A few weeks ago I had occasion to question the zen of knitting and wonder at the inherent dichotomy that underlies the craft.
Knitting provides a fascinating link between creativity, spirituality, and our inner demons. Knitting provides expanding opportunities to be as creative (or not) as you desire. Creativity opportunities span from making alternate yarn choices for a pattern, tweaking with or designing patterns, to those who start from scratch, buy the fiber, spin and dye their own yarn. The creative world is wide open to knitters.
By spirituality, I am referring to the times when the click, click, click of your needles is rhythmic, soothing and allows you and perhaps others around you to enter a state of peaceful bliss. The very act of knitting is downright meditative. It is this state that so many refer to when they speak of the relaxing nature of knitting. It is this state that causes so many to take up knitting as a means of reducing stress. It is this state that I’m referring to as the zen of knitting.
One of the definitions of “zen” cited in Urban Dictionary: zen
Oct 1, 2002 … zen – 21 definitions – One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.
There is however, another side to this coin when an ugly beast reaches up and shatters the bliss and therein lies the dichotomy.
I’m sure you’ve all been there and had times when you question why you love the craft. I’m thinking of times when;
- you pick up your project and your needle falls to the floor (especially bad if you’re pattern includes a lot of yarn overs)
- your puppy or cat has gotten into your project when you weren’t looking
- you discover an unintended dropped stitch long after the fact
- you run out of yarn within 2 rows of finishing
- no matter how many times you tink, count, and re-knit, your stitch count doesn’t match that of the pattern
My most recent experience was that of a project that seemed to be cursed almost from the beginning. I was creating a new design and keeping notes on my computer. It took no less than 3 times starting and ripping before it began to flow. All seemed to be fine again until the very end. Sadly, within 5 minutes of finishing my new design, my computer crashed, obliterating my project notes. Then came the ugly beast. I’m afraid that I spent several days afterward hoping to find some shred of my work on the computer before I could bear to start all over again.
I think it is human nature to question the things we love on occasion and perhaps it is our response to the question that keeps us coming back. Perhaps we return for the pure sense of satisfaction we get from a project well-completed, to express our creativity or because of the glimpses we get into our spirituality or perhaps it is for the satisfaction of having tamed the beast within.
What do you think? What do you love most about knitting and what have been your most frustrating moments? I’d love to hear your comments.