Knitting as Meditation

I first learned to knit back in 2007. I was working my first job after graduation, and I was looking to make friends. There was a group of women in the department who’d started a knitting club. They were really cool–and I really wanted to hang with them–so I decided to join.

The first time I went, one of the women, Ange, spent the whole time teaching me the basics. She was a fantastic teacher–and amazingly patient. After just one lesson, I already knew how to cast on, knit, and (sort of) purl. With her support, I’d knit my first scarf in no time. It was uneven and oddly shaped, but I barely cared. I found the fact that I’d taken yarn and made something from it fascinating.

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First ever knitting project

Beyond just being a way to make friends, the process of knitting was meditative in a way that I really needed. Although I loved my job, I was constantly anxious, worrying that I wasn’t good enough to fit in on a team with such smart, talented writers. Knitting was like mostly-free (still had to get the yarn and the needles) therapy for me. If I made a mistake, I had three choices: give up, rip the whole thing out, or figure out how to fix it (often with Ange’s help). My instinct with most things in life is to give up and start over if I make a mistake. It was a good to be reminded that very often, we can fix that dropped stitch.

Later that year, I started on my first blanket, which I later gave to a friend as a wedding gift. The cable-work it required made it the most challenging piece I’d worked on at that point. To this day, it’s still the piece I’m proudest of. I’ve knit two more blankets since, both of which were also wedding gifts.

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My First Blanket

When I moved to Toronto and was looking to make friends, I quickly signed up for a knitting meetup group. That group wasn’t a fit, but I met a new friend there who lived in my neighbourhood. I drove her home that night, and the two of us made plans to start our own group, closer to home.

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Happily knitting back in 2012

A few years later, knitting helped ease my anxieties during one of the hardest points in my life. I was staying with my parents after having visited the CAMH emergency room. Receiving treatment for PTSD is just as much fun as you’d think, and I desperately needed something else to focus on.

I’d sort of abandoned my knitting hobby (and, if I’m honest, my knitting group) after the incident. Daily life (getting up, going to work, eating meals, etc.) was already a struggle, and I didn’t feel like I could possibly keep up with anything else. It’s funny because seeing people and doing something probably would have helped, but I simply didn’t have it in me.

On a whim one day, I found a pattern online and had my mom take me to pick up some yarn and needles. Casting on felt weird at first, but after a couple rows (that I ended up ripping out to start again), muscle memory kicked in. I can’t say that it was a magic cure-all, but it did help ease my anxious mind considerably. I knit like crazy (no pun intended) those next few weeks and continued even after I’d come back to the city.

When I was finished, I had a beautiful scarf, the warmest, softest scarf I’ve ever had. The first time I wore it, I felt a surge of pride when a stranger asked where I got it and I was able to say, “I made it.”

(In hindsight, maybe there’s a bit of double meaning going on there.)

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My therapy scarf

I’ve slowly been working on a blanket for myself, picking up the needles when the urge strikes, but not rushing or forcing myself.

Lately I’ve been feeling the pull to get back into it again. As with the other points in my life when I’ve taken it up, I’ve been feeling a bit lost lately. There are some things in my life that aren’t going how I want them to, and I’m honestly not sure how to fix them. I’m hoping that the meditative knit-purl, knit-purl will calm my mind enough to give some insight as to which metaphorical dropped stitches can be fixed.

…And, if nothing else, I’ll have a really cute gift to give to a friend.

 

  1. I can totally see knitting as therapeutic (when you aren’t frustratingly trying to learn how to do it). I unfortunately dropped off the crochet train myself, and recurring boughs of tendentious has kept me at bay in the past. But maybe I’ll take your post as inspiration to try again! Especially seeing as how I’ll have some extra time on my hands…

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