The Silence of Stitches

silentknitting

It isn’t often that I am alone in our house. On top of that, to be alone and sitting down with feet propped up, knitting in hand. I know you may think I get to do this a lot. But the thing that is so very delicious right now is the

SILENCE.

Oh how I crave silence. That deep, rich silence, punctuated only by the tick of a mantel clock and the click of knitting needles. I marvel at it. I revel in the silence as one who slowly twirls in falling snow reaching out the tongue to taste it. It’s that kind of silence…snow silence…albeit with an air-conditioner running in the house.

This silence seems to seep into my body…shoulders relax, brow unfurls, weary thoughts abed, breathing slows. Only the automatic movement of hand and fingers belie the stillness infusing my mind and body. I drink inย the restorative properties of silence.

Silence with reading is not true silence for me. My mind is still taking in words and words are not quiet. Silence with someone else in theย room is not true silence for me either. My energy is still tied to them. Silence with my eyes closed is good for a few minutes, but if it’s late in the day, like it is now, I’m asleep in the span of 2 minutes, head lolling about as I sit on the couch.

But silence and knitting is perfection. The no-thought activity of my hands keeps me awake to the silence, alert in its presence, and almost seems to allow the silence to be knitted into the fabric of my mind and heart.

Knitting and crocheting is wonderful with friends. It’s terrific while waiting at soccer practices, the pick-up line at school and while riding in the car. But knitting or crocheting in absolute silence is a delectable treat you must allow yourself from time to time.

No. Check that. It needs to beย quite often!

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Bow Your Head

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To knit or crochet requires a certain posture – head slightly bent, hands in lap, lightly (or tightly) holding the fibery creation. It may seem to some that those who work with yarn are in a constant state of prayer. And they might be! Sending up prayers to the knitting gods that all would go well with this project. ย Begging said knitting god to help, help, help in the midst of a knitting disaster. Or actually praying forย the loved one for whom the project is intended.

There is something inherently humble and unassuming about the act of knitting or crocheting. To spend hours with head bowed over fiber is not typically thought of as rebellious or flamboyant. Though knitting can be both of these and more, it is, in its everyday mode, one of surrender: here I am, with just some string and a hook or needles in my hands, making a stitch and then another and another. And though some of us may want to change the world through knitting and crocheting, it is, by its very nature, a quiet, behind-the-scenesย activity. Not your typical world-domination kind of thing.

Yet it is in the knits and purls, in the singles and doubles, that life takes on new meaning. Much like prayer, knitting works into us a sense that all will be well somehow in the end. Even when it all seems to be going haywire–stitch patterns not lining up, sleeves too long, patterns not making sense–somehow we move forward in life. We pick up a different project, or start something new, or slog it out with the currently wayward design…all with our head bowed, as if to lean into the wind, gain traction, defy the gods, or simply pray like mad.

*****

It occurred to me days after writing this, that in most types of creation there is a bending over what one is working on. Drawing in my sketchbook, I’m typically hunched over. Any hand sewing or even at a machine requires a bowed head. Throwing clay demands leaning over the pottery wheel. On and on we could name these creative acts and they all have a posture of surrender and contemplative concentration.

โ€œThe creative process is a process of surrender, not control.โ€
โ€• Julia Cameron

I hope you can make something today!