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? 😉

22 thoughts on “Yes, Virginia, you can read and knit”

  1. Does the book holder hold open books that won’t lie flat? I read big heavy medical textbooks, magazines, and thick hardbacks while knitting, but my trashy paperbacks won’t hold themselves open.

  2. You are obviously YOUNG, and able to multi-task. Enjoy it while you can! I used to be able to navigate through busy traffic etc while leaving my nose (and mind) buried deep in a book – those days are long gone. I’m lucky if I can navigate through sparse traffic while breathing through my nose, nowadays…

  3. Aw, shucks, mama_tulip and scoutj – you are too kind!

    Theresa – Yes, it handles paperbacks pretty well. It doesn’t do as well with very thick books – Quicksilver by Neil Stephanson (just shy of 1000 pages) was too thick for the ReadUpon.

    Eileen – Not so young – just turned 39… 🙂

  4. You are Wonder Woman. I respect and hate you all at once. 😉 Hehe. I can’t even drink coffee and walk at the same time without disastrous consequences.

  5. I have the same problem with being at the computer – I’ve had to retype many emails and revive many Diablo characters due to one of the cats sitting on the keyboard in the calm assumption that whatever you’re doing couldn’t possibly be more interesting than they are.
    P.S – Did you like Quicksilver? I absolutely loved all three of those books!

  6. Tink – Now, wait, when we start involving coffee, things go to heck in a handbasket. I often can’t sit and drink coffee safely. There’s a reason I wear black shirts all time…

    Kellie – Um, well, since I couldn’t fit Quicksilver into my book holder and knit while I read it, I didn’t read it… I’ve been skulking around the thrift store, looking for a paperback copy of Quicksilver that I can separate into smaller chunks for the bookholder. 🙂

  7. Hey Chris,
    What are the mystery books you were talking about on anothersoldout blog? Couldn’t find an email to write you personally. BTW- I’m in the twin cities too!

  8. Sure, artsymama – the series in question is the Eve Dallas mysteries by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts). The series has totally sucked me in. I think the first book is Naked in Death.

  9. What, you left Chaos at home all by his lonesome. How could you. And to knit! Horrible.

    OK, the read and knit thing. I just don’t know if I could do it. I have to use readers to read, but not to knit. It would seem the glasses would have to be upside down on my head to look up to read. Of course, if the book were across the room I could read it fine, but then how would I turn the page?

  10. So fun to be noted as your inspiration. :->

    My latest accomplishment in the reading while knitting category: icelandic cast-off for a shawl while trying to cram a semesters worth of med-surg notes into my head for a looming final.

    Soon I will be back to the more run of the mill reading and knitting – mysteries and science fiction with a nice, soothing mitten or shawl in my hands.

    I like your book holder and may go looking for something similar to prop up the books and save my neck!

  11. For what it’s worth:

    Kinko’s will un-bind a book for you and put it on a spiral binding with some form of cardboard etc ‘cover’ (you pick it out) for a relatively nominal fee (under $5 for most books). Not something you’d want to do to a Starmore or other book that you know is going to zoom up in price within the year, but handy for certain books that you want to stay open…

  12. Stumbled upon your blog when I was looking to see if the ReadUpon was still available anywhere. Unfortunately I also discovered that the inventor has died:

    Michael Scott Tobin
    born Michael Nisbet

    December 27, 1964 – May 03, 2014

    Michael “Scott” Tobin, a loving husband, father and proud Aggie, 49, of Houston, Texas, passed away unexpectedly on May 3, 2014 while on a business trip in Perth, Australia. Scott was a fourth generation Houstonian, who was preceded in death by his mother, Bonnie Tobin, just 22 months earlier. Scott was born on December 27, 1964 in Houston to Michael and Bonnie Nisbet. At age nine, Scott was adopted by Bonnie’s second husband, Leonard Tobin, who now lives in Rising Star, Texas.

    Scott is survived by his wife, Naomi Tobin; daughters, Catherine Ball and Peri Tobin; step-father, Leonard Tobin; grandmother, Bobbie Nisbet; father, Michael Nisbet; aunt, Carol Roberts; uncle, (Frank) Sands Woodruff; and Scott’s best friend of 40 years, Wesley “Rusty” Starbuck.

    Scott was a dynamic human being who excelled in everything he did. In 1988 he graduated at the top of his class from Texas A&M University – Mays Business School earning a BBA in Management. He was a very proud Fightin’ Texas Aggie who wore his Aggie ring proudly. In 1990, Scott earned his M.B.A. in Technology Management from Baylor University.

    As a business leader, Scott’s current position was Manager of UWT Program Management Office and Lifecycle Management for Chevron Houston (2011 to present). Prior to his position with Chevron, he was the Global Technology Consulting Account Lead (Chevron) for Accenture, and Chief Information Officer for Go Figure, Inc. In 2000, Scott was hired as the Director of Compensation at H.I.S.D. but was quickly recognized by the Superintendent for his strong leadership skills and exceptional technology expertise. He was promoted to Manager of Student Analytics & Online Curriculum Manager where he was credited with developing and deploying the online curriculum management system and student performance analytics management system that were used by over 20,000 administrators and educators as well as 275,000 students. Scott was a major lead on the executive team who met with Michael Dell and Carly Fiorini to obtain laptop computers for students. He was very proud of this accomplishment and the opportunity to meet such influential leaders. Dr. Kaye Stripling, former H.I.S.D. superintendent was so impressed with Scott that she encouraged him to enroll in the Superintendent Resident program, which was a tremendous honor.

    In his early career, Scott worked for EXXON, AIG and St. Luke’s Hospital where at a young age was hired as the Director of Compensation and HRIS. Not long after Scott graduated from Baylor University, he received several job offers from Fortune 100 companies for positions outside of Texas, but decided to stay in Houston. After working at St. Luke’s Hospital for several years, he put his career on hold to care for his dying grandparents. It was an act of gratitude to his grandparents for financing his undergraduate degree.

    A true entrepreneur at heart, Scott was a unique visionary. With one patent under his belt, Scott developed an idea for a book holder while caring for his grandparents who were avid readers. After he completed an extensive market study, he knew there was a need for such a product. Scott developed and patented the ReadUpon. He was responsible for the development, manufacturing and marketing of the product. In 2001 at the National Book Convention in Chicago, the ReadUpon was named the Best New Product in the book accessory category, beating out a major children’s toy manufacturer.

    Scott will not only be missed by his loved ones and friends, but the many individuals he worked with around the globe. In the business world, he was highly regarded as an ennobling leader and mentor, who treated everyone with the utmost respect. As a husband and father, he was a man who adored, loved, cared for and truly cherished his family. Scott had a robust thirst for knowledge and an intellect that could not be replicated. Scott’s undying spirit will live on in those who he touched and his family and friends will forever hold onto those tender memories he left behind.

    Funeral Information

    Scott’s life will be celebrated at a Memorial Mass on Friday, May 16, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 9900 Stella Link, Houston, TX 77074. Friends and colleagues of Scott who would like to say farewell before his cremation, are invited to a visitation on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Miller Funeral Chapel, 7723 Beechnut, Houston, TX. 77074.
    Donations Information

    Contributions should be directed to the “Scott Tobin ’88 Memorial Aggie Ring Scholarship” at The Association of Former Students, 505 George Bush Drive, College Station, TX 77840

    -Obituary from Miller Funeral and Cremation Services

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