Those Meaningful Stitches

Mircea Eliade wrote a book titled 'The Sacred And The Profane.' In this book you'll find some interesting ideas about how one person can identify an object as being sacred and another person can look upon the same object and see nothing more than what it is literally. He uses a rock as an example of this. One person could see a magical stone that was placed where it is by something divine (a hierophany), and another person will see the rock as a big hunk of sediment sitting inert.

I see my emotions, happy, sad and otherwise, when I look at an object I have knit. Yet, the person who gets that piece will likely never see those emotions. They are there, but only for me to see. I believe this is why it's difficult to be around someone when they receive something I have spent a long time working on.

Sitting under a Christmas tree, shamefully wrapped, far from where I sit to write this, lie my emotions in the form of a sweater. The happy moments, the weepy stitches, and all other emotions are right there. The white and blue and gray represent hard work, but they also represent my feelings. Gladly, when taken as a whole they convey one important feeling - love. I love the person I made that sweater for. She makes me smile and she brings butterflies to my stomach when I think of her, still.

However, when you dissect the sweater it is a myriad of emotions woven together. I suppose my point is this: we are vulnerable when we create something for someone that takes a long time. We open ourselves up to this collection of emotions, and don't look back. We do it for our own reasons. Happy Holidays, guys. And may your projects reflect who you are.


OKknitguy's picture

I totally agree. I have spent weeks slaving over something and I'm so proud of it, its the first time I learned how to do so and so, or I was knitting that when this event happened etc.. And you give it to the person, and they are like oh, neat and throw it in a chair and then you don't see it again! I gave one of my partners a purse, and she squeled like a pig and there's not been one day that I haven't seen her with it. I sent one to my sister, and after a week I called to be sure she got it and she said, oh yeah, thanks. I knitted some felted clogs for one of my best friends, and he squeled like a "little girl" danced around and hugged and kissed me etc.. for like 30 min. You definitely get different reactions and it sure is nice to get the fun ones! Merry Christmas.

MMario's picture

Coming from a very traditional rural New England background - do remember that some people have difficulty expressing gratitude in public - and public can consist of anyone besides themself!

That doesn't mean a gift may not be appreciated, even treasured. You just may never know that.

So I try to take pleasure in the making, and the giving. what happens after that is out of my control.

Not that I don't enjoy it when there is a huge emotional display of gratitude....

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

kylewilliam's picture

I see where you're coming from - but being the reciever of some amazing gifts (like a quilt I got 22+ years ago from a very elderly lady I knew as a child) - every time I look at her handiwork and the 70+ pieces in each square, I see the love and her thoughts that went into the piece. I know deep down the feelings she had and somehow that transfers through her work. I can't really know what went through her head quite literally - but in an emotional sense, having this "thing" that she made me (even after all these years) brings back the feelings I shared knowing her during our relationship as little kid across the street and neat old lady who made her own soup.

We can't share the feelings we had when creating an object - sharing those feelings is kind of like talking about your dreams - the details are more interesting to the speaker than anyone else... the recipient, quite often, will take moments to stop and admire a piece that is given much later in the ownership of something -

I don't know if I'm making sense at all - but I am looking up that book; it sounds very interesting - thanks for sharing that with us!

Happy Holidays!



skogknits's picture

i have to say, i can totally relate with a recent project i completed. i made a co-worker/friend an earflap hat that he wanted for this season's snowboarding. now, this is not the first item i have ever made and presented to someone, but this is the first time i have had this reaction...he was thankful when he received it but didn't seem overly excited. he put it on to see how it fit, went to go look in the mirror, and didn't take it off all day. not once. wore it all day at work even while talking on the phone, meeting with project managers, and at times had his headphones on over it. it was the sweetest and cutest form of non-verbal thanks i have gotten so far.

(to see photos visit

btw, i have got to say that you, knit and destroy, have such an eloquent way of writing, i love reading your posts (the few that you have done so far that is...=P

What an eloquent and thoughtful essay! I think if people are in tune, then they get something of us when they receive something we make. The colors are clues as you suggest, but I also believe there is some energy there too. No, they don't know every thought we had in the process, which is probably good! For me, one of the reasons I knit, do glass, and journal is to provide an outlet for those emotions. I had an instructor in a glass art class say that "Its all about the process". My understanding has come to be that in the process of making, we are expressing ourselves. The method we choose, the medium, the colors, the steps, etc. are all part of the process and part of what we are expressing. This artist/instructor also said that art/craft is a visual language, and while we don't all speak it exactly the same, we can get hints of understanding from work if we seek to see what it really is that we are gazing upon. This means we probably need to look at it for more than two minutes to appreciate all of what is before us. Not too common in our on-the-go, make-it-to-go dominant culture.

Then of course, there is the recipient's part. If we are throwing pearls before swine, then yeah, the jewels are in the mud. Maybe they are appreciated at some level, but not up to what we might have hoped/expected. I personally refrain from giving hand made things to people who don't make things themselves because the appreciation level is usually directly proportional. If a person is of a disposable mindset, then I don't think that person really thinks of where things come from or what was involved in the making. Everything is just stuff at that point. One of my goals is not to make "stuff" in this life time! Tee Hee! Of course, if its not "stuff" then what is it?

Nice to have found this website, and other men that knit! I'm looking forward to getting acquainted.

Seasons' Greetings to all, and a Happy New Year!

SKHolt's picture

I agree wholeheartedly. As a witch, I've come to appreciate the spell working that goes on with knitting and spinning and find myself weaving into the fabric intentions of love, joy and compassion. At the same time, my own emotions come up. It is amazing and you hit the nail on the head.



kiwiknitter's picture

I just finished reading the book "The Knitting Sutra" by Susan Gordon Lydon (another Secret Santa gift from Aaron) and you might enjoy reading it. The book is her story of a spiritual quest through knitting. She speaks rather well of how we knit a part of ourselves into our work. She draws on multiple traditions but relys heavily on Sufi mysticism and Native American spirituality. It's an easy and enjoyable read.

My knitting is totally tubular!

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly