adults. It requires a much different skill set than teaching children. Even in a small-group setting, as long as everyone is engaged, then no harm would be done if you knitted. If you were more engaged in the knitting than what you should have been in the discussion, or if the knitting was a distraction to others, then that's a different story. I still wouldn't have called you out publicly.

Several possible solutions for your frustration in facing her...
1.) Make a Voodoo doll and impale it with knitting needles.
2.) Skip the Voodoo doll and use the needles like a prison shank. (Oops! Sorry, dear.)
3.) Discuss it with her (no fun in that!)
4.) Since it's probably a much bigger issue to you than it is to her, simply put it behind you and move through it. This is by far one of the harder things to do, especially because revenge is such a tasty delight if done well.
5.) Focus on the platitude: This too shall pass.

The long and the short of it is that you are one of the good guys, Russell. Don't let the shortcomings of others diminish your belief in that.

Be well.

PaulKnittingNow's picture

As a teacher myself, I have sat through many meetings where teachers were correcting papers, writing lesson plans, doing other 'busy''s an accepted practice in most of the meetings I attend - for chrissakes we're teachers - we HAVE to multi-task!
However, to your specific problem, I would approach the presenter as soon as possible to explain your ADD and that knitting helps you focus, and the fact that you did not appreciate being called out. As a professional and trained presenter, I would never do what she did. If a person was doing something that bothered me I would approach them privately. As an educator, she should understand....and maybe it can open a dialogue with your staff about different learning modalities...of your students... because that is why we do what we do.

Crafty Andy's picture

I don't know. I say you need to talk to the person . This is something for you to learn and to teach at the same time. As someone formerly in the military, I require 100 % of your attention otherwise why be there. If a student approachedm me and explained to me the need to focus while knitting. I will probably allow that. As a non military person I can care less what you do as long as you are not talking while I am talking, but I am flexible.

As a teacher you know there are many ways of teaching , and as such you allow students to learn. If I was the person who was giving the presentation the first thing I would asked you is, When did you start to knit? What did you do before you learn to knit, as you sat at a lecture like mine? Then I will proceed to tell you that you , so you see Mister Boyd, you can put your knitting down, you were not born knitting. The person needed to address the situation with you personally, but a lesson learned and a lesson to teach. Specially in these days of economic challenges. Not a big deal, but always ask the presenter if they would mind if you knit while they are lecturing, since you are able to focus more on the lesson.Be well.

Tallguy's picture

Knitting at a meeting is certainly understandable. I tend to do it for I cannot focus, or stay awake, if I have to sit and listen to some boring presenter. To many people, knitting means I am not paying attention, and that is all wrong. I can multi-task! Others may not be able to do that, but I can. I MUST keep my hands busy or else I will fall asleep. Which is worse? I would otherwise doodle or play with the pens, or do something.

When I attended a conference with colleagues, I knew I would not be allowed to knit, and I also knew I would not be able to stay awake! So I took a hat I was working on, sat at a table with floor length tablecloths off to one side near the back. I made sure that my supervisor was not sitting behind me!! And I held the knitting under the table, out of sight, and knit while paying attention to the presenters. (I still remember clearly what was said several years ago!) It was simple Fair Isle I was knitting, so I could do it under the table without watching. By the end of the 2 days, I had my hat almost completed! I felt I got more accomplished than did most others attending. No one mentioned anything to me, even though those at my table knew I was doing something.

I think you could have a short chat with the presenter, if that is possible, or even write her a short note explainiing that you were NOT being inattentive, but rather that you need to keep your hands busy in order to focus on the speaker. As an educator, she should have known better. But egos are a big force!

I hope you also keep this in mind with your students, and allow them the freedom to do other things when they should be listening to you. As long as they hear and understand, it shouldn't matter how they do it. imho

debluvs2knit's picture

Only those of us who know that we can knit and listen at the same time can understand the knitter. We aren't being rude it is our way of focusing on their presentation. A basic knit stitch requires no consentration, I call it my mindless idiot stitch because I can do it in my sleep. I wonder how many of those in attendence were focusing on what she was saying instead of focusing on how badly they wanted a cigerate and wished she'd just hurry up and get to a break time.
Some time back I saw a program on tv that talked about how a teacher was handling ADD and ADHD students. It was truly amazing. She had the desks redesigned with a foot swing under the desk so the kids could be moving their foot, leg while standing or sitting at their desk. The results were really remarkable, grades improved dramatically and class disruption was no longer an issue. Bottom line is what ever works for the student is whats best for the student. When my daughter was in 1st grade I walked into her classroom one day and found her under her desk on the floor! I asked the teacher what was going on. Her teacher looked at me and said, " your daughter does her best work when sitting there so I let her sit there". Smart teacher! and when they tested my daughter she tested just a few points below genius! To this day that teacher stands out in my daughters memory as being the best teacher she ever had in school.
The person that called you out needs some additional education in dealing with various personality and learning types.