Articles

Knitting Cleanses Minds and Wounds

By JENEÉ OSTERHELDT
The Kansas City Star


Knitting needles create my mantra for relaxation.

The soft click and clack as I stitch a scarf sings me into tranquillity. If it were yoga, it would be the downward-facing dog, the revitalizing stretch said to help calm the brain, rest the heart and energize the body.

“We try to do so many different things at once, everyone is always multitasking,” says Karen Roark, owner of Urban Arts & Crafts in Kansas City.

“To just sit and knit is calming. The repetitive motion is soothing, it’s rewarding to accomplish something and relax.”

Sometimes I’m so busy running around to the rhythm of everyone else’s schedule, it stresses me out. On days like that, I go home, pull out my needles and set my own pace. As I knit each row, the beat carries my worries away in its song.

Sometimes it’s a happy song, like when I’m knitting and reminiscing about good times. Other times, it’s angry. In a fit of frustration, I once knitted an entire scarf in three hours. By the time it was complete, the anger was gone. All I could do was smile at the long, charcoal-gray scarf.

Whenever I pick up the needles I think of my older sister, Mitzi. She taught me how to knit two years ago, and in a way it contributes to the comfort knitting gives me. It makes me feel like, even though she is in North Carolina, we’re linked.

“It takes you back to the value of friendship we’ve gotten away from as women, like when women used to get together for quilting and canning,” my sister says of knitting. “Women are so competitive and caught up now that they’ve gotten away from that sisterhood. Knitting helps bring them together and remind them of the importance of those bonds.”

My friend Ajia says knitting is mind-clearing.

“First I focus on getting even stitches, and once I get going I forget about anything else that was on my mind.”

Tabbetha McCale learned to knit as a child and has turned it into a career — she has a trunk show Friday at Tomboy.

“There is something very satisfying about making something with your hands,” says Tabbetha, 38. “There’s something about the stretch and give of the fabric that’s very gratifying.”

The yarn stretches and pulls into beautiful creations, making it worthwhile. But the special something is in the give and take.

I give my stress to the needles, and in minutes I’m letting it go in the rhythm of the soft click and clack.

 
© The Knitting Haven 2006
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