BBC News

Councillor's colour-coded knitting shows 'men talk too much'

By Sherie Ryder
BBC News

image copyrightSue Montgomery
image captionSue Montgomery colour-coded her knitting for men (red) and women (green) speaking

What do you do to stay focused? Some people like a strong coffee, others prefer some fresh air, but how about knitting?

Sue Montgomery, a city councillor and borough mayor in Montreal, learned to knit while studying in Germany, then took it up again once she was elected in 2017.

Sharing her latest creation - a colour-coded would-be "shawl" - has got people discussing online about how men and women talk and listen.

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During monthly executive committee meetings, Ms Montgomery sits at the back with other non-executives mainly to listen and vote.

"The council is all in French, which is not my mother tongue, so I need an extra level of concentration," she told BBC News. "Knitting helps me focus."

Inspired by a story she had heard about a woman knitting every time her train was delayed, Ms Montgomery decided to knit "every time a man talks, as some of the older men tend to go on and on".

As a former journalist, Ms Montgomery appreciates the need to be concise. "Some of them can't be bothered to gather and organise their thoughts before speaking," she said.

"Women do speak, they're just more efficient - they use up their allotted time to make a point."

Choosing the wool colours, Ms Montgomery thought blue and pink would be too "cheesy", so red for "stop" and green for "go" seemed apt.

When she revealed her finished product from the first day of the knit on Twitter, it was "liked" more than 20,000 times, garnering more than 350 comments.

The Reverend Heather McCance, wanted to know the percentage of men and women on the council. Ms Montgomery quickly informed her there were 31 women and 34 men.

One user called the work "rage crafting" and another wondered how such a pattern would turn out in the UK House of Commons.

Fellow knitters have praised Ms Montgomery, with one agreeing knitting helps her pay attention, in church.

"It's the only way I can pay attention. No-one seems to mind," she tweeted.

A lot of men have also been supporting Ms Montgomery's awareness campaign. She calls those who have not "dinosaurs who say I'm not doing my job".

"I've also been accused of reverse sexism and trivialising city council. I'm just making a point," she said.

On a practical note, one person suggested using something other than green to represent when women are speaking, so colour-blind people can see both colours.

Not everyone is impressed with Ms Montgomery's tweet. One user thought she was "obsessed with the messenger and not the message".

And Cristian says she'd be thrown out "faster than you can say 'knit'" if she did it in a private meeting.

However, Ms Montgomery intends to keep on with her knitting at the monthly meetings and posting updates until Christmas, when she hopes to auction off the result and give the money to a woman's charity.

Alternatively, as some have requested, it might end up being exhibited in commemoration of the 1989 Montreal massacre, in which 14 women were shot dead by a man who hated feminists.

Until then, Ms Montgomery will continue to knit "everywhere".

"At work, on public transport, at home. It's like meditation."

Related Topics

  • Montreal
  • Knitting
  • Canada

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