I am a multi tasker. I sometimes have trouble doing just one thing. My father could not understand how my sister and I could get any studying done with all that loud music. When our school had us take a test to determine our dominant learning style, my sister and I both tested haptic or kinesthetic. One of the suggestions for haptic learners was listening to music while studying. My father was so annoyed by this (clearly not a kinesthetic learner himself) he called to school to see what they were trying to do. This is not to suggest my father did not want us to learn, it was that it was so foreign to his way of studying, that he could not wrap his head around it. He may have been a little sick of the music too.
At knit night last night, there was talk that a politician's spouse had whipped out knitting during her spouse's speechmaking and that people were annoyed. (Non-knitters one imagines, although if the ravelry knitting in church thread is any indication, perhaps not.) Now - first - she may listen better if her hand are occupied. I do. I am much better on conference calls if I can knit. Second - one has to imagine she has heard the speech before. Third - if she had whipped out a blackberry, one has to imagine that folks would not have minded so much - and yet - she could be playing solitaire on that blackberry for all we know.
I wonder if, because in this day and age knitting is no longer a necessity and so is considered frivolous, people resent the spouse doing something fun while they are trying to listen. I will give these folks the benefit of the doubt and assume that they, like my father, are differently-abled listeners, and so, are currently unable to understand that some of us listen better while knitting, rather than tuning everything out while knitting.