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On the ravelling of yarns

August 22, 2010

Having recently taught myself to knit (and rediscovering my clandestine affair with crochet) I’ve been musing on the mystical and psychological themes of knotting wool together (bear with me). There’s just something about it..

Psychologically, what does knitting do for a knitter?

Creation – Well, there’s the act of creation itself. Like Mr. Marx said, we are inherently creative beings. Any creative act puts us in touch with our ‘true’ selves, and helps us escape the grinding alienation of work, consumerism and capitalism. I start to get withdrawal symptoms if I go too long without creating something – and it’s amazing how many days can pass without creating anything in this world. So yeah, it’s the X Files end credits factor (“I made this”).

No Guilt – There’s also the sense of doing something with a purpose whilst sitting on a sofa (and I do love sitting on my sofa). So, I can spend an evening watching television (episodes of the X Files, perhaps) and not feel like I’ve totally wasted my time.

Beats other vices – it gives us non-smokers, occasional drinkers and trying-not-to-binge-eaters something to do with our hands, if not our mouths.

Destress & Unclutter – the repetitive nature of each stitch is hypnotic. I can imagine knitters achieving a trance state via the constant knit purl repetition (I’m usually too busy watching Mulder & Scully). There are more relaxing things (walking the dog, watching the sky, a few things I can’t mention without changing the rating of this blog!) but none I can do from the comfort of aforementioned sofa. And, like playing tetris (but better for your eyes) your mind is free to wander, to empty itself of the day’s detritus.

Ok, so what about the mystical themes?

In ancient shoes (or needles) – how old must the practice of knitting be? I felt, from the moment I bought my beautiful wooden knitting needles that I was taking part in an ancient ritual, part of a long line of (mostly) women who had moved their hands in exactly the same patterns, over and over.

The wool chooses the pattern – and possibly the knitter, in exactly the same way that books choose readers, pets choose owners and souls choose kindred spirits. I’m fairly sure there’s a Tao of knitting *makes note to google later*

Transcendent state – it’s a meditative thing (especially if I switch Mulder & Scully off). Thoughts fall away and all that’s left is the pattern of movement, the path of the thread in and out and round, the breath and this moment..and the next…

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