I’m pretty sure my mother would never knit in church.

As a kid, I was pretty free to do as I liked during mass, as long as it was quiet. When I was too little to understand what was going on, mom apparently didn’t think that making me sit still in a pew for a whole sermon would be helpful in teaching me piety. But I quickly figured out that the grown up thing to do was to sit and listen, and to learn how to participate in the liturgical hoohah. I’m pretty sure there were never snacks. No little bags of cheerios, that I remember. And noisemaking was not tolerated. My mom’s no liturgical extremist, but there is some amount of conformity expected for the sake of others’ worship experience. And cheerios did not fit in that boundary.

For reasons no more complicated or thought-out than those above, I never thought I would knit in church. There was nothing to be discussed. Not to be done. Nope. Didn’t even occur to me to think about it, and I would have looked down on anyone who did it.

One problem. I can’t concentrate worth beans. If it’s a new church, several months will go by before I simply cannot process what’s being said. I’ve been reduced lately to playing with the seat cushions… you know, drawing things by smoothing all the fibers one way and then smoothing other ones the other way.

I’ve known for a while that knitting helps my concentration level. I knit through my junior and senior years of college, and I participated well enough that no teacher was ever really bothered. (Well, except Dr. Bush, but that’s different. I was cross-stitching.) Even my note-taking gets better, becuase instead of doodling like a maniac, I much more effectively process and filter new information and synthesize it down into note form.

Still. No knitting in church. That would be bad. Disrespectful. Church is God’s time, not for engaging in hobbies. Can’t I focus for one half hour of the week without something in my hands?

Finally, a couple weeks ago, I broke. I realized that I couldn’t repeat a word of Fr. Terry’s sermons from the past month, and not because they’re boring. So, very discreetly, I did a few rows during the sermon.

And it worked. I engaged. I retained information. The little part of my brain that’s like a constant mental twitch gets shut up when my hands are doing something, especially something useful and meaningful (unlike doodling or playing tic-tac-toe with myself on a 1-foot square of velvet). And the next week, it was better. I knit a little bit, then stopped, just doing enough to get myself in a groove.

So what do you think? Woud you never do it? Do you hide your needles under your coat at synogogue? Have you had a ball roll down the aisle during a prayer meeting? Share your opinions.

One thought on “Controversy!

  1. I don’t knit, but in college I did make it through some of my classes by coloring. Doodling wasn’t organized enough for me to pay attention, but if I brought in actual coloring sheets and colored pencils I did a much better job of remembering what was being said.


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