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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Heart & Soul of Knitting by Andi Johnson

Knitting is an art, a craft.  You need some mathematical ability.  You need to have some dexterity.  You need to have good eyesight.  And, if you don’t knit, please consider this some life lesson, substitute the word “crochet”, “weaving”, “woodworking”, or whatever other craft you do.

Last spring, I was given an opportunity to purchase a book in honor of Administrative Assistant’s Day from a certain publisher.  I chose a book I’d been drawn to called, The Knitting Way, by Linda Skolnik & Janice MacDaniels (Skylight Paths Publishing, 2005).  When I received the book, I allowed it to take me on its journey through the patterns. 

“Knitting keeps me sane.”  As one who is ADD, I bring my knitting everywhere.  It helps me focus and concentrate on the speakers and conversations.  And, I suppose I knit for sanity, for stress-relief.  Can you be upset when you knit, while you knit?  Stressed out about events happening around you?  Think about that.  How connected do you feel when you knit?   With your past, connecting to your present, connecting to your future.  When you are thinking the stitches involved in an intricate pattern, turning a heel, or purling & knitting when you should be knitting and purling, how can you be stressed?

The spiral is on the cover of the book.  I’m drawn to spirals, eternity, the circular pattern of the spiral.  I had to knit the spiral.  The book explains, 
“This spiral is a reminder that we are on a journey.  As your hands work this pattern, reflect upon where you are along the journey and be content with your progress.”

After many years’ hiatus, I picked up the needles when I became a caseworker.  I brought my knitting into peoples’ homes while I sat and talked with them.  If I happened to finish a hat while there, I’d hand it over to the mom, saying, “You need to take better care of yourself, and this is a start.”  

A few years later, one of the women in our church began a Shawl Group.  It began as a spiritual group, beginning in silence and meditation, with a reading, and just knitting for a while.  The shawls would be given to parishioners who had lost someone, who needed just that bit of comfort in their lives during a tough time.  And, so we continue with our shawls.  Not in silence, and not always together after the service, sometimes in our homes, out in public, and usually in church.  I feel the connections we make in church through our knitting, whether we knit in a group, or in our homes, make us stronger, build a better community, sharing skills, patterns and yarns.  We recognize the need for someone to take care of themselves with the finished project as we pass it on.  In that way, we connect our spirituality in the work we do.

The colors and textures can be luscious.  I’m reminded of sunrises, sunsets, mountains, rocks, flower gardens, oceans…I love perusing yarn shops.  When I pick up a skein of yarn, I am awed that I can turn this beautiful yarn into something wearable, something usable, and something beautiful.  My heart flutters a little.

When I mentioned to someone about writing about knitting, they said to be sure to tell you that mistakes are okay.  We learn from them.  They can be corrected, but they don’t always need to be corrected.  They can make our finished pieces interesting and creative.  And, isn’t that the way life is.  Is there anyone here who does not make mistakes?

When you knit, you pick up from the last stitch you knit, connecting the yarn, row to row.  And, on and on it goes.  You connect the loops.  Stories are told, occasions are celebrated and recognized.  You are carrying on a tradition that is hundreds of years old.  It is a craft passed down from generation to generation, within families, among friends.  Connections: yarns to yarns.  Connections: women to women, and, even between the sexes.  Connections: community.

How is it you connect your heart and soul to your community? 


  1. I use the art form of words by writing and playing the piano to express a myriad of feelings.

  2. That's a great way to express yourself, Pat. We all have gifts to share.