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A Stitch In Time? - Knit For Health
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A Stitch In Time? - Knit for Health

I missed out, to a certain extent, on the swinging sixties ... the sex, the drugs, most of the rock and roll (in spite of a crush on Paul McCartney). Most of that passed me by - but then in 1967 I was only ten. Yet, occupied for the decade with school, ballet classes, relaxing, being pampered - I can certainly vouch for the sixties being something to write home about.

One thing in the cosy corner of my memory is learning to knit. A pretty useful trick to know, it has proved to be a great currency among friends and family, a pleasing source of gift giving, an economic way to clothe yourself well and, in the lean times - applying it to commercial ends - it kept body and soul in close contact. Plus, my relative sanity can probably be attributed to it.

I learnt by the side of my mother. A prolific knitter - clothing four daughters kept her needles busy - she provided role model and guidance. Spare moments practising near her as we listened to 'Housewife's Choice' on the wireless, shaped my serenity. Knitting is creative, rhythmic and fulfilling.

I remember asking my mother if men did knitting, as I did not recall seeing my father with the requisite paraphernalia. It seems he did learn when I was born (I was the first) and his career produced one baby bootee.

So, what of men and knitting? It cannot be said its zen tranquility does not offer respite from the hurly-burly of modern life - this, only for women? Empyrical evidence is contrary ...

One of the most beautiful, delicate, lacy shawls ever seen was knitted for a friend's newborn by none other than her grandfather. Former merchant seaman, he found active encouragement aboard ship to learn knitting - especially for sock making. From functional to decorative, this man (and others) became very skilled - took to it like a swarthy seafarer to water!

The most famous male knitter is probably Kaffe Fasset, veritable king of all things woollen. I recall he came to prominence in the 1980s with the massive resurgent interest in knitting and knitwear (remember the penchant for big, fancy woolly jumpers and cardis?). I remember umpteen knitting competitions won by men. One memorable tv presentation was to a builder who sheepishly (pun not intended) admitted that until that moment, none of his workmates knew he knitted! A helluva way to blast out of the knitting closet for a nationally acclaimed first prize!

But, it was a touching story I heard very recently that triggered this reflection. A woman - avid knitter herself - noticed a fairly young man on a town centre bench absorbed in his craft and asked him what he was making. He told her, extolling the virtues of the activity and explained that it had brought him back from the brink after he had learnt how to do it in rehab. He maintained the repetitive rhythm and the joy of creating centred him. A pity he didn't learn as I did - he may never have needed rehab.

Like any activity, it is not for everyone but the opportunity for children to sample contemplative activities in school is far less available than in the past. Why is this? I suppose the emphasis is geared up to the go-get-it culture that has gripped society of late. Is it working? Maybe, maybe not, but the growing casualties of modern life bear witness to the fact that the times - they need a-changing ... If we want health and happiness - born of simple pleasures - for future generations it's time for the tide to turn


Street Talk

Thank you Sherry, yes time for contemplation seems to be overlooked in general. We're expected to keep going like automatons (if that's how you spell it!) - I'd miss my four days staring at the wall if I toed that line!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Great article... I maintained my sanity/ balance for years designing and needlepointing my own patterns. And I seemed to have forgotten that until your article refreshed my memory. :-) One of my favorite books at that time was by a football player, Rosey Grier, Needlepoint for Men.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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