Monday, October 01, 2007

My take on the world

I was visiting a blog acquaintance today & was caught by an essay she wrote about her adventures back into knitting. Now, if you have spent anytime around my garden, it will come as no surprise that I would pause to read about knitting; it has become my primary creative outlet & an area I must apply stringent self-control in order not to bury my home in piles of yarn (something for which my husband & son- but not the cats- are grateful). What I read at Yours Truly stirred up several thoughts & reflections about the nature of knitting- or most any kind of handcraft, for that matter- & the people who invest time doing them.

I phrase I hear quite regularly (often from my own mouth) is, “[Knitting, quilting, weaving, scraping, beading, painting, etc] is so soothing”; with almost equal frequency, I hear the uninitiated cry out, “That’s beautiful, but I could never do that- I don’t have the [time, patience, skill, etc]” What is the difference between these two people? One has found a passion & the other hasn’t. I truly believe that everyone has that need, that ember of inventiveness, which is just waiting for encouragement & an outlet to express itself; I imagine it is the spark of God’s creative nature, fashioned in us as reflections of Him. No matter what form it takes, there is a universal feeling of satisfaction, of rightness, in forming something from nothing & knowing that you were the one who accomplished it. Until one finds their passion, that thing that kindles their imagination & makes their fingers itch to do something, I feel they will be missing a secret treasure that God placed inside us simply for the joy it brings.

Many people feel guilty when they spend time on a “hobby”, thinking that they should be doing something more practical or important, especially when doing a decorative art like knitting. I know the reality: I can go to the store & purchase six pairs of socks for the same amount I spend on yarn for a hand-knit pair, not to mention the weeks (in my case) it takes to make them. I’ve spent $30 & four weeks making a sweater for a baby that outgrew it in less than 2 months. From a purely practical standpoint, it does seem like a monumental waste of an already limited resource, my free time.

What this pragmatic perspective doesn’t consider is the intangible benefits of creative arts. For myself, & countless others, the act of knotting string with two sticks is a form of meditation, a contemplative action which calms & centers the spirit. Breathing slows, the heartbeat settles, blood pressure is reduced; it’s much like petting an animal or soaking in a warm tub- stress melts away. I can ruminate over a situation & find answers or acceptance flowing out with the fabric forming under my fingers.

More often then not, what comes off my needles goes to someone else; other then a scarf & a couple of pairs of socks, I rarely knit for myself. When I first started knitting again, my darling Lily cat would sit in my lap as I worked, & everything produced at that time was woven with her hair. It is much the same now, but instead of calico fur, items are woven with my thoughts & prayers. There is also the benefit of some mental calisthenics associated with working on a complicated or involved pattern, & the satisfaction of seeing it all come together in the finished project.

Another reason I don’t struggle with the idea of wasting time is that I rarely just sit & knit; like every working mother I know, I multitask- I work on something when I’m watching TV, sitting in the orthodontist’s office, attending a football game, waiting for my dinner at a restaurant, or listening to the sermon at church. As a matter of fact, if I’m actually just sitting & taking, I’ll have people ask me where is my knitting bag. A rare few will tsk at me for knitting in church; for them, I pull out my charity projects, like the baby hats for the county hospital or the granny squares for the “Share a Square” project, pointing out that God expects me to put some feet on my compassion. I’m not saving the world by any stretch of the imagination; but as I observed in Yours Truly’s comments, Knitting may not save the whole world, or even a small part of it; but a sending out a hat for a newborn of a migrant farmer worker, a blanket for a chemo patient, or a scarf passed out to a homeless man, can touch a life, even if only for a moment.”


Dana said...

What a beautiful post!
My mother and step-father both knitted, crocheted and did needlepoint. When they sat there together it was as you said, more than knotting thread together. It was their way of giving to others and relaxing for themselves. I do not have the same hobby, however, I love to read, garden & write and find the same relaxation in that. I LOVE that you knit in church! Tell those tskers at least you are awake! I had a friend who home schooled her 4 children and she had one of them draw during the sermon. She had the tskrs as well. But, I must tell you, he understood and he listened to the sermons and often drew what the pastor was speaking on! As you can guess, this boy who is now a young man is serving in our church still and is so talented in many areas...You would love Mosaic church in California, they paint dance and write during the sermons. God's gifts expressed indeed!

Loved this post!

chelle said...

Absolutely beautifully true.

Amy said...

First of all, yes, it was my mailbox. Some dork swiped it and didn't stop to let us know. That is what greeted me as I left my house...ugh!

Secondly, I wish I could knit. I think it's a wonderful thing to keep your hands busy and just to be able to create. What a gift!