In the midst of a medical crisis, my long-time friend made a suggestion.
She advised me to find a calming activity that would help pass the time on the road to recovery. Since she’s both a friend and a licensed clinical social worker, I trusted her input.
Not surprisingly, my Type A personality was making it difficult to relax. I tried everything experts suggested: listening to music, yoga and meditation, and even gardening. Nothing seemed to calm me. In fact, some activities actually agitated me.
One afternoon, I found myself strolling down the aisles of the local craft store. There, I stumbled upon the knitting and crocheting section. In the midst of yarn, knitting needles, and other accessories, I remembered an activity that just might be what I was seeking.
I grew up in a quintessential small town. Like many small towns, there often wasn’t enough to keep kids busy, but we had a little privately-owned knitting shop. In addition to selling knitting and crocheting supplies, the owners of the shop gave knitting lessons. By the time most girls in town reached the third or fourth grade, they had taken at least one knitting class at the shop, and I was no exception.
Each of our classes included an assignment that we’d start in class; it was up to us to finish the project at home. Every lesson involved a particular stitch or series of stitches to make a specific pattern.
We completed our lessons in an 8-inch square. When all the squares were completed, we mounted them on heavy-duty construction paper and put them in an album.
I continued those knitting lessons for several years. I also picked up knitting on and off over the subsequent years. At one point, I was struggling with my sight during a bout of uveitic glaucoma. In addition, some days I was experiencing difficulty with my concentration and focus. While I was fairly certain I could pick up the stitches again, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to follow a pattern to complete a project.
Despite my reservations, I purchased a beautiful, lightweight silver-gray yarn. It was baby alpaca wool, as soft as a favorite, worn blanket from childhood. I splurged on bamboo needles simply because I liked the sound they made when they clicked together.
Like riding a bike, knitting comes back to you quickly. I found my rhythm and entered that trancelike state knitting creates. Knitters have long been aware of the meditative effect of the activity. A survey conducted by the Craft Yarn Council shows that 97 percent of the 2,898 respondents practice fiber crafts as a form of self-care. I just knew I was more relaxed and enjoying the process. While immersed in an activity I found soothing, I wasn’t so focused on my medical conditions.
However, this exercise was not without its setbacks. I did experience days when I found it nearly impossible to follow a pattern. A number of times, I had to rip out a few rows of work, which was quite frustrating. In one instance, I found a major mistake when I was just one row short of completion.
Despite these challenges, I didn’t hesitate to purchase more yarn and continue knitting additional projects. On days when I struggled with following patterns, I stopped using them or improvised. This eventually created a rather unique finished product, which became known as “wearable art” to those around me. I started selling my work at art shows, boutiques, and spas around the country as more people showed interest in these one-of-a-kind pieces.
Without realizing it, I had finally found that “thing” that helped me pass the time. Knitting was a simple joy in the midst of a messy medical crisis. But it’s also what helped me create calm and a path to the future, in spite of sarcoidosis.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.