I have a confession to make. I knit during church. Not flagrantly (though really, how does one knit flagrantly?), but I do bring some small travel project that I can keep on my lap. I do it to keep my hands busy and maintain concentration. Kind of like taking really detailed notes, only this way I'm not absentmindedly chewing a fingernail or something. It helps me to keep my attention focused and usually I don't have to look at my knitting so unless you see my hands you probably would not notice. I fully participate in the service, the standing, the singing, the praying, and only knit during the sermon.
For the past two Sundays I have been working on my Dihli Wrap (no pictures because I won't take any in church and the lighting has been bad today). I've never had anyone have a problem with my knitting, which I've mostly attributed to the rather giantish size of the church. One of the first times I did this a woman two seats down from me actually pulled out her knitting as well. She has not sat near us since, but it has been nice to know that there is some other knitter somewhere in the congregation.
Now I don't know if it was the very bright color of my knitting (I'm using the same colorway as the pattern sample) or what, but I had a very different experience today. Today when I pulled out my little ball of yarn and circs the couple next to me almost lost it. The woman sitting next to me kept staring at me (which was quite a feat, let me tell you, because she was almost sitting on top of me) and then whispering to the man who was with her. Then they would giggle loudly, whisper some more, and keep moving around in their seats. All the people around us kept looking at them. Actually other people would look over because of the noise and then look disapprovingly at me. I didn't say anything, but I really wanted to turn to them afterwards and ask them if they found my knitting distracting.
Honestly, if I thought I was a distraction, I would not do it. I keep my knitting very contained in my seat (I'm a firm believer in taking up as little space as possible in a crowd) and because my hands are busy I maintain a pretty steady focus on the minister. No looking around, no whispering, no jostling the people next to me. I find it very interesting that I work very hard to maintain a respectful and quiet manner during the service, but am viewed as the distraction, while people who are not paying attention and making noise are at most ignored. I guess this to be expected, but I really view it as just another case in which knitting could make the world a better place. When you are knitting, your hands are busy and if you are working on a small, simple project, presumably your mind is clear to receive information. When your hands are not busy, however, it seems the vast majority of the population becomes restless and even irritable. This is why knitters do so well in lines, on hold, and even, in some cases, in church. I'm not comparing being in church to being on hold, but it is a significant amount of time in which you are expected to be quiet and pay attention. I just find it a lot easier to absorb the information when my hands are busy and knitting is a better alternative to doodling.
I'm not going to stop knitting in church, but I do think I'll be a little more hypersensitive to other people's reactions. No matter if I was knitting or not, being noisy and disruptive is not appropriate to the situation. And don't get me started on people who feel the need to sit in my seat as well as their own. It just makes me wonder. Am I the only one who has run in to this problem? Not just in church but in other public situations?