Why did Raymond bring a knitting bag to every meeting?

I stopped knitting a few years ago, but back when I knitted regularly, I tended to bring my knitting bag with me everywhere I went.

There are a lot of idle minutes in your typical day. Waiting for the bus, waiting in line for the ATM, waiting for a meeting to start. There's not enough time in those idle minutes to do anything substantial, but it's enough time to sneak in a little bit of knitting.

But there's another reason I brought a knitting bag to every meeting.

Nothing says "I don't care about this meeting" like knitting.

Comments (31)
  1. Andrew says:

    Raymond, curious how you got into knitting and why you stopped.  Good material for another post?

  2. pete.d says:

    'Nothing says "I don't care about this meeting" like knitting. '

    Well, except maybe simply not even going to the meeting. Such an act has even more impact if one has been specifically instructed to attend.

  3. Sockatume says:

    Failing to attend a meeting leaves open the possibility that the meeting is of great cosmic importance and is very productive, but you fail to appreciate this through ignorance. Attending the meeting and spending the entire time doing something else (nondisruptive) demonstrates unambiguously that you might as well not be there.

  4. Joshua says:

    [Nothing says "I don't care about this meeting" like knitting.]

    Dude, if you've had a girlfriend who knits you would think otherwise.

  5. non-knitter says:

    I tend to agree with Joshua. I had a boss who infuriated one of his peers by sorting out business cards throughout a meeting. Sadly, it was probably not his intent to demonstrate lack of interest that made him do with, but rather his self-absorption.

  6. Magnus says:

    I wouldn't say it says you don't care. I bring my cross-stitches to meetings all the time, it actually helps me focus (and stay awake). But it helps if you really participate and ask good questions. I guess it also helps that I live and work in Sweden, meeting culture isn't as formal here.

  7. Anon says:

    That's disrespectful to other meeting participants. If you think the meeting is not valuable to you and that you have nothing to add to the meeting, then perhaps just decline the invitation.

    [The case I remember is where I was told to attend a meeting "just in case" my issue came up. It didn't. -Raymond]
  8. Cesar says:

    Shouldn't this be tagged "The social skills of a thermonuclear device"?

  9. Anon says:


    Unless the meeting is required, in which case you aren't allowed to decline, period.

    Nothing says "disrespectful" like mandatory meetings that do quite literally nothing but waste the time of everyone involved, except for the meeting organizer, of course, who gets to engage in puffery for an hour.

  10. 'Why did Raymond bring a knitting bag to <b>every</b> meeting?' and 'Nothing says "I don't care about this meeting" like knitting.'

    Scares me.

    [I brought the knitting bag but didn't always knit. -Raymond]
  11. Antonio &#39;Grijan&#39; says:

    @Cesar: I was about to say the same :-) . But, to be fair, in a situation as silly as the one Raymond describes in the reply to Anon, he is not the one to be blamed on.

  12. Jim says:

    Funny thing now, 99% meetings have been conducted online. I also never meet the 90% of meetings attendants as well.

  13. Dominic says:

    In a conference call no one knows you're knitting. Maybe find another passive-aggressive hobby, like woodturning.

  14. Tim says:

    "like woodturning"

    I think dragging in an entire lathe into a conference room would really communicate "I don't care about this" much more effectively.

  15. JamesNT says:

    This is officially one of my favorite Raymond Chen posts.


  16. Paul M. Parks says:

    I tend to write code longhand on a pad of paper when stuck in a pointless meeting. It looks like I'm furiously taking notes, but I'm actually getting work done.

  17. j b says:

    In Norway, knitting is and has always been a VERY feminine activity. Boys may learn the very basic principles – I did when I was in grade school in the 1960 – and complete one small square "pad". We said it was for wiping you ink pen, but nowadays ink pens are history. I don't think boys today learn to knit even a single four by four inches square piece…

    I don't think I have ever seen an adult MALE knitting, not in my entire life! For girls/women it was a very common activity; my former wife knittet me several woolen sweaters that I still use. But I would never knit one even form myself.

    Is knitting NOT considered a (more or less exclusively) female activity in other countries? Is it common for males to knit their own sweaters or scarfs or whatever, and to create knitwork gifts for others?

  18. SomeGuyOnTheInternet says:

    Raymond, how do you knit with your withered hand?

  19. RonBass says:

    The image of Raymond as Madame DeFarge provides new material for a whole series of dream related posts…

  20. KTamas says:

    I have to agree, this is one of the best posts, ever. But I am also interested: how "feminine" is knitting in the US?

  21. Silly says:

    Excellent idea if one is likely to only be on the periphery of a meeting. If worried about the gender perceptions of knitting then maybe bring along an angle grinder (en.wikipedia.org/…/File:Flex.ogv). Not quite as good of an effect as dragging a lathe or radial arm saw into the room, but more portable and I've found there are very few problems that a 9" grinder can't solve… I suppose a Bowie knife could also work for wood carving if you're worried about the noise.

  22. cheong00 says:

    @j b: Although it's also generally considered feminine activity in Hong Kong, you ought to be surprised by how many male developers enjoy doing it privately (although I'm not one of them)

  23. Michael Grier [MSFT] says:

    Hmmm… I was in a meeting with Raymond probably ten or twelve years ago and he *was* knitting.  Hmmm…

  24. Neil says:

    @Paul: Curious that you should say that: http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/651.html was rerun today…

  25. Marc K says:

    This post makes me want to take up knitting.

  26. Rick C says:

    @Silly, your comment made me think of a forum post I just read yesterday about reciprocating saws, where several people rightly opined that they are far superior to angle grinders (and one said he preferred a recip saw to a chainsaw for most uses!)

    I can't find the link this morning, though.

  27. Ens says:

    Knitting is considered highly feminine in Canada and the US too.  It's also kind of old-fashioned; I wouldn't bet on a random woman knowing how to knit these days and certainly wouldn't call it "very common".  This said, some older men who trained for World War II (in Canada) learned to knit while training in the military.  I have not heard the same from anybody in the US, although with that said, I've met far fewer elderly American men.

    I know a non-Raymond Chen meeting knitter.  I'm pretty sure I've seen more knitting in meetings that outside.

  28. GregM says:

    I sent this post to my wife, who was probably knitting at the time.  Her reply was "Why would someone STOP KNITTING?".

    Re men knitting, check out madmanknitting.wordpress.com

  29. Julian says:

    In the 1960s my father did a lot of travelling on aircraft for his job. He always took his embroidery materials with him – apparently it was the ideal way to pass time in airports or the aircraft, and the cabin staff were always fascinated by the idea of a businessman doing this. As a bonus once complete we ended up with several nicely embroidered chairs.

    The only negative (apparently) was the tedium involved in stitching the large areas of single colours around the edge of the canvas!

  30. TValoy says:

    For once I have to disagree with you, Raymond. Knitting, drawing or other activities that do not involve the language and/or logical part of your brain, can help you keep focus. This of course depends on what kind of meeting you are attending, but my experience (I draw in meetings) is that it helps me stay alert.

    Reading e-mail or news on your laptop or smart-phone on the other hand, ensures that you don't follow the thread of the meeting.

    I think more people should bring their knitting to meetings. Less daydreaming – more focus.

  31. Gabe says:

    I find that playing solitaire (sol.exe) helps me focus in meetings because. And then I can judge the productivity of the meeting based on how many games I won!

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