Back in the day, when bubble perms were fashionable and mullets cool, my dear old Granny gave me a pair of knitting needles and wool and taught me how to knit. At first, it was scarves - the sort that starts 20 stitches wide and you end up casting off 40 stitches. Then it was jumpers, followed by hats. The colour of the decade seemed to fluorescent and I proudly wore my bright pink, green or orange creations. I thought I looked snazzy - but then it was the 1980s. This was the decade that gave us the puff ball skirt and deely boppers! To me then, knitting was all about creating something original to help me stand out from the crowd
As I meandered into my later teens, I discovered fake id, boyfriends and beer, my knitting took the backseat. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until relatively recently, that I picked up my knitting needs again after being utterly mesmerised watching my friend Terry knit a pair of socks on 4 needles. She would sit there, with her knitting bag, chock full of different colour wool and a pencil case that held a fine array of different sized needles. I’d throw a cacophony of questions, how do you get the wool to make that pattern? (self-patterning wool is a thing apparently) Is it difficult to knit with four needs? (no, it’s not) How do you know you’re knitting in the right direction? (you just do!) So a few weeks later, Terry presented me with my own double pointed needles, some self-patterning wool & a sock pattern. And so my love affair with yarn was reignited
What’s the attraction of knitting?
It’s something that’s long been associated with old women. I’m fast approaching middle age, but I’m certainly not old! For me, it’s quite simple: In a world, that even here in sunny Suffolk, is so fast-moving, we’re so intertwined with technology, sometimes I feel my phone is often an extension of my arm. I’m always visible, I’m always contactable whether that’s for family commitments or work. I’m always distracted and knitting is the perfect antidote.
Focus, Focus, Focus
Knitting, no matter what you create, needs concentration. From the moment, you cast on your first stitches to binding off your last, you have to focus. The more confident you become, the more adventurous your knitting. And the more complicated the pattern, the more I need to concentrate. The more I concentrate, the less time I’m staring at my phone.
We live with a disposable culture. Clothes are so cheap with so little value (and poor quality) Got a hole in a pair of socks? you chuck them out and buy a new pair. They’re not expensive, so very little value has been placed on that item. But believe me, when you get a hole in paid of hand knitted socks that have taken 26 hours to knit, you will learn how to darn and darn well.
When you knit something, you are creating something from the heart; it’s a piece of your soul in wool. You appreciate it and the hard work and hours that have been put in. Knitting something connects you with your creativity and your environment. You learn to appreciate. And I think we all need to do a bit more of that
The Perfect Present for Everyone
If, like me, you’re rubbish at buying presents but want to show you care, nothing screams thoughtful present than a hand knitted piece to love. Every member of my family has at least one pair of socks, whether they want them or not. My kids, my husband, my nephews, my parents, they all a pair of self-patterning footwear. Then recently discovering I can knit up to four woollen hats in an evening. That was a Christmas present game changer! . Second cousins, friends of my kids, random strangers. They’re all in the running to get a homemade hat.
There is nothing that gives a release of happiness than when you cast off that last stitch of a knitting project. The sense of pride; a proper hit off endorphins - so much more satisfying than reaching the next level of Candy Crush or some other god damn awful addictive phone game. And you get an item of clothing at the end, which is cool.
And what do the Interwebs say...
But rather than just share my love of knitting and happiness it brings, I took to social media. Facebook has some very active and friendly knitting facebook groups and last week, I posted this in the Facebook group The Haphazard Knitwits
Happy Friday everyone. I'm a member of a Speakers Club and on Monday, I'm giving a speech for evaluation. I have decided to dedicate my 6 minute presentation on the joy of knitting. So, knitting fans, share your love for why you knit, why everyone should knit, how you got started, any stories, anything and I shall be inspired to write a great presentation (I hope!!!)
Thank you xxx
And here are a couple of the wonderful and quite moving replies I got:
I learned to knit to help me stop smoking. It worked a treat. Now when I get really stressed out I knit furiously for 5 mins to calm me down!
Knitting is a great stress reliever. It has the added bonus that if people annoy you, you are also weaponised
Knitting has kept me sane. Literally. Knitting and crochet have seen me through some seriously dark times and I’ve found it useful to have something constructive to do when feeling lost or low and it’s also great to feel that you can make something beautiful out of an ugly experience
And one of my favourite replies: For me, one of the great values is the sense of connectedness knitting gives me with the generations of women in my whanau who have now passed on. I look down at my hands and I see my mothers hands moving, my grandmother's hands, and I know their skills are embedded in me. So precious.
A big thank you to all that took the time to reply to my original post.
Mindfulness in a busy world
So, if modern life is a bit full on and you want a piece of quiet, to step away from it all, give knitting a go. You’ll find a community of fellow knitters, whether online or in the pub, who will instantly gravitate towards you. We all need human connection and there’s nothing like knitting to bring people together and bring happiness and joy to a world that feels increasingly divided.
Member since: 17th March 2014
Hello! I'm Penny from thebestof Sudbury, shouting about the best local businesses from Hadleigh through the Clare. When I'm not doing that, you'll find me knitting socks or tending to my 6 chickens