Monthly Musing – March 2023 – Mindful or mindless?

I’ve just been having a conversation with my husband about mindful knitting.  Or mindless knitting, perhaps, as I think it can be both.

We didn’t start off talking about knitting; we were talking about mindfulness and meditation in general, something that we’ve both tried to incorporate into our daily routine for quite some years now.  However, it’s not always easy to keep up the habit (well, maybe it is for some people, but I regularly fall in and out of it!) and we were talking about how you could turn anything you were doing into your day into something that you became entirely focussed on or not, depending on the moment.  It doesn’t take much to guess that I would find a way to turn this conversation to knitting!

You can think carefully about every stitch you make, from pushing the needle through a stitch to wrapping the yarn around it to creating a new stitch, appreciating the yarn in your hands – or you can switch off as you make new stitches, moving onto autopilot to keep your hands and your busy-busy monkey mind occupied whilst your thoughts turn elsewhere.  Once you’re past the beginner stage that requires ALL the concentration, you are free to employ your mind with your knitting in any way that you like, and that makes it quite a unique skill.  Many activities that you might take up require absolute concentration (chainsaw sculpting springs to mind) and I don’t think there are too many where you can switch from mindful to mindless in seconds without really thinking about it.

In our efforts to stop overthinking, controlling our wayward minds and turning everything we do into something with another purpose, the flexible nature of knitting is a popular choice for examination and dissection.  Just what does it mean to knit mindfully?  How much notice do we take of what we’re actually doing with our hands?  There are books, articles, podcasts and videos on the subject, all of them very useful as it is good for us to be rooted in the present rather than pre-occupied with things we can’t change in the past or things we don’t know will happen for sure in the future.

For some people, though, this is enough for them to want to poke someone with their knitting needles and shout, “STOP!”  For them, the pleasure of knitting is just the doing, not thinking about what they are doing or why they might be doing it.  Having to examine your movements in minute detail takes away the joy and turns it into an exercise rather than something to pick up to occupy your hands in spare moments.

I think it’s wonderful that we have so much choice.  Even after all the years that I have been knitting now, there is still so much to learn, so many more techniques I could discover and now, fashionably, I can be mindful or mindless whilst doing so.  Knitting really is the gift that keeps on giving!


I made this video a while ago – I thought you might like to see it again!

You may also like...

5 Responses

  1. Sally Aiello says:

    Did you read or listen to Michelle Obama’s “The Light We Carry?” She has a nice segment about learning to knit during the pandemic.

    • winwickmum says:

      I’ve got the book in my pile to read and I did start it the other day but haven’t got much further than the first chapter. I can tell it’s going to be a good read, though, so I must make time for it. I did know Michelle Obama was a knitter as I’ve seen posts on her Instagram page, and I’m glad that she’s found it something that helps her as we all know it helps us! 🙂 xx

  2. Susan Rayner says:

    I am a knitter who knits because I like to make things and I cannot watch TV without something in my hands to knit and that is almost the only time I knit – in the evening in front of the TV.
    Maybe I could turn washing the dishes, making the bed, hoovering into something mindful – but knitting remains almost automatic apart from when I am knitting a new and complex pattern.
    I must try that Michelle Obama book.
    I am finding it hard to believe that April is here – already.

  3. Caz Abbinett says:

    I watch tv or listen to audio books while plain sock knitting….patterned sock knitting is my mindful time????
    I was recommending your book last week at the library when we were chatting about sock knitting….looking forward to the new pattern coming out ????????????

    • winwickmum says:

      Ooh fabulous, thank you! My book is available at the library if you ask them, I think, although you’ll be past the basic Super Socks version by the sounds of it! 🙂 xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *