Q for You: What else do you do while you knit?

Q for You: What else do you do while you knit?

I’m always hearing about people reading while they knit — or even surfing the web — and I’m utterly in awe of that. I love knitting, among other reasons, for the fact that it doesn’t take me out of my life. I can carry on conversations, look at the scenery out a car window, watch a movie with my husband, whatever the case may be. It doesn’t require my undivided attention, in other words, but it does require my hands. I can’t figure out how anyone reads (as in, holds a book open and turns pages) while knitting, unless they mean audio books, which I’m totally on board with. But I do watch movies and television while I knit — preferably a really good TV series I’ve never seen that offers hours upon hours of good company.

So that’s my latest Q for You: What else do you do while you knit? If you read, how do you do that, logistically speaking. And if you have recommendations for a good, long TV series or audio book — the more hours the better — let’s hear ’em! (Especially audio books since I also need them for my upcoming trip.)


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76 thoughts on “Q for You: What else do you do while you knit?

  1. I listen to audio books. I really liked “The Woman in White”. It reminded me a lot of Downton Abby. Since Downton takes so long in between seasons it was a nice filler.

  2. I listen to audio books while knitting and running. Right now I am listening to The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. I love to listen to anything written by Kate Morton, the reader has a lovely accent, the story lines always hold my attention and they are LONG!

  3. I must look at my hands too much because I can’t imagine what my knitting would look like if I was reading a book. My reading activity has slowed down since I acquired my knitting obsession. I do watch (listen) to TV or listen to knitting podcasts while knitting.

        • Yes to free! I do LOVE audiobooks. Mostly I listen to them on my commute – and I listen to them while doing laundry (Undercupboard CD player – awesome gift!). I could definitely ALSO listen to them while knitting. Funny thing – different libraries around me have vastly different audiobook selections: one has a lot of light, romantic stuff (few mysteries, very little “literary” fiction), one is like a book club reading list (VERY literary!) and one has all sorts of old classics (Sherlock Holmes, Oliver Twist). So – depending on my mood, I have to choose my library carefully.

          • Pikes Peak Library District (Colorado) has multiple libraries and a “floating” collection. That means you can check out a book from any of the libraries and return it to that one or any of the others. Plus, patrons can reserve holds online — and if your teenager works at the library, he will bring your books home to you!

  4. I read, surf the net, and watch movies and tv. It comes with practice. I also knit relatively simple things as I prefer the looks of them – lots of new knitters will knit something so complicated they wouldn’t buy it in a store.

  5. If I’m alone, I mostly listen to music or audiobooks. I also keep my husband company while he’s watching TV – looking up at the screen every few minutes to make it seem like I’m paying attention. ;-) Either way, it can’t be anything too involved, or I’ll end up with some mistakes in my work.

  6. I have several different book-holder-openers. My favorite is the BookGenie, but I’ve been known to resort to a fold of afghan or even a clothespin to keep those pages where I can see them. My kindle is wonderful because I can just touch the screen to turn the page.
    I’ve knitted while on long trips, short trips, in the stands at track meets, in the waiting room at the dentist’s, at school board meetings, in short, pretty much everywhere. Sometimes people say that they wish they could knit, but don’t think they’d have the patience. It’s because I don’t have the patience that I do knit. Well, that, and it keeps me sane. Take away my knitting and you’d better be able to run pretty fast.

  7. I usually tv/movie and knit while at home, and audio book and knit in the car for long trips. We found Tom Holt (specifically Barking) to be hilarious in that dry, British, fantasy sort of way, and it was a long one as well.

  8. I always read, listen to an audiobook or watch PBS on TV while I knit. Sometimes I knit, read, AND watch TV at the same time. I like to read on my Noon while knitting, because I can make the typeface “extra large.” My favorite books are Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series — long, long and entrancing. If you start now, you just about have enough time to get caught up on the series before her new book, “Written in my Own Heart’s Blood” comes on June 10!

  9. I tried reading while knitting, propping the book awkwardly on my knees and battling to avoid dropping everything as I turned a page – the end result was both slower knitting AND reading, going back several times on some sentences and generally not making much progress in my garment! I figured I was too much of a beginner still but will attempt it again later on for I can see the appeal! For now, I mainly listen to TV series or anime if I’m alone or simply enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, in front of a window.

  10. If it’s just straight stockinette, I can read and knit. But I love to listen to podcasts or BBC Radio online. BBC Radio has great shows.

  11. I just listened to The Handmaid’s Tale narrated by Claire Danes, and I highly recommend it. She was the perfect narrator, I might even listen to it again!

  12. If it is a simple project (ex. no lace or cables) I read on my kindle! I just prop it up on something and poke the page turner button as needed, sometimes I even poke it with my knitting needle. If the project is a bit complicated I usually turn on a show I’ve seen before so I can focus mostly on the pattern and keep track of the show at the same time.

  13. I watch television, but I have a DVD player, so I’ll borrow shows from my library. I also listen to audio books or watch TV shows through my Amazon account. Lately, I’ve been listening to a couple of Malcolm Gladwell’s audiobooks, Blink and Outliers (both really good). I like getting into a new show, but I often rewatch shows I’ve seen before, especially if I need to focus on a design. I love Poirot, Inspector Lewis, Columbo, The Rockford Files, Numb3rs, Sherlock, and X-Files.

  14. I knit while my husband drives…..I appreciate his willingness! I watch a movie at home with him while knitting. I start my morning listening to a sermon and knitting. I just looked into audio books….something about the free library of Phila; as a resident of PA I can access their database. I must keep looking at my knitting and following the pattern, so I like to listen to something to feel like I’m multitasking! I take my knitting to one of my daughter’s ballet lessons too.

  15. I cannot read and knit, how do people do that? I watch tv series on Netflix usually – although Saturday night is the night when I am not allowed to knit when watching TV with my husband. He has got used to the click clicks but not on Saturday nights!

  16. Listen to knitting podcasts:
    Dark Matter Knits
    Carolina Fiber Girls
    In a sKnit
    The Yarniacs
    Just One More Row
    Curious Handmade
    Knitting Pipeline
    Stash and Burn
    TwinSet Designs

    • THANK YOU! I have searched for knitting podcasts before but it’s so hit-or-miss. So far I have only listened to the Knit Picks podcast but it can be a bit dry.

    • Two of my favorites to add to your list are The Knitmore Girls and The Fat Squirrel Speaks.

  17. I do not really do reading while knitting.
    I have to look at my knitting once in a while and it would be too much of a distraction from the reading, so I prefer to separate the knitting and the reading. But listening is very good. I can easily listen to an audio book or an interesting radio programme. But most often, I like to watch a film, TV-series or a European football (soccer) match while knitting. Recommendable TV-series: Downton Abbey, Homeland, Coupling, Girls and so many more …

  18. For me is also audiobooks and TV series. I knit mostly on trains ( I spend like 2 hours on trains everyday) so audiobooks are a must!, when I knit home then I go for the TV series.

    Lately I enjoyed a book of terry pratchett called Guards! Guards!, and in some parts I laughed so much that I almost missed my decreases in the sweater I´m making. I think I will continue with that series of books for now. Before that I listened to a criminal novel, very interesting, I think it made me knit a bit more tight and faster.

    Once, when I was a beginner (like last year) I enjoyed knitting podcast while knitting, but not so much anymore, I feel that, for now, I have enough information to knit the sweaters I want.

  19. Knit and read? Impressive! During cold weather it’s easy to sit in front of the television while my husband controls the remote. (Makes us both happy).
    Spring/summer knitting has been difficult to embrace so I do it in the yard. *Knit 30 min, chores 15 min* repeat

  20. Oh man. I do EVERYTHING while knitting: read (on screens and paper), watch TV, ride the subway, chat, eat. When I’m at home, I use a book stand, but if I’m out at a cafe or on the train, I’ll use my phone as a sort of paperweight. (This obviously works better for some books than others, and it’s a little annoying because you have to keep moving the phone around so you can see. Also, I only ever do this when I’m on a pretty empty train, because I don’t want to annoy anyone who’s sitting beside me with my elbows.)

    I even knit while working. I’m a news editor, so unless I’m rewriting a graf or sending an email, I don’t need my hands all that much. Generally the flow is: read for a minute while knitting, set the knitting down to look something up, scroll the mouse, or make an edit, pick the knitting back up and read some more. Yes, it’s a lot of picking the knitting up and putting it back down, but I’ve been doing it since last summer, and it’s second nature to me by now. Honestly, it helps me concentrate. I am a VERY fidgety person, and if I weren’t knitting, I’d be twirling my hair, picking at my fingernails, moving around constantly in my seat, and surfing the web for distractions. The knitting kind of takes up that energy so I can focus.

    And of course I don’t knit on anything complicated enough that I have to look at it while working — no cables, lace, stranded colorwork, intarsia or short-row shaping. Textured stitch patterns are generally fine, as long as they’re repetitive enough to memorize.

    The one thing I’d like to get better at doing is knitting while walking, old-timey shepherd style. I tried it during the winter, but it was too cold, and my gauge ended up pretty wonky because my hands were numb.

    To wrap this up, though, I’m weird in that I’ve always liked doing something else while reading. Before I picked up knitting, I always paced while reading at home, and when I lived in a smaller town, I used to read while walking around from place to place. When I was growing up, I was really into throwing a ball up and down while I paced and read.

    Anyway, apologies for the extremely long comment!

  21. I’m a huge fan of audiobooks while knitting. I mostly enjoy listening to lengthy classics (a little Jane Austen, anyone?) or memoirs, particularly about cooking. A not too complex read allows me to get immersed in the knitting. “My Life in France” by Julia Child and “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year in Food Life” by Barbara Kingsolver have been recent favorites.

  22. I cannot imagine how people knit and read or surf! Holy moly! I knit while I commute by train or travel for work (flights) normally with music or a podcast on my ipod. I’ve even managed to do cables on the NYC subway. I also knit in front of the tv.

  23. I’ve started watching back to back episodes of a The Good Wife on Netflix, I think there is about 90 episodes! I also love finding podcasts that have a big back catalogue. My current favourite is The Must Stash.

  24. I, too, wish I could read while I knit, but I can’t seem to manage it. I most often watch t.v. while I knit. The ladies at my old yarn shop used to be in awe of the fact I could nurse my baby while I knit. Well, I could do that with my baby Solveig, but Ingrid would never allow that. She demanded my full attention. We homeschool, and I do a lot of knitting while I’m teaching a kid to read or do a math problem. Have you ever taught a kid to knit? It may sound all starlight and daisies, but really it is quite mind numbing. I’m privileged to do it, but I can only sound out “can” with a child so many times before I need some sort of mental distraction while they’re soaking it in. So I often knit during our school day. :) I wish I could knit in the car while my husband drives but I get carsick so easily. I have been able to pull it off if it’s plain stockinette stitch in the round, because I can do that without looking. I like listening to the “Never Not Knitting” podcast by Alana Dakanos when I’m knitting too. I would love to listen to more knitting podcasts but I just haven’t found the time to search any out lately. There’s so good suggestions in these comments!

  25. I meant to say “taught a kid to read?” not knit. Although I’m finding that teaching kids to knit is tricky too. Still working on that!

  26. I read some of my text books (for school) while I knit, because the pages are big, which = less turning! Unless my knitting involves a lot of counting or chart-reading, I like to have NPR, comedy podcasts or movies on while I knit (not saying I pay close attention, but they are on!). I try to watch documentaries, but always miss some important information that’s on the screen and then drive my husband crazy with questions!

  27. I can more easily tell you what I DON’T do while knitting: laundry, dishes, sweeping, tidying. I loved the glory days of knitting with a sleeping newborn on my chest and watching back-to-back Netflix shows–with no expectation I should be doing anything else. Now with two little active people the knitting happens during evening tv watching, long car trips, stolen moments, or trips to the dog park.

  28. Mostly I watch TV and movies, especially on my iPad (propped up on the counter in front of my favorite stool). I can read slowly (again, on my iPad, with the Kindle app) and if the book and the knitting are both engaging it works best… but I make faster progress on both when I do them separately. I will listen to books or podcasts if the knitting requires a lot of attention…otherwise I like to have my eyes and my ears busy on the “other thing”. Ditto all the podcast recommendations, and for a long book, I loved Wolf Hall (and have The Goldfinch up next – 42 hours!!)

  29. Netflix of course but also podcasts, TED talks, and videos from the NY Times website! In terms of podcasts, This American Life is da best because its long, but I also listen to Stuff You Missed in History Class and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. The NY Times has some great 20-minute documentaries and a good feature I like called the Retro Report. Oh and if you have Amazon Prime don’t forget that you can watch lots of shows and movies on there too.

  30. I sometimes have the TV on but mostly it’s audio books. I just LOVE Terry Pratchett who writes a very British fantasy series. I’d recommend checking out a reading guide if you do try him as he has various series. I also love Georgette Heyer, the first, best and cleverest Regency romance writer; Lindsay Davies – crime novels set in Ancient Rome; Ngaio Marsh – detective novels set between the wars; Agatha Christie; Dorothy Sayers – more detective novels(!); Jane Austen – if you can find the reading of Pride & Prejudice by Lindsay Duncan I cannot recommend it highly enough. So, that’s me, Terry Pratchett, Georgette Heyer & detective fiction ;)

  31. I knit while riding in the car, hanging out with friends or watching TV. Also, a big one for me is knitting on conference calls. I’m on them a lot, and sometimes don’t have to take notes — knitting helps me stay focused instead of wandering around the Internet while someone talks.

    • I am completely in agreement about knitting in conference calls! I focus so much better. I love to listen to knitting podcasts, kind of makes me feel like a real knitter to be listening to and knitting at the same time.

      Karen, next we need a post about how people learned to knit without looking at it all the time. I am just not there yet and would love to be so I could knit in front of my non knitting friends, actually watch TV and knit, etc.

  32. Gosh, I watch a lot of t.v. And streamed series when knitting. Doctor Who, Elementary, Torchwood. I listen to lots of the same podcasts others have mentioned… I “passenge” in the car, I wait and knit at cello rehearsals, Doctors, dentists, and the like. I knit while drilling math facts with my kids. I do read occasionally, but it may only be the newspaper. I will watch subtitled films and knit, but that requires a certain type of project.

  33. My husband tells me my autobiography should be called ‘Knitting in Bars”– I do end up knitting socially a lot–I keep plainsocks or other easy stockinette in the round projects in my bag for this purpose–but it’s not really uncommon in Maine. I haven’t been able to master knitting and reading at the same time, either but do try, occasionally, to knit and read on a Kindle or a book on a stand.

    When I worked a corporate job I spent huge amounts of time in conference calls and this was very productive for me knitting-wise.

  34. I will knit and chat when I’m at my knitting group, but otherwise I don’t do anything while knitting. Partly because I have to look at my knitting and partly because it’s my “meditation” time. I just let my mind wander. It’s very relaxing.

  35. I’m a reader and audiobook person right now, though I’ve done my fair share of binge-watching British TV! Most of the time if I’m reading I’m on my Kindle, but if it’s a simple knitting project, I’m comfortable sitting cross-legged and using my toes and a knee to keep a traditional paperback open. I obviously don’t try that one with complicated stitch patterns!

  36. For me, it depends on the project. For a complicated lace project, I don’t do a whole lot else besides knitting. Sometimes, I can watch a TV show, if it’s not something that requires too much attention to follow the action. With less complicated knits, I watch TV or movies, chat with people, and read. I usually read on my kindle or ipad, so I just have to occasionally tap it to turn the page. I either hold it in my lap, under my knitting, or stand it up with its case on the table in front of me. I also sometimes read regular books, if they have floppy enough spines that they don’t need to be held open. Those I just hold on my lap.

  37. I mostly watch TV/movies/sports while knitting at home, but I do occassionally read as well – the Kindle was a game changer for this! You can change the view to landscape and set it up like a little easel, then just tap the page to progress – it’s pretty great. (Other things I do while knitting: ride in the car/BART/buses, chat with friends, try to stay focused on conference calls, eat lunch, wait in lines, or pretty much anything else that doesn’t need my hands.)

  38. I love to watch all the Meryl Streep movies over and over again while knitting (especially ‘Out of Africa’ / ‘Falling in Love’ / ‘Julie & Julia’ and ‘The Devil wears Prada’ plus ‘It’s Complicated’ for its beautiful garden) and would also recommend Downton Abbey for series.

  39. If it’s plain stockinette, or a simple knit-purl pattern, I LOVE reading while I knit! I wish I’d tried it out when I was still in school! For paper books, a book weight is totally the way to go (I find that even books that stay open when you’re in the middle don’t do so well if you’re at the beginning or the end). Plenty of people make their own book weights, but they can also be purchased: https://www.google.com/search?q=book+weights&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS432US432&oq=book+weights&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.2288j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8

    I also have a Kindle, and that’s definitely the easiest way to knit & read, since there’s nothing to hold open and “turning the page” amounts to touching the screen. Sometimes I’ll knit while scrolling through my blog feed, too, but it only works well if there are lots of text-heavy photo-weak posts happening.

  40. I admire people who can read while knitting, this is one of my goals. Most of the time I watch old movies or old series. I am currently going through another repeat of Charlie’s Angels: yes I have the whole 5 seasons series, and they’re pretty cheesy, but I love them. And there is not so much happening that I can’t check my knitting every now and then.
    I also knit my way through Hercule Poirot series and Downtown Abbey (I still have the season 4 to buy and watch).
    When it’s a pattern that requires my undivided attention, I turn on the radio. There are some cool programs on Espace Musique (French Canadian) or CBC Radio 2 (English Canadian).

  41. I watch silly sappy romantic movies and drink tea with my mom or daughters while I knit, but someday I want to figure out how to use the treadmill or stationary bike while I knit because it seems a little dangerous but really productive!

  42. Lately, I’ve been all about audiobooks while knitting or sewing. I can concentrate on the visual and the audio pretty much exclusive of one another (as opposed to TV that sometimes distracts me from noticing mistakes right away). I homeschool my two daughters and watch a little guy as well, so…while he naps, I listen to my older daughter’s books and craft. So my book choices are sort of predetermined, but I really enjoyed Grapes of Wrath, Their Eyes were Watching God and Mere Christianity. I feel like I really accomplish something!

  43. I love to read and I absolutely love to knit. But not at the same time…and audio books are not my thing. I like a book or my IPad in my hands. But I do like to watch movies and Tv series. I watch favorites when I must concentrate (like with my current Acer), but new series or such when I’m doing the more mindless kind of,knitting. I’ve discovered the original BBC House of Cards on Netflix..and mystery series are always good for a project. Sometimes just the quiet in my knitting room is good too.

  44. I can read on the iPad and change pages with my pinkie, but holding a book is beyond me. I watch a lot of TV, but I can’t watch anything with subtitles because inevitably I either miss something on the film or mess up my knitting. I drive a lot for work and it is my secret dream to get someone to drive me around so I could knit. (My husband would tell you that dream is not so secret)

  45. movies and tv for me too! I would love to move more towards audiobooks and podcasts.

  46. Yes, I read sometimes while I’m knitting but just if I’m doing something, let’s say, minimalist:)) I can’t read while crocheting… So usaully I watch movies when I’ve got some yarn on my hands:)

  47. Audiobooks have been a staple in my life since before knitting (great for all those hours, yes, hours weekly in the car doing school carpool). I now knit to books. Best books lately: The Art Forger, The Goldfinch, A Tale for the Time Being. Favorites from years past: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Cutting for Stone. I too vote for a post on how to knit without looking. I can’t really watch TV or movies that I haven’t seen before because I can’t look up very often.

  48. I always watch crime shows whenever I’m knitting, so now whenever I’m doing one without the other I feel kind of weird :)

  49. I like to watch TV or read on my kindle or read blogs on my iPad. I don’t like audiobooks or podcasts; I think because I can’t control the speed. (For some reason it doesn’t bother me with TV, maybe because my eyes are engaged?)

  50. We don’t have Neflix here :( I find favourite shows or classic movies on Youtube and that helps me keep my knitting rhythm. I like listening to episodes of One Foot In the Grave, even interviews with Celebs are nice to listen to because I find that I don’t have to concentrate visually so much I can listen and concentrate mostly on knitting. Great post topic. http://craftyprojectsilike.wordpress.com/

  51. Pretty much the same.. I watch tv or a movie, or sometimes, video podcasts. If I try to actually /read/ while knitting I got hopelessly lost between trying to flip pages and remember where I was up to in the knitting. Audiobooks are ok, but only if I’m travelling in the car and someone else is driving.

  52. When I knit I read, usualy by proping a book open with something heavy (though it is a bit annoying when you have to turn the page.. .), though I also occasionally use my ereader. I watch movies and TV as well. I sometimes even knit while working (when I’m doing a computer-y task that takes time loading)

  53. I have found that the trick is to use hard cover books and a plastic page holder. When you have to turn pages I usually wait for a change in the pattern or the new row. I also pick a project that isn’t going to be too complex such as color work or a texture pattern I am not familiar with.

  54. As long as the knitting is simple or repetitive, I can read a physical book while knitting. I prop the book open in front of me. Sometimes I’ll read a book online or use a Kindle or something to read, too.

  55. I read sometimes when I’m knitting. I used to a lot when I was working on my degree but now only when I absolutely can’t put the book down. I also like to knit while I walk- I especially socks on DPNs- they’re small enough and simple enough that knitting doesn’t slow me down. i thought about trying other kids of workouts- like at the gym- but sweaty hands won’t work while knitting so I only do it while I’m walking.
    If I’m reading, I just let go of my needle for a second to turn the page. No biggie, once you get used to it. It’s definitely preferable to giving one or the other up!

  56. I have a train commute, plus a subway ride to my job. When I first started I read books, but missed my knitting. Then I switched to knitting, but missed reading. Audiobooks have been wonderful! I stick mostly to classics and current literary fiction, with a few nonfiction books: Middlemarch and Jane Austen novels (all narrated by Juliet Stevenson), The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Legacy of Ashes (history of the CIA), and my comfort listens, the Harry Potter books and anything by P.G. Wodehouse. When I first started listening to audiobooks my criteria was the longer the better, but I recently loved listening to The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder, read by Sam Waterston, and Neil Gaiman’s most recent novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, read by Gaiman, both of which were quite short. I’m finishing up Twain’s Huckleberry Finn right now, and I think the next book will be something longer, maybe Dickens. Listening to audiobooks is especially great when you’re doing great big sections of stockinette, but I switch to classical music or jazz when I’m seaming or picking up stitches, which need more attention.

    I also knit in the car when my husband drives, even on short trips to the grocery store, when I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, and some evenings. And I listen to my audiobooks when I’m doing chores like washing dishes. When I’m done with chores, the reward is to keep listening and pick up my knitting!

  57. I only watch TV while knitting. Netflix is a beautiful thing! A TV series I recommend is Call the Midwife. I, like you, cannot imagine reading and knitting. I can only knit on a train; I cannot knit as a passenger in a car ( and obviously the driver) nor can I knit on a bus as I get nauseated.

  58. I love this conversation! For some reason, I can’t do audiobooks…when I read, I like to read some paragraphs slowly, some more quickly…I have to be in control (weirdo). But I LOVE listening to podcasts while knitting, especially The Splendid Table. And, my favorite thing to do is knit with a friend, sip wine, and talk about just everything :)

  59. Mostly I listen to talk radio while I knit or spin or weave, specifically CBC radio 1. That`s the Canadian public broadcaster. I also knit through movies, and my daughter`s dance competitions which require me to be there an hour before they perform and at least another half hour after. I could not sit through that much dance without a project.

  60. I grade sometimes. I knit as I read the essay or whatever and then read it again because I don’t want to stop knitting, and then I have to put the knitting aside so I can add points and make comments. I typically just watch tv or movies while I knit, though. I also do that while I grade, so it all works out about the same. :)

  61. I usually watch tv while I knit. Sometimes I will read but only if the knitting and the reading are both easy to do. And the book must lie flat.

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