Knitting Lessons: What I’ve Learned This Year December 01, 2016 08:00 1 Comment
(Hand knit Lena Shawl knit using worsted weight Cormo from Piney Mountain Farm)
There are countless lessons to be learned in life, and most of the time they come from unexpected places. September 2nd marked my one year knit-iversary and these are the most meaningful things that knitting, and being a knitter, have taught me.
I love making. There has always been some type of ‘crafty’ hobby on my radar. As a fine arts major in college I took to ceramics. A few years ago I was making beaded jewelry, I crocheted and macramed in my teens and 20’s. With every craft there was a limit. A point where the end result wasn’t enough to keep me making more. I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it. Knitting has changed that and I don’t want to stop. The rush of casting on a new project is almost like a drug. It’s exciting! I can’t wait to see how it all comes together and ultimately wear my art, or deliver a beautiful, useful finished project to someone. The rush is probably why I’m a chronic multi-project knitter. I currently have six projects on their respective needles. Who says I can knit all the things, just not all at once? Oh yes I can, and I do!
I (happily) give a lot of my money to my local yarn store but I get so much more than yarn and notions in return. Weekly craft circle has allowed me to develop new kinships with local crafters, some of whom there is no doubt will be lifelong friends. I have a real sense of community and connection with the women (and men!) there. If I need help they give it wholeheartedly, and now that I am able to help some of the newer knitters I enjoy giving back in the same way. So many local crafters are also raising sheep, milling their fiber, spinning and dying their own yarns. I didn’t have the faintest idea how large this community is and I cherish being a part of it. I’m blessed to have been welcomed into this tribe of local fiber folk.
One evening not too long ago as I was knitting in my comfy chair the power went out. I waited a minute and upon realizing that it wasn’t just a momentary lapse began to panic. How was I going to knit?! I began a path through the house to gather candles for basic sight when I was struck by the recollection that once upon a time there was no electricity and women were still able to knit. While an old fashioned lantern would have provided better light, I strategically placed a few of my jar candles so that my work was illuminated enough to manage. As I worked I felt a deep connection to the past, to roots I don’t think I had even contemplated before that moment. I felt as though my ancestors, the collective women of the past were giving me a transcendent hug. Now, as I knit I continually feel that kinship, and I love it.
The math of purchasing has changed greatly for me. I look at that pair of boots I’ve thought about for years and equate it to yarn. $150 boots = $150 yarn = a new self-made sweater. Everything now is equated to yarn. That book I want? It’s a skein of yarn. That tote that looks so perfect could be four skeins of yarn. Yep. The math of currency has changed. I no longer think in terms of dollars and cents, I think of value in skeins and notions.
My Mom has been fighting and winning her battle with pancreatic cancer for over a year now. I learned to knit just as this journey was beginning in our lives, and I’m so grateful for the timing. Her battle has come with days spent in hospitals getting chemotherapy, or recovering from surgery. Knitting has brought a type of peaceful meditation to these moments for me. While she slept I would knit. It may be the very thing that kept me from falling apart and losing my shit in the midst of all the unknowns. It was and is my sanity. There is something extremely meditative about the repetition of knits and purls weaving themselves into a pattern, watching a strand of yarn be transformed into a tangible, useful object. The simple becomes complex, and is an accurate reflection of life’s challenges. If you unravel all of the difficulties underneath everything is basically simple. This is changing my perspective on life even as a type it.
Like knitting, life is less complicated than we tend to think. It’s all just choices, just knits and purls. Sometimes you purl when you should have knit. And sometimes you have to rip out a few rows and start again, which seems insurmountable. But in the end, you have made something unique, something that nobody else could have made exactly as you did. Even if it is marred with imperfections, this sweater, this life, is exactly what you have knit for yourself. Love it and wear it proudly.
This piece was written by Nikki Creamer a.k.a knitside for Harmony Society