I’ve been teaching people at work to knit. I love getting people into knitting. It’s like getting people addicted to something that’s good for them. But some folks have a hard time understanding why you’d take the time to knit something you can easily buy. We were talking about learning how to knit before a meeting started and one woman commented, “I know how to buy socks at the store,” and gave me a look that told me she couldn’t think of anything that could be a bigger waste of time than making your own socks.
My answer to that comment will take a few paragraphs to explain.
With any craft — sewing, knitting, spinning — you have to learn a few new skills. This is good for your brain. You get a feeling of accomplishment and a greater understanding of the way the world works.
Next, you get to shut the rest of the world out for awhile. Knitting and spinning are meditative endeavors. And I’ve almost never come away from a round of knitting without an idea for something to write about. Activities like this have a way of allowing your mind to start composting all the garbage that’s been floating around in there. After an hour or two, you can end up with some pretty good stuff.
Then, there are the longer term benefits. You are surrounded by items that you made. They are exactly what you wanted. They keep you and your loved ones warm. They look impressive to strangers.
Then, there are the very longest term benefits.
The other day, Ben’s parents sent us a package. Inside was a small quilt sewn by Nora’s great grandmother. Mary Safratowich died of cancer more than ten years ago. She was a crafter-extraodinaire. My mother-in-law, Deb, has saved many things she made. Nearly every year, she passes a handmade item down to one her children, or to Nora. A decade later, we are still enjoying things Mary made: quilts, Christmas ornaments, tapestries, hand puppets, you name it.
And these items give us an opportunity to talk about Mary with her great-granddaughter. We tell Nora how Mary was one of the sweetest people we have ever known, and how if she were still alive, she would be doing crafts and baking yummy things with Nora every chance she got.
Shortly after I showed Nora the quilt, Nora said, “When Hoover dies, he can be my great-grandma’s dog and it will sorta be like a farm.” I’m guessing in her little brain, our departed chickens are already in Mary’s care. Nora is able to understand who her great-grandma was when she looks at something she made.
So, naturally, as I sit in a chair in my living room while Nora naps, working on a lace scarf for my mom, I take comfort in knowing that, should I end up in my mom’s shoes one day — with Alzheimer’s — or, of course, just eventually dead and gone, the items I made will remind my family of me. They will have something I took the time to make, not something I casually purchased. And they will remember my love for them.