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Mindful Activity: Knitting

January 19, 2011

People ask me to teach them to knit all the time.  Number of people I’ve actually taught to knit?  Zero.  It’s not that I’m not willing to teach, quite the opposite!  I’d be delighted to have someone to knit with!  What I keep bumping into with my friends and family and their oh-so-good intentions is that they kind of miss the point of knitting, of the process.  What I mean is, I don’t knit a sweater just to have a sweater.  I knit a sweater to knit a sweater.

When I was in art school process vs product was often a topic of conversation.  Is the process or the finished piece more important?  I suppose this answer could be different for everyone, but for me the process is  just as and sometimes more important than the finished piece.  Do I enjoy having a tangible object at the end of the day?  Of course!  But knitting is also about the making of the thing, whatever that thing may be.  It’s about feeling the weight of the needles in my hands, being conscious of the soft wool sliding through my fingers, watching an object grow with intention, stitch by stitch.

When I knit, I am calmed.  I am present.  One stitch at a time.  One moment at a time.

In today’s goal-oriented world, I fear this living and creating with intention is something that is being lost.  What are your thoughts?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2011 1:43 pm

    I have taught three people this month. But, I always wait and see if they are going to get that “process” part. Will they find the pure joy in the knitting? Or will they get impatient to have the product and decide that it isn’t worth it after all? So far, all three are still enjoying the process! I find that very exciting.

    When I started out, it was about product. I wanted wool soakers, but didn’t want to pay $40 for them. So I bought a skien of wool for $4.50 and made my own. I hated knitting. It was slow, difficult, awkward and frustrating. But, I churned out soaker after soaker, doing my motherly duty of providing for my kids. This forced practice resulted in my getting faster, better and more confident. Now, I am totally addicted to, not only knitting, but the next challenge in knitting. What new technique can I perfect next?

    So, I think you need both, at first. A love for the process and an attainable and desirable product at the end. That will create the most ardent knitter in the end.

    Sorry, that was a looooong comment. You brought up knitting…. :)

    • January 19, 2011 3:02 pm

      Three people this month!? What a knitting-guru you are! ;) I actually taught my sister to cast on this morning… and I think we may have a real knitter this time! *crosses fingers*

  2. Katie permalink
    January 19, 2011 3:20 pm

    <3 I couldn't have said it better. I agree, also, with pp :D

  3. Andrea permalink
    January 19, 2011 3:38 pm

    Can you teach me to knit?

    Just kidding. I understand what your are talking about. I find crochet to be therapeutic. Also, I hate for my hands to be idle while I am thinking or my mind to be idle while I’m doing. There is just something so perfect about having something soothing for your hands to do while you converse, hear a recorded book, or listen to the radio.

    I’m not there with knitting yet. When I was 12, I taught myself to cast on and do a basic knitting stitch and made a doll blanket (in two colors). In college, under the guidance of a friend, I was able to knit a fine pair of bulky socks. I decided to try a sweater for my boyfriend with two CABLES. I loved doing it and the little bit of challenge kept me into it. I was under the guidance of a knitting guru who poo-pooed any but the best yarns so I had around a $100 in yarn (probably more–not exactly stress free for a beginner). When I got done with the back panel and discovered that despite checking my guage over and over, I had still knit too tight and had the back of a toddler sweater. I gave up.

    I have been married to that man for 5 years and it is still in a box. I want to get to the knitting zone. I love the look of knit and the clicking needles. I would love to bring my knitting along with me and pull it out in a gathering of ladies and just chill. Like the previous poster, I really want to make soakers instead of relying on PUL diaper covers. But even since I had a baby two years ago, I have a much harder time getting through any project. The little crochet conundrums used to be a thrilling challenge, now they make me groan and put the project back in the bag. I hope I’m not a grandma before I get past this creative hump!

    I enjoyed reading your post!


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