Mindfulness & Knitting

The Mindfulness in Knitting book review - Hannah Thiessen

I've been wanting to read this book for awhile. Ever since Amazon recommended it to me, over and over, while I was watching the reviews for my own book develop. Like many knitters, author Rachael Matthews has developed in her own knitting journey over time, and has discovered that knitting slowly -- meditative, thoughtful knitting -- enhances our appreciation of what we are making. I've quite enjoyed pouring through the pages, and although I'm only on Chapter 3 (I'm reading a little bit each evening), I can tell already that I'll be reading it again as soon as I'm through. This is the type of book where you highlight things, and write in the margins, and give yourself little challenges to work on, based on the principles of knitting. As I read my way through The Mindfulness in Knitting , I find myself reflecting on how my craft has changed over the last two years while Slow Knitting was in process.

While this isn't strictly a book review, I do want to give some element of review within this post. The author structures each of the six chapters around a central idea: her own knitting journey, finding community and identity through knitting, and self discovery through knitting are just a few of the topics she covers. Each chapter is accompanied by exercises meant to walk you through a form of meditation. As lovely as the exercises are, I can't see myself doing any of them (sorry, Rachael!) Mainly because, well, I would rather be knitting.

What I have gotten from this book in a big way is a sense of pulling back. This year has barely begun, and I already feel a little overwhelmed with my commitments and projects. I'm upping the ante with my work at Knitcrate - you'll see more from me there, including more blog content and video content on both our Knitcrate and Dyer Supplier platforms. I'm teaching at Vogue Knitting Live starting in March, and that means I have to prepare six classes and a lecture in, well, less than three months now. I am working on another book proposal. I still haven't finished wrapping up the Malabrigo Heritage collection (I'm trying, and I appreciate every email asking where it is! I have set myself a goal to finish it this week!) I am looking forward to teaching at the Harrisville Woolen Mill in the Fall, and I just got the news that my first ever sweater design is going to be published in an upcoming book. It's looking like I'm going to be pounding my keyboard and knitting samples like a madwoman until mid-March, at least. Nothing about what I'm doing at the moment feels slow even remotely -- that's the realness of having a full time job where every hour counts. Sometimes, I sit back and wonder if I could go back to working in a corporate job, just because I think it would actually be easier to sit behind the same desk for a specific amount of time and just get paid. Then, I glance in a mirror and realize that no office is going to let me wake up at seven-thirty, or rock my cat hair covered yoga pants and fuzzy slippers. Even a dream job is still work, and that's life. 

In the end, I feel that I really need mindfulness. Mindfulness is the difference between carefully performed tasks and rushed projects, the bridge that covers the gap between finishing something and doing it well. In our modern, Western world, we tend to be busier than we really have time for, and mindfulness is a reminder to tread softly with ourselves, to do things right the first time, and to take a moment to breathe. This year is full of so much promise, so many expectations. I feel extremely blessed to have gotten asked to participate in these beautiful opportunities, and I want to make the most of them. It's easy to feel overwhelmed, or exhausted, or stretched thin, but instead, I'm trying to feel full-hearted, and excited, and invigorated. Maybe mindfulness is the secret here.