Just What Makes Knitting So Special
Until you have gotten the knitting bug it’s hard to understand. The rush of endorphins when you step into a yarn shop, the lanolin rich touch of that special local farm yarn, the rich vibrant colors from your favorite Indie Dyer, planning and plotting your next project, meditating and putting all of your energy into each stitch, and then the most satisfying feeling of proudly wearing something you made.
But wrapped up inside the entire process are some big themes that many can relate to. So just why is knitting so special?
Ask any avid fiber artist why they practice their craft and they will almost always say 'stress relief'. I have heard stories upon stories from people who have used knitting as a coping mechanism from anxiety, loss of a loved one, sobriety, loneliness, and depression. According to the organization Mental Health America, knitting has the benefits of lowering blood pressure, reducing depression and anxiety, slowing the onset of dementia, and providing a distraction from chronic pain.
The recent article by the New York Times 'In a Stressful Time, Knitting for Calm and Collection' talks about how knitting as a method of reducing stress has risen exponentially since the pandemic. A clear sign that people are reaching out for something tangible to relieve their stress and be ‘productive’ at the same time. Oh if the stitches of 2020 could talk.
An incredibly diverse subculture, the fiber arts community is made up of everyone and anyone you can think of. Raverly is the homebase to a large part of this community. Here you can search for patterns, share your projects, or join one of 13,000 groups. Instagram is another virtual hotspot for makers and what I believe is a social media community that is like no other. I would never have dreamed that I would have first met some of my best friends on social media before meeting them in real life. The love of yarn brings a diverse group of people together. And while nobody in this community is perfect, it’s a place to grow and learn as makers and humans, be inspired, and connect.
And we can't talk about the knitting community without talking about your LYS AKA Local Yarn Shop. The heart and soul of fiber arts, you will find yarn shops and makers that gather in them strewn across the world. In unsuspecting places like Beaverslide Dry Goods that lives in a roadside Cache in Dupuyer, MT; in bustling city neighborhoods like Brooklyn's String Things Studio; in quintessential American towns such as The Mermaid's Purl in North Kingstown, RI. If you're a new or seasoned knitter, your local yarn shop is almost always your best place for resources and making new friends!
Anyone who is a lover of textiles can appreciate good yarn. And once you start working with it? Then the creative juices start flowing. You might struggle with some creative bits of knitting, maybe you don't know how to put colors together or maybe you need a pattern for every garment you make. But within the world of yarn there is something that will spark your untapped creative knowledge. This easily fits into all of the aspects we are talking about today too. Creativity is great for mental health, you find your community by geeking out about the same pattern you're crazy about, and of course there is an entirely new way to look at your wardrobe.
”Seventy-five percent of fashion supply chain material ends up in landfills. This amounts to ‘the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles per second.’”
— Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018 Report
Slow Fashion is quite the buzzword these days. We know that knitters have been into sustainable clothing for centuries. And with the onset of a Pandemic many of us took a good look at our own personal footprints on the planet. Studying your closet and how different pieces make you feel is a great step in starting something like a capsule wardrobe. Finding out what is missing will help you determine what you might want to knit next.
We asked one of our colleagues, Rachel Bratcher of Ritual Dyes, to talk about her perspective on 'Slow Fashion'.
"Slow Fashion is something I aspire to and try to incorporate whenever I can. It doesn't save me time or money and I consider it a privilege to be able to participate in the Slow Fashion movement. What it does give me is a sense of intention. When I am slowly making something, like this cardigan, it gives you lots of time to appreciate the effort. I have memories of places I have been, feelings I was feeling at the time of knitting this piece and a different sort of connection to it than I do for my store-bought purchases. Also because I know how long it takes me to knit something or make something, I spend more time deciding on the materials and pattern to see what would be the most useful piece to add to my wardrobe. That being said, I still love shopping in stores! If I can buy from other makers, even better."