Knitting for the Soul
Knitting – an activity that up until now many have made fun of, thought of only ‘for grandmas’, and perhaps left to a few childhood experiences for many, is, in fact, a meditative process which can lead to intuitive insights and balance of the energy of body, mind, and soul
Perhaps reframe that knitting grandma…maybe we’ll see knitting grandpas in the future too. That knitting grandma is awake, aware, mindful – and possibly even as sharp as a tack.
Knitting for our minds and bodies
Knitting can give our mind space to solve problems. After some brief internet research, I found people who knit for weight control, to combat depression, and to keep their minds sharp.
In fact the Mayo clinic ran a study in 2011 which established that crafts including knitting, decrease the odds of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
This may be because knitting encourages and activates complex eye movements, as well as being a crossover activity (a needle in each hand requiring complex activities crossing the midline of the body).
Knitting for fun and soul connection
Lastly, in lives which have become more influenced by technology – both overstimulating us in some ways and isolating us in others, knitting can become a social activity with others. Even if you are knitting quietly in a corner for a while, you may end up with a scarf!
How to begin?
I began because of a spiritual prompt – my mother ‘popped in’ with a twinkle and reminded me that I had her knitting needles. She passed in 2010 and, while over in the UK clearing out her flat for the last time, I found her old knitting needle set. Being my mum, it was kept in a lovely flowered purple cloth case tied up with ribbon.
My mother used to knit beautiful pieces for me when I was a teen. We didn’t have a lot of money, but what we didn’t have in cash she did her best to make up for in many caring ways.
My two favorites were a rust-colored sleeveless top with a turtleneck, and a purple sparkly vest-type top I could wear over t-shirts. It was the 80s, after all!
I got the sense that I should knit a rainbow scarf. Being a nerd I headed to Amazon and chose the Lion Brand Yarn 600-561 Luna Vesta Super Scarf Knit Kit.
There are certainly less expensive ways to do this, later on, I discovered the sale bins at Michaels, Hobby Lobby and the like, but initially, I fell in love with the rainbow variations of Lion Brand wool in this knit, plus the simple pattern, so got started using my mum’s needles.
The finished project is the main photo you see at the top of this post. It’s a beautiful scarf and was fun and relaxing to knit.
As one knitting magazine says, knitting is one of the easiest (and maybe the nerdiest) crafts to create. After all, we are creating something out of two sticks and a piece of string, how weird is that?
You can start with a simple pattern, there are plenty of free ones to find online, plus Youtube videos to help you save your bacon should you drop a stitch or make a mistake.
By the way, learn to think about messing up as part of the fun. One of the things I’ve learned to do is ‘tink’ – that is – ‘knit’ backward, e.g. ‘unknitting’. Sometimes it’s easy to miss a row on a pattern or do some stitches in the wrong order.
Consider the patience and focus developed during these activities as part of the journey towards mastery of your knitting projects!
I started with my mother’s metal knitting needles, but also bought this kit from Amazon Knitter’s Choice Bamboo 14-Inch Knitting Needles Set with Case Organizer, inexpensive and a complete set of bamboo needles.
A lot of people like wooden needles because they can often hold the yarn better and prevent dropped stitches, plus they also feel warm and smooth to the touch.
I like the case, too, which curls up and has a magnetic clasp. (Nerd, told you!).
Knitting and the creative and meditative processes
Once I started to knit regularly, the process began to get really interesting.
First of all, I often got frustrated and sweaty. I reminded myself that all I was doing was playing with two sticks and a ball of yarn! It was definitely an exercise in mindfulness to get past those thoughts.
Second of all, something all knitters need to learn is ‘gauge’. This is how tightly or loosely you knit the wool or yarn during the project. My first attempt at the scarf shown up top was so tight by a few rows into the project I literally couldn’t knit it anymore!
So using a tape measure helps and the process of learning your gauge is a very literal exercise in relaxation. Most patterns will give you some kind of guide as to the gauge or size your project should ideally be.
While knitting, I started to think about next projects, listened to some favorite spiritual podcasts and TED talks, and wondered what yarn I would buy next.
I then ‘saw’ some indigo blue sparkly yarn in my mind’s eye, and knew where I would buy it also. The next day, I headed to the store I had thought of, and the last three balls of sparkly blue yarn were laying in the bin waiting for me. That was a lot of fun.
Yarn – to buy or not to buy?
If you are a knitting enthusiast or regular and you chuckle at this question, you know why. Once we are on the yarn hunt, our creative side is often thinking and wondering about the next project.
Once you have a few different stitches and patterns under your knitting belt, it will happen to you, too. You will start thinking about all the combinations of yarns and patterns…and what you may end up creating.
It’s like learning an instrument, slow and steady initially, and perhaps annoying at times, but with practice and persistence you gain confidence and begin to riff with your work. As my energy work teacher always says ‘Practice is Mastery’.
I bought this yarn basket since several balls of yarn were piling up on a chair in my kitchen for future projects. This basket is a great organizer for me. It has dividers inside so you can keep yarn and projects separately.
More knitting and next projects
I have just bought some circular needles, and am working on knitting a scarf from top to bottom, rather than from left to right. I’ll post pictures of that one when it’s done!
Circular needles are small needles joined by a cord, so that bigger projects with more stitches can be easily worked.
They are also great for projects such as cowls and hats, hoping to graduate to those kinds of knitting projects next.
These types of kits, plus the beautiful variegated yarns now available really can open the knitter up to new and creative ideas, as well as the health benefits of the activity of knitting itself.
Yes, there is Mandala Yarn. I do like Lion Brand Yarn, since that was my first choice, and I also found Caron Cakes in my local Michaels ($7-10 for a huge ball of variegated color yarn).
I’ve just found these lovely Mandala Yarns on Amazon, so as I work on other projects I’m thinking and dreaming up uses for these.
I’d love to hear about your knitting projects, any knitting groups you hang out with, and how you started knitting.
After all, we are holding up a long tradition here, the purl stitch first appeared in Europe in the mid-16th century and fashion knitting and designs continue to change with the ages. Enjoy your knitting!