On one hand…or make that on one needle…I certainly understand Councilmember Tiffany Renee’s compulsion to knit while listening to the public comments in the February 8 city council meeting.

Those of us who knit are always looking for opportunities to whip out our knitting needles and add a couple more rows to a project that we’re working on. If you can’t do anything else but sit and listen, it’s a way to make your time more productive.

Perhaps Councilmember Renee thinks back on that particular meeting as the one in which the council approved the East Washington Place shopping center…and the meeting that she finished knitting a really cute baby hat.

But therein lies the problem. From the perspective of someone watching her, it looks like she is giving as much attention to deciding whether to knit or purl the next stitch as to whether or not the city council approves a shopping center that as she said, will change “the entire fabric and character of the community.”

I believe Ms. Renee when she says that she’s an “attentive listener” while she knits.  If she is making something very simple that doesn’t require referring to the pattern directions – and not a cabled sweater with 267 stitches on the needles – she could indeed knit and listen. In that case, knitting doesn’t really require much more brain power than doodling does.

But regardless of whether she is knitting something simple or complicated, the perception of the people watching her is that her attention is not entirely focused on the issue before the council. Even if the non-knitting council members are daydreaming, doodling, or thinking about what they’re going to have to eat when they get home that night, at least they give the appearance that they are listening.

In her desire to multi-task, Ms. Renee is only hurting herself. She probably doesn’t want to be remembered for being the council member who knits during meetings. I’m guessing she would rather be recognized for her efforts to serve the voters of Petaluma.