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What Would YOU Do?

I heard a story at knitting group the other day that I want to share with you guys. It’s a friend-of-a-friend story so I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it’s interesting.

A flight attendant was attending an annual training seminar last year and, being a knitter, she brought her knitting to the training. She proceeded to knit throughout this training. Other attendees were distracted by the knitting and they complained to the powers-that-be. The knitter was asked to stop knitting but she continued to knit in spite of this request.

Last week this same knitter attended this year’s training seminar. She pulled out her knitting once again and knitted through the entire program. She was subsequently fired.


This Post Has 80 Comments

  1. Oh wow – I think this really has nothing to do with knitting. She was fired because she didn’t obey the rules. I am 100% confident that if it were the exact same situation, but she was reading instead of knitting the outcome would have been the same. It kind of makes me laugh because I can’t actually imagine being told not to do something by my boss and then actually doing it again.

    As much as I love knitting and can pay attention to other things, my boss doesn’t pay me to knit so I don’t do it at work.

    Like the others – I’d be interested in hearing the whole story.

  2. I have always asked permission to knit in class and have never been told no. I actually didn’t knit in one class and the instructor came up to me and asked me what was wrong. If it is an instructor that I have had before, I generally don’t ask but I am known in the fire service in my area for my knitting. And I have never been denied. If I am told no, I don’t knit. Plain and simple always ask permission first if you are in a seminar/company meeting/etc, ask permission first. I knit at a national seminar but I asked the instructor first and he had no problems.

  3. I wonder if there is something else to the story. Like a lot of other people said, it’s up ot the employers to set these policies. If they say no to knitting, that’s their choice …

  4. fellow knitting librarian here: the electronic page-a-day Stitch and Bitch Calendar addresses this very topic:

    In the 1940s, stern etiquette maven Emily Post advised knitters to make sure they wouldn’t distract others before pulling their knitting out at public speaking events, like lectures. “Do not wave long or shiny needles about in the air,” she wrote. “Do not flap your elbows as though you were a bird learning to fly; Do not leave your wool in a bag at your feet and keep hauling it up every so often with a thrust higher than your head.” Sheesh! Responding to these exhortations, The New York Times teasingly suggested that since so much public speaking is less than thrilling, perhaps the speakers should be advised against interrupting knitters! How ’bout it?

    As Carole probably knows, there are always few librarians knitting in the large program sessions at the American Library Association. As one, I take care to sit in the back, out of traffic and to be unobtrusive. I never work on anything but a sock and I try to keep my work contained and low on my lap.

  5. Company time, company rules. And honestly it was discourteous of her to continue if she’d been advised the knitting was distracting others. There are several long boring meetings I have to attend in my job that would be much better for Me if I had my knitting, but I KNOW that the people around me would be distracted by it. so the knitting stays in the bag until the subway trip home, or the next available conference call.

  6. I am 50/50 on this. I have knit during faculty meetings but generally try to hide in the back because I found that people would stare at my hands and ask me questions – clearly I WAS being a distraction.

    Recently our headmaster banned knitting from meetings, honestly I agree with him. While I know I am paying attention I can’t guarantee that others are.

    Honestly, she is on company time. I would expect that if I knit during one of our meetings that I would be reprimanded.

  7. I agree with all of those that said she was on company time. If I was asked not to do something at work, then I wouldn’t do it, assuming it’s something reasonable. 🙂 As much as I like to knit and can do it while still concentrating, I don’t take it to some things at work (or only do it between sessions or something) because other people don’t get that I can do two things at once. Interesting discussion, though!

  8. I think I have to go with what seems to be the concensus here – as much as I hate sitting through meetings, if I were distracting others, and had been asked by my employers to put my knitting away, I would – not happily, but I would…

  9. You absolutely have to respect the employer’s wishes there – I would have stop knitting the first time and not bring it again. I knit through meetings all the time, but if my supervisors asked me to stop, I would. I am selective about what I knit through too – I tend to knit during the ones that require less active participation on my part. (putting on my supervisor hat now) There has to be other reasons for firing her – I doubt a company would fire someone for two incidents so far apart – firing someone is remarkably difficult, in my experience and goes beyond a couple of isolated incidents.

  10. it would be NICE if the world lets us knit everywhere- but it’s not exactly a right. On my personal time- absoutely- on the companies time- not so much.

    Stupid thing to be insubordinate and get fired over- I say save it for the big stuff.

  11. I knit at case staffing meetings. I made sure to over-participate during the first couple of meetings that I did so. My boss appears to be Ok with it.

    That being said… once her employer told her to cease knitting at training meetings, the flight attendant should have done so.

  12. If you want to do something (such as knitting) during company time, I believe you should have permission from your superior to do so. If she was being paid by her company to attend the training function and didn’t receive permission to knit during the session, then she was in the wrong. But firing her? I would think that most company policies are verbal, then written, then fired. I think we could be missing part of the story because I’m sure the company would’ve made sure they dotted all their i’s & crossed all their t’s as to not get into a lawsuit situation.

  13. what sounds wierdest to me is that she was distracting others so much they complained. i haven’t ever seen people totally distracted by my knitting. after 2 min they get bored and their attention wanders.

    and did she get fired at the end of the first day or when the training ended? cuz if i was going to fire her, i wouldn’t have paid her for training she wasn’t going to need. it does sound an awful lot like an urban myth though, especially considering the debate over needles allowed/not allowed on flights and she’s convienently a flight attendant, not a business person or something. we definitely don’t have the whole story (why wasn’t she fired last year? why would she do something she was told not to? and all the steps you have to go through to fire someone these days) but it does come down to either doing something you don’t want to (and who hasn’t worked some crappy job at some point in time?) or losing your job. she made her choice pretty obvious. it’s not something we like in theory, bowing to the man, but in practice we all do it.

  14. What would I do? First, I wouldn’t take my knitting unless I had checked about it before the training. If I had it there and people complained, I would have apologized and put it away. I would not have repeated the situation the next year.

  15. I knit in class all the time but I figure I paid enough for my graduate degree to come naked if I want 🙂 (sorry for the scary visual, LOL)

    I agree with most of the others – on company time you gotta do the company dance however, did they counsel her after last year and she did she persist despite being warned? It seems to me they would have warned her before terminating her.

  16. I’m going to go against the flow here, only to say that I knit only when I know I don’t have to concentrate on the speaker with full intensity. Because, I make mistakes in my knitting. I’m not such a confident knitter even after many years. I’m always double checking my pattern or chart or where I am in the project. Don’t you dare ask me for an answer when I’m counting stitches. I can’t do it.
    But as many pointed out, knitting seems to have been the straw–the real issue was the ability to follow reasonable directions given by an employer.

  17. It just so happens that today’s SnB calendar has an etiquette bit re: knitting. I hate to play devil’s advocate, but Emily Post advises knitters to be sure they won’t be a distraction during public events before pulling out the wip. But the NY Times mused that perhaps public speakers may want to think before interrupting a knitter. Not my view mind you, the 1st thing on the plan before leaving the house no matter where or how long I’m out, is which knit comes with me. I say let’s move on the folks who believe we’re all interested (or not annoyed) in what they’re bellowing on about on the cell phone, or, their cutsie ring tone. Call me complex, but it takes more than a ring tone to define who I am. I’m also a big girl and find it easy to navigate through the day without being constantly connected to someone else while also being fully aware of what’s going on around me at all times.

  18. Hmmm… obviously there wasn’t any sort of evaluation of skills learned during the training or they may have decided to teach everyone to knit! Either way though, I sadly have to agree that if you are asked to stop, if you want to keep your job, might be a good idea to stop!

  19. Cookie said:

    “That’s just rude, selfish and lacking in any common sense. How hard is it to sit through training and actually pay attention? It can’t be that hard when the powers that be expect everyone to do exactly that.”

    As an adult with ADD, I’ve been ADVISED to knit during training and/or meetings in order to help me “sit through training and actually pay attention.” And sometimes it is damn hard to do. Pay attention, that is–unless I’m also knitting.

    It’s not that I disagree with y’all, but, sheesh, doesn’t anyone question the “it’s so distracting” complaint? If they’re paying so much attention to the training they’re not going to be distracted by someone else paying attention while knitting. I cry bullshit on that one.

    Yes, she was insubordinate and that’s not cool. But I think the others who complained were dweebs. And I don’t agree that knitting is unusually distracting.

    You wanna know what I really think? I think the complaints about knitting are based in sexism. But that’s a whole different story.

  20. Replace “Knitting” with “Smoking”. What would you do?
    Replace “Knitting” with “Chewing Gum”. What would you do?
    Replace “Knitting” with “tapping foot”. What would you do?
    If the knitting is distracting enough that another person attending is disturbed, one should stop.
    I knit in meetings all the time–never had a complaint.

    There has been a few times, however, when I could tell I was distracting the speaker. The speaker watched my hands and would occassionally stutter and then have to look away. In those rare cases, I put away my knitting.

    What would I do? I would a) put away my knitting and b) next time I would try to sit in the back or someplace where I couldn’t possibly distract.

  21. Wow. As a former flight attendant, I am just wondering how she could knit at one of those functions. We always had to open doors and stuff, which would make it hard to knit.

    Anywho, it sounds like they were just looking for a reason to get rid of her. That’s a silly, silly reason!

  22. I was asked not to knit in any of my meetings at the new job and I think if I blatantly disregarded that, I would probably be fired. I understand, given the circumstances of my job and the people these meetings are with, that it gives the impression that I’m not paying attention, but its still annoying as hell. And I don’t think my boss realizes that I’d be much more focused in the meetings if I had my knitting.

  23. Yup. I hate it, but when you’re on the clock and they don’t want you to knit, you don’t. I knit on my lunch hour and during conference calls in my office with the door closed, but I’ve been asked not to knit in meetings with others present and I don’t.

    The gal was in the wrong. Especially if asked nicely and told she’s bothering others! That’s just common curtesy…

  24. I too will knit at meetings, and that has been the comment on my end too… not that it might distract me, but that others can’t keep their eyes and minds off of it and so it’s a distraction on that end. Whatever. I guess since it’s a job and not charity work, the powers that be have more pull. Still. Seems kind of sad to me.

  25. I think the hypothetical flight attendant might have been knitting because she found the meeting boring. I mean, really…isn’t that why any of us knit during events or meetings? We’re bored and trying to entertain ourselves.

    But…work isn’t always entertaining, and part of being an employee is to suffer through meetings quietly and politely. It seems to me that hobbies (knitting, cross-stitch, whatever…) ought to be pursued on our own time, and not the employer’s time. Why couldn’t she have knit during break time?

  26. One thing occurs to me that no one has mentioned. Perhaps this woman wanted to be fired, and she knew that if she knitted in this meeting she would be. It’s not outside the realm of possibility.

  27. One thing occurs to me that no one has mentioned. Perhaps this woman wanted to be fired, and she knew that if she knitted in this meeting she would be. It’s not outside the realm of possibility.

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