As I know, thousands and millions of fellow knitters somewhere out there in the knitterverse can all acknowledge at least one truth about knitting: it’s therapeutic. It can be therapeutic in any way, from the soothing familiarity of stitch after stitch, to the comfort and warmth of a favorite knit sweater against your skin, to the ability to keep your hands busy so that you don’t strangle someone around you.
As someone who’s in a period of slight self-doubt with no clear ideas about how to proceed, I don’t know why I don’t turn to knitting more often. Multiple times when I’ve been incredibly sad or stressed or heartbroken, I have picked up whatever project I have on the needles and the calming repetition of knit stitch after knit stitch has washed over me like a balm for the soul. Stockinette stitch is mindless, repetitive, Zen. It is plain oatmeal, simple, and will never give you any hassle (unlike some other people we won’t mention). Lace is finicky and demands your attention — no room to think about the woes of the world! One distraction and your skipped yarn over could wreak destruction on the delicate pattern unfolding beneath your needles.
Another way knitting helps calm me is that it’s pure creation. What better way to combat the destructive forces of negative energy than by bringing something new, warm, and useful into the universe? Creation has always been an outlet for humanity, even into prehistory. Sometimes when I’m knitting, an overwhelming sense of solidarity washes over me as I think about the millions of men and women I’m connecting with — men and women through the ages who replicated the same stitches I am working and who used the same techniques to make warm garments for their friends, family, and community. Just now, the thought of working a pattern is mind-blowing. Someone somewhere in time has gone through the exact same steps that I am going through now, and we’ve made the same thing. It’s an intangible and rarely thought of connection, that the same craft I am using today to make a lacy scarf was being used by traders hundreds of years ago on the Silk Road to make their underwear.
I’ve often heard of knitters deeming certain years to have themes: a year of completing WIPs, a year of experiments, a year of knitting for yourself. Project Spectrum. What if I made 2011 the Year of the Knitting Lifestyle? Knitting is lovely, gorgeous, elegant, and artistic. It hardly seems so in my dorm room, which is so far away from the softly lit studios of knit fashion designers. But it really is. Knitting has so much to teach me, and offers so much comfort to soothe me.
I am perfectly willing to make it a lifestyle.