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Knitting Moments

It all began when we were living in St Paul Minnesota and my oldest daughter was taking a summer art course at the Minneapolis Art Institute across the river and through numerous long red lights and road detours and delays. Knitting Time, I thought. My knitting is always on the floor of the passenger seat, at the ready. I carried the most portable of my stop and go projects … socks on four needles in the car, on my lap. I could knit 8,9,10 stitches and when the light turned green or the road worker waved us on, I dropped the knitting back on my lap, ready for the next knitting moment.

The first question my daughter asked her driver's ed teacher that summer had to do with knitting and driving and red lights. I bet you know the answer to that question. Always eager to set a good example for my children, I gave up knitting while driving.

Knitting at red lights opened my mind up to a world of knitting opportunities, safer ones. I assure you. And I am happy to share them with you, my fellow knitters.

Dressing rooms I have three teenage girls. I am often out shopping with one of them, and when I am, I always ask for the sales person for the "Mom Chair". I place it outside the dressing room, away from traffic and the mirrors. My daughters can come out and model and I can sit and, well, you know, knit. Finish the hat, turn the heel, nod appropriately, and keep my blood pressure down with the new yoga. I like to think that I add a comforting presence to the entire store, setting a calm example to the harried and beleaguered non-knitting shoppers. Often lapsed knitters stop by to chat. I encourage and advise them.

Railroad crossings I moved from the Twin Cities to the quiet university town, Iowa City, Iowa. No long red lights or traffic jams to tempt this knitter. But like many Midwestern towns we do have railroad crossings. Here's the layout: my house and knitting store are on one side of the crossing, and the shopping mall and good coffee on the other. Railroad crossings are great knitting opportunities, just pay attention to the lights and bells and put your knitting away when the train crossing is over. You're not allowed to ask the conductor to wait until you finish your row.

Check out lines During the holiday season I always carry a small project in my not-so- small purse. As I wait in line at the grocery store or Target, I knit away. Although it was hard to give up reading magazines during this wait, if you bring a very easy project like a wash cloth or something, you could knit and read and not miss what Martha or Oprah have to say that month.

Riding in the car as a passenger I know that legend says that the matriarch of American Knitting, Elizabeth Zimmerman, used to knit while riding on the back on her husband's motorcycle. That was probably in the days before helmets and seat belts. But what about knitting as a passenger in the car? What about airbags? To work around the fact that many knitting needles could probably puncture an inflated airbag. I have come  up with a solution: crochet. Or knit with size one or two double pointed wooden needles, I have broken so many of them while knitting that I am sure they would break before they punctured an airbag.

Drive Thru: bank, drug store, fast food The best part of knitting at a drive thru is the expression on the faces of the other drivers when they notice you knitting in your car. Again, like at railroad crossings, when it's time to move on, you must be disciplined enough to put your knitting away.

Sports games and practices, concerts, dentist, doctors appointments, music, dance lessons It's not in your best interest to schedule doctor's, dentist's, or orthodontist's appointments for your children, relatives, or spouses, just so you can knit. However, you can always arrive early to pad your knitting time. I don't recommend staying late. And at music events, wooden or plastic needles can be very quiet. If you are tapping our your own beat and you and others can hear it, save your knitting for later. At sports events, esp. your children's, it's mandatory to look up every now and then. If your child is young and undecided about a sport, let me recommend fencing. It affords lots of down time, is noisy when played (think swords clashing) and bouts are finished quickly. You can look up from your knitting, watch an entire bout, and still keep your stitch count in your head.

Help lines If any of you readers out there work for the help line at Microsoft or Dell, yes, I am the woman who always lets you know how long I have waited by the progress I make on the socks I am knitting. "I turned a heel while I was waiting my turn," I once told a Dell employee living somewhere on the other side of the world. I thought I heard him typing while I said that, maybe searching for the correct answer to my statement. I highly recommend keeping a small project by the phone when you're waiting on line for help.

Now that you know my secrets of finding knitting time, it's your turn to think creatively about those spaces in your day when you are waiting without anything to do. Start carrying your knitting everywhere. You may want to keep several different projects going, small portable projects. I suggest you have at least one community knitting project , preemie hats, mittens for shelters, chemo hats, Warm-Up America squares… so if you do linger a bit too long at the doctors office or check out lane, you can always say, in a saintly voice " I'm so sorry, I just had to finish this preemie hat ."

Knit ON!

Authored by

Michelle Edwards is the author/illustrator of A KNITTER'S HOME COMPANION and many award-winning children's books including CHICKEN MAN and STINKY STERN FOREVER. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about books in schools throughout the US and beyond. Her newest book, Room for the Baby, will be available from Random House in Fall 2012. Visit Michelle Edwards at her website or on Facebook.
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