I think its common for knitting to be seen as a warm and nurturing act that we do for others. Yet, there is so much more going on inside. I knit because it allows me to create a safe space for myself and show up for others.
This is why people often find me knitting in public. It may first look like I’m simply creating a beautiful little sweater for my baby nephew during a business class or an info session on social media.
The truth is, when I’m knitting, I am more comfortable in my surroundings and in my own skin. I’ve found that it allows me to rest, to settle in and be more present in the moment. Knitting is how I came to understand mindfulness, and to connect with that practice for the first time. It is what allows me to care for myself on a daily basis and nurture my energy so I can be fully present for those who I work with.
Being a bird-like creature, I am easily distracted by my environment, other people’s energies and movements, and my own thoughts. Being fully present for a class, talk, workshop or conversation can be challenging when there is so much stimulus to take in. When I started knitting during class last year, I worried that people would think I was spacing out or not paying attention, but in reality, that settling of my senses and small amount of attention placed on something else actually helped me to attend to the subject matter.
I meet other people who have trouble being fully present in their body or with their attention during meetings, classes and the like. When we are allowed to doodle, knit or engage in another simple, unconscious practice, there is a settling in and a honing of that focus. The amazing thing about textile arts is that it not only aides with focusing your attention but lets you touch something soft and comforting at the same time.
I was working with someone recently who was experiencing stress and on the verge of a panic attack. I asked her what could help with that, and she said “I just have to knit a few rows”. What a powerful tool!
As an art therapist, I see so much potential in the therapeutic qualities of the textile arts when they are harnessed in an intentional way. I look forward to more opportunities to gather and be present for each other.
Sarah runs groups such as Weaving with the Ancestors, New Moon Circle and Business Therapy: Mutual Support Circle at Another Space.