[Image from ashleyv‘s flickr photostream]
I’ve been giving some thought to this lately, seeing as I’ve done little knitting in the past two weeks. I don’t know if I’m still burnt out from the road trip, or if I need a break, or if I need to dye the crap out of yet more yarn, but whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking about my motivation and the lack thereof.
I knit because I don’t do the Zen meditation thing. I have a million things going on at any given time in my life, and I don’t deal with stress particularly well, so I need something that keeps me sane.
In grad school, when my life consisted of design and only design, this was particularly difficult. I would wake up, go to school, come home and do homework until I couldn’t see straight (generally a good sign that I had overdone it, and usually a daily occurrence), and then I’d go to bed until I had to get up and do it all over again. I averaged about four hours of sleep a night, though sometimes I didn’t sleep at all (I didn’t drive myself anywhere on those days).
I started knitting my last year of college, when I was trying to keep my head in all my advanced French Lit classes while also working 15-20 hours a week and putting together a senior Studio project for my major. To top it all off, my then-boyfriend (now my husband) had graduated the year earlier and moved away. I didn’t like my roommate (didn’t dislike her, either, but she used a lot of toilet paper), I was across campus from my best friend, and I wasn’t on the meal plan any more. It was a hard year. So when a friend said she was part of a Stitch N’ Bitch group, I got the brilliant idea to learn to knit, also kicking myself mentally for taking on something else. For Christmas, I received two Learn-To-Knit kits, plus lots of starter yarn, and a family friend taught me to cast on and knit Continental style (I had previously attempted English style, with disastrous results – I still can’t knit properly that way). And I was off, sort of. I gave that first finished scarf to the friend who got me into the whole thing in the first place, and she very graciously accepted it without comment. Thank you, Gemma.
The truly amazing thing about it was that rather than being an extra source of stress in my life, it was the opposite – it was the thing I did when everything else was too much. Granted, everything I knit in those first couple of years was in garter stitch, including a lovely scarf that I somehow did in twisted rib without knowing it, but it let me unwind and relax.
Now, even though the projects have gotten more complicated, I still use knitting as a form of meditation. It’s nice to be able to totally devote my brain to something that clears my head. I completely believe what the Yarn Harlot said about knitters and Buddhist monks sharing the same brain waves, because of the nature of knitting and meditation. That was a total “duh” moment for me.
Lately, the past couple of days, at least, I’ve been feeling the itch to pick up my knitting again as life begins to get crazy. I think this is perhaps why I have so many WIPs going at once – unlimited options.