I learned how to knit about nine years ago. Although I had learned to crochet as a young girl – some very basic patterns, I must admit – I always thought that those two straight needles looked much too complicated to use, so I never had any interest in knitting prior to 2000. Well, that year my oldest daughter started first grade, and learning how to knit is part of the first grade curriculum in all Waldorf schools. Then I thought, “Surely if first graders can learn to knit, I can learn too.” Plus, I wanted to be able to help my daughter in school and this was one skill I hadn’t gotten in my first grade.
Thus, I began my journey into knitting and purling, casting on and casting off, cabling and other complex stitches, not to mention an entire – sometimes overwhelming – world of yarns! My first project was knitting a few cotton dishcloths using wooden needles. Though I had no need for a set of fancy dishcloths, each one offered an interesting pattern for learning. (My children have used those sentimental prototypes many times for playing, but I have never let them get wet much less wash a dirty dish!)
Knitting is a joyful, creative endeavor, allowing me to tap into my passions for color, texture, beauty and form; it can also be soothing with its rhythm, simplicity and order. In her book, The Knitting Goddess, Deborah Bergman gathers together instructions, mythology, projects and advice for knitters, novice and new. Through stories of Goddesses, archetypes and martyrs – such as Isis, Brigit, Rachel, and the Moirae – she traces strands of fiber to find the roots of knitting, weaving spirituality and magic into every page and stitch. As readers we begin to see how deeply our spirituality and human needs have been intertwined and supported by fiberwork around the world for centuries.
As we awaken more and more to our own spirituality and the connectedness of all, I must wonder if this has something to do with the latest resurgence in knitting and its sudden popularity in the new millennium. And, now, as the economy and structures of our current systems begin to shift, I can see the Goddessly wisdom of Bergman’s words a she reflects on the story of Ariadne:
Maybe you haven’t tried knitting before and you’re looking for something new and creative to delve into during these tumultuous times. Perhaps you’ve whipped out a few fashionable scarves, or have mastered the basics, found a fabulous pattern, some luscious yarn and made yourself (friend, partner, child) a whole sweater! Whether it’s the knitting or the stories that draw you, The Knitting Goddess offers inspiration to our hands, heart and soul. In my own knitting pilgrimages, I have reverently discovered Bergman’s observation, “…the rhythm of our craft opens us and introduces us to our own natural creative and spiritual keenness.” And she urges, “Try it sometime. Somewhere in the deep background of your soul, whole ancient civilizations of the spirit can rise and fall while you knit a sweater. Try it. You’ll see.”
More books about knitting and spirituality: