One of my goals for this year has been to work on being present. In the moment with whatever it is that I am doing. Now, believe me, this is a challenge. Everyday is a work in progress on this goal, and I’m always grateful for the clean slate of a new day to try again. I’m an eternal multi-tasker, a Gemini with two distinct sides, and can often be found flitting around from idea to idea and task to task. I’ve been told it can be exhausting to watch..ha! Where I am actually having success with this, is in my knitting. It makes sense really. Knitting involves (almost) all of the senses.
You can see the gorgeous colors and textures of the yarn, changing from a simple strand into whatever texture or pattern you are creating. There is a pleasant and audible rhythm to the needles that varies depending on your choice of metal, bamboo or otherwise. It goes fast on simple knitting, slower when you are tired, working on a complex stitch pattern, or having a glass of wine. I don’t recommend tasting the yarn, but I’d be lying if I said my mouth didn’t water when I see certain juicy colors, or a must-have design that I want to knit next!
The feeling of knitting is meditative, with the strands passing through your hands, making trips around the needle in little loops, creating fabric before your eyes. There is the bounce and squish of wool, the slinky feel of silk, a sturdiness about cotton, the kitten soft feel of cashmere…it’s endless really. It might be a stretch to say there are many scents involved, except maybe an especially sheepy skein here and there, or the imagined smoke flying from your fingertips when on a tight deadline. Those inexperienced with washing handknits might think you are crazy, but anyone who has blocked a hand-dyed or wool blend yarn will recognize the pungent odor that rises up when you submerge your knitting into that sudsy soak bath. To me, it smells just like Friday morning at the beauty shop when my mom had one of her regular ladies under the dryer, one with a perm processing, and the other leaned back for a shampoo. Fond memories with a funny smell. ☺
So it is no wonder that I love this process. I love how it takes me out of the everyday, releases me from my smartphone and computer screens. Honestly, when I’m doing it right, it takes me right out of whatever conversation or social interaction going on around me, so I have to be careful to bring simple things to stitch night! Knitting has positively influenced my stress levels and mental health in so many ways. My husband has started to notice the signs of no knitting, and will politely request that I prescribe myself some alone time with yarn if necessary. Lately, I’ve tried to make sure that I get a couple of rows in with my morning coffee, so that there is no excuse for squeezing in at least a tiny bit of that immersive experience. I can feel the difference when I pick up my knitting, and get busy with making the yarn into what it is meant to be, as it unwinds me into a less-stressed version of myself.
What is your favorite sensory experience of knitting? Share with me in the comments below. I’d also love to issue you a challenge. Next time you pick up your needles, take an extra beat to be present. Feel the yarn, admire your handiwork, let your shoulders relax down, and breathe in deep the benefits of your craft!