I Knit Where I Want: The Pens Knitting Lady

By Kay Gardiner
May 18, 2017

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  • LOVE her. Love that dignified portrait too. She’s a credit to the sport.

  • Sports matches = great knitting time, both watching on tele and being at the game in person. I’ve knitted at many an Australian Rules footy match – 3 hours long; days at Australian Open tennis – anywhere from 5 to 10 hours per day; or best of all for knitting time, the five full seven hour days of a cricket test match!
    Have noticed that my knitting output does decrease when close scores are involved…….

  • I have been knitting at every Pens game I’ve gone to since I started knitting obsessively, but I guess I didn’t attract as much attention as Michelle because I’ve only been to a handful of games in the past several years. I don’t get the outrage, either. I knit just about everywhere; it keeps me from getting impatient when I’m waiting and helps me to be productive. I guess nonknitters just don’t get it.

  • I knit all over the place. In the theatre before the movie starts, at a restaurant while I’m waiting for food to be served, at the pub, any waiting room, at my daughter’s school between parent-teacher meetings or before the whatever I’m there for begins. During work education sessions for upgrading skills (but I checked with the instructor first for that one – let me tell you how lovely an afternoon of knitting away from the office is). Basically anywhere I’ve got to sit and/or wait for more than 5 minutes.

    • Me too! I tend to doze if I’m sitting still for very long, so having my hands busy prevents that. I once had my Pastor come up to me after church and told me my knitting was a novel way to keep alert during his sermon! I knit while my husband drives; I can chat with him and help watch the road rather than burying my nose in a book.

      • I have loved reading all these comments. They remind me of something I heard a couple of years ago (either NPR or a Ted Talk, maybe?) that those who do an activity like doodling or knitting while listening, actually retain about 29% more of what they have heard. Some teachers even encourage students to doodle while listening.

        I have an Audible subscription and often listen to a book rather than reading it, that way I can knit at the same time. And, I also love to knit while my husband is driving. He likes it too, because it makes me less of a nervous, naggy passenger. 😉

  • Go Michelle!

  • Anywhere I want – even during church services. But sporting events are considered prime knitting time by me!

  • She sits right behind the bench, so the camera sees her, which I love! I have knitted at hockey games, less time to focus than baseball, however. Love this!

  • I wish there were a way to delete comments posted too fast! I will knit pretty much anywhere but in a live concert after the performance has started.

  • We have a minor league hockey team in our town (GO Texas Stars!) and the local knitting store sponsors a knit-at-the-game night every year. Wish we could get all that publicity for our team and the knitting store!

  • I grew up in PGH in the sixties going to the Penguins games and remember a woman who sat by the goal who knit the entire game without looking away from the game. She must have knit a sweater a game! Did any of the stories mention her?

  • Hurray for her and knitters everywhere! I may have to rethink about where I chose to knit, it may explain all my WIP’s!

  • I knit at Texas Rangers baseball games. In the past, the Rangers have had special Stitch ‘n Pitch events for knitters with a knitting section and Rangers goody bags.
    I also knit at my grandkids’ baseball and soccer games, in the car (when someone else is driving), and anywhere I have to wait. I try to have a small project – usually socks – with me at all times.

  • Any team would be happy to have someone like her as a fan! She’s an ambassador for knitting and for the Penguins. Crankypants tweeters don’t know what they’re missing.

    • “Crankypants tweeters!” LOVE it!

  • I knit in movie theatres during the ads and previews; I knit in pubs and while playing Scrabble; on planes, trains and automobiles.

  • My 30 year old daughter was elected to the Stockton, CA school board some years ago. She knit during the rather long meetings. She became a local egend because of the knitting, her quick grasp of the issues, and her intelligent, witty public speaking. While visiting once I attended a meeting to see her in action. Of course I took my knitting. She introduced me from the dais proudly announcing, ” This is my mother who taught me how to knit!”

    Proud Mother

  • I like to knit at the library. Quiet, comfy chairs, and reference books available in case of emergency! It sparked a conversation recently with a woman who used to own a yarn shop, and who still has stock at her house.

  • Interesting it’s okay to pull phone out everywhere these days (eyes off the game then), but an oddity to the tweeter that it was knitting. He did however recognize it as knitting!I knit everywhere especially sport events…I knit faster when it is exciting. I knit at the movies in the round baby hats are great for that.

  • I knit every year at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indianapolis 500. It’s part of the tradition and I can’t imagine not knitting. Sporting events are prime knitting time. Go Pens!

  • hmm.. now I’m going to find that article.

    I’ve knit as Asimov Debates at Natural History; at a lecture by M Theory at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Science on Saturdays (Eldest is a Nerd) and for Youngest, at countless swim meets. Also at my own costume conferences … where I am decidedly not the only one knitting. Once, at a symposium in the City, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said my “sewing” was disturbing him, it was “his line of sight”. He was in the row behind me, and at least 3 seats to my right, the seats were raked. I incredulously said it was knitting; but I put it away, as it was a museum I do work for and I had my work ID on but I was pretty pissed … I mean, what the H was he doing looking over at the small toddler sweater in my lap?

    I always carry my knitting – though I read on the subway and train. Sorry.

    • You should check out audiobooks- then you could do both on the train and subway. My favorite thing on a summer afternoon is to sit in my garden knitting with an audiobook playing. So deliciously relaxing.

  • Love seeing this!

  • Everywhere. Between acts at the opera. In a long line at Costco. Can’t wait for self-driving cars.

  • I knit everywhere! I always have a sock project in my purse, and I don’t care what people think. Well, I wouldn’t knit at a funeral, unless it was a knitter’s funeral, but beyond that…I get fidgety if I don’t have something to do with my hands, and it helps me focus.

    I was recently being given a ride by someone who took a wrong turn and was very upset with herself for delaying us, so to convince her that I was really not bothered, I offered to take out my knitting. She knows my knitting ways, and laughed when I did.

    “I guess people can get offended by anything.” SO TRUE

  • I rarely walk out the door without grabbing a project bag. Like many other people have commented, knitting makes me patient. Also, I’ve met many interesting people who talk to be because I am knitting.

  • i too knit where i want and when i want – i have reached a point in my life where i really don’t care what people think.

  • From the title I thought this was going to be about someone not being able to bring knitting needles into a location and knitting with pens instead. This story is better 🙂

    • Although that story would also be excellent!

  • “I may be entering an age zone where a gal doesn’t give as much of a damn about what other people think of her harmless breaches of unreasonable social expectations.”

    Yeah. I think I was about 12 when that happened to me. And now that I have officially entered ornery-old-lady-hood, I take full advantage of it.

    There are few things in life quite so satisfying as encountering some twit showing off nonexistent knowledge and being able to begin your rebuttal with the words “Listen, SONNY…” (Tawanda lives!)

    • Tawanda, yes! I have loved Kathy Bates ever since.

  • I used to regularly knit in church. A couple of older-than-me ladies complained to the pastor and he said he liked it. He could watch my hands rhythmically move and it calmed him.

    I pretty much take my knitting with me everywhere I go. The only times I don’t knit is when I’m with my sister as I need to interpret for her in ASL. Hard to knit and sign at the same time

  • I knit everywhere but during the church service. It calms me & I grasp & retain what’s being said. This is a great story but I’m cheering on Smashville!

  • I knit in all church meetings (how else to bear it?) restaurants before the food comes (keeps me from drinking all the water) while I teach piano lessons (scales suck) and anywhere anyone else is driving. The park, the plane, the bus, waiting to pick up kid from school, doctor’s office, before concerts, all prime opportunities. I knit at a Blazer game last month and the woman three seats down was jealous because she said her husband threw a fit about her knitting at games. Men’s strange sense of dignity of occasion is so often oddly misplaced. Cheap seat basketball is good knitting time. I wouldn’t knit courtside. Safety third!

  • Love the drawing — but where are the knitting needles?

  • Kay,

    Thanks for the lovely write-up. I hope you enjoyed the popcorn!

    I hope I represent knitters well every time I’m taken to task about knitting in public. I try to educate those that complain and leave a good impression upon non-knitters. But sometimes, you just have to shake your head and move on.

    I did not realize what an honor the stipple drawing was. Thank you for bring that to my attention.

    I, too, have reached that age zone – around 10 years ago when I first started knitting at Pens games and was first vilified for it. You can see how much impact that had, as I’m STILL knitting where I want. : – )

    Knitters UNITE!

    Michelle AKA PensKnittngLady

    • Love this story! Thank you Michelle for your inspiring dignity in the face of ridiculous criticism, and thanks for sharing her story so beautifully, dear Kay.

  • I never quite understood the idea of Knitting in Public Day (Is there a Walking in Public Day, Chatting in Public Day?) and am flabbergasted that there are those who object. Who are these Bossy-McBossy-pants? And why do they care? I knit wherever I am, and the only time I have ever felt even slightly self-conscious was when doing a spit join on the A train. Still, I expect my fellow subway passengers have seen worse.

  • I knit while my classes are taking tests, I teach algebra and trigonometry at the University, a couple of students mentioned that when they are stuck, they watch me knit then get back to the test. I think that means that knitting helps them to refresh their brain.

  • Most unusual place I’ve knit (to the people around me): sitting behind my hubby in a casino while he played blackjack.
    Place I wish I had the nerve to knit: in church, during the sermon.

  • Gosh! I didn’t realize Knit in Public Day was June 10: hubby and I will be taking our visiting grandson to see “The Great Comet” that evening. We’ve got stage seats and we’re told to be sure to be there early, so…..I’ll be happy to honor the day by taking out my knitting. Fortunately, my 15 1/2 year old grandson is a confident guy ( and recipient of good hand knits) and won’t be fazed by Nana knitting.

    I knit just about everywhere except at synagogue services. I always have a sock or lace weight project that’s easy to fit in my purse. Okay, I admit, sometimes I have to cast on a new project just to have something small and easy to carry. Every day is and should be Knit in Public Day!

    Loved the piece about the Pens Knitter! Thanks for sharing it.

    • Loved the story! I too knit everywhere – including Cubs games since the 60’s

  • I am signing off the computer (as soon as I finish this comment), and off to join my husband at the local bar for happy hour… where I will pull out my knitting to make it even happier!
    I knit anywhere I have the elbow room, enough light, and don’t need to watch the action every darn second.

  • I hoped you would write about this 🙂
    I knit in lots of public places, and just yesterday was kicking myself when I walked into the mechanic’s waiting room, saw a woman knitting, and realized I had left my WIP at home! (Met a new knitter, though…and her sister spins…and she’s also a woodcarver! DINGDINGDING!)
    Places I don’t knit: in professional situations like meetings or conferences, where there could be a *perception* of inattention or disinterest in the topic at hand. And not in a situation where the sound or motion of the needles is annoying to someone else – I actually “get” the thing someone posted about above, as I find it impossible to ignore something within my field of vision or hearing. When I was studying for Finals, I used to unplug my fridge and put tape over the clock with the blinking “:” because I could not ignore or escape either one.

  • I’m with the PensKnittingLady. I knit where ever I please, and I pretty much please to knit everywhere.

  • I loved that article when I read it in WSJ!

  • Knitting in the pit at a Bruce Springsteen concert got me moved to the front with elbows on the stage.

  • When I was first elected to our county board of supervisors (kinda like being a county commissioner, but with a much bigger board), I would knit during meetings. But then a local reporter wrote a negative article about the board and used the fact that “…a member was KNITTING during a meeting…” to accentuate how inept the board was. I pretty much quit after that.

  • Yes way to go Michelle ! I am a knitting hockey mum who has no more rink time: Boys got girlfriends, jobs, other interests…
    >>I guess people can get offended by anything. oh que oui. I still have a letter to the editor from 2010 (?) following a story in a local paper about the Afghans for Afghans sewing-up. Grumpy people gotta write.

  • I always have knitting because you never know when you have to wait! I have knit at Nascar races, Drag Racing (talk about a LOT of down time), Professional Bull Riding events, baseball games, waiting before concerts start, in the car waiting for LOOOOONNNNGGGG freight trains to go by…I love to knit everywhere!

  • I was knitting at a Cookie Party once when the hostess told me to stop. I was knitting to keep from eating everything in sight. Also, I was working on a scarf for the hostess. It took a lot longer to finish after that. (giggle)

  • More power to Michelle! I knit pretty much any place I want to, including Sunday School. I looked ‘spring chicken’ in the rear view mirror a long time ago, and I have found one of the best things about growing older is that you cease to give a damn about things that were never that big of a deal to begin with. Knit on!

  • everywhere

  • Love to knit when I’m stopped in traffic–turns irritating stop-and-go into pure pleasure, and I get where I’m going faster than I would have preferred (which never happens without knitting or a book to read).

  • When my son was being diagnosed at 8 as not just the class daydreamer and “absent-minded professor,” but a kid with inattentive type ADD, the psychologist who did the testing talked about the genetics of ADD, and it was abundantly clear that I have it. Either I fidget and daydream, or I take notes, or I knit. I spent years fidgeting and daydreaming in church (can’t exactly take notes– I’m Catholic, too much standing and kneeling for that!), so now I knit in church. Something mindless, something I don’t even have to look at, usually a stockinette hat. Hopefully no one will give me grief for it– so far, so good. Obviously this is just regular weekend services, not anything like funerals where heightened emotions make it less appropriate.

  • Since returning to knitting about a decade ago, my knitting has become more present everywhere I go..it definitely helps me listen better in meetings. I brought it to a dance band gig my husband played a week ago..there were very few attendees….his colleague asked “who comes to a dance and knits.”….and my husband said “my wife”…..no response! I do t bring my knitting to the gym…this is when I catch up on blogs and podcasts!

  • One of my favorite quotes is ‘read at every wait -Cicero’. We can change this to ‘knit at every wait’!

  • I knit and crochet in public everyday during my commute. Some people on the bus call me the knitting lady. Both of the stick ‘n bitches I attend are in public as well.

  • Unfortunately, I can only knit quietly at home – i.e., no tv, no radio, no podcasts. I lose track too easily! I’ve always been better at mono-tasking… 🙂

  • I knit with friends at our local winery–Crane Creek Vineyards in Young Harris, GA.

  • Go Michelle and Go Pens! I’ve knit at hockey games but only if I’m right behind the glass or out of the way of a wayward puck. It’s a tad dangerous not to be watching the game. Now I knit everywhere – it is often a conversation starter. Most people are interested in finding out what I’m making, how hard it is to learn to knit and how much I knit.

    • When I’m knitting at the games, I’m definitely paying attention. I don’t want to get beaned by a puck.

      One time, I was knitting at a hockey game, when the puck was deflected over the glass and everyone flinched, including those on the bench. I caught the puck and kept on knitting.

      • AWESOME!

      • You’re my new hero!

        I didn’t participate in KIP day this year only because I didn’t actually go in public on that day, and knitted instead at home. But who needs a special day to knit in public, anyway?

        I started bringing crochet projects to work on while my daughter was in dance rehearsals, and then backstage while I was waiting for my entrance cues during a musical production. I’ve either crocheted or knitted at HS soccer, football, volleyball, basketball, & softball games & track meets, all the way up to Major League Baseball games. Last year, I even finished up a crocheted Christmas gift, largely by feel, in a darkened movie theater while enjoying the new Star Wars movie! I still watch what I came to see, and nobody’s ever complained, but I doubt I’d much care if they did.

  • I just started a new job in downtown Denver. I’m using public transportation so I’m knitting on the bus or train.

  • Love this !
    As far as sports knitting, I am in the very small subset who have knit at Muay Thai practice, wrestling, Mixed Martial Arts and North American Grappling Association. If I wasn’t fitting in, may as well really not fit in.

  • As a longtime hockey mom, I always knit in the rink when my kid was playing. I got more knitting done there than anywhere else! I don’t regularly attend hockey games anymore, but my knitting does go with me to Diamondbacks baseball games. #IKnitWhereIWant too 🙂

  • How cool is this: I knit in church during the sermon, and nobody bats an eyelash. I usually have a pair of socks because they are easy to carry in my purse. I call them my church socks. I just finished a pair for my husband.

  • I knit at Starbucks, Starbucks and…..Panera. Doesn’t everyone? Also in trains, planes and automobiles, long lines, the usual. A yarn store owner once complained to me that she was not allowed to knit at the casino so I was impressed by the lady who was able to knit right next to the blackjack table. Knitting can also be very helpful in a marriage because I never mind when my husband goes off on a tangent with his own interests. Just gives me more time to knit!

  • Just thought of something,,,,that knitting with pens is not that far off from reality. I once knew someone who was precociously obsessed with knitting at the age of six. Her parents were so intolerant that they confiscated her knitting needles so she sharpened pencils and knit at nght in her closet. She is still a fervent knitter and years ago walked me through my first lace pattern – the classic Old Shale.

  • On the train/ferry/bus to work. In meetings, college classes, lectures. Of someone else is driving, watching tv, chatting to friends, standing in a queue. All of the above apply to spinning too. It helps me focus on what is being said as my hands are occupied, they help to give my head free rein to pay attention. No knitting = doodling then my mind wanders off to the realms of weirdness. No-one gets hurt, I achieve something and people learn.

  • My knitting goes everywhere with me, including club meetings, airports, and airplanes. I knit during intermission at plays, and while waiting for doctor appointments. I plan to knit at the next chamber music concert I attend. I see no reason not to keep my hands busy.

  • I’m so glad you found this! I TRIED but she was too busy with all of her sudden fame!

  • Where do I knit in public? Easier to say where not. I don’t knit when I’m driving the car, or …
    Actually, I knit anywhere I don’t have something else in my hands

  • Good for the Pens Knitting Lady. I work the night shift as an admitting clerk in the transfer center of a large regional hospital, where I frequently find myself knitting during work hours. I currently am knitting red baby hats for an American Heart Association project and have banged out 3 in the past couple weeks. I also knit during church, which I find keeps me awake. And in the car, ditto.

  • I attend the local symphony regularly. There used to be a knitter in one of the boxes, and I found it very distracting. She was over the right of the stage where almost everyone would be able to see her.

  • I often knit at large general meetings (not work related; I am retired). A friend and I were knitting in the back of an annual report meeting during our convention weekend for the northern district of a certain social club, and I heard later that one woman was saying it was inappropriate. She was sitting at a half empty table because a number of her friends had skipped the morning meeting to get their hair done for that evening’s gala dinner. I was there, and I was paying attention, so I did not understand her criticism. It was alright for her friends to skip the meeting, but it wasn’t alright for me to be there and knit?

  • I knit everywhere. Except the symphony- I’ve been “asked” not to knit there (albeit rudely) when I first explained that it helps me focus on the music and keeps me relaxed in my chair for long periods I was told that I was disturbing other patrons with the motion during the performance, and offered to move me to the back of the theater! Since we paid dearly to be in the 9th row I put my knitting away – and didn’t apologize when I had the figgits- it was a 3 hour event. The second time I went I took cheaper seats and was asked again to stop- it was dark in the auditorium- but apparently this gentleman was upset that his wife was trying to watch me rather than the performer- when I politely declined and he complained to the usher who at the break requested for me to stop to keep the peace. Unfortunately both incidents left a bad taste in my mouth about the patrons and I have not returned for another live performance instead I listen on the radio and spend the money I would have spent on tickets on yarn. Silver lining…..

  • I LOVE Pens Knitting Lady! It helps that we root for the same team. 🙂 LOL