Thursday, July 28, 2005

Knitting Zen Community

Radio listeners tonight will be delighted to hear that Chris Lydon's Open Source radio show is doing a piece on knitters. [Shout out to Stacy at Stacy's Plate for emailing about it.] Among the postings on the Open Source page, there's a beautiful one by Circles owner, Allison Nevitt. I love it, so I have to share. Here 'tis:

Yes, knitting does feel like a luxury now. Its a luxury to have the time and money to knit. What I see in the community of knitters we have here at Circles, is a strong desire to reconnect, though. Its not about luxury, per se. We talk about the fact that we don’t knit to aspire to the K-Mart or Target asthetic. We knit as a form of self-couture. I think we discuss this to ease the our minds (and those of our partners) about the money we invest in our hobby.

At the core, the reason we are willing to put so much time and money into it is the sense of connection. Connection to a lost time when people made so many things for themselves. Connection to the first person who ever picked up a stick and some string and figured out how to manipulate the tools to create a fabric. There is a connection to the land through the purchase of fibers brought to us by self-sustaining fibers. There is a connection to others as we sit together, make things together and share our lives together. Deep bonds are developed amongst knitters who spend time together regularly. In our fast-paced, over-popluated urban environment it feels essential to pursue something slow and sit with others without an agenda. A knitting circle is the ultimate in open source contact.

Perhaps the deepest connection, however, is to oneself. I’ve watched so many knitters self-observe. The motion of knitting and the movement in and out of concentration creates a rhythm where there are quiet moments. And the work product so clearly reflects our inner state of being. When we are anxious, our knitting is tight, when we are relaxed it is loose. As we try to figure out some set of instructions or correct a mistake we can watch how we handle a challenge or adversity. When we allow others to witness our process, we find acceptance and often very gentlel loving assistance or guidance to a new perspective.

So, while knitting to produce clothing is a luxury, the experience of knitting and what we gain from it may be life supporting. The sharing of the sensual aspects of knitting, the joy of transforming, the embrace of others is all very soothing to the soul. It is nothing short of healing. I have watched knitters help each other through every gritty aspect of life: birth, death (to illness, accidents, murder), abusive relationships, and the list goes on.

They don’t set out to be this for each other. They come together to knit. They are old, young, gay, straight, many races and ethnicities and religions, but in time their lives are knitted together and they care deeply for each other. Then the healing comes organically. Joyous applause when someone has left an alcoholic partner. Silent circles to allow someone to re-enter safely after a loss to murder. They become unafraid to share everything and offer all that they can. When you see this, you know why the knitting is a passion. You cease to care why knitting is now popular, whether it is elitist, whether it should be basic skill set. All these things don’t matter when people find something to pursue that leads them to so much rich exchange with others. Where all the artificial social constructs of separation of erased and healing just happens. Of course they never want to live without that again. Of course, the knitting is a passion. What knitters experience with one another is something lacking in our society. When they knit in a circle, they find their heart’s desire: to connect.

In spite of my previous post about yarn snobbery, the expense of this hobby and the luxury of time, I still find her words very compelling. And I certainly feel this connection to my fellow Stitch & Bitchers.


Stacy said...

What a great entry - yours as well as Allison's. I wish I could come to the group today for some knittin' and connectin'!

Anonymous said...

great post. that's the biggest luxury of all we share, i think, the luxury of the choice and the time to indulge doing the thing we love.