Queen Composter shares her love of knitting.
|Make things you can wear!|
My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was young, although not as young as she was when she learned. In England at the time they taught all girls how to knit when they were five years old, and it was a lifetime passion for her. I like how knitting (among other crafts) links me to my mother and my grandmother, and other women through the ages. Over the years my love affair with knitting has waxed and waned, depending on the ages of my kids and the time I could devote to it, but I always end up coming back to it. I am by no means an expert; I would call myself an advanced beginner as I have never made myself a substantial piece of clothing like a sweater.
Over the past decade knitting has gone through a bit of a surge in popularity, with young people, including men, and even celebrities openly engaging in the fibre arts. It goes along with the resurgence of homespun pursuits of do-it-yourselfers and hipsters. Everything old is new again.
|Knitting isn't just for girls anymore.|
As my grandmother did with me, I am attempting to pass along my love of knitting to the next generation. I gave my daughters yarn and needles for presents two Christmases ago, and every so often they will sit down with me and knit a few rows. I am also sponsoring a knitting club at my school, teaching interested grade five, six and seven students how to knit basic projects like scarves and soft toys. I am pleased that there are even a handful of boys in the club.
So why bother teaching people how to knit when cheap clothing is everywhere? Yarn is expensive and knitting is time consuming. It is easier, and less expensive to just go and buy something machine made.
I believe that knitting is healthy for people, the community and the environment for the following reasons:
It teaches people the value of things. We do not know the true cost of clothing, as with most things in our global consumer culture, and by taking the time to knit, people come to appreciate what it takes to produce what we use. My students are learning this and are surprised how much work goes into even a simple scarf.
Similarly, by knitting, people are learning to slow down and appreciate the act of something, in a mindful way. The slow movement teach us to enjoy the moment in an almost meditative way. There is something about the repetitive clicking of the needles that is soothing and enjoyable. Even though sometimes I would describe knitting as anything but relaxing, like when I’m following a challenging pattern or having to unpick several rows back to find a dropped stitch, knitting can be very relaxing.
It supports the local economy when people buy yarn from craft and yarn stores. I realize that many people buy cheap synthetic yarn from big box craft stores, but as an appreciation for knitting grows, the desire for handspun yarn from locally produced wool grows.
Like my knitting club, it can connect people in a shared activity. We have both silly and great conversations over lunch hour knitting and I feel more connected with the students. When I seek help from other knitters we do more than just knit together, we talk about our lives, our children, issues that matter to us. Connecting with a community is good for our mental health.
It is a low tech activity in a high tech world, and it gives my hands something to do besides play on my smart phone or computer in the evening when I am tired and want to sit and relax. However, ironically, it has given me more reasons to go high tech. I like to follow other knitters on Instagram (including some spinners and hipster yarn bombers) and Pinterest (holy black hole for knitters), and recently I’ve created a Ravelry account to connect with other knitters and seek inspiration.
|Knitting for babies is so satisfying.|
It is a way to make meaningful handmade gifts that have a lighter environmental footprint. Who doesn’t like to receive something homemade? And the giver feels good about giving something of themselves.
In the end, people aren’t going to take up knitting for any of the above reasons, they’re going to do it because it is fun and they get to use things they have made themselves. That is satisfaction in itself.
Who else enjoys knitting, sewing, crocheting quilting or anything else handmade? Do you have other reasons why it is good for you?