Reading and Knitting: Best Friends Forever

When you knit in enough meetings or anywhere else in public you hear the same question a lot

"How do you do that without looking?"

Um, I'm magic? Duh.

No, but seriously. I hear this question a lot. People are baffled by the fact that I regularly knit while reading on my lunch break, or can keep eye contact during a presentation while knitting a hat in my lap. It was not until I started attending knitting retreats last year that I realized that while most of us knit while carrying on a conversation, not everyone feels confident reading while they knit. 

I get bored easily, and I cannot hold still, so maybe I learned how to do this out of necessity. Knitting by itself was not enough for me, I had to add an extra layer (Or maybe it was my dad's stories of his mother knitting after she went blind. Family legacy is a powerful motivator for me). In any case, by grad school it was the only way I was able to sit long enough to read all of those Khrushchev bios. I am by no means an expert, but here are some tips if you find your hands itching while you read.

1. Be prepared to be slow. This isn't something you are going to learn over night. If you are on a deadline, don't work on that project as you are starting out. Simple garter or stockinette are the easiest while you are reading because you don't want to actually look at your knitting that often.

2. Have you met my friend hardcover? I used to be a paperback girl. You can tell what books I read and reread based on how worn the spine is. Trust me, paperbacks are not your friend. Whenever possible you want to read hardcover because they are easier to hold open without your hands. I automatically select this filter when shopping for used books online and they are often as inexpensive as paperbacks. If you frequent the library, don't be afraid to check out the large print section. Not only is it less strain on your eyes but they are almost always hardcover. Of course e-readers are also great options, but I'm a bit of a traditionalist. Just ask my bookcases.

3. Think about your stitches. Next time you are knitting (just regular knitting not trying to knit without looking) think about how your stitches feel. How does a knit stitch sit on your needle? What type of wrist motions are involved in making a stitch? We all knit differently, which is why it would not do you much good to watch me knit because I can almost guarantee you that our stitches are not made the same way.

4. Practice. Don't try to read and knit right off the bat. Take some time to knit while somewhere quiet, maybe while watching tv, and practice looking away from your needles. I can almost guarantee that I learned this skill because I was watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles and could not be bothered to split my attention. Practice going five stitches without looking, ten stitches. See if you can knit a whole scene or commercial break.

5. Take your time. This is where I remind you that this is not a skill you learn overnight. Just like learning to knit, learning to do it while reading takes time. But it is worth it. I recently read a statistic that 33% of high school graduates never read another book and the same is true of 42% of college grads. How sad is that? Maybe it is because they too have a hard time holding still.

That being said, read any good books lately?