It has been a while since I have written about my love for knitting on this blog. But if this summer has been the summer of cooking, it has also been the summer of knitting.
I saw a therapist once whose opinions I otherwise was not very fond of, but who had some interesting things to say on the subject of knitting. Knitting -- or any craft work -- can be an excellent distraction from eating (when one tends to eat too much; I don't recommend it for this purpose if your tendency is towards restriction). It's very hard to binge when you have two long needles in your hands and a pile of wool in your lap! It's also hard to smoke, to drink, to have sex, to do drugs (hey! -- that's an idea: substitute one kind of needles for another...). You get the picture. Knitting emerges as the sort of perfect compulsion control technique. Oh, cognitive-behavioral therapy!
To clarify: I did not learn knitting for compulsion control. I learned to knit when I was seven years old from my grandmother, and I have been knitting ever since. I knit during the lean years where there weren't any age-appropriate patterns (late adolescence, late 1990's), I knit before the celebrities joined the crew, and I am still at it, thrilled that there are so many young designers and online knitting resources, such as Ravelry.
With the help of that therapist, I was able to make the connection between knitting and that oh-so-lovely-feeling of being in the flow (thank you, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). Flow as in: uninterrupted concentration; delight; calm; connectedness. This is how I feel when I knit; once I recognized these feelings, I was able to harness this knowledge to use my knitting more deliberately, to replace more destructive hobbies.
If I feel the urge to eat after dinner, the worst hours of the night for me, I sit down with a knitting project and dedicate myself to it for at least 15 minutes. By that time, the urge has usually passed, and I am so engrossed in my knitting that it takes all my husband has to convince me to put it down to come to bed. Knitting, I find myself absolutely bedazzled by fiber and the infinity of combinations that I can produce with my needles and thread. I study lace patterns; compare color swatches; and linger over new designs. There is so much to knit, I don't have time to think about snacking or wander into the kitchen. Knitting, at times, has been my safe haven, a place to put all of my energy and concerns and anxiety, and spin straw into gold:
Take the sweater above, my best fit yet: the Katharine Hepburn cardigan, from Lace Style. I sewed on the last buttons while in Italy a few weeks ago, and now that I'm here in Minnesota, where the weather is cooler, I wear it in the evenings.
There is something so satisfying and so nourishing in creating a sweater -- the ultimate act of self-care, I think, is to dress oneself warmly. Knitting brings me deeper comfort than consuming any culinary dish, and produces more fuzzy-inside feelings than those famous exercise endorphins.
Here's to form meeting function!