Is It Rude to Knit or Crochet in Public?

October 08, 2019 4 min read 37 Comments

Is It Rude to Knit or Crochet in Public?

Have you ever been in public and had the passing thought of, “Is it rude that I’m knitting right now?” 

Chances are, the thought didn’t occur to you while you were home alone watching TV or sitting on a park bench. But, maybe you were crocheting while waiting for a movie to start, or sitting through a community meeting, or on a crowded train, and someone gave you a look, or worse, several “looks.”  You may have been flat out reprimanded at some sort of gathering or function because someone else believed the answer was yes, it’s rude, and you needed to know how they felt about it. 

As people of the world, we can likely agree that we wouldn’t pull out a project in the middle of a wedding or a funeral, or dinner with family (though maybe you would, and hey, we’re not judging). 

But there is so much grey area out there that it warrants the question—what about when you’re “with company” or at a non-yarn specific gathering? 

Is it rude to knit or crochet in public? 

Firstly, we know that knitting actually helps us stay more present in a social situation that might otherwise make us nervous or anxious, so while it looks like we're distracting ourselves, we’re actually further grounding ourself into the present moment. But because other people may not know that, we run into some debate.

After crowd sourcing some feedback, it turns out that the majority of us feel it’s no worse than texting or using our phones in public. In fact, it's even less of an offense, because at least we can still watch and listen to what’s happening around or in front of us. In other words, it’s not as disengaging.

We've crocheted or knit at our kid’s swimming lessons and birthday parties, at the beach, during lectures and in waiting rooms. Often, we actually get compliments when needle-crafting in public—lots of curious looks, or comments on how the onlooker used to knit or crochet and should take it up again. 

Even in the workplace, some of our bosses don’t even mind if we knit during meetings, but will give us a head’s up if a super-head-honcho is coming in, one who might not be as in-the-loop (no pun intended) about our ability to multi-task. 

There are, of course, the kids who are embarrassed by pretty much everything we do anyway—one woman’s daughter said she thinks it’s rude even if they’re just sitting and watching TV together. “I told her don't talk to me if it bothers her.” Sounds good to us. 

However, there is the matter of nosy other parents—one woman, an activities director at her child’s school, dealt with a parent carrying on about how she “dared” to knit during the kid’s sports game.

This is where we enter the issue of “Does it look like I'm not paying attention when I should be?” Typically, this comes up when we're part of an “audience” of some sort. 

The majority of people agree on certain group situations where people have gathered to watch and listen to something specific, say, a performance in a theater, or a wedding, where it's probably best to put the needles down. If even the mere perception of not giving your full attention to what's going on affects the spirit of the moment when you should be reflective, attentive, and keep the mood solemn, use your best judgement. 

And, while we may not realize it, our knitting and crocheting could be a distraction to someone else—the sound, the movement—and we don’t want to inhibit someone else’s ability to pay attention, so it's important to be mindful of the people around us. (Tip: most bamboo needles don’t make noise!) 

Church has been a hot topic in the Facebook groups for some time. Is it rude to knit or crochet there? Some people say it’s a no-go there, that people have told them it’s “God’s time.” One woman said that back in the day, her grandmother told her that every stitch she knit on Sunday would have to be taken out with her nose when she got to heaven. Yikes! Another woman left a church never to return again after a woman scolded her for working on a project. However, yet another woman said her Pastor loved that she knit and is trying to get a “fidget basket” program going for other members of the congregation.

When it comes to family time, people are also split. People have gotten the rare disapproving comment from their in-laws or even their spouse, again claiming that it’s taking attention away from them. 

One woman said that her father finds the sound of the needles distracting while he’s driving, so that’s the only time she doesn’t knit. 

That leads us to the real, ultimate answer here: 

There is no right or wrong. 

There is no yes or no. There is only us sharing our experiences and using our best judgement. If you can’t sit through a 12-step meeting or a plane ride without your knitting, take it with you, and just be mindful that you're not elbowing the person next to you. 

We all have a pretty good gauge (again, no pun intended) of when something is or isn’t appropriate, and if we look deeply enough, we can tell whether we’re self-conscious about what other people think for no good reason, or, if our gut is saying, after taking the temperature of the room, that it’s best to hold off.

And hey, everything is relative...one woman said that when she dies, she literally wants everyone at her funeral to beknitting or crocheting. “I want lively music and dancing and lots of fun happening. If my loved ones love me as much as I have loved them, then they WILL bring their knitting and crochet and celebrate my life by celebrating theirs.”


37 Responses

Catlo19
Catlo19

March 17, 2020

Is crocheting or knitting in public, for instance waiting for a doctor appointment, any different than reading a book while you wait? Is crocheting or knitting during a church service mainly the sermon, worse than possibly falling asleep during the sermon? If yarn working, then at least you’d still hear the pastor’s words. If you’re asleep, then you won’t hear any of it. Sure I wouldn’t think of crocheting during a wedding or funeral, or even church in my case, but if I’m in a waiting room waiting for an appointment of some sort, or something like that, then I don’t see the problem. Even traveling. If traveling on a plane, bus, train car, whatever, if you’d otherwise be sitting there bored out of your mind, then why not knit or crochet? Unless you’re there with someone else, and they don’t have something of their own to do, then you might want to pay more attention to your companion(s) than your yarn work. Just use common sense. And if you are minding your own business in one of the “waiting” or “traveling” scenarios, and someone else (maybe a stranger) doesn’t like it, then who cares what they think? If it’s not bothering them, then maybe they should mind their own business. You’re minding yours. 🙂

Deborah K. Scott
Deborah K. Scott

March 13, 2020

I’m 67 this year and I’ve been crocheting for 50 years. I do crochet in public and bother no one. I wouldn’t dare crochet in the church service at a funeral or wedding and there or other places and times I feel is inappropriate however I cruise a lot and I make sure I have a project to work on. About 2yrs ago I made a baby blanket during my vacation and quite a few fellow cruisers followed the week progress with admiration and praise. Many people like to see what can be made with some yarn and a needle. The crochet group at the senior center where I go is like a big family and we have so much fun and it’s so funny but I thought the other day whenever my time comes I would love to have all of them crochet a flower for me. I hate it if this bother some people to crochet in public but it’s not like talking loud on a phone, being intoxicated and a lot of other things. But as long as I gave rights too I’ll continue to carry my work bag along and steal a stitch two when I can.

Sarah Dilworth
Sarah Dilworth

March 13, 2020

I take my knitting anywhere I’m going to be waiting – at the theatre waiting for the doors to open and then in the auditorium waiting for curtain and during intermission. I don’t know during the play because I feel it would be disrespectful to the actors (even if I know it wouldn’t hinder my enjoyment of the play). I knit in waiting rooms and most recently, while I was working at the polls I brought my knitting and worked on it in the slow times. Its sparked many conversations (something I greatly enjoy) and I’ve never had anyone give me a dirty look. Like the article says, just go with your gut! If it feels slightly disrespectful, leave it in your bag. Otherwise, just be aware that someone will probably ask about it and you’ll get a new friend 😁

Victoria Munt
Victoria Munt

March 13, 2020

What a thought provoking article. I crochet all the time. At home, in the car, at the hospital, in coffee shops, you name it if I have 5 minutes to add a few stitches to what I’m doing I do it. You can not know the number of conversations it has started over the years and they have been wonderful. Now the only person that it does annoy is my husband as he is convinced that I am not paying attention to him when I am crocheting but everyone else thinks that it is wonderful. I’ve even managed to each a few people along the way. So to all those doubters who think that we are not paying attention we are. We are just fantastic multi taskers.

AnnaH
AnnaH

March 12, 2020

I knit or crochet when I’m at appointments and have been known to bring a project to work when I know I might have some down time. It helps me relax and put my fidgety energy to use. I’ve had people watch me at the VA whole I’m working on a project and a few were surprised and delighted when I asked them to help me frog something I was mindlessly working on. I was once watching a movie with one of my brothers and noticed he was no longer watching the movie but watching me. He said it was like watching a spider weave a web. Lol. One guy at one of my VA appointment said it was very soothing to watch.

Anne Walsh
Anne Walsh

March 02, 2020

Someone mentioned that others might be distracted by the noise. During my O level English exam (in 1964), the invigilator was sitting knitting. One of the choices for our essay was “A journey”. I was inspired to write about a fellow traveller on a train journey who was knitting and it transported me back to an earlier time. I doubt that she ever knew her knitting had that effect. I passed the exam.

Kerita Fuller
Kerita Fuller

March 02, 2020

I knit in public all the time! Until this article though, I never thought about how others may see it! I’ll still knit though 😉

Carol
Carol

February 25, 2020

Our church has a prayer shawl ministry so our preacher loves us to knit a n church to bring attention to the ministry

Sandy
Sandy

February 25, 2020

I haven’t read all of the comments yet and will when I finish this. I knit in public. I see people on cell phones talking and texting while at restaurants ignoring those with them. We can stay in the moment when we knit. Many many years ago ladies knitted,etc in church. And were welcome to do so. Keep on knitting, crocheting, stitching wherever you fell comfy doing so. I’m going to. 🙂

Patricia
Patricia

February 20, 2020

We have a basked of knitting bags at the entrance to our church and anyone can pick one out and continue following the pattern inside whilst engaging completely with the service. The garments – scarves, hats and warm woolly socks, go to the homeless in our community.

Jacquie Marie
Jacquie Marie

February 20, 2020

Waiting at MD offices or at airport…what a great conversation starter with strangers. Smiles and cheery chatter. Yes, small “carry in the purse” projects are the perfect answer to achieving a myriad of lovely gifts for friends and charity. Multitasking is the word of the century ! Keep those fingers flying and away from the rudeness of cellphone conversations. !

Kim E
Kim E

February 20, 2020

I knit all through Pharmacy school, in fact there was a sizable group of us who knit, crocheted and cross-stitched during class. We were the ones who were awake! When a preceptor called the school to discuss the students coming to their hospital for a rotation, I was described as, “She knits all through class and always knows what is going on!”

Davideo Noodle
Davideo Noodle

February 19, 2020

It amazes me that in centuries past how people used to knit socks while walking to and from their work places. This was before circular needles!!! I would be dropping double point all along the way and tripping over my feet. Public knitting is no worse than pulling out your phone and checking your social media. I haven’t set my big toe in a church for years, but if I did I would be knitting!!!

Vicky Manning
Vicky Manning

February 18, 2020

This article brightened my day because I too am a crochet and take it with me most places.It is a wonderful relaxing craft which helps my mind stay in one place.Thanks to all the knitters and crocheters for.sharing.Happy Stitching.

Connie Small
Connie Small

February 18, 2020

I knit in public, including in church. I knit on charity projects during church, my own things when in MD offices or other waiting situations. Here in Florida, our red lights are very long, often at least two minutes. So I have my car knitting, usually lacy dishcloths or something else fairly simple with fairly short rows. Makes the time at red lights much more pleasant.

Christine
Christine

February 18, 2020

Do you think its rude to constantly have your face in the phone?? ..YESSSS!!!

I knit EV-ERY-WHERE! Of course, it’s not a complicated lace pattern but something where I can actually look people in the eye and listen at the same time. I knit in church and all other public places..standing, sitting..whatever.

NOT ONE person has ever said anything negative to me (maybe i look scary 🤣)

Gloria Wheat
Gloria Wheat

February 07, 2020

I crochet all the time. In fact I have a project in a backpack in my car
If I have a,doctor appointment and arrive early. It goes in with my and I work on it while waiting. I have had a lot of people tell me that they wished they had brought their projects

BEEJ
BEEJ

February 02, 2020

I knit in public and use discretion whenever it’s needed. I also subscribe to a long ago thought for the day found in my daily newspaper. “Be who you are and say what you feel ‘cause people who mind don’t matter, and people who matter don’t mind.” — Theodor Suess Geisel, American children’s author (1904-1991) A.K.A. Dr. Suess

Maria Mossor
Maria Mossor

January 29, 2020

I, too, am a public crocheter. I’ve been crocheting my whole life and taught my daughters who love it as well. A day out for us is going to Michaels! When we visit each other the first question is ‘did you bring your crocheting?’
If I’m watching TV I ALWAYS crochet. I feel like I’m doing something productive/constructive when doing so. Instead of just being a couch potato.
I also was admonished at a 12 step meeting when someone (who wasn’t even a regular) said that I was ‘cross talking’. If you learn anything at a 12 step meeting you already know I just put it away and never brought it back. Needless to say, SHE needed more meetings!
Happy day, everyone! God bless you, all! There is so much going on in this world maybe the ones ‘offended’ should learn to crochet!? 😀

Sam
Sam

January 24, 2020

I couldn’t care less who thinks what of me as long as I am happy with myself. And if they don’t like me knitting or crocheting in public I can tell them where they can put their comments

Deanna Tolman
Deanna Tolman

January 23, 2020

I’ve been knitting for 60 years,having learned when I was six. This article and the comments helped me realize that I long ago quit caring what other people think of me. Very liberating.

Jan Moore
Jan Moore

January 23, 2020

I was admonished after an in service by my principal. She was watching me all through the training, even standing behind me, but never said a word until the parking lot! I told her she should have said something during the meeting if it bothered her.

I do knit during the sermon but with the pastor’s permission. I only knit for charity and feel the prayers and music and praise is worked into every stitch.

Jane G
Jane G

January 21, 2020

I was publically chastised for knitting during a class even though I was totally focused on the lesson taught because my mind wasn’t wandering. But the person on Facebook on their tablet through the whole class was perfectly acceptable and more professional?!?!
Yeah, no respect for that manager.
I am conscious of the level of the meeting/class, but haven’t had any other issues.

Pinkie Goetzinger
Pinkie Goetzinger

January 21, 2020

I am someone who crochets in public. I get many wonderful comments on the projects that I am making.
I have never had a negative comment about my crocheting in public… Not that it would prevent me from doing so.
I believe that people who have negative comments are just jealous because they cannot multitask.
As for the woman who wants everyone to be crocheting at her funeral… I am with you sister… I pray anyone who wants to whip out some crocheting at my funeral will do so. I have told my children that I want it to be a beautiful party with no crying lots of music dancing crocheting and knitting whatever craft you enjoy the best.
I can’t think of a more appropriate way to leave this life.

Marilyn Davis
Marilyn Davis

January 15, 2020

I knit and crochet….but during worship is a personal choice……but during church fellowship I teach….not during worship….I travel and have taught on the bus trips…… and taught on the phone to people that need help….have taught the many people in many walks of life….it is to be shared……where you craft is personal……as my grandma would say…..”Stick to your knitting”

Aniqa Prouse
Aniqa Prouse

January 08, 2020

My girls and I crochet during church and in other public gatherings we avoid crocheting at weddings or funerals but we have noticed that while we crochet during church we are more mindful of what the pastor is saying so much so that we are able to even quote him after the service and for weeks after the projects that we do crochet are prayer shawls and baby jackets for the homeless and other items for church charities it is truly a blessing to see my 16 and 18 year old daughters crochet something magnificent for charitable causes

Sue
Sue

January 01, 2020

I was taught to knit at 9 yrs old. At 71 now, I knit for homeless people and disable, donating boot socks, hats, mittens, scarves. I hate to sit idle. Knitting is a joy. We have a craft we love. I wouldn’t knit in church, but I think maybe others are just plain jealous, sometimes because they don’t know how to knit. Let’s offer to teach them.

Athena
Athena

January 01, 2020

I crochet or loom knit at home in front of the tv and at drs waiting rooms, in the truck(it helps calm me with my husband’s driving. LOL) I love the women who thought friends and family crocheting and or knitting at her funeral would be great. Count me in on that. I told my husband and he said ok. 😊❤

Happy crocheting, loom knitting and knitting everyone. 😊

Dawn Dixon
Dawn Dixon

December 28, 2019

I have been crocheting since I was a preteen. I find that crocheting helps me focus and it soothes my carpel tunnel syndrome prone hands.

Quinnelle coker
Quinnelle coker

December 28, 2019

Can not knit in some public places in Georgia.Was told knitting needles are concerted as a weapon.

Lisa
Lisa

November 26, 2019

As Father Jim noted to the rest of the congregation, “Idle hands are the Devil’s playground.”

Dianna
Dianna

November 14, 2019

I don’t knit at funerals or weddings. I’m over medicated and will sleep at almost every meeting I’m just Sitting in. My solution to church meetings is I always work on humanitarian projects. If someone criticizes i tell them it’s a good thing their nose is in no danger. The space around me in public is my personal space. I’ve never had anything more critical than someone ask whether I’m knitting or crocheting and what it is I’m making. Knitting keeps me happy. I’m not concerned if it makes someone unhappy. That’s their problem to solve.

Marilyn
Marilyn

October 31, 2019

I knit during in-service and any place else I choose. I have never had a negative comment.

Terry B
Terry B

October 14, 2019

What a great article. I’m sure we’ve all been through these thoughts and wished that all people were knitters or crafters like the olden days and would understand the experience.

Carol MM
Carol MM

October 13, 2019

My friend and i went on a weekend bus trip to a major fibre festival. We had dinner with 2 other ladies (convenience, and not by choice). While waiting for our food to be delivered, my friend and I pulled out our knitting. One of the other knitters told us we were being rude. We were on a knitting weekend! No, my friend and i did not put away our knitting.

Lynn
Lynn

October 13, 2019

It’s rude ONLY if you are knitting and NOT minding your own business. I don’t have an issue with people “doing their own thing” in public or wherever.

Jackie O'Neil
Jackie O'Neil

October 13, 2019

For years people have insisted we multitask. So I feel I’m wasting time if I don’t. I can listen far better in meetings if I’m knitting. At least I’m accomplishing something tangible vs starring at my phone. And where are all our freedoms going, I’m tired of people always trying to have control over me. If you are not paying me a wage, mind your business and I’ll mind mine.

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