Religion & Knitting

I was thinking about how religion and knitting are alike earlier and have decided to post my thoughts...they may or may not apply to you, so feel free to pass my comments off as poppycock.

As I continue to grow more and more confident in the fact that I'm a male knitter, I knit in public far more frequently. This, of course, leads to the inevitable conversations with strangers or co-workers or friends about why I knit and how I knit and what it is that I'm knitting.

As this happens, I have begun to feel there is a strong comparison between my religious beliefs, my habit of knitting, how I approached both, and how people perceive both.

Starting out, you approach any religious tradition and knitting with the same kinds of emotions: curiosity, hunger, confusion, apprehension, and maybe even excitement. Your teacher (even if it is yourself) tries to give you a low down on the basics. These are the general precepts. This is what wisdom, morality, and salvation mean. Here are all the sizes that needles come in. And here are only a few of the many ways to cast on.

It seems the more you learn, however, the more questions you have. Some of the dogma and styles you are instructed in just don't fit with what you feel is right or good. This belief goes against what you feel is right. This manner of cast on seems too slow and sloppy.

As time passes, you understand the inner workings of this religious tradition and knitting with much greater clairty. They preach equality while demanding you ostricize the "wrong." The pattern says to begin decreasing on row 32 when that will clearly make the project 2" too short at the least. So it is at this point in time when you begin to realize that there is no one that has a monopoly on the truth.

You find yourself questioning whether religion and knitting are really for you. With the infinite varieties of beliefs and styles, it's almost TOO overwhelming. You think of shelving your Bible and your needles. Fortunately, though, they've become too much a part of your life and you reconsider your decision.

You embark on a fevered quest to learn all you can about the religious traditions and styles and brands of needles that you were told from the beginning were "wrong" or "inferior." Slowly but surely, you realize that your religious tradition is some odd conglomeration of dogma and precepts from many traditions and that your style and preferences in knitting span across the board. You grow ever more confident and continue to adapt and change as you find it necessary.

That's when you take it all public. You mention you have spirit guides to someone or you take out your needles on the subway. In either case, you are likely to be met with looks and queries that make you nervous and sweat. Your voice cracks as you explain why you believe what you do. Your hands stick to the yarn and needles as you openly discuss the passion you hold for the fiber arts.

Regardless, the confused and belittling comments and looks eventually hold little weight. Because the more confident you become, the less people view you as a freak...or, at the very least, the less you notice them looking at you with those disparaging eyes of theirs.

Your quest to discover who you are, what you believe, what yarn you love most, what brand of needles you prefer, what garments you enjoy making, and where you'll go when you pass on is a never-ending, ever-changing quest. Self-discovery may be frightening... Knitting may be intimidating... But when all is said and done, you can succeed at both and be better for it.


Personally, I started knitting 'seriously' because I was a hard-up teenager whose parents would not hand over the money for the latest 'must have' piece of winter knitwear. I cannot find a connection between my need to knit and my religious beliefs. Maybe I'm just thick.

Celowin's picture

That is a fascinating, thought provoking, and yet still amusing self reflection. I enjoy reading about others' thoughts as they progress.

Thinking on my own journeys both in knitting and religion, I don't see them as being as closely parallel as yours. Both have been journeys of self discovery, but each has led me down different paths.

SKHolt's picture

Interesting perspective. For me knitting is very much a spiritual practice.

As a witch, I find myself often times knitting in a specific intention either for myself or for the loved one I'm knitting for. I find the whole process of shearing, cleaning the wool, carding, dyeing, spinning and knitting a great metaphor for the process of making something beautiful and practical from the natural world. It is a process that like wine making is grounded in this world that we live in. It's also a very sustainable way of living with the earth and honoring the creatures that are part of this world too.

As a Buddhist, I also do mantras with each stitch. It is also a way for me to focus my mind and my awareness.

I have lots to say about this, but little time to write this morning. Thanks for starting this thread.


teejtc's picture

I think you have a point with the connection. I'm a minister, and several of my colleagues knit -- as a matter of fact, a few of us have taken to occasionally knitting our way through denominational meetings (people don't know whether to laugh or be angry -- it's kind-a funny).

On a psychological note, I wonder if knitting and some spiritual disciplines/practices are so similar because they cause similar bodily responses....?

Grace and Peace,

OKknitguy's picture

One of the best books I've read is "Zen and the Art of Knitting" Its great. It shows the connections you talk about. I personally knit the rosary as I am doing mindless knitting like knitting in the round where I don't really need to keep my mind of what I"m doing. I feel that putting some spirituality into my work, especially if its a special gift for someone I love and know, makes it that much more special. Perhaps the Blessed Mother can help protect that person etc...


guywhoknits's picture

i love this book! What great book it is right on with all the religion talk. I love the connection between knitting and religion. It is such a calming soothing action that happens when you knit, almost like your meditating I LOVE IT! I am always in the zone, something about the action of knitting, counting stitches...esp when knitting in the round!

I also pray the rosary when I am doing repetitive knitting - it's amazing how many decades fly by while I am stitching!

Crafty Andy's picture

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I think a lot of people have a connection . I myself do chant and pray as I knit or crochet, 75% of the time. Multitasking as you may call it. Knitting is also personal, it belongs to me, it comes from me. It is my creative spirit expressing itself. When someone criticizes my knitting is like criticizing the way I embrace the Gods of Kobol! The say Knitting keeps the Cylons away!

kiwiknitter's picture

If I ever thought that religion had any connection with my knitting, I would cease knitting straightaway.

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

Chris Vandenburg's picture

Yugi, good for you! Religion comes in many forms and it doesn't need to always be connected to a 'higher form'. I have my God, my knitting and my bourbon. Heck, how many more masters do I have to serve? (kidding)

Nice essay,

"If a man has cream at home in the refrigerator he won't go out looking for 2% butterfat"
............Erma Bombeck

mr.strange's picture

Dead on. Completely! I have had similar "musings" on the very same connection between the two here recently. Kudos to you for voicing them!

vettechadam's picture

I find that knitting calms me ---- makes me think clearer and really is that zen in life. I do feel that kniting may not be my religion but is my meditation

rjcb3's picture

I really like your way of putting it.

I've likened knitting to meditation and prayer before...where each stitch is a mantra to be done over and over and over, etc. again.

When you knit everything into what you're making, everything evens out in the fabric that's produced by it -- just like answered prayers.

...unless you're a beginner and don't have much control over tension yet, when you have a nice even tension, you can't tell which stitches have what "knit into" them. Everything evens out in the end.

Maybe it's just my upbringing and understanding of things, but, you can also feel the energy left behind...some of the more "religious" (ummm...Christian) recipients of some of the gifts that I knit would say "You can feel the love knit into them" and I couldn't (actually "wouldn't") bring myself to remind whoever that I was raised with my brother by my grandparents in an "old-fashioned" Pagan family where there wasn't any religion at all -- trust me...the movie "Practical Magick" had NOTHING on what we were.

I really, really, REALLY like what you had to say.

Thanks for saying it. 'gave me something to think on today.


Well, for my 2cents, with the innate interconnectedness which permeates everything we are and do, I guess I can go for spirituality in anything. Religion -just my own view- is to be eschewed if not downright vigorously avoided. Settling on religion is akin in my mind to reading one author and claiming to have read everything worth reading.