When I think about knitting and whit it means to me it takes me back to a time of turbulence and uncertainty in my life. A time where there was no stability outside of my hands and what they could potentially do. In my late teens and early twenties, I suffered from an undiagnosed illness that caused my body to turn on itself and begin to wither away, and with each negative test result came more anxiety and fear. Doctors began wondering if I was doing this to myself which led to a great deal of mental anguish. As I sat one day with fidgety hands, a mind that would not stop racing and a body that seemed to hate me, I knew I needed a distraction. I remembered being taught to knit and crochet as a child and wondered if the gentle hand movements and moments of focus on simple things would give me reprieve from my own thoughts and physical pains. I found it to be the sole practice that could begin to unite my body and mind together again, after so much time of one hating the other, this internal unity seemed so foreign and I began to desire it so wholeheartedly. Not only did I long for the distraction and focus on something other than my broken body and swirling mind, but for the gentle mindfulness that it brought to me. As my hands moved and my mind settled on the slow and smooth rhythm, I was able to focus on that exact moment without a head full of noise. It narrowed my thoughts enough to remove the crippling anxiety that would roll through me when I would sit and let my present state of circumstances come to mind. I was able to focus only on the one or two thoughts at a time while relearning this practice and it allowed me to be wholly present, with each row knit, focusing on a specific thought or feeling, calmly acknowledging, processing and finally, letting go. This did not change my physical state, but it was certainly instrumental in changing my mental state.
Knitting helped me to begin to reclaim my mind and to bring harmony between my physical and mental being. The benefits have been such a gift. Years later, now, with a diagnosis and years of remission I continue to turn to my hands, yarns and needles when I need a break from the endless thoughts that will swirl, especially in this crazy time we are living in right now.
Knitting serves me in so many ways that I know nothing else can do. Knitter'sPride has taken a big part in recent years, helping me to be able to continue to use my hands to sooth and calm my mind. The careful construction and love that goes into producing their needles allows my hands to benefit from their quality, reducing fatigue. The ease in which they give to each project allows me to continue to use my time knitting to focus on my mind and wellbeing and that is a gift that cannot be replaced! Being mindful is a mental state that I believe anyone can achieve. Having the ability to focus your awareness on each present moment, calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts can seem overwhelming and at times impossible. Perhaps using your craft of knitting or crochet can help you get there as it did for myself. Taking the time to sit with your hands, as they intentionally move, to chose to be present in the moment, to choose to focus on one small thing; the needles clicking, fingers flicking, yarn wrapping, you might be surprised at how your thoughts slow and become a rhythm with your body, finding unity and perhaps mindfulness. It is a practice in and of itself like knitting. The more you practice the easier it becomes! Give it a try, you have nothing to lose yet so much to gain!!
Ashley Polesel of Hooked On Threads