World wide Knit in Public is celebrated on the second Saturday of June every year. According to the Ordnance Survey, knitting is one of the top twenty forgotten skills in danger of dying out. Among the other skills are map reading, knot tying, using a compass, handwriting, and identifying trees in nature. Knitting is a craft that is highly mobile, people who knit in public spaces transform mundane into creative. Knitting can be used as a tool for relaxation, to minimize anxiety, to help relieve stress, and as a means to focus the mind.
My mom always had a pair of argyle socks for my Dad on her needles. She also knit the most gorgeous ski sweaters for my siblings and me. Mom taught me to knit when I was eight years old but I became obsessed with crocheting afghans during my college years. I returned to knitting when I moved to Maryland in 1987 after attending the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. The quality of fiber/yarn was mind blowing and inspiring. My first project was a scarf knitted In waffle stitch with a hand dyed baby alpaca wool, I was hooked. Thirty six years later, baby alpaca and merino wool are still my favorites for all knitting projects. I’m currently knitting vegetables, mermaids, fairies, booties, scarves, mittens, and the occasional hat.
Knitting prompted me to learn more about meditation so I read Zen and the Art of Knitting. This book confirms everything I feel when knitting, it is a creative meditation. Zen and the Art of Knitting uses knitting as a metaphor to discuss the unity of all life and the spirituality involved in endeavors carried out with mindfulness. Knitting has been called “the new yoga”, since every knitting session is a great opportunity to disconnect from the outside world, slow down, and focus. By relaxing into knitting, attention can be on breathing, clearing thoughts, and taking the time to be in the moment.
Research suggests that the cognitive demands of knitting can also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, as it keeps the brain cells fired up. Just like you have to use your brain to keep it healthy, you have to use your joints to keep them healthy as well. Knitting has been shown to be better than typing by improving and maintaining dexterity and strength in your hands. Knitting helps make cartilage stronger instead of wearing it down, which helps stave off arthritis inflammation.
In the winter months, my favorite spot is in my chair in front of a cozy fire knitting and drinking hot tea. On weekends in warmer months, I love to sit in that same chair, knitting, watching a movie while drinking a glass of rose’. I’ve knit on cross country plane trips, in restaurants in New York City and Florence, and at the Delaware beaches. I bought beautiful yarn at Liberty of London, at Purl in New York City, in Berlin, MD, and in Wyoming, I shop for local yarn whenever I travel. There is a wonderful knitting group that meets at the Dorchester County Art Center on Fridays from 10:30 to 12:00. Wendy Karpavage (who owns a yarn shop) facilitates the group.
I plan to take my current knitting project and my grandchildren to Storm and Daughters for ice cream on Wednesday, June 7 for National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. We will knit in public (my grandchildren are finger knitters) and feast on delicious ice cream!
“Knit your hearts with an unslipping knot” – William Shakespeare
Kate Emery General is a retired chef/restaurant owner that was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming. Kate loves her grandchildren, knitting and watercolor painting. Kate and her husband , Matt are longtime residents of Cambridge’s West End where they enjoy swimming and bicycling.