The hand actually defines us in many ways. When you think about what makes our species unique and special, it’s having thoughts and being able to make those thoughts real. And the way our thoughts become real is through use of our hands to build things, to make things.
— Neil Shubin, Your Inner Fish (PBS)
When you think about it like that, making things is magic. And magic is spirit. I don’t believe in spirits or ghosts or non-corporeal beings made of light and energy, but I do believe in the magic of making things.
Just like in fairy tales and Harry Potter, in the magical world of making things, there is light magic and dark magic. Knitting is light magic. It gives us so many things besides a beautiful finished project.
Knitting gives us:
- The excitement of creativity
- The joy of color
- The pleasure of textures
- The peace of meditation
- The power of independence
- The thrill of learning
- And so much more…
What does knitting give you? add it in the comments!
Mass production, sweat shops, slavery, and so much of the industrial world is dark magic, some of these things are even black magic. Things are made with “built in obsolescence” — we’ll want a new phone next year and our washing machine and coffee pot will wear out in 5 years, so we have to constantly be buying new things, and we fill the landfills with so much junk that it threatens to take over the world. That’s what I wrote about in my fairy tale, “Knitting the World Together” in Stories In Stitches 4.
I have much more to write about this, because I’m not finished thinking about it and writing is the way I sort out my thoughts. Sometimes I wonder whether the industrial revolution made the world better or worse. Without it, we wouldn’t have antibiotics, birth control, movies, or the internet–all things that have made my life immeasurably easier and more pleasurable. But so much of the system is based on taking advantage (in the worst way) of cheap labor so that those of us who are already much better off than the low-income laborers can have more stuff to make us feel better about ourselves.
Personally, I’d rather knit. I still wear the sweaters my grandmother made, some before I was born. Yes, I wear cheap t-shirts, and mass produced blue jeans too. I used to sew all of my own clothes, but that was before I worked full time. And buying all hand-made, non mass-produced clothing is not something I can afford as a small-business owner with no day job.
Somewhere, there must be a balance and a way to support sustainable, small, local businesses without going broke. By making things, we leave a message for the future — whoever gets what we make, will know we took the time to make something lasting, something important, and something non-disposable. The things we make do not belong in the landfill. They belong in a hope chest, in a museum collection, in our great-great-grandaughter’s closet. The things we make are eternal. They’re spiritual. And they are made with the magic of our hands.
To learn more about my book series Stories In Stitches™ and to read more stories like this, visit www.storiesinstitches.net. The first 4 books are available now. They feature knitting stories from “Around the World” and book 4 is all about “Knitting and Spirit” with stories about the spirituality of knitting from the perspective of many different faiths and traditions.