On Muggles

In the Harry Potter universe, muggles are the non-wizarding humans, the majority of humanity. To knitters and crafters, they are the non-crafting humans, also a majority who have little understanding of a crafting brain. For instance, non-crafters may think that because a person is knitting, they can’t pay attention to anything else. In some instances (complex lace, counting stitches, or a daring repair in progress) they’re right, but the rest of the time? We’re just keeping our hands and a low-level chunk of brain subroutine devoted to the craft, leaving the higher brain functions available to chat or listen or watch or otherwise pay attention.

When you drive from place A to place B like you do every day, you are probably not consciously aware of what you’re doing the whole time. The brain creates subroutines to handle the trivial case of driving with no immediate threats. If there’s bad weather, you pay more attention and use the active focussing part of the brain, but on good days, you may not even remember chunks of the trip because they were boring and handled by the automatic functions. If we were 100% aware of precisely what was happening each second of the journey (hurtling along at speeds unreachable without mechanical assitance, depending on group adherance to a small and sometimes vague set of driving rules), we’d be terrified and never drive anywhere.

How do you express to a muggle, even one who may be married to a knitter, that it’s OK to knit during a meeting, especially when you have nothing official to contribute to that meeting?


  1. I understand exactly what you mean. I absorb more if my hands are busy, but it’s hard to explain that to people. Doodlers can at least mask their activity and look like they’re taking notes, where knitting looks like we’re not paying attention at all.
    I actually am better off knitting than taking notes. While I’m writing, I’m trying to think of the most succinct way of phrasing things, which engages the higher language-processing chunks of my brain. You know, the chunks I need to actually follow the meeting…

  2. You would probably laugh if you came to one of our church services because there are about five of us who regularly knit the morning away. I fidget if I don’t knit…and that’s never a good thing as it tends to lend to a general distracted attitude.

  3. I had this problem with a class I took. When I didn’t need to take notes, I knitted. It pissed the prof off to no end. She said and I quote, “while you may not need to pay attention, it is distracting to others.”

    I couldn’t fight her on the distracting to others because my classmates would regularly want to see my knitting before and after class, but I sat in the back row, just so I wouldn’t be distracting. I think the real issue was it distracted her and that might be why your muggle wants you to not knit during meetings. It distracts them and they aren’t able to focus on the meeting.

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