The Knitting Life

I bought a 3.5 ounce skein of Merino wool at Woolyn, a little shop around the corner from my son’s Brooklyn apartment. It was pricey but oh, so beautiful, a subtle blend of white, black and grey. I had the perfect hat pattern but I needed to wind the yarn into two separate balls because the pattern calls for knitting with two strands of yarn at once. I estimated wrong and cut it before half the yarn was wound. Then, the last bit got tangled. I had put the big loop of the skein across my lap and on the two arms of my rocker. Watching TV, I must have been distracted. I went to bed. The next day I worked on untangling while on a Zoom call. With still more to do, I saved it for evening TV, because I never just sit and knit. Or sit and untangle, whether it’s a bit of yarn or my thoughts. If I could focus only on my knitting I might make fewer mistakes. And if I could meditate more often, I might untangle those thoughts.

So many mistakes in my knitting life! A pattern I don’t like after all. A dropped stitch I missed during Grey’s Anatomy. Yet I knit and knit. I have knitted for at least 50 years. When I was 25, I knitted a tie for my father in law who, God bless him, wore it to work at the post office. I knitted an intricate bunting with a zipper for my baby, and now I can’t imagine how I did it. Nor do I want to try that again. Yet when I broke my hand a few years ago and couldn’t knit, I felt bereft. I adore the feel of yarn, and the look of it, especially locally spun alpaca. Especially variegated colors. I buy small amounts when I travel without knowing how I am going to use it, to have a stash when I’m ready for a new project. A soothing, relaxing project, with a new ball of yarn from Ireland or New York or North Carolina, a skein, to unwind, unravel, untangle. A long strand of wool to twist and loop, over and over, making a lovely design, bringing comfort to the maker, and comfort for the wearer. Hats, scarves, afghans, socks, I’ve knit them all. Once a psychic told me that I work too hard at getting to the end and miss the process of getting there. Probably because I’m watching TV instead of being present with what’s in my hands and on my needles.

I have a book about mindful knitting called The Knitting Sutra, in which author Susan Gordon Lydon writes about craft as a spiritual practice. God knows I could use more spiritual practice these days. To that end, I’ve sworn off knitting socks and fancy baby buntings and stick to simple but lovely scarves and shawls, hats and blankets… The other day, I picked up my latest project – a soft grey shrug – and sat in my rocker, holding it. Breathing deep, grateful for just that moment.

Do you enjoy a mindful craft that soothes your soul? I’d love to read your comments.

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