Yesterday at work I had to help staff an informational fair that my office organised. My job was to sit at the front door and have everyone who walked in sign the sign-in sheet (more for a head count than for any other reason, though we should have door prizes next year). This is fairly mindless work, "Good morning, would you please sign the sign-in sheet?" It doesn't use a whole lot of brain cells. I had planned to knit during this time, since I'm making a fairly simple hat, stockinette in the round, with about three inches to go before I begin the decreases. I had hoped to reach the decrease stage yesterday, and then finish the hat off this weekend.
However, I was dissuaded by my colleagues in the office. You are being paid to work, not to knit, I was told. It wouldn't be seemly to be doing that when you are supposed to be working. And in that moment, I had an insight, maybe even an epiphany.
There is a fundamental difference in the way in which knitters see what they are doing when they have their needles in their hands, and what non-knitters see when knitters have needles in their hands. For many knitters, knitting is a way to pass the time usefully. If I don't have a complicated project that has me reading pattern lines and checking charts, a simple stockinette cap can make the time go by faster, and I'm accomplishing something at the same time. To a non-knitter, who cannot fathom that knitting can be mindless*, knitting is an activity that one is doing instead of what one is being paid to do, rather than something one is doing in addition to what one is being paid to do. While it is expected that one can multitask at one's desk (really, one can't, one can only do one thing at a time, even if one is doing small pieces of several things, they are still done sequentially), using the time to knit while sitting at the door is seen as doing something other than working. Believe me, asking you to put your name on the sign-in sheet is not an onerous chore, and I'm pretty sure I could have accomplished both at the same time.
It's a moot point. I didn't knit, my hat still has only about an inch of stockinette, and I still have three inches to go before I begin the decrease rounds. But by damn, I'm going to finish that hat this weekend.
Madeline Tosh Vintage, really in Betty Draper's Blues, so a bit darker than this photo shows.
*Really, what do you think about when you're washing the dishes, or ironing all your shirts for the week? I know that Buddhist monk Tich Nhat Hanh advises us to "wash the dishes to wash the dishes," meaning we should imbue even the most mundane tasks with intentionality, but I must confess that I am unable to so do. I subscribe to the concept, when doing tasks like washing dishes and ironing shirts, that the hands are busy, but the mind is free, Which is why I don't mind doing them. This also applies to working a stockinette hat in the round, and I'm willing to bet that books on CD would be a good background for such a project.