Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Zen and the Art of Knitting

I have been reading "Zen and the Art of Knitting" and I am finding it very interesting. The idea that knitting can be meditative, that it can draw you out of your situation and towards something "other" is fascinating to me. The author, Bernadette Murphy, looks at the links between spirituality and creativity. She has researched very thoroughly through interviews with some interesting people. I feel that, as I work my way through it, it may feature again on my blog!

I was inspired to begin knitting (or I suppose I should say taking it up again after around 30 years, having learnt as a very young girl) by the birth of my daughter. I saw a gorgeous book of baby clothes which I subsequently received as a gift. They looked impossibly hard but with the encouragement of my mum I made a little cardigan, a bit misshapen but a great achievement! And I haven't looked back.

I do feel, when making something for a certain person, that I knit each stitch with love. And, perhaps in a fanciful way, I hope that they can feel that when they wear the item. We have, as a society, moved away from creating our own clothes, it is more convenient to buy what we need. I remember that when I was a child, sometimes the jumper knitted by grannie was a source of embarrassment among friends. I was really pleased to hear how my son's teacher complimented him on a lovely aran sweater made by a friend of mine and told him that jumpers made by hand with real wool were the best. What a great philosophy to learn from nursery school! When you actually make something yourself you then appreciate the efforts of others, how working out a pattern or inventing a design involves time and dedication.

What I am learning too is not to be impatient, that it doesn't matter if I have to unravel a piece to get it just right, that through each mistake or imperfection I am growing in understanding. Learning about the technique of knitting, that almost mystical art where just two stitches are used to create unlimited possibilities of design. Learning about myself and my impatience, my frustrations, my restlessness ...

By the way, I obtained the book through bookmooch.com which is the most amazing website. It is a system of book exchange and I have found that people are extraordinarily generous. This book came from the USA and from someone who couldn't afford to post it to me right away - of course I didn't mind - but she could have just said that it was too expensive to send to France and turned down my request. Instead she made a personal sacrifice and through that I am blessed.

Photo: a scarf I made especially for my mum

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