The knitting needles made a slight clicking sound as a I moved from one stitch to the next. The woman sitting next to me looked up from her SkyMall magazine and said, "I love that light clicking sound. What are you making?"
I looked over with a big smile and said, "A baby blanket for my friend.”
"That's great! I love knitting gifts for friends and I especially love knitting on airplanes. I find it calming. Plus, it's so much better to make something by hand instead of buying something out of this."
The woman pointed to the Sky Mall magazine and rolled her eyes. We both chuckled and went back to our respective tasks; I started knitting again and she paged through the magazine.
This quick exchange made me think why I started knitting in the first place. About four years ago we were living in Davis, California and I was looking for a hobby; something, fun, easy and relaxing. A few work colleagues recommended that I learn how to knit. They promised me the experience wouldn't be frustrating and that it would help me de-stress. I never considered myself to be “crafty,” so I avoided the knitting store for a number of months.
One day, I was wandering through Boarders Books and stumbled across "Stitch n' Bitch." I flipped through the book and thought to myself, "Hmmm knitting doesn't look too hard. I could see myself making a basic hat or scarf. Maybe me co-workers were right?" Later that day, I wandered over to the local knitting store and signed up for a beginners class.
For me, knitting is a good time to reflect on life lessons and I wanted to share some of those lessons with you. Before we get going, find a piece of paper or open up a text edit program. I’ve included micro-actions throughout this post. As you’re reading along, write down your thoughts and ideas.
1. It's essential to slow down.
Knitting is one activity that will force you to slow down. It's a great opportunity to be mindful of the task at hand and how you are breathing. It's helped me use my breath as an anchor, when life gets crazy. And in turn, I'm able to slow down and stop rushing around so much.
Micro-action: Remember to breathe deeply as you move through your day.
2. Starting over doesn’t have to hurt.
The idea of starting a project over isn't something to brag about; at least not in this culture. We tend to want everything to be perfect on the first time around, but that doesn't always happen. For example, sometimes I have to rip out my stitches and start over. But starting over doesn't have to hurt; sometimes it's the best place to begin.
Micro-action: Is there a project you need to start over? Think about how starting over can spur your creativity.
3. Don’t forget to keep growing your skills.
All winter long, I had been knitting scarfs and was becoming bored. So my friend convinced me to knit a baby blanket. Every-time I start a new project my stomach fills up with butterflies because I always get nervous. But that's okay. Every new project is an opportunity to grow as a person.
Micro-action: Make a list of new projects and activities you want to accomplish. Would it be possible for you to do one new thing every week? Or every month?
4. Look for opportunities to unwind.
Knitting has helped me unwind the knots in my mind. When I'm knitting I just let my mind wander and I usually end up mulling over my creative projects. The activity helps me focus on what’s important.
Life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye and that's why it's so important to live your life right now, with everything you've got. In my last letter I talked about finding security in an uncertain world. But that's a hard task to accomplish, especially if your mind is filled with knots. Knitting helps me untie those metaphorical knots.
Micro-action: Make a list of things you do everyday to unwind. Are negative thought patterns holding you back? If so, how can you release that negative energy?
5. You can knit together a close circle of friends.
A few months after I moved to Portland, I joined a knitting circle. Every Wednesday morning, I make time to knit. It's one of my favorite times of the week because I get to connect with a close circle of friends. We talk about everything from work projects to what’s going on in our personal lives.
Micro-action: How much time do you spend with friends during the week?
Parting Words . . .
I never expected to learn so much from knitting or that it would become one of my favorite hobbies. Each time I pick-up my needles, I'm reminded of this quote . . .
“Knitting is very conducive to thought. It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles, write a while, then take up the sock again.” ~Dorothy Day
Do you have a hobby that helps you unwind? What have you learned from the activity? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.