Thursday, May 31, 2012

Zen and knitting

I find the concept of Zen - the way the word itself has come to represent calm and wisdom - so fascinating and soothing.  In some ways, it’s a lot like knitting.  It’s got simplicity, patience, attention to detail, and it celebrates organic qualities. 

The part I struggle with? 

The idea of transcending the material.

Because I have a lot of material for crafting. 

Not as much as Cathe Holden though; I must say that her remarks on the temporary storage in her driveway made me feel tons better about all the sock yarn I wound into double cakes up there. 

Speaking of sock yarn: yeah, I know, I seem to have a lot.  And after I got it all divided into two cakes of equal weight, involving many many hours of winding and weighing and snipping and packaging with labels, I realized I had forgotten to wind a few more skeins that lurked in the bottom of some other storage drawers, so – basically, I'm never going to knit all the socks for which I have yarn.

All of which means that these two cakes really stood out for me as possible shawls. 

They are from Viola and I love them, which is totally unrelated to the question.  The question is, how many shawls do I have already and how many more do I need, and if I need  more do I need them in these colours?

I agonized about this for a long time, wondering whether perhaps my thought of shawls was connected to my thought of being really really sick of winding yarn cakes. 

Then I carried the cakes to other people who don’t knit and don’t care and think I’m a little crazy over the whole knitting thing to start with, and I asked them whether these two yarns should be socks or shawls.  Some said socks, some said shawls, perhaps according to preference and perhaps because they wanted to go back to whatever it was they were agonizing about.

Then suddenly I thought, I am definitely crazy.  I bought these things for socks, and I need subtle semisolid socks, and they should be socks.

So I wound them into double cakes.

And you know what?  Maybe that’s where the Zen lives in the wonderful world of yarn accumulation.  Letting the yarn be what it wants to be.  Even if it wants to be part of a huge pile of as-yet-unknit yarn.


Julie said...

Knitting is rather zen like, have you read The Knitting Sutra? I enjoyed it and I think you would also. There's not as much about knitting in it as you would guess.

Mary Keenan said...

I'll definitely check that out, Julie - thanks for the tip!

Karen said...

I have to admit that I have several shawls, and find them immensely useful for things like summer evenings when it's a bit too chilly for bare arms, or driving in the car when everyone else wants the a/c cranked to maximum. That said, you can't go wrong with another pair of socks! :)

Kathleen Taylor said...

ahem.... Knitters Loom.... ahem....

Mary Keenan said...

Kathi, the knitters loom doesn't get its paws on this sort of yarn till I get really good at using it! which is taking a super long time given that I've had to bury it under a stack of study materials, sigh