Ask A Knitter Anything #1: The Appeal of Knitting

It’s been almost 3 years since I started knitting. During this time, I went from barely being able to properly knit a knit stitch, to knitting full adult sweaters, knitting fair isle with both hands at the same time and being able to read and write patterns. While I’m far from knowing everything, I do know a lot and people ask me questions often that I happily answer.

After one such question the other day, I toyed with the idea of starting an AAKA – ‘Ask A Knitter Anything’ series, where I answer questions people commonly (and less commonly) ask me based on my personal experiences. While I will start this series with a set of pre-collected questions, you are welcome to ask me any question you’d like to see answered by commenting on these posts! I’m keeping close tabs on this and try to get everything answered.

These questions will be spread out in a series of posts. How many that will be, I don’t know! But you can look forward to 1-2 of these posts a week. 🙂 Now, let’s get started!

What makes knitting so alluring?

I find it difficult to pin point exactly what keeps me coming back to knitting. I think it’s safe to say I’m an honest to god addict by now, and there is a certain charm that can be attributed to the yarn you use as much as the knitting itself. The pretty colors, the texture of the yarn and the idea of endless possibilities of what you can do with it certainly play a huge role in this.

More than anything else, the process of knitting became addicting.

Before I even started knitting on two needles, I was only curious. I saw what my friend did, knitting beautiful scarves, cowls and other goodies, and my brain kept poking me with the question ‘How is it made?’. I really wanted to find that out by doing it myself, and it’s this curiosity that prompted me to ask my friend if she wanted to teach me. I was excited and nervous. She made me start with a rectangular knitting loom because it was easier to finish a piece quickly and experience the satisfaction of finishing a project, rather than repeated failure from starting with needles.

Oh boy how right she was! I spent a whole day loom knitting away. I just couldn’t put it down. Once I had the hang of it, I immediately noticed I got better. It was a bit of a rush to see my simple little actions of wrapping a peg and pulling the yarn over the peg create an actual scarf. The motions tired my hands and tensed my shoulders, but I couldn’t just leave the loom laying on my desk. Every time I took a break, all I could think about was continuing.

I finished the scarf in less than two days. I was ecstatic! I had actually KNIT something, all by myself and with minimal help from my friend. I had a scarf that wasn’t just pretty, but also functional on my first try. Sure, there were some mistakes in it, but you couldn’t really tell because I chose a black acrylic. Looking back on it, I think it was this excitement of knowing I created something from nothing, being proud of the end result and wanting to make more that drew me to the craft.

I put the loom down for almost half a year after a couple of other pieces. I was busy and couldn’t dedicate enough attention to learning new things at the time. But at the end of the summer that same year, that same friend put me on the path of knitting with needles. This time, the challenge was a bit bigger. The learning curve was more frustrating because a lot more was going on with my hands at the same time than with a loom. It was the memory of accomplishment I had with the loom that kept me going.

The allure of knitting lies in the creation process and the goal of finishing a creation that is useful, for me.

Once you started knitting, what made it such a huge, driving force in your life?

The ability to create things from nothing is addictive. The motion of knitting has a highly meditative quality and once you work your way past the frustrating bits of learning the craft, you can sit down, zone out and keep your fingers busy while your brain does its thing. This is no surprise to anyone who knits regularly, but something that non-knitters tend to be skeptical of. 🙂

What knitting did for me was a way of coping with my mental health issues. When depression struck and I felt like I couldn’t do anything, I could knit and finish my project. The sense of accomplishment is a massive boost to my self-confidence and vital in maintaining my mental well-being.

Knitting also taught me important lessons, such as ‘it’s okay to let go’ and ‘mistakes are just things that happen and there’s no reason to be ashamed of that’. For someone who struggles with ‘not being allowed to make mistakes’ and ‘keep ramming your head into the wall until you get through it regardless of whether you hurt yourself or not’, that is huge. Coming to terms with the fact that nothing I knit (or do) will ever yield perfect results has lifted a weight off my shoulders I carried with me for decades. Learning that sometimes you have to start over by undoing all the work you did before, but understanding that you learned many things and can do better this time, has improved my way of functioning in everyday life.

When I found out that charity knitting is a thing, I did a lot of research on how to get involved. I struggle with social interactions and an avoidant personality disorder on top of my other issues, so finding something that could help me overcome some hurdles was important and scary. Having it be knitting lowered the hurdle, making it easier to find some ways I can contribute positively to the world even though I’m poor and limited in what I can do. Currently, I knit breast prostheses for breast cancer survivors and people in the versatile gender community who are in need of more comfortable and affordable alternatives than what is currently available.

What started out as a curiosity and a hobby has quickly become a lifestyle. Knitting is not just wrapping a piece of yarn around a needle and calling it a stitch, it’s a doorway into a world of possibilities, healing and socialization, even for those who feel they have very little to nothing to offer in this world. It gives my life meaning, and it gives me a purpose.

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2 thoughts on “Ask A Knitter Anything #1: The Appeal of Knitting

  1. I love the phrase “versatile gender”. It conveys so much more fluidity and responsiveness than gender queer, my usual go-to.

    So much of what you’ve written here describes my own experience. Knitting, for me at this time, helps define me. It’s meaning, meditation, therapy, community, and healing.

    I recently stumbled across this group on ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/knitters-for-mccny. This group knits and crochets items for queer, homeless young adults in NYC. I haven’t contributed anything yet but I thought it sounded like a great idea.

    • I’m glad! I always find it difficult to find a term that encompasses everyone, so ‘versatile gender’ seemed like the appropriate term for all. Even cis fits in there in my opinion. 🙂

      That group sounds great! There are so many wonderful charity programs and groups that it’s hard to choose from. I might look into more groups locally myself.

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