Friday, March 18, 2011

Do You Eavesdrop With Your Hands?

Last year, a friend of mine was mocked, mocked, I say, for knitting during a conference. Another friend, an attorney, learns which judges don't mind if she knits in their courtrooms while waiting for her cases to be called. A friend who manages a group home for recovering alcoholics and addicts does beadwork, and says residents feel more comfortable talking about difficult subjects when her eyes are focused on her own hands instead of their face.

Many people I know listen better with their hands stitching. I might go so far to say they listen better with their hands busy than people who are fiddling with their phones, making mental grocery lists, or otherwise there but not there.

Donna Kallner's Emergency Looping Kit
I've been known to stitch during public comment hearings. You can usually tell how stressful an event was by the tension of my stitches. I've stitched while waiting in the hospital, at canoe landings waiting for a shuttle, at the service garage, and in the jury waiting room (though not during deliberations).

Looping is generally my handwork of choice for keeping my hands busy and thus keeping myself sane. This ancient technique is so intuitive you don't have to follow a pattern, which is ideal for times when you expect interruptions. Because it can't unravel, you can quickly tuck it away with no worries about dropped stitches or losing your place. 

Looping is great camouflage for eavesdropping. Now that more people text, airport eavesdropping isn't as rich as it was a few years ago, and that's OK. I'm not really all that interested in he said/she said, plans to murder teenage children, or the results of strangers' colonoscopies. I'm more inclined to tune into questions kids ask their parents and each other, did-you-notice exchanges, and conversations between erstwhile strangers.

For me, looping is a great reminder to look for the positive ways all things are connected. With so much conflict and uncertainty in the world around, the world within requires some careful curation.

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