It all kind of happened out of the blue; me learning to knit. I had ‘sort of’ crocheted on and off for years, but nothing fancy, just blankets or squares or other things that didn’t require much direction or concentration. Then one day, Alisha came by and was knitting a yellow scarf. I remember this because I instantly hated the color – it was too loud by itself and I felt almost offended by it. I was curious, though, as I tend to be, and watched as she made progress (albeit a little slowly, she was still learning).
Those of you that know me well should realize that it didn’t take long for my competitive nature to win over my will to not conform.
Alisha complied and showed me the basic knit stitch. I took some acrylic yarn I had laying around and knit a square. I think. I can’t actually remember the first thing I knit, but the second was a terrible garter stitch scarf made out of some wool/acrylic combo that I wouldn’t be caught dead with now.
Well, friends, that was about 2 years and a few thousand dollars ago and I’m now utterly content to be deep in the knitter’s culture. I’ve gone to a knitting retreat, traveled 300 miles for a yarn store opening, I regularly stalk the Loopy Ewe, Etsy, and Woolgirl for cool new indie dyers, have a relatively good knit book collection, have dabbled in fair isle and immensely enjoy cabled projects, and I have a stash that I am not fully comfortable admitting to. I have met some fantastic people through knitting, and lately I’ve been thinking about the practice of knitting as it applies to me versus the concept and practice of organized religion.
First allow me to say – I mean no offense to those with deep spiritual beliefs. Each and every person has the right to believe whatever they so choose. Conveniently, that right applies to my lack of belief as well. I make every effort to be respectful with friends and acquaintances when the subject of religion comes up, and when that fails I tend to either change the subject or find something else to focus my attention on. I have a myriad of points I could make here, but I’ll drop it and move on to the point of this entry.
“Knit On, with confidence and hope, through all crises.”
Above is the famous quote from Elizabeth Zimmerman. I’ve heard and read this quote in passing half a dozen times, but I came across it again this weekend and it got me thinking. How true is it, really? Obviously, not everyone in the world knows how to knit, but those of us who do have made it such a part of our lives that it helps to define who we are.
I’ve always thought knitting was a prime hobby not only because it results in beautiful, handmade items, but also because the items are useful. Many women knit prayer shawls as a way to express their concern, love, and hope for the intended recipient. We knit chemo caps for individuals battling the harsh effects of cancer and its’ treatment methods. We knit blankets and hats and booties for babies in the local NICU’s. We knit clothing for international charities and for our troops. Why? Because across the lines of religion, we all care for the well being of others.
I’ve never been to a women’s church group meeting (for what I assume are obvious reasons), but I’d like to think it involves women of a certain faith, coming together on the factor they all have in common (their church), and learning from each other in all other areas of life. Maybe that’s sharing recipes, tips on raising a healthy and happy child, career advice, etc. I’ll assume it is also a way for them to learn different ways of interpreting the Bible.
Now, think of the parallels to your local knit night. We all come together on the factor we have in common, the fiber arts (knitting, crochet, spinning, etc). At our LYS, we have at least Baptists, Catholics, and Atheists, but I assume there are probably some Methodists, Lutherans, maybe even Jehovah’s Witnesses (apologies if I spelled that wrong). Religion rarely comes up and we are able to connect to each other on other levels. If that doesn’t compare almost exactly to the community support of a church, I don’t know what does. I’m sure there are some that will say that nothing could compare, and I would disagree.
If knitting is to be a filler for religion (even in a satirical sense), then I propose that Ravelry should be the bible. Not only is it full of the most useful information you might ever need, it also changes with the times to best serve the needs of the current population. You can get guidance there on anything you need and….
…ok this is just getting silly now. It’s still hard to write out what I want because I feel a bit censored (even on my own website, wtf?)
I guess the point is that I’ve finally found a few people that I can relate to when it comes to religion and its so nice not to feel alone on this point. I probably could have summed up the whole entry in that one sentence, lol.