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– Zen and the art of knitting

April 12, 2012

I think there are many people who would agree that knitting is a wonderfully creative craft.  It seems to combine an engrossing process leading to a unique product, although, despite it having so much to recommend it, I still feel a bit embarrassed when I admit to being a knitter.  Perhaps because I came to it a long time ago and don’t quite feel that the modern image of stylish coolster knitting in fashionably urban venues like art galleries or funky cafes applies to me.  I’m from the ‘in the closet’ school of knitters, people who knitted through the unfashionable era and never dreamed of admitting their habit to friends or colleagues for fear of quizzical looks or even derision.  But even though it’s now very much OK to be a knitter, I still feel a slight unease when I think about the amount of time I spend doing it.

Maybe I think I should be spending my time doing something a bit more worthy, less enjoyable, perhaps something more stressful and less agreeable.  I have to admit though that I really enjoy knitting the toys, Monkey and Sofia, and all the others I have invented, but I have noticed a creeping guilt about the possible waste of time involved.  I also worry about enjoying it as much as I do, especially making the same things again and again.  Surely my capacity for repetitive activity hints at a certain dullness, and who wants to be considered dull?  However, in trying to justify my enthusiasm for knitting I have given it quite a lot of thought and now wonder if I haven’t stumbled into a particular form of meditation.  It seems that knitting toys has a special contemplative value, to me anyway, and I rather like the idea of this because it lends those little creatures a higher status than just being what they are and this makes me feel better about the whole thing.  Therapeutic knitting, happy knitting?  Certainly it makes me happy, which is definitely a good thing, and while I’m making a list of the positive aspects of my knitting I could also add that in terms of simple living knitting has much to recommend it.  No need for expensive technology or even electricity because I have found that it’s possible to knit by candlelight so it is perfect in that regard.  Plus there is the possible recycling aspect, the reusing of old yarn, swapping with other knitters, while of course wool is natural so that too gives it a certain wholesome quality.  Surely such worthiness couldn’t be linked to time wasting or even indulgence could it?  Now we are getting to my hidden concern.  Am I wasting my life?  I have to say that having given this little worry a good chewing over my answer is, of course not.  However much I like to dress up my enthusiasm for knitting in all sorts of fancy and intellectual clothes I am knitting because I like to, and what makes that such a bad thing?  Perhaps living out on a bit of hillside has helped me put all these crazy considerations into perspective.  The longer we’re here, and we haven’t been here that long yet, we are starting to realise that nature has its own logic and connection to time.  It’s very difficult enough for us to understand its patterns when they manifest into weather or the seasons let alone any greater powers.  It’s as if we are perched on the surface of something much bigger than us, and as we struggle to become a part of it we try to place our life and what we do each day in the context of something wider.  Maybe I have managed to connect with a deep personal rhythm when I knit the same thing over and over, and that’s why it feels right.  Who knows?  But I don’t think I’ll spend any more time worrying over it, I’ll just enjoy my knitting.

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