There’s a discussion group at Ravelry for “Mindful Knitters” and the folks there have shared many different ways that they see knitting contributing to their spiritual practice. Sometimes I wonder about that. Does knitting bring something to a person’s practice, or does a person’s practice transform knitting into a spiritual act?
There are so many positive feelings that can come from knitting. Obviously, there’s the aesthetic pleasure that comes from working with colors and creating something beautiful. If the project is to be given away, there’s warmth in thinking of the intended recipient. It’s fun to dream up ideas for future projects and to work through design questions (though I don’t have advanced experience with this yet!). I enjoy handling the yarn and working the needles and I take pleasure in a sense of connection with knitters of different cultures and eras. I like the feeling of accomplishment, both from admiring a piece of fabric that I’ve created and from successful experiments with new stitch patterns or techniques. I don’t even mind discovering a major error and deciding to rip out and recover … well, I don’t mind too much! There’s a feeling of confidence that comes from what Elizabeth Zimmerman calls “being the boss of your knitting”.
But there can be negative feelings too! All I have to do is put a deadline on a project and the whole thing can turn into drudgery. I spend time calculating and recalculating “percent completed” and then estimating how far ahead of or (more likely) behind schedule I am. Mistakes may be met with anger, because correcting them cuts into the schedule. There can be panic if it looks as if the yarn quantity is off (“Will I be able to get more yarn in this color lot??”) and restlessness because I’d like to work on something else for a while.
For the last few months, I’ve been working on Christmas knitting. Yes, Christmas has come and gone! For the most part, I’ve let go of the deadline. If I had given each person a certificate good for “one scarf, knitted in the coming year”, then I would be waaay ahead of schedule! (There are two scarves left out of six and each is more than halfway finished.) But those negative feelings can still creep in. Right now, it’s mostly restlessness. I have several unfinished project that I’d like to get back to and so much lovely yarn I’d like to work with! Here, for example, is some fuzzy goodness I received as a prize (see earlier blogs) that I would love to get my needles into:
This is Artyarns Silk Mohair in colorway “pale pink 408”.
It’s tempting to accomodate that feeling, and I often do, but I can also use those moments to get to know “restlessness”. What kinds of thoughts come with it? What are the physical sensations? Can I sense what I’m pushing away, and why? Once I was pushing away boredom and as soon as I started examining my experience, life became interesting and the boredom evaporated!
When I think of spirituality and knitting, my first thoughts are about all of the opportunities to celebrate positive feelings … joy, creativity, the pleasures of seeing and touching, connection and love. But I’m wondering if the negative feelings don’t offer just as much? Hah, I’m not saying I take advantage of this myself most of the time! But sometimes … when I’m mindful … it happens.