I recently learned how to knit. A colleague and friend taught me. We snuck out during lunch and in an effort to avoid being relegated to the “nice girls” group, found a nook outside where we thought we wouldn’t likely encounter co-workers. So you have an idea of where I think knitting and professionalism fit in during work hours. Let me broaden that statement – hobbies like knitting don’t generally seem to fit within our accepted ideas of professionalism. We’d be surprised to come across Meg Whitman browsing through the neighborhood yarn store discussing her preference for working with merino wool versus alpaca. We don’t imagine power girls knitting. But after going through the process of learning how to knit I can tell you that knitting is not for the fickle who expect others to do their problem solving.
Learning how to knit is like learning how to use scissors. It’s frustrating. It requires concentration. You never know it all. And once you start to think it’s getting easy, once you stop paying attention, you’re likely to make a mistake. Knitting builds character. Take a random sampling of knitters and give them Dr. Seligman’s Grit Survey, which “measures the character strength perseverance,” and I’d be surprised if knitters didn’t test higher than average for resiliency.
Unlike our careers, knitting has a clear start and finish. It leaves us with something finite and tangible. But like our careers, knitting demands that we never get too arrogant and we never stop paying attention. It’s too bad that we still genderize hobbies. Knitting deserves to be proudly added to resumes like participation in team sports – the goal is not to win, but to get through it to the end, reflective of our accomplishments.