Riding in Cars with Knitting

I was a little slow getting out of bed this morning. While the freshly arrived arctic blast of air did not help spur me along, I had another roadblock.

20140123-073614.jpgIt came in the form of a 90-lb soft & snugly roadblock. As soon as I started moving to get up he promptly got up & laid down directly on my lap (the blue stars & moon fabric is my pajama leg). While he’s normally a snugly guy, this was taking it to a new level. I must admit I let him stay there for a while. After all, when it is -5F outside that kind of warm is hard to turn away. Plus…

20140123-073605.jpgLook at that face! How do you disturb that sweet, sleepy face?

Anyways, I eventually booted him off and got moving. There are kids to get to school and laundry to fold and all the other glamorous tasks of the day. First, however, a little post for you based on another picture altogether. Earlier this week I posted a photo here on the blog that sparked some conversation.

20140121-183558.jpgA little fuzzy, this was taken while I was knitting in the car. The point came up in the comments of the post that there is a bit of difference of opinion in one reader’s car regarding whether or not one should be knitting while riding in the car. To be absolutely clear, we are talking riding in the car as a passenger, not driving the car. While it’s true that with my new Signature Needle Arts dpns which are very, very sharp, I am mildly concerned about the results of being impaled by one should we find ourselves in an accident, but this was not the point in question. The argument is that knitting in the car conflicts with living in the moment — in seeing and observing the world as it goes by and engaging with those you are with. I decided to write about this because we’ve had the same… er… ‘discussion’… in my car.

I used to knit pretty religiously in the car. Part of it was, as a teacher, I was almost always on a deadline, but I also just really enjoyed it. In fact, I will squeeze knitting into almost any time I am sitting still. While extremely supportive of my knitting & writing, there have been times when my husband has chastised me for my knitting and most of those times have been while in the car. This will probably set some of your teeth on edge just because it might at first glance set him in a bad light. Let me say this though: one of the things I value most about my darling husband is that he is an honest sounding board. He goes to great lengths to ensure that my life is full of joy and all the things I love (including far, far, far too much yarn & fiber), but he is also there to point out if I could be making a better choice. I can be a bit stubborn (um, that’s the understatement of the century) and I haven’t met many people who will push back when I need it the way he will. I need & appreciate that. That being said, of course, initially his words set my teeth on edge, too. Annoyed, I would hrrumphhh my knitting back in the bag and look out the windows somewhat sullenly.

Then this thing happened… I realized he was kind of right. It pains me to admit, but even with projects for which I don’t really look at my hands or a pattern I still found that if I was knitting I was a bit less engaged. I would miss things we’d pass & I would be more likely to lose my train of thought in conversation. While I wasn’t about to stop knitting in the car altogether, I started to recognize that I did need to find balance.

And so I have. I pack knitting along about 95% of the time I am out and about. When driving mostly urban highways or if I find myself waiting — while we get gas or a quick stop at the store — I will usually break out my knitting and click away. If we are on a nature drive, or through more picturesque countryside I’m likely to leave the knitting in the bag these days. It’s not that I don’t love it, it’s not that I wouldn’t love to be knitting. It’s that I know myself well enough — and kudos to my husband for noticing and then facing the wrath of my displeasure in pointing it out — to know that I will miss things if I bring out my needles. Maybe it’s a snowy owl on the hill that’s well camouflaged or the chance to engage with my kids or husband. I know it is not the same for everyone and we all prioritize and live our lives in profoundly unique ways, but for me, in these types of scenarios the knitting just spreads me a little too thin. It detracts from my experience instead of enriching and that is just not what I want my craft to be.

The last year for me has been really focused on regaining a balance in life and this was one little aspect of that. Every moment with my family is precious to me and while I can still have my ‘me things ‘ and incorporate them into my family life, there are also times when I’ve learned to leave my knitting tucked away. Where it used to be reluctantly for my husband, now it’s 100% for me. In doing so, I’ve found inspiration in the world around me that I might have otherwise missed. I carry that into my craft. I share those precious moments with my kids & husband with my full attention. And I carry that into my craft. And just in general in setting it down sometimes, I find that when I bring it out it is even more special for me. My knitting is no longer the thing I have to do all the time almost like an addiction, it’s the thing I get to do a lot of the time.

Like I said, it’s not the same for everyone and I’m sure many of you are more capable of multitasking your knitting with riding in the car than I. As I say over & over though, the role of the craft in each of our lives is as unique as we are. For me, a little discretion regarding when I pull my knitting out and when it stays tucked away has gone a long way to enriching both my knitting & my life as a whole. The progress is a little slower, there aren’t quite as many FOs, and sometimes it feels a little frustrating, but at the end of the day when I honestly look at my life I am happier for it. And really, the botom line for me is that I want to love what I do & enjoy each stitch within this full, beautiful life that I get to lead. Life is always about trade-offs and for me, setting the knitting down in the car sometimes — not always, but sometimes — is a worthwhile one.

20 responses to “Riding in Cars with Knitting

  1. Moose is just so gorgeous. I wouldn’t have been able to push such a gorgeous lapdog off either! Those by the time I’m getting up Mollie has normally migrated from my bedroom to her own very comfy bed downstairs by the radiator!

  2. I always knit in the car. I try to take simple knits…..things I don’t have to pay attention to so I can look out the window. If I don’t knit on a long trip then I am usually asleep.
    The knitting also distracts me from the traffic. I am not a good passenger if I am not knitting I worry about other cars and the rain or snow blurring the windshield. If I am knitting I can remain calm.

  3. Aww, my 13 pound cat occasionally hold me hostage in much the same way. Oddly the dog doesn’t bother. We live in an area with lots of traffic pretty near 24/7, and if I didn’t knit while riding in it I would probably stab the driver. That would be sad for everyone involved, so I knit.

  4. NOT KNIT IN THE CAR????? What a mad idea. 🙂 I have to confess it has been a topic in our car as well – most recently when I did NOT knit as we traveled following one of our ice storms. I was just looking out at the changed world, and apparently it was unusual enought to raise comment. 🙂 I will try not to let it happen again soon. Lol. I DO try to do hats, etc which require relatively little attention.

    • LOL! I knew I’d be in the minority here — I can’t explain it, but I think knitting is kind of meditative for me for my mind often drifts and makes it difficult for me to stay focused on other things.

      To be sure, don’t raise alarm bells by breaking with your norm! We don’t want anyone worrying about you!

      • You don’t have to explain it – but it is an interesting thing to think about. Do I miss things? Probably things outside the car, but I don; think I do inside the car. I’ll have to ask. 🙂

  5. If we’re on a long journey with lots of Autobahn then I’ll knit something simple. My husband’s German. He drives a German car and he drives it fast. I need the knitting to distract me! I like to look around if we’re somewhere new but the 4 hours to my sister-in-law is not the most exciting road trip. At first hubby wasn’t keen on the knitting, now he asks why I’m not knitting the minute we hit the motorway!

  6. Some words rang true for me here. We have 2 sofas but only one with good light enough to sew and knit. My OH favors the other one. I am mindful to swap my knitting for a cuddle towards the end of the evening or we would never sit together which is sad. It’s all about realising what is important, both for now and how our relationship might suffer with days without cuddles.
    Also, however much I protest that I’m not, I find myself not able to follow the plot of something we’ve waited to see. It drives him mad if I’m asking questions about it while I’m knitting. We are watching a dutch crime drama at the moment. It has subtitles which is a nightmare for knitting!

    • It’s funny you mention this – almost every evening once the kids go to bed I give my DH a foot rub. He spends his days on his feet for literally 10hours, so his feet are always sore. Those 20 or 30 minutes when I set knitting down and make him a priority means a lot to him and it is one of those little puzzle pieces that makes our relationship work as well as it does.

      Like your movie questioning, when I miss things out the car window – like birds or wildlife – it makes him insane. Hence, the setting the knitting down. :). Trade-offs and time investment where it counts – it’s the stuff life is made of.

  7. Excellent post! Hubby and I did a lot of driving yesterday and I was planning to NOT take my knitting along in order to avoid the inevitable knitting-in-the-car squabble (but of course I snuck it in my bag)….I didn’t take it out until he finally commented-“aren’t you going to knit?”….I cheerfully said no, I wanted to help navigate…he said it was fine, “go ahead and knit, I know how much you like to knit in the car & I’ve driven this route countless times”…I think you’re ideas, Sarah, are spot on…it’s always give and take in a relationship and being a knitter doesn’t make that fact any less so…thanks for addressing this topic! Much needed on my end. 🙂

    • I didn’t touch on it in the writing, but I think being a mom influences this, too. Personally, when my kids were younger especially I had so little time to myself that I would just grab any moments I possibly could for myself. As they get older, that gets a little easier, but it certainly plays a role in that balance. Knitting, relationships, mental health — all that good stuff of life. 🙂

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