Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why we knit, spring edition

Sometimes (like, quarterly) - and even though it looks like the world is full of constant crafters - I struggle with the fact that I only recently adapted to the idea of going to a restaurant without pulling out my current project to work on while I wait for my order.

Why do we knit so much?

When I first learned to knit, I was a teenager with time to kill and a wardrobe to build, so it made sense that I always had needles in my hands.  But now, I have nearly no time and a wardrobe to pare down because Criminy, my yarn stash is starting to encroach on my clothes-closet space (sound familiar?)

During the twenty years between these two periods of constant knitting, I didn't knit at all.  I was writing every day instead, and happy to buy any sweaters I might need.  I didn't even know about handknit socks back then, or it would be a different story, but overall: no desire to knit.

This week, reflecting on that fact produced a sudden insight into...

Why on earth do we knit so much?

Obviously, we knit to place some of our love for others into a tangible thing.

We knit to fill a need, either for warmth or for comfort.

We knit to give back to others, (or to give socks to ourselves, ahem.)

We knit to have things that money can't buy.

We knit to deal with intense emotion, and

We knit to avoid something worse, like smoking or eating or freaking out.

but I think my biggest knitting issue is:

I can't bring myself to do nothing, or at least, only one thing.  I seem to need to multitask to survive, to the point where I must have sixteen sock projects and a shawl lined up to be happy.  Or, to put it another way:

We knit because we're so busy, it's the only chance we're going to get to sit down.

And that's probably good enough for me.

How about you?


Leslie said...

I knit because I have an innate need to make things. AND, like you, I cannot sit and watch TV or ride in a car or sit in a meeting. Knitting keeps me calm and helps me focus on what's going on around me...and gives me an excuse to tune out if I don't want to pay attention!

Mary Keenan said...

You are really onto something with the 'cannot sit' thing Leslie... I get so fidgety sitting, unless I'm completely exhausted!

Trish said...

I knit because I spend so much time watching kids do things - it's a way to make that time productive. It also satisfies an innate need to create things. And it's darn satisfying to finish a project off and know that it exists because of me.

Mary Keenan said...

Ohhh, I like that idea Trish - 'it exists because of me'. SO true.

Unknown said...

I, too, am addicted to multitasking. I never just sit and watch TV. I knit, crochet, read a book, read emails, etc. The bonus is socks, sweaters and scarfs. I have also found that people prefer my hand made gifts. Win, Win! I get to make things and they get home made gifts!

Mary Keenan said...

Karen, I like the picture that's forming NOT of knitters being obsessive, but of knitters being high achievers :^)

Marianne said...

I started knitting as therapy for my hands (RA) but it has turned into a time just for me, I can zone out, tune out the world for awhile. Sit and rest without feeling I should be up doing something constructive as with knitting I am always making something for someone else. So that is constructive!! I have found that the more items I make the more others would want to have them. So with many gifts of yarns I keep my knitting therapy going and I get lots of smiles and hugs (and more yarns) LOL

linda gaylord said...

I knit because I can. I knit because I enjoy it. I knit to fill in the spaces in my day. I knit because I cannot sit with my hands empty. I knit because my grown children ask for my socks and hats for gifts on special occasions. I knit because my two grandsons will not wear hats and mittens to school unless I made them. I knit because family and friends have babies,and every baby needs hand knits in their wardrobe. I knit because it is a useful skill,with a tangible object to show for my efforts. I knit because everything I make not only warms bodies,but hearts and souls as well. I knit because it is my personal method of creative self expression,chosen for its distinct advantages over other crafts. I knit simply because I love to knit.

Mary Keenan said...

Marianne, I love the way that your knitting reinforces the bond between you and the people you are knitting for (even though I know they would love you whether were knitting them great stuff or not, heh.)

Mary Keenan said...

Linda, this is SO well put, and makes me feel much better about knitting just because it feels like 'me' time. It is that for all the reasons you give, but it's also valuable, for all the reasons you give :^)