Why Do You Knit?

A friend of mine linked me to this wristband, which says “Knitting, not stabbing.”  “OMG who doesn’t need one of these?” she asked in her email.

Well.

Me, for one.

It’s hardly a new sentiment; I’ve seen bumper stickers, T-shirts, and Ravatars emblazoned with the message, “I knit so I don’t kill people.”  To be honest, I’ve felt this way, too, although when I’m really angry about something I find it hard to knit or spin or do anything constructive (except post angry diatribes on the internet or rant at Jack).

I learned to crochet first.  A friend tried to teach me, but she wasn’t very patient and then, in the midst of Hurricane Isabel, I didn’t have the time to devote to it.  Later, when the storm was subsiding, I picked up a copy of Crochet for Dummies and taught myself to tie a slip knot, to chain, to single and double and treble crochet.  I made a scarf, as you do, and then I got very serious and made Jack a crochet version of the Fourth Doctor’s scarf.  I made other things – fingerless gloves, dishcloths, amigurumi pigs with wings.  I liked crochet.

Somewhere in there I picked up the first Stitch ‘N’ Bitch and taught myself to knit.  I started on a scarf, of course, and determined that I liked crochet much better.  It was faster, for one thing.  Easier, since I’d been doing it longer.  I’m not sure when I made the transition from being a crocheter to being a knitter.  I started my first knit project, a scarf, in June 2010; in July I started a second one.  My third project, in August, was a pair of socks.  They took me just over a month to make.

What made the needles so appealing wasn’t about not stabbing people.  Knitting, somehow, took the edge off the anxiety that started to plague me after the hurricane subsided.

I knit so I don’t run screaming.  When I’m skating around the edges of a panic attack, knitting calms me down faster than almost anything else.  Slide the needle into the stitch, wrap the yarn around, pull it through, over and over again, flicking the yarn in front of or behind the stitches; knit two together; slip, slip, knit; slip four stitches onto the right needle, slide into the first two from the front with the left needle, slip the right needle out, pick up the two stitches, put them back on the left needle, slide the needle into the stitch, and when you look up, you have a hat, a shawl, a sock.  Productive flailing.  Don’t bother me, I’m counting.  If I’m looking down at my stitches, I’m obviously doing something, so it’s not rude that I don’t meet your eye when you’re talking.  I’m still listening, I can participate in the conversation, but my fingers are still flying.

Self-soothing.

More than anything, being told that I wouldn’t be able to knit at my desk at work was the thing that made me quit.  I wasn’t knitting because I was bored, because it filled the empty space between calls or while I was waiting for a Blackberry to finish rebooting, even though it did all those things.  I was knitting because it kept me sane, stable, and sitting still.

There are other reasons I knit, as well – I love working with yarn, I like making things, the idea and process of creation, et cetera.  It’s good for filling blank spaces of time, like waiting rooms and trains.  But from an emotional standpoint, I knit because it keeps me calm and stable.  In September 2010, Jack had surgery to remove a non-cancerous brain tumor, which resulted in over seven hours spent alone in various waiting rooms.  My first cabled project, a pair of armwarmers, kept me from going to pieces.  Crafting (there was crochet in there, too) kept me going during the days that followed, in which I spent most of my time in his hospital room as he slept and woke at intervals, and I went home only long enough to feed the animals and take a shower.  If I loved him enough, he would be okay.  But I couldn’t just love him, couldn’t just tell the world and anyone who was listening how much I loved him and needed him in my life.  I had to show it.  Each careful stitch, then and since, a testimony to my love.  The first pair of socks: mine.  Every other pair that I’ve finished, except for one child’s pair made for his niece: his.  I don’t know if my subconscious is still trying to show the universe how much I love him and need him to be safe, but at least his feet are warm and I am able to sit still and listen.  I knit, and I am calm.

Why do you knit?  (Or sew, or sing, or scrapbook – whatever your favorite method of creation is.)  Is it for your sanity, or the safety of others, or just because creating something from nothing is a joy?  Or is it some other reason entirely?

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~ by Amber on March 11, 2012.

4 Responses to “Why Do You Knit?”

  1. I can never do enough to deserve you. ❤

  2. I was moved by your story, and the comment…so sweet. I love this. 🙂

  3. I think you summed it up pretty well.

    Also, as someone who is more than likely undiagnosed ADD, I focus SO MUCH BETTER when my hands are busy. And knitting requires JUST enough brain cells to curb the “oooooh shiny!” impulse and lets me pay attention to whatever it is I am SUPPOSED to be doing.

    Alas, as you mentioned, the higher-ups often don’t see it that way. 😛

  4. […] I’ve been completely monogamous.  I know, right?  I’m focusing on the Through the Woods hood, which is surprisingly potato-chippy for something that’s essentially K4,P4 with cabling […]

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