Yes, Virginia, you can read and knit

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I can read and knit at the same time. In the comments, Carrie K gave me an idea for a blog entry on how I accomplish this (thanks again, Carrie!).

Knitting while reading is a skill that, like any other, can be developed – if it’s a skill that interests you. It appealed to me because I don’t watch TV and I got kind of behind on my reading when I started to devote a lot of time to knitting.

Five years ago, when I first started knitting, I would only listen to music without words while I knitted. Then I graduated to music with words and eventually to books on tape (unless the project required a lot of focus). But most of the books that I wanted to read weren’t available on tape or cd from the library.

When I complained about this problem to my knitting friend Lisa from Duluth, she asked why I just didn’t read while I knit. Um, whoa – because I never considered such a thing possible? I was awed by her ability and sure that I could never do that.

But just in case, I picked up a ReadUpon book holder. (No link provided to ReadUpon.com, since they appear to no longer exist, alas.)

The ReadUpon seemed like it would pretty well for holding a book in my lap while I knitted in my comfy chair.

So I grabbed some large print books from the library and decided that I should start with a very simple knitting project – the miles of i-cord I needed to make for felted bag handles.

It wasn’t immediate. I started out looking at my knitting more than I was looking at the book, but slowly was able to look at the book more than my knitting. I quickly graduated from large print books. The second it took to lift a hand from my knitting and flip a page became no big deal. Soon I was able to read virtually anything while I knitted. And I became able to count things in my knitting while I was reading (which must be good for my brain!), so that I could knit more complicated projects while reading.

I still can’t read while I cast on or bind off or do cables or complicated stitches like the woven basket stitch. But ribbing, seed stitch, and some simple lace patterns go ok. And I get a lot more reading done now. But there’s still one large problem…

“Why the heck are you reading and knitting when you should be playing with me?!”

Added later: Now, really – this was meant to be a rough how-to. There’s nothing special about me except that I wanted to be able to do this and I practiced, starting slowly and simply, then working up to more complicated. If you like to read and you like to knit – it’s definitely worth a shot. YOU can do it. Yes, YOU. If not you, than who? ;)