Coming out of the knitting closet

“Tell me about the knitting”
“The knitting? You mean you want me to tell you what I’m knitting?”
“If you like. I’d like to know more about what’s going on with you and the knitting, how it makes you feel, why you do it..”

And so began a very odd dialogue with a therapist that I saw through a tricky bit of life in the mid 2000s. I wouldn’t even have mentioned the knitting except that I was describing how I enjoyed reaching the part of the evening where I could pick up my knitting and put the telly on. In order to happen, it needed the kids to go to sleep after I finished their stories, and for no one else to be around, and for me to stay awake for a bit longer. At that time I was only managing the odd evening like that.

And so I did as she asked, and explained about the knitting.

“Well I sit like this..”
“With your arms joined around the knitting?”
“Well yes. In order to knit your hands have to bring the needle tips together, so I work along the needles, and they are sort-of joined with my hands like this. It’s the yarn that makes the join”
“And why do you wait until the children are asleep and no one else is around?”
I felt like it was obvious, but saying it out loud made me realise what a strange habit it was.
“It’s just what I do when I’m on my own. I like the repetitiveness of the stitches, sinking into the rhythms I make with pattern repeatsofaknittings, doing whispered counting, and the stories I tell myself as I go up and down the rows and round the rounds. I like the way my hands know how to hook the yarn and create fabric without thinking, and the way that the stitches grow row on row into something completely new that makes sense in a whole new way.” And I realised there wasn’t really a reason to do it on my own except that’s how I always did it. And so it went on and on – the story of my secret bit of occasional evenings which I’d never thought was even a story to tell.
And in her wise and studied way, she explained back to me that she saw the knitting as creating a small bit of uninterruptable space around me – a physical and mental space. Her analysis made me think of it as a yarny wall  enclosing my own imagined secret garden. We only talked about knitting occasionally after that, but she’d planted an idea and got me thinking in a new and bolder way about my private habit. She encouraged me to see that there was something valid and even nourishing about the hours of working along my stitches. It wasn’t something I wanted to make a statement about, but I began feeling more inclined to pick up my needles even when I wasn’t alone. They came out with me to the pictures and the park, to cafes and friends’ houses. My projects grew faster and more prolific. I was still knitting quietly but it was out loud. And by losing my knitting shyness I discovered a world of knitting sharing that really did change my life..

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