Because I am lucky enough to be one of the lower middle class in what is probably the richest country in the world, I don't knit because I have to. I'm never going to have to depend on stockinette stitch for my living. I'll always be able to buy a gray, cabled sweater for 20$ or so instead of digging out my own cable needle (which I might have left in Beijing anyway). Knitting will probably never save my life, although I do still think a long pair of 5's would come in handy if I was ever about to be molested. Regardless, I don't have to knit, I just really like to knit.
Which is why I tend to be a little stubborn about learning new things, even under duress.
The funniest example of this happened on my China trip. Leaving Washington Dulles on our way to Beijing, Economy was filled with approximately four Americans, and many more Chinese. I was seated next to a little grandmotherly lady who looked to be about sixty. Once all the little seatbelt lights had gone off and we'd been politely informed that the plane had reached altitude, I reached for my carry-on and got out my knitting.
That lady very sweetly watched me for about fifteen seconds before she hijacked my needles. Jabbering away in Chinese, which I didn't know a word of just yet, she fluidly demonstrated a beautifully fast style of picking that was slightly reminiscent of a typewriter. She wouldn't let me keep knitting until I had successfully demonstrated my ability to knit the same way she had. Half an hour--and about fifty signed explanations--later, I was able to show her that I had finally grasped the technique.
Immediately afterwards, I put my knitting back in my bag. It stayed there for the rest of the thirteen hour flight, safe from prying grandmothers.
Picking may be faster. Picking may be easier, once you get the hang of it. But I have always been a thrower, dammit, and I like it. So why switch? Personally, my knitting philosophy is that it should be fun, relaxing, and engaging. If I bite off more than I can chew, or attempt something that messes up my knitty rhythm, it's no longer as relaxing, so why bother?
I love knitting. I love challenges. I love challenging knitting.
But don't try to make me knit outside my comfort zone.
Speaking of which, has anyone found a good pattern for socks that are knit toe-up--rather than cuff-down--recently?