Thursday, June 12, 2008

Meditative Knitting

My mom has always been a knitter. My grandmother before her. She taught me to knit at a young age, but I haven't done it for years.

During our stay in Baltimore, I ended up at a lovely little knit shop in Fell's Point. I don't even remember the circumstances of how I got there, but it was just what I needed. Something to pass the time in the hospital. Something to do late at night when I couldn't sleep. Something I could see growing due to my efforts.

This little knit shop was so intriguing--like the setting for a wandering independent film. The proprietor is a former nun, now on her second husband. The last day I remember spending time in a group, I almost stepped on the seeing eye dog who was lying on the floor next to the blind man, sat next to the young attractive gay man munching on his Whole Foods salad, and chatted with several lovely retired ladies. A motley crew, indeed. Sister Lorraine (as we affectionately referred to her) talked one day about how knitting was like saying the rosary, in the repetition and rhythmicity.

I'm not a person of faith. I don't pray. I've been very reluctant to bring this up on the blog, for a number of reasons, but I'm guessing that it's fairly obvious. Most religious people would have mentioned god somewhere in 9 months of cancer treatment for their son.

But I understand religion. I respect faith, and prayer, and what it means to other people. There's been more than once that I wished I was one of those people, but I'm just not. I've never been able to meditate either, at least not formally. I think I'm too lazy, my mind too undisciplined to really focus on it.

But knitting has worked for me. It keeps my mind, my conscious mind, busy enough to let me listen to what's going on under the surface. I think of my thoughts like a movie on a screen, and when I'm knitting I can be in the little projector room. The movie is still playing, but I able to focus on the behind-the-scenes processing. And sometimes, I can begin to get a layer even deeper than the projector room.

Without knowing, I'm guessing that's what a lot of people gain from prayer and meditation. I'm knitting my rosary.


rlbates said...

I find most hand work to be like this. My quilting or knitting. Take care.

SOCKS said...

Great BLOG Dr Smak!!!

Susan said...

I've never met a knitter I didn't like.
miss susan

TBTAM said...

Hmm... Mayube I'll take up some knitting this summer. I find my brain goes a mile a minute and maybe this will slow things down a bit and help me relax in the moment.

BTW, I have the same attitude towards religion that you have.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that knitting is a wonderful thing--it's my therapy and my meditation. Glad you have picked it up again.
And I agree with miss susan, knitters are the best.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how the mundane, common things of life can open our spirits to a different perspective. You said that there's been times you wish you could pray... Perhaps the day will come when you will look back at these first knitted creations and realize that they represent your first prayers.

Leah said...

I remember vividly that I was knitting in the round (learning to) while my first husband explained that he'd been cheating. I just kept knitting to keep from stabbing him in the eye with a needle. (My stitches grew tighter and tighter.) And years later, while nervously newly pregnant, I knitted - sewing a blessing, a wish, a hope into every row. I never really do ever make anything - but knitting has kept me sane during several chaotic times in my life. I'm glad its offered you some help too.

Texas Reader said...

Your posts have touched my heart, and I admire your bravery in this one. Its hard, in a country like ours where so many people are religious, to say that you don't believe in the supernatural.

I'm glad you have found knitting to help calm you. I've never done it - it has always intimidated me, but maybe I'll give it a try.

I hope you keep this blog going for a long time.

Slowplum said...

I know exactly what you mean. Knitting is so wonderful - I call it "portable therapy".

(Stumbled across this blog by chance, felt the need to respond to this. Also I've been reading through your archive, and want to thank you for sharing so candidly).


janemariemd said...

I am reminiscing about my late Mom, who was a champion knitter. All my life she made marvelous sweaters.

Knitting is wonderful because it is both physical and mental; moreover, there are so many lovely yarns, I see them in the craft stores and I nearly drool sometimes! But, I just don't have it in me to knit right now--but good for you Dr. Smak!