The issue of disrespect for knitting has been discussed many times amongst my knitting friends. Most often we simply accept that the non-knitting world just doesn't "get" us and move on. I think that the strength of the knitting community may be partially related to this lack of respect, as we search out others that share our values and validate our goals.
Sally Melville wrote about it here http://www.sallymelvilleknits.com/blog.html in her Sept 1, 2009 posting. She questioned "Why are we relegated to a stereotype: the non-active, elderly, usually female, person-without-anything-better-to-do."
I've always labeled it as a slightly more politically correct form of sexism. I work in a very sexist industry and my knitting is viewed in a derisive manner by most of my colleagues. If I responded in a similar way about their interests I would expect to be considered very rude. I'm generally seen as "artistic" due to my interests in ballet, theatre and art but those interests don't seem to invite the mockery that my knitting does.
On the Yarn Harlots blog, August 13 2009 http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2009_08.html.
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says that during Sock Summit " We learned that sexism is (in case you were wondering) alive and well in the world. We'd wondered throughout the entire process if it was our imagination that we weren't being taken very seriously, but thought that it was the topic that was throwing people off. (Fair enough. Knitting is often not taken very seriously as a business and we did complicate it by narrowing it down to socks) We were wrong. Sure, the topic didn't help, but one fine day as we were working on the summit, a service provider trying to give us advice (we won't tell you who, because the gentleman in question did better from then on, and learning should be rewarded) prefaced his information to us with the incredible statement "Ladies, young ladies. Listen to daddy..." We didn't wonder anymore if we were imagining that the fact that we had breasts was working against us. "
I have been thinking about the question of what should we learn from all of this? Do we promote ourselves and our craft (Art?) more and educate others or do we learn to relax and take our selves a little less seriously because after all what does it matter what others think? I'm going to knit anyway in spite of them.
When I see others behaving badly, I often look to my own behaviour as well to see if I'm guilty of anything similar. I am aware of how Crocheters feel the same way towards knitters that non-knitters think of us. If you are on Ravelry check this out http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/search?sort=&q=crochet+disrespect&w=all
Generally it appears that they feel disrespected by Knitters so I guess this means that we all have to learn to be less judgmental about how others spend their time.