Knitting groups have a long history of bringing people together. The movement of the knitting needles offers an opportunity to reflect, and knitting projects can spark conversations in a supportive community. Knitting groups gather to create meditation shawls, or to knit preemie hats for local hospitals. Knitting groups are stable, with the love of the craft forming the glue that holds a knitting group together.
I had the honor of running an eight-week mindful knitting meditation session at our local YMCA. For the project, we knitted a meditation shawl. As I welcomed everyone and looked around, I was delighted to see all ages, each with their own experiences. As we met, the group got closer every week, and the conversations got deeper. I read a quote at each session, and later I sent the quotes in an email so everyone could create their own knitting journal. The knitting journal wasn't about gauges, stitches, patterns, or designs. The journal was a knitter's companion, a place to write down feelings and reflections. As stitches flow on our needles, so do our thoughts.
Each person had their own story to share, as unique as their own style of knitting. One woman shared that she knitted socks as a very young girl during World War ll. The yarn was coarse, and it wasn't easy to 'turn the heel' or knit up the toe. Using double pointed needles was a challenge for a young knitter, so she shared that it was forty years before she picked up her knitting needles again. Recently, she was intrigued by a knitting class at a knitting store called “Knit Your First Sweater.” She entered the class with renewed excitement for knitting. At the class, however, she was instructed on a new way to knit which didn't seem natural to her hands. She found that she was discouraged, so she lost interest in knitting again.
I began the first class of my mindful knitting meditation sessions by talking about how we all learn different styles of knitting. There is no wrong way to knit; it's a matter of moving the stitches from the left-hand needle to the right-hand needle with the working yarn either wrapped around the fingers, or to 'throw' with the right hand. Each row creates fabric, no matter how you do it. The woman that hasn't knitted in forty years shared that she felt so pleased to pick her needles, and that she felt a renewed sense of joy. Today’s knitters also have the advantage of new techniques and tools. It was more difficult to make socks before the Magic Loop Knitting Technique. Or today, we have the Mindful Collection 10" Fixed Circular Set, and the Generosity Set with 2" tip set for socks and small projects.
We enjoyed each other's weekly progress, shared stories, lots of laughs, and a few tears. A bond beyond the knitted stitch was created.
Mary Ann Gebhardt began knitting at the age of seven and started practicing yoga in her twenties. Yoga transformed her life by providing newfound balance and flexibility, while knitting has always been calming and meditative for her. Picking up her knitting is truly pure peace for Mary Ann.
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