The Knitting Sutra
Craft as A Spiritual PracticeBook - 1997
"The purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind so that it can sink down into contemplation of its true nature. You cannot stop your mind by an act of will any more than you can stop the beating of your own heart. Some cultures describe mind as a drunken monkey, reeling from place to place with no rhyme or reason. Like meditation/ knitting calms the monkey down....I believe that in the quiet/ repetitive, hypnotic rhythms of creating craft, the inner being may emerge in all its quiet beauty. The very rhythm, of the knitting needles can become as incantatory as a drumbeat or a Gregorian chant."
-- from The knitting Sutra
Knitting as prayer? Craft as spiritual path? In this wonderfully allusive story of the quest to master a craft, Susan Gordon Lydon's love of knitting and her search for spiritual insight become powerfully and lyrically intertwined.
Lydon's journey begins when she knits a turquoise chenille sweater to help a broken bone in her arm "knit." In pursuit of a perfect silver button for her sweater -- and a medicine man for her arm -- she ends up on a Navajo reservation where a community of women live by the proceeds of their craft in a unified cycle of livelihood, art, and spirituality. They remind Lydon of the women on the Shetland Islands who developed classic knitting patterns and of the women who gather at her local yarn shop. From old-fashioned quilting bees to the hundreds of knitters who communicate on the Internet, she recognizes in craftspeople the confluence of self, community, creativity, ritual, and the urge to beautify the everyday.
Each new knitting project she begins and every new skill she masters bring her closer to serenity and insight that have sometimes eluded her through years of spiritual explorations. In one passage, her arm healed and her passion for knitting rekindled, Lydon finds herself selling old books and clothes to buy a particularly extravagant yarn. The red sweater it becomes represents the lessons in daring and self-trust she learns while crafting it. Even a bout with cancer ("I particularly didn't want to die because I wanted to finish my Alice Starmore sweater") and the hiatus from knitting a tendinitis diagnosis demands guide her to take the lessons she has learned from knitting -- sitting still, focusing the mind, asking for help -- and apply them to the rest of her life.
Dedicated to "all the women who knit too much," Lydon's rich insights will delight and inspire all who seek the extraordinary in the everyday.