I used to sit and watch my grandmother knit in my younger days. She wasn't an expert but just loved to knit. She made many scarves, hats, and socks for us. Whenever she was knitting, she was visibly relaxed. Even at five, I could see the tension leave her body and her demeanor often changed.
My grandmother led a good life as a simple farm wife whose main focus was to raise her children, be a good helpmate to her husband, and practice her beliefs.
Life on a farm was stressful. Often the only ones you could depend on was family and neighbors to see that the work is done. It meant that you often worked from sunrise to sunset. Everything seemed to be in a state of preparation: prepare for the winter, prepare for the harvest, prepare for the planting season, etc.
Often in the afternoons, we had a quiet time. I played "grown up" serving my grandmother tea and cookies, while she knitted. She often told stories about when she was a little girl growing up in Kentucky playing with her siblings and cousins. However enjoyable that time became, the knitting was the constant. The rhythmic, repetitive movements seemed to be singing a song. I watched how the yarn pulled from the ball causing it to roll around in the basket near me, the pulling of the yarn, and the gentle clacking of the needles.
The next step was to teach me. You have to understand I was a very active child. Hardly sat still ever for more than a few minutes. However, grandma had plenty of patience. I was a very active little girl, and it was hard for me to sit still for any length of time. With alot of concentration, I was able to master the basic knit and purl stitches. However, my tension was a lot to be desired. I made a coverlet for my doll, Susan's bed. Looking back it was an interesting sight. Some stitches were tight, some loose stitches, some tight...a few dropped stitches, but I was still proud of it.
I put the knitting away and did not think about it for a long time. Later, when I was married and living in Illinois, my husband was the assistant administrator of a small catholic hospital in Danville. One evening, after dinner, he broke it to me he had volunteered me to drive the catholic sisters to a knitting class in Champaign, Illinois (45 minutes away)once aweek. The sisters were a very special group for me, so I signed up for the class also. I perfected what I found out I didn't know and made several sweaters that winter. Unfortunately for the knitting, we moved to Indiana and I went back to school for my nursing. Raising children, studying, and keeping up a household took every second of my time.
A few years ago, a friend and nurse co-worker and I decided to take up knitting as a way to maintain our friendship after we left the hospital. It served as a common interest when we retired. It has been three years now, and knitting is a part of my life. We take classes and share our knitting stories. When I am plotting my stories or thinking about my characters, I usually do it when I am knitting. It also goes back to the phrase of my grandmother, "Idle hands are the Devil's workshop". I have found working with my hands while I am thinking causes me to think quicker and deeper. Many times when I have had problems with writing, a few minutes of knitting clears my head and I can move forward.
The use of the rhythmic, repetitive movements of the hand distracts us from thinking of our past or present problems. According to an article in Psychology Today, knitting is instrumental in lowering blood pressure, heart rates and assists with the prevention of stress-related illnesses. So my friend, I highly recommend signing up for a knitting class and opening your minds.
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