Keep calm and cast on

I recently came across The Gentle Art of Knitting by Jane Brocket.  The key thing about this book that caught my eye was this passage…

Gentle knitting is knitting for comfort and to create comfort. It is knitting you can pick up when you have a few moments, and then put down without worrying that you will never remember where you left off; knitting that allows the mind to wander pleasantly without getting tangled up in repeats and row numbers; knitting that can be combined with other good things in life such as families, friends, chat, cake, tea, films and radio. It is knitting for the simple pleasure of knitting and of making something you like.”  Jane Brocket

While I’ve always been aware of “conscious” and “unconscious” knitting, I’ve never heard it described in this way and thought it was a very apt description.  I think of it as the difference between knitting for the process and for the product; the repetition of the movement, concentrating on creating one stitch after another without consideration for the final outcome, it’s that meditative state.  At the end of the ball, you could almost unravel your knitting and repeat the process to reap the benefits again.

It appears I’m not the only one to experience this…  Sabrina Gschwandtner says that she “started knitting to stop thinking”; the act of knitting in silence, thinking of nothing and concentrating on making the small, repeated loops.  She was looking to make something without over-deliberating about it.  While fibre sculptor Karen Searle talks about the “repetitive and meditative process of knitting”, and Lindsay Obermeyer “finds the repetitive process of knitting important, both in clearing her mind and in connecting to herself and to her visual perspective on the world”.

The conscious act is knitting an item with an end purpose in mind; you want it to look or fit a certain way, you’ve probably selected a pattern and/or yarn to help achieve this.  Depending on what you’re making and the difficulty, this may even be a stressful or frustrating process.  It’s all worthwhile when you see the finished piece (assuming you get that far!) and feel that sense of achievement though.

For both scenarios, I believe this poster from the Laylock Knitwear Design blog sums up the sentiment that most knitters have towards their craft…


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