I became addicted to knitting and I’m clearly not the only one: I saw people knitting on the subway, in college classes and even, once, in a bar.
I’m not surprised. Knitting is a fantastic way to fight anxiety, keep your mind busy and, by making clothes for you and those you love, fight fast fashion.
Knitting, a hobby many people probably consider old-fashioned, can be young, therapeutic, political, even subversive. It can be anything you want. Some people knit in honor of refugees or Holocaust survivors.
As a writer, I sit for long periods of time doing small, repetitive movements with my fingers. I’m constantly looking for hobbies that will allow me to do just that – that’s how I discovered knitting. Now here’s what I learned:
Knitters’ nightly searches on the Internet become extremely specific. You’ll search for increasingly esoteric videos, unable to sleep until you get what you need, feverishly typing weird phrases like “German Shortcut Ranks, Super Slow, Really Easy” and “Fisherman’s Coast, three ways” or, after a particularly difficult day, “strand fair isle colorworks, long”.
You will have intense conversations about the pros and cons of knitting with metal or bamboo needles. The soft snap of metal is addictive, yes, but the grip of bamboo on mohair is unbeatable. These conversations will happen exclusively in your head for up to 45 minutes on the floor of a Michaels craft store. Children, yours or others’, will scream and circle around you, unheard and unseen, as you invariably decide to buy both.
Many a times you will accidentally order a pattern in Norwegian and send it to a translation service only to find out it is in Danish. Soon you will start typing a number of foreign words because the generator looks so comfortable and you’re sure it’s the perfect one generator. You have to do the generator! Thus, you learn new languages and buy new wole and continue straight strike!
You’d cut out your tongue before asking a fellow knitter how much money and time he spent making his perfectly average raglan sweater.
You repeatedly watch Outlander with the sound muted, going through some scenes even when Jamie isn’t there. See, it’s not the beefy Scottish that keeps you coming back for more, it’s the hand knits. Rental balaclavas and shawls and wrist warmers will leave you speechless except for two words…both hubba.
You want a loved one to get mildly ill – not so badly unconscious, but sick enough to stay in bed. Then you can sit at his bedside and knit quietly. Or sit by her bedside and knit and gently talk to her about knitting. Maybe you can knit them something – a sweater or a hat – to help them recover. They can admire and even touch your work in progress, as long as their hands are clean.
Within the drama-filled online fiber arts community, you position yourself as an outsider-insider, a powerful social identity fluid enough to understand the latest gossip (are the sheep on this Welsh farm really as happy as they are? she says?) but safe in the knowledge that you’ll probably never say the words “fiber arts community” out loud.
If you don’t like the outcome of a specific piece or if the pattern you’re following gets too difficult, you can set your work on fire. Alternatively, you can just “frog” it, which means you take the work out of the needles and rewind it into a ball of yarn.
There are ridiculously few things we can control in this life, but a pair of needles and thread are three things we can absolutely reign over. Plus, it’s very relaxing to knit in a nice slow pace while cuddling what basically feels like a little lamb in your hands. You feel your mind stilling and your status with your nieces growing.
Knitting is for aunts. That doesn’t mean you have to be a literal aunt, you just have to bring strong aunt energy to everything you do, and that will eventually lead to knitting.
People who work in yarn stores always seem shy at first. They smile but they don’t look each other in the eye, they stutter, they blush. But ask them what they think of the magic loop method versus double-pointed needles and you will witness an extraordinary transformation. Their shyness disappears and they become gorgeous and unstoppable right before your eyes.
Of course, you’ve never used your knitting needles as a lethal weapon, but the whole time you hold them, that is, all the time, you are aware that you could kill someone with them. This realization brings you great peace.
We discovered the pleasure of knitting. Join us.