The Zen of Knitting

By Legal Eagle

I quite like knitting. As it happens, I haven’t really had the time to do any since I went back to full time work, and so there’s a plastic box containing half a shawl and half a kid’s jumper under Eaglet No. 2’s bed. But there is something really soothing about it. It can feel zen-like – but you also have to concentrate (there’s nothing more frustrating than dropping a stitch or having to unpick a whole row because you mucked up the pattern).

Anyway, I came across this nice story about an organisation called Knitting Behind Bars. It seems that the prisoners really appreciated the chance to do knitting, although they were very doubtful about it at first, thinking that it seemed too “girlie”. But ultimately, they found it therapeutic, and enjoyed making stuff for needy kids.


  1. Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Men who knit are subject to all kinds of stupidity from strangers, and this reminded me of one story. Franklin Habit, who blogs at The Panopticon, is a knitting designer and teacher. He is also a very out-there gay man and Hispanic. Once, on a long distance bus trip, as he knitted away on a delicate lace shawl, he realised the woman across the aisle was eyeing him strangely. Being used to this reaction he ignored her. Finally she leaned over and whispered “Did you learn to knit in prison?”. Franklin considers himself a cultured man with a classical education (and a well-developed sense of irony), so this was a particularly funny thing to happen to him.

  2. Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    There are lots of men’s knitting groups online and face-to-face, especially in big cities. They often find yarn shoppi9ng particularly difficult, with staff assuming they know nothing, are shopping for their wives or mothers, etc.

  3. paul walter
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Its good to take on that sort of thing, a little project, do it right enjoying it as it comes together and you reaffirm yourself.

  4. Posted February 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m all in favour of men knitting but I doubt if there is seriously any kid so needy as needs a hand-knitted item. Even in WWI, hand-knitted socks must surely have been a motivational device rather than a genuine need (though I stand ready to be corrected on history-of-machine-knitting grounds).

  5. Mel
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]:

    “Glad Franklin has taken up the needles on behalf of men.”

    Breaking taboos is a brave act. A man who knits in public is far braver than a jughead who does “something special” on the sporting field.

    I used to have a pink credit card. That’s about the extent of my bravery, I’m afraid ….

    ps my partner has an industrial sewing machine and overlock and practically can’t stop making things. This means I get to wear bespoke boxer shorts 🙂

  6. Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Mel, if we are talking about living with knitters…

    The man I live with knitted me a jumper in yellow and black horizontal stripes. That was in 2003.

    It was very (for Sydney. mostly too) warm on account of a polo neck. I didn’t wear it much. It made me look a bit like a bumble bee.

    In 2011 he unpicked it and knitted a different design with convex black side-panels in an attempt to simulate as far as possible a waist. I’ve worn this more often in one Sydney winter than I managed in all but the European winter for which the original was knitted.

    I’m not sure what moral I can draw from this, other than to marvel in admiration at the perseverance of knitters and to repeat my doubt as to its utility for the needy.

  7. Mel
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Knitting has no utility for the needy as clothes are so cheap, even more so now with the high value of the Oz dollar. However I can see how it is good for the psyche. I guess my equivalent is reading pulp fiction and tinkering away with native plants and moving rocks. I just love moving rocks!

  8. Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Marcellous, I rather like the sound of the second jumper, but I’m even more impressed by his unpicking the old one and knitting something new with the same wool. Unpicked wool always seems like a curly mare’s nest, I wonder how anyone could do anything with it!

  9. Posted February 17, 2012 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    I’ve just recently taken up knitting, and currently have about a fifth of a sock. I completely agree that it is meditative – the only kind of meditation I can do, which has to involve repititive movement and focus on some type of action so my mind is engaged enough that it doesn’t wander off at whimsy. I’ve taken to coming home from work, throwing myself on the sofa and knitting a row or two as my segue out of my working day. In this manner, I will have socks in, oh, a year or thereabouts. It’s very much about the process and not at all about the end result!

  10. Posted February 17, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Slightly off-topic, but hillarious nonetheless…

    Extremen Knitting (QC Comic)

    I used to knit when I was a kid, and as a boy, I would get constantly teased about it. Admittedly, all I knew was how to cast on… I only learned to actually knit a few months later, by which point I had forgotten how to cast on…

    As far as therapeutic value goes, I think the frustration of missing stitches probably outweighs the benefit, however if you have any sort of skill with it (I don’t…) it would be wonderful and relaxing. I prefer listening to News Radio… equally mind numbing.

  11. Posted February 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Is it possible to knit with rubber needles? Otherwise giving a pair of sharp metal stilettos to convicted felons doesn’t seem such a great idea…

    …to say nothing of the garrote potential of feather boas. 😉

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