Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why Do You?

Last week I was at knitting group and was having a simple chat with a friend about knitting. I would say that I am the most yarn obsessed person in my group, and this friend would be the least. She knits rectangles in various sizes, garter stitch only. I taught her to knit several years ago and she will not venture past this skill level, even though she is truly capable. That is just fine as knitting is whatever you want it to be. While chatting I said, "I think knitting changes peoples lives." She almost choked on her coffee and proceeded to laugh hysterically at me.

I stand by my statement. But the statement is true for crochet, weaving, beading, scrap booking, needlework, sewing, painting or whatever type art/craft form you choose. I happen to choose several of these.

I was taught to knit by several women I worked with in my first job out of college. I had moved to Lynchburg, Va with a friend to work in state institution for the physically challenged. Yes, they still had institutions in Virginia, and I believe they still do. It was interesting work and I really liked it. But I was away from home and needed something new. I watched these lovely women knit everyday at lunch so I asked them to teach me. They were ruthless, ripping out every mistake and making me knit it perfectly. I think they took great delight in my awkwardness. I so fell in love with yarn and the knitted stitch and before you know it I was making scarves, blankets and a couple of summer sweaters.

I don't think I really ever stopped knitting after that. I have taken a few months off here and there but it has always been a part of my life. It is a part of who I am and what makes me, me. I have knit to keep myself sane, calm, awake and busy. I have taken refuge in a yarn store to simply be with beautiful yarn. I have taught many, many people to knit . They have in turn told me it helped them get through their divorce, health issues, parenting problems, or work issues. I have been blessed to share this craft with young children and friends, including my Mother-in law. I actually am teaching my Sister-in-law how to crochet.

The only true hiatus I took from knitting was when I was undergoing cancer treatments 10 years ago. I would look at the red sweater in my knitting basket and I just couldn't knit. Every time I looked at that sweater I felt like throwing up, well actually I felt like that a lot anyway. My sister kept asking me to knit, she knew I was in big trouble if I wasn't knitting. I just didn't have the energy. Finally Claudia, my wonderful sister took me on a field trip to the yarn store, to pick out a new project for me to plan. I think when she saw me planning to knit for the future she knew I was on my road to recovery. I have taught several friends to knit after they have been diagnosed with cancer and they said it helped them through the process, something new to focus on when everything else is out of your control.

I think in this day and age of computers, iphones, smart phones, ipads, text messages, emails and big screen TV's there is a place for the simple act of creating.Believe me I love technology and all it has to offer. But at the end of a busy day, when I finally sit down I want to pick up my yarn and needles and settle in to the repetition that calms me. I want to search out projects that challenge me, and some that just let me not think at all, but let my fingers do the thinking. I love to give a gift of my time and my creativity to someone I care about, even if they don't understand all the love and planning that went into it.

Why do you create? Do you stand by my statement, too? Those lovely women in Virginia will never know how the simple act of teaching me how to knit, years ago, has had such an impact on my life. How about you?


Toni said...

Oh I completely agree. I learned to knit so young that I don't really know exactly how it has changed my life, but it has helped me through frustration, sickness (never anything major, but one sick day can really move my knitting projects forward), breakups--everything. Now that I have the nerve to knit in public, I enjoy standing in lines because someone is going to strike up a conversation, and I get to meet someone new over knitting. When I ended a 5-year relationship, I took up sewing to get over it and it made the transition much easier. It gives me a chance to do something really special for those closest to me, and I now have THE coolest internet knitting friends.

That's a pretty impressive list for sticks & string. :)

by Teresa said...

I learned to knit from my mother-in-law, crochet too, and that is the one biggest connection we had as she wasn't real affectionate to me.

My granddaughters other grandma buys them huge boxes of clothes and sends them to them, but she doesn't crochet or knit, so I take great pleasure in making things for them that no one else can.

When they move to Ohio, I will make things to send to them to keep my connection to them.

Hugs, Teresa

mynestofyarnandbuttons said...

Oh I so agree with you!!!! I love knitting, I love to look at it, i like the whole idea of something handmade and I think it is what will get me through old age and a reason to live so I can creat for my family and others!! Three cheers for you ❤ Robin xo

Claudia said...

Of course you should stand by that statement. It's so true. That person in your knitting group has obviously not found a craft that she feels passionately about.

This post was so well written, Meredith. I have to confess it brought tears to my eyes, remembering that time when you were so ill.

I feel that way about several things. Currently, it's crochet and my dollhouse. In the past, it's been quilting and knitting. Sometimes it's embroidery. All of them are life-savers.

Love you.


Beth said...

I completely stand by your statement and understand all that you expressed. Knitting is my favorite creative outlet. It's creativity and more. It is rhythm and zen and meditative. It is love in every stitch. It is challenging, it is mindless. I could talk about it ad nauseam when around other fiber folk. I would be lost without it. Some people get it and some don't. That's ok. There's room for all of us.

Karen said...

Hi Meredith, I found your blog through Claudia's. I couldn't agree with you more. For me, creating something is like meditation. My outlets these days are writing, scrapbooking and cooking. It used to be sewing. My whole attitude about life changes for the better when I have a work in progress.

Louise said...

I totally agree with you!!! I learned from a lady will I was at a coop placement in college. Now I have taught hundreds of people to knit. Knitting has totally gotten me through many of lives ups and downs. Through knitting I have met so many wonderful knitters who are now my friends.