I learned to knit when I was a little girl still in elementary school, and I have continued knitting throughout my life. I also learned how to play hopscotch as a little girl, but I didn’t continue playing hopscotch all my life! So what’s so special about knitting that has kept me at it throughout so many seasons of my life?
#1 Knitting involves a plethora of interesting tools and supplies.
Just think, yarns come in an ever-changing variety of fibers, textures, and colors. There are needles of metal, wood, or plastic; needles that are straight, circular or double-pointed; needles in sizes from teensy weensy to big and chunky. And the accessories — be still my heart — snips, markers, gauges, holders, bobbins, and assorted gadgets and gizmos. Altogether, I enjoy the knitting paraphernalia in its own right, even when I am not actually making anything! Of course, it seems impossible to ever part with any of it, so my collection is now quite extensive. I think I still have yarn from every project that I have ever made plus quite a few projects that never got off the drawing board. I really should give up some of my stash before it overflows its storage. (Anyone have experience with a good charity that could use it?)
#2 The creative process of knitting is fun and satisfying.
Learning new techniques always fascinates me. And I love the process of imagining, planning, and creating beautiful objects using all the techniques I have learned. Sometimes the technique comes first – I learn a technique, then dream up a project to use it on. Other times the project comes first – I want to knit a particular thing, and I have to learn a new technique to do it. Knitting is also satisfying because it appeals to all of my senses. There is the visual delight of colors, patterns, and designs; the touch of the yarn – soft, rough, smooth, nubby; the solid feel of the tools in my hands, and the sound of the rhythmic click-click-click of my busy needles. Often I will listen to music while I knit; right now I am on a classical music kick, listening to my Vivaldi channel on Pandora.
#3 Custom-made knitted items have a special appeal.
There is nothing quite like a pair of Maine wool mittens knit in an heirloom two-color pattern and shaped perfectly for the wearer’s hands. Or a soft and cuddly knitted piglet created especially for a cherished child. Or a warm and cheerful afghan to cover the bed of a homesick college student. Or a stylish scarf designed to match a favorite coat. I could go on and on (and I have for years!) A handknit item is more than the sum of its purpose and its construction; it carries with it all the love and care with which it was made.
#4 Knitting is relaxing, centering, and energizing at all once.
For me, knitting is one of my “flow activities”. One stress management expert, Elizabeth Scott, has described “flow” as “a state of absorption in a given activity to the point of being in a near meditative state, [which] can be great for your mental health and wellness.” There has been interesting research on “flow” in the field of positive psychology. Activities that fit the description often have elements of skill, creativity, deep involvement, and more. It turns out that most of my favorite “me-time” activities fit the bill: knitting, sewing, jewelry-making, scrapbooking. Of all the reasons that I knit, I suspect that this is probably the main reason that I have managed to fit knitting into my life for decades now. It’s nice to know that scientists have decided that something I enjoy is actually good for me! Now if they could just find that out about cheesecake…
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