Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Empowered: A Post about Women & Knitting and (a giveaway)

I was recently contacted by Laura at Open Road Media about participating in a Blogfest for International Women's History Day. The goal of the Blogfest is to build on the 2012 National Women's History Month Theme of "Women's Education - Women's Empowerment" by talking about how women are empowered by knitting. Each blog post starts with the above video made by several Open Road Media authors (Joelle Hoverson, Andrea Berman Price and Melanie Falick).

I was instantly intrigued and agreed to participate. I was so honored to be asked. So here are my thoughts on Knitting and Empowerment. I found I had a lot to say.

When I first thought about the history of knitting and women, I thought about how women began knitting as a necessity. They needed a way to make warm clothes and thus they knit them. And I too see the power in knitting something that meets such a basic need. Clothing. It's right up there with food and shelter. And there is something very empowering about creating such an essential item, especially when I am knitting for my children. I feel a little bit like Supermom every time I see one of my boys in a sweater I've knit him. I love that I created something that both keeps him warm and brings a smile to his face.

Knitting gives us women not only the power to create a functional piece of clothing, but it also gives us the power to create exactly the piece of clothing that we want. It starts small--the power to choose the color yarn that you want to use. Next you might chose a specific yarn fiber to meet your specific needs of climate or wear. After that you get to make choices about sizing--making parts larger or smaller to fit just right. Next you get to choose to follow a pattern or even create your own. Finally, and in the mind of my boys, most importantly, you get to choose the finishing touches, the trim, the buttons or other embellishments. I don't know about you, but I've never seen a rainbow cardigan with red elephant buttons in the store, but that is exactly what my son needed. I have to power to make that for him and it is wonderful. Knitting has the power to create not just knitted items, but the power to create smiles.

Knitting to me is truly a labor of love. Knitting something for myself or my child or a friend, is the process of putting that love into an object one stitch at a time. That finished object, whether a sweater, a shawl, a hat, a blanket or a pair of mittens, can be worn, held, treasured. It is a tangible, lasting symbol of my love. I have the power to create that each time I knit and it is amazing.

The power of knitting is not just in the finished objects, but in the process itself. There is a special kind of magic in the way two sticks and some yarn can turn into beautiful fabric. I am always amazed when I look at the simple beauty of stockinette stitch. The fact that by combining a few simple stitches I can create cables, textured patterns, and lace--LACE!--it is magical.

Knitting is a kind of therapy. The repetition of stitches, the process of producing something gives the knitter a sense of peace and purpose each time she sits down with needles and yarn. I often call knitting my happy place. It is the one thing guaranteed to make me feel at peace. It is both soothing and rewarding. Knitting can turn mindless TV watching into something productive. I no longer feel guilty about the hours spent watching drama evolve in fictional characters' lives. I'm not just sitting--I am knitting. I am creating. I am being productive.

After a knit item is complete, the joy continues. Now knitters are empowered further by the kind words and complements we receive each time those items are worn. It is always fun when a non-knitter is amazed by something I've knit, but it is even more empowering when I share those items with a fellow knitter, for other knitters know the labor of love that went into that knit item. And knitters are an amazing bunch. They love to share their knitting knowledge and to encourage their fellow knitters. Knitters have built themselves such a community of support using the internet to spread the love and information. Locally at knit shops and internationally through Flickr, blogs and Ravelry, I have been adopted into that community of knitters. And each time I get a comment from a fellow knitter, I feel further empowered--empowered not only by the accomplishment of another skill learned and another project completed, but also empowered by my membership in this community of women who all embrace the art of knitting and all it stands for.

Knitting gives so much. The power of productivity. The power of creativity. The power of purpose. The power of pride in a job well done. The power to show my love, my knowledge, my creativity one stitch at a time. Knitting is not just a craft or a hobby or a skill or a job, it's a superpower that this community of women have shared and will continue to share for generations.

So what do you think? How does knitting empower you? If you're not a knitter, what craft "superpower" do you have?

Don't hold back. Comment away. Next week, Laura from Open Road Media will give me and one random commenter from this post a complimentary review copy of the ebook edition of Michelle Edwards' incredible A Knitter's Home Companion via NetGalley. This looks like a wonderful book about knitting and I can't wait to read it!

To check out the rest of the Blogfest and read some great posts, go to the Open Road Media Blog here.


sduyka said...

My grandmother taught me to work with all types of sticks and strings when I was very young. She taught me to sew, cross-stitch, crochet, embroider and everything else you can name. I loved sitting with her while she told me stories of her life. I crocheted for a long time and have only recently taken up knitting again (I am 57 years old now). I have found that it is knitting that is my passion! I find it so soothing and yet challenging too! I am in awe to see my knitting begin to take shape. With every stitch I make, I always send love to my grandmother. Thank you Bomba!

TcuFrogRN said...

Wow everything that you point out makes knitting look different to me. I had never really thought about Knitting in that way. Knitting for me is about zoning out, relaxing and making something for someone to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I love color, fiber and creating; knitting and crocheting are my passion. Sharing my craft with others is one of the most rewarding facets of my life. My prayer shawl group has ministered to hundreds of cancer patients, children and adults with illnesses, people with broken hearts. A little piece of love is within every shared knitted or crocheted item.

Marcie said...

I have always loved creating with fabric or thread or yarn. over the years i have made many presents for not only my family but some special friends. what i love about knitting is that i can travel with my husband and go into new yarn shops wherever and meet a new community that accepts me immediately and we have something to talk about and compare notes. it is relaxing and peaceful, but productive. i am so happy i started knitting 5 years ago.