How Knitters Will Save The World

 I just realized today that knitters will save the world.

 Today, after my annual eye exam, I got to spend some time at Borders. I’ve slowly been reading through this cheerful stack of featured books about how we’re all going to hell in a specially designed handbasket. Barbara Ehrenreich, that kind of thing. I picked up this book called, “Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age.”

 Cheerful reading, I know.

 The basic premise of the book is that modern technology and the modern lifestyle has eroded our attention span, and the deep thought required to sustain a society. People reflect less, don’t take the time to disgest information. They don’t have spaces of silence. We place equal value on virtual communication as we do on actual contact with…gasp…human beings!

 The author argues that this means that we will be heading into a technologically advanced but still declining modern Dark Age. People will lose (and have lost) their ability to dwell and muse and think about one thing, one subject, on problem. They’ve lost their ability to not do.

 That’s when I realized that knitters will save the world. Not just knitters, but weavers and crocheters and spinners and everyone that is helping to preserve these ancient crafts. I put down Distracted and proceeded to thoughtfully advance the coming Dark Age by doing two things that once. I knitted my lace shawl and I listened to some podcasts.

 Knitting—at least, a lot of knitting—requires that kind of concentrated attention. Lace, for instance. It took long, extended periods of times when I pushed aside everything else so that I could focus on nothing but slender silver stitches. Now that I’ve gotten the feel of my pattern, I’m experiencing a special kind of zen when I’m working on this now. I feel confident. I feel focused. I’m slowly creating a delicate, impossibly intricate fabric, dreamed and imagined up by other knitters, hundreds of years ago.

 My cabled beret sucked me in like that, too. I was zoned out, in that famous flow state in which I continued to knit, row after row, even when my hands hurt. Believe me, that hat is not perfect. I flubbed a bit of the tubular cast on. There are tiny mistakes that only I notice. But I still felt that.

 In a curious twist of serendipity, I was listening to the 66th episode of the Cast On podcast. Brenda had Cat Bordhi on her show and Cat said something that really connected with me, something that seemed to pull together my scattered thoughts into a whole.

  • “Knitters, when you bring them into knitting, there is something that rises through the knitting that is…it’s like a deep hum or a deep rhythm, something primal and simple and peaceful…*”

 That’s what will save the world, I think. Not cloth grocery bags, sustainable energy or organic yarn, as wonderful as all of those things are. But returning to that deep, concentrated energy, that kind of unthinking thinking that comes to people in different ways. I’m not trying to sound all guruy, because I’m the last person on the earth to turn to for advice, but I think people need distractions when they force themselves to live lives that they dislike. When they skim over the surface and never connect with that creative power that they have. Maybe it comes to them through carpentry. Or pottery or heck, designing car engines. For many people, it comes through knitting.

 And that’s just fine.

(*That was my transcript of what she said, I edited a tiny bit for clarity. Go listen to the show yourself.)

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August 25, 2008. Uncategorized.

8 Comments

  1. Aunt Kathy replied:

    “Knitters, when you bring them into knitting, there is something that rises through the knitting that is…it’s like a deep hum or a deep rhythm, something primal and simple and peaceful…*”

    Yeah that does say it all

  2. AJ replied:

    Not only will we SAVE the world, we will CONQUER it! And people will live in fear of our really pointy sticks! Prepare for total domination! (*evil laugh*)

    No… but in all seriousness, that sounds like one depressing book!

  3. Dava replied:

    “That’s what will save the world, I think. Not cloth grocery bags, sustainable energy or organic yarn, as wonderful as all of those things are. But returning to that deep, concentrated energy, that kind of unthinking thinking that comes to people in different ways.”

    “Unthinking thinking.” I think that’s a very eloquent argument for art education!

  4. knittenkitten80 replied:

    Saving the world out of stress-filled fear won’t help anything. Saving the world out of peaceful. gentle, thoughtful, not to mention knitting, will redeem us one stitch at a time.

  5. Knittah replied:

    I haven’t read the book, but it seems to me that the ability to sit and contemplate, to not do, is a modern development (at least in the west) to begin with. How many people in the 13th through 18th centuries were able to engage in peaceful contemplation of one idea?

    But I agree with you, knitters will still save the world.

  6. Marissa replied:

    We, the knitters, and the Irish, will take over the world! Yarn and whiskey for everyone!

    Though, I’m not too sure if my Denise needles will inspire fear or make people laugh at me when I threaten them…

  7. tonia replied:

    I’m not a knitter (but my podcasting ‘better-half’ does enough for both of us), but I did study ceramics. With ceramics there are periods of utter focus and concentration but there are also periods where all you can do is wait for the clay to dry enough to become ready for the next stage. It’s not just the patience (which seems to be too readily viewed as unproductive time) but the ability to ‘read’ and develop an understanding of the character of the material that seems to be missing from mainstream education.

    Getting clay out of a bag and wrapping it in a plastic bag from one week to the next is not going to give satisfactory results, on any level.

  8. Around the Yarniverse: Links of Interest for Knitting and Crocheting Fanatics « Laurel Hill Knitting Needles & Crochet Hooks replied:

    […] The Lumpy Sweater: How Knitters Will Save the World: You may have seen the recent Time article that Google is making us dumber? Well, according to The Lumpy Sweater, because knitting (and crocheting and many of the fiber arts) take so much concentration and focus, it has the potential to create (or recreate) the ability to think deeply and thoughtfully. This quote, actually from the Cast On podcast sums it up: “Knitters, when you bring them into knitting, there is something that rises through the knitting that is…it’s like a deep hum or a deep rhythm, something primal and simple and peaceful…*” […]

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