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The Zen of Knitting…

In January, whilst in the thick of my Eating Disorders Outpatient Program, I began knitting.

A scarf. I knit it on circular needles in three colours from a design in Alison Hansel’s Charmed Knits, Projects for Fans of  Harry Potter.

I didn’t follow the pattern very closely. Pattern-following isn’t really my style.

I knit a work of wearable art…

I refined the design. Used three colours instead of two and let my mood dictate when I would change those colours.

Thus, my scarf, which I now wear all the time ~ or as long as it’s still chilly here ~ is a bright piece of wearable art, with no pattern.

My mother taught me how to knit as a child…

She is a marathon, champion, Olympian knitter, and when I knit now, I see her hands in mine. We knit the same way and our hands are very similar. It’s strangely bonding. Even when she’s not with me, she’s with me when I’m knitting.

I didn’t really twig to knitting as a kid and never did much of it. I didn’t have the patience. All I ever tried was the odd scarf knit on giant needles. I never finished these creations, never wore them, never appreciated them.

All that has changed now…

At the Eating Disorders Program knitting is de rigueur. It keeps our hands busy, our minds “focused” and emotions calm. Emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, we get into a rhythm. At least, that’s what I find.

These days, I knit in the car, on the bus, on the subway and whilst watching television.

My knitting really escalated when I discovered in January that my niece is having a baby. I decided to knit her a baby blanket after finishing the scarf.

And what’s magical about knitting is knitting for someone else.

With each stitch, I send a message of love to this new, developing baby…

I think, “let this baby be healthy, let this baby be happy, let this baby be joyous.”

Not far from my house there’s the tiny village of Unionville with a sweet little shop called Mary’s Yarns. My first time there, a lovely woman named Karen outfitted me with the yarns and needles I’d need for my scarf.

The baby blanket is acrylic, machine washable and brilliantly colourful…

On my second visit, Mary, the doyenne of this cozy suburban Toronto knitting community, helped me choose a baby blanket pattern and the acrylic, machine washable yarn that’s needed.

That blanket is now finished and I cannot imagine how many miles it travelled with me whilst I was going downtown to see my psychologist and my other medical specialists. Or while Marty was driving and I was rhythmically enjoying the Zen of Knitting.

It’s creativity. It’s emotional calming. I’ts community experience.

It’s mindful for me…

It focuses me. My mind is often all over the stratosphere. My psychologist wanted me to learn to be more mindful, but I confess, I’m not into examining raisins. However, the gentle rhythm of knitting is perfect for me. The Zen of it works wonders for me.

Thus far, with some extra wool, I’ve knit the baby a hat. My mother told me it’s big enough for a three-year-old, so I’m going to take another crack at a smaller one.

Now here’s what’s really neat…

On my recent visit to see my mother, she confessed she hasn’t knitted in 30 years. One day, she pulled a bag from a drawer in her bedroom. In it, there were five white squares and two half knitted yellow ones. They were the beginnings of a baby blanket, one she never finished.

I started knitting the yellow squares, brought them home, finished them and now I’ve almost finished two more.

She gave me lots of white wool, a bit more yellow and some blue. I’m going to keep on knitting until I have 25 squares.

My mother will help me piece them together and when her  first grandchild is cradled in this blanket, it will be a special mutual intergenerational work of art ~ a labour of love from her great grandmother and her eldest great aunt.

Each stitch is filled with love and hope and calm and joyous wishes, peace and mindfulness, with Zen energy that permeates me as I knit.

Image: The Unappreciated Knitter

The Zen of Knitting…

Sandy Naiman

Sandy Naiman is a Toronto freelance journalist.

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APA Reference
Naiman, S. (2019). The Zen of Knitting…. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Mar 2019
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