In a world of separation, where we don’t know where our food comes from or how any product really gets to us, who made it, or how it is made, it is the solid and earthy things that bring us back to understanding the ground. And for that matter, I’d say they bring us back to understanding our place and space in this world as stewards and creatures of this wonderful (and, dare I say, woolie) creation.
It is in that light, that I would like to look at the practice of knitting.
First, knitting is a centering pursuit. It’s meditative and gives us time to think in a world where we seem to be busy and running all day. It is akin to prayer, once you get the hang of it. It allows your brain to sort through everything in the world around you, pay better attention to what is going on, and relax. I have also witnessed knitting carry people through very difficult times in their lives, providing something productive and soothing for them to do when they can’t really seem to do anything else. There is power in a practice like knitting and it internally affects us.
Second, it brings us into a community. And I don’t just mean a community of knitters, which it does, by the way. Remember those mittens, knit with love, by your grandmother? Those. You hated them as a child. They made it hard to make snowballs, but now you wish you had just one pair by which to remember her. Knitting connects us to generations past and present. It connects us to all of the households throughout time where people have spent time eating, playing, and working. In addition, it brings us close with our friends and loved ones as we knit for them or with them or are knit for by them. It allows us to put wishes and blessings into each knit garment, and it allows us, in a very tangible way, to help in God’s good work of keeping others and ourselves warm and comforted.
Third, it reminds us of the earth. Wool is not so abstract. Ask small children where wool comes from and they’ll say sheep. Ask them what a sheep says, and they’ll say baaa. The further I get into my fiber arts career the more I am reminded of creation. I now know many people who interact with that creation in an intentional way on a daily basis. This has increased my appreciation ten-fold for those who love the land and animals and sacrifice many things to steward them.
Now that you know my basic theology of knitting, a brief, recent example from my own life demonstrates the second thought, that knitting brings us into a community. My mom, recently retired, has started knitting again after a fifty year hiatus. I re-taught her. She and I are both busy knitting for my baby who is due in June. He or she needs wool soakers to go over cloth diapers. My mom has knit a blanket. I am working on some six month old and larger sweaters. She regularly calls me up to get on skype so that she can show me her most recent creation. Although 2000 miles separate us, knitting has brought us close together on a weekly basis. To me, few things are as magical.
Cosette Cornelius-Bates (aka Cosy) is our current featured artist. She is a fiber artist living in Pittsburgh, Pa. She has a background in the fine arts, and she has an MCS from Regent College in Christianity and the Arts. She is the author of Knit One, Embillish Too, and you can purchase her work from her Etsy Shop.