A Knitting Mantra


The beginnings of the diagonal keyhole scarf.
Knit. Knit. Slip. Slip. Knit. One two three four five six. Yarn over, wrap all the way around. Purl two three. Slip slip knit. One two three four five six. Yarn over, wrap all the way around. Purl two three…

That’s my mantra. Knitting is a meditative hobby, but unlike traditional forms of meditation, while the mind is stilled by concentrating on the repeating pattern, the hands are busy and something tangible is produced. Type A meditation.

Sometimes it’s hard to count to six. Because at four you start thinking about that medical test report you are waiting to hear about. Or as you are wrapping the yarn over the needle you think about the person who didn’t come through on their part of the project at work or school, and you make a mistake. You sigh, breathe, unknit and start over, repeating your mantra.

I like to knit things that have an interesting enough pattern that it takes me a little time to memorize it, but not so interesting that I am constantly referring to a chart or a set of instructions. Knitting plain sweaters is okay; the knitting is simple, but I’m constantly having to stop and measure or count rows and decreases, so there is no chance for the rhythm and mantra to work to still the mind and soul.

Right now my mantra is a diagonal keyhole scarf made with yarn bought at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. It reminds me of going somewhere fun with two friends. It has the perfect pattern for memorizing, and it is keeping me from dealing with the harder bolero project that is requiring too much measuring and row counting for my tastes right now. As my needles click back and forth and I still myself enough to be able to count to six without distraction, and worries both big and small dissolve, if but for a little while.

Author: Michele

Michele Arduengo is a life science and medical writer by profession and a creative non-fiction writer by hobby. In addition to publishing Grits and Purls since 2008, Michele has published essays in Wisconsin Woman, Chicken Soup for the Soul and has a weekly column in her local newspaper.

5 thoughts on “A Knitting Mantra”

  1. Lately I have been enjoying knitting a fair isle vest, and I have been wondering why I find the process so cathartic. My mantra is the alternating 2-color pattern on each row, 2A 3B, 2A, 3B, etc.. It requires just enough concentration to be interesting, but not so much that I have to think too hard.

  2. Much like when I groom, walk or just sit with my dogs. Very good theraphy for the soul! A lot of prayers for healing have been said while I have a dog curled up on my lap, allows me to slow down and just think or maybe not think just enjoy that slow down of time. In a busy world people need to find something that they enjoy and gives them peace and comfort.

  3. I knit a little myself, and I find it very relaxing. The problem is that whenever I start knitting something, it takes two months or more until I’ve finished it!

    Lovely blog, nice design (;

      1. Haha 😀
        well two months is a long time for knitting a simple scarf, for me at least. I get a stressed feeling if I take too long to finish all my small projects I have going on all the time!

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