Monday, December 8, 2014

Silent crafting

Hello, friends!

Happy December!

There's so much to share, but I cannot possibly cover it all. So let me just tell you about the Makers Retreat held by some friends at a Quaker meeting house. I'm not an expert on Quaker beliefs, but from what I understand, Quakers value silence as a space for worship and insight. So it makes a lot of sense that a fellow knitter who is part of a meeting of Friends would invite others to take part in a silent crafting retreat.

We met at an old meeting house that had lovely natural light and warm tones of wood that seemed to feed the soul. 

After a brief introduction, we split up to find our own space in which to spend the day working on our chosen crafts. I "squirreled away" up in the second floor, and promptly laid out my projects old and new. 

Usually, I do my crafting to the accompaniment of a movie or audiobook, of perhaps some music. It helps when the knitting is a bit tedious. I think some of it has to do with the noise of the environment I am in; especially in the winter months, I am forced to do my crafting by lamplight, as the sun has already set by the time I get home. I think that is part of the reason I so loathe leaving the house on the weekends; I love taking advantage of the natural light, and take comfort in it.

I expected to be overwhelmed by racing thoughts and the "crazy" that sometimes keeps me up at night. But, happily, I found that I was content to follow the rhythm of my lace project.

Knowing that I was there for the day, and having the solidarity of other crafters also coming to be quiet, must have helped. Unlike my usual, frenzied pace of life, I began to experience the meditative side of knitting. How many times have I worked on a lovely project, only to feel the nagging urgency to finish so I can move on to another project or chore?

I have this romantic notion that I could follow Elizabeth Zimmermann's lead into some remote woodlands to settle down and knit, away from computers and televisions, armed with graph paper and stitch pattern books, employing ingenuity and thoughtfulness into my work.  I love that she wrote portions of her Knitter's Almanac while out on camping trips.  For this one day, I felt somehow connected to the ideals EZ has come to represent in my thinking.

As I knit this infinity scarf for my sister, I found it was easier to think about her and put a little extra love (and an extra pattern repeat) into the work.  Rather than feeling isolated, I found that I felt connected to people a bit more. I enjoy being entertained by the many forms of media I have at home, but how refreshing it was to step away from all that and just be present in the moment! It takes work to be silent, especially considering the constant pressure to do more and get more information. I look forward to the next Maker's Retreat, but I can certainly put this into practice on my own by choosing not to turn on the media stream once in a while. It's a start, anyway.