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Knitting & Yoga as Life's Teachers
by Michelle Pietrzak-Wegner

 

 


Think about it, it’s a rare sight in our high-tech, fast-paced world to see someone sitting still and working with their hands in an effort to create something...and no, sitting still and staring at a small screen with thumbs idling tapping away a text message does not compare. I’m talking about the crafters: the knitters, the crocheters, the needleworkers...those holding up a history of tradition in their own small way in a world filled with cheap and easily accessible manufacturing.

I myself, am a knitter, an avid one. There are at least 3-4 knitting projects going on in my life at any given time, year round. Some I whip out fast and furiously, anxious to get to a final product, some take their own sweet time slowly growing into their final destination of a blanket or a pair of socks, and frankly some have lingered for years never having reached their goal of their tale ends being tucked in or parts sewn together to become a wearable garment. In recent years my knitting took a new direction as my approach became more spiritual and linked to my yoga practice. I started to look at the meaning behind two very important concepts:  perfection and final destination.

Letting Go of Perfection

When you are creating something by hand, you don’t usually decide to put in all that time just to produce a hap-hazard, sloppy product. One takes pride in their work. Ask any artist, crafter, designer or creative.  However, what makes a hand-knit sweater or a crocheted blanket so much better than the one you bought from the store for a quarter of the price? It’s the slight imperfections in the slip of the human hand that creates that beauty; an individuality to the piece not obtainable by machine. As I have discovered, striving for perfection can be a huge barrier in knitting. It means keeping yourself from trying something new, like a more difficult pattern, or worse constantly ripping out stitches and starting over only to find you are not able to duplicate the picture on the pattern perfectly. This rigidness can be seen in the knitting, often tight and overworked.  My disappointment with various projects along with my fear of completing some projects due to not wanting to screw them up lead me to reassess my relationship with knitting. Ever-looking at my yoga practice for guidance in every corner of my life...I recall that if I were to strive for perfection on the mat that I would be sabotaging an authentic practice that doesn’t make room for me to show up as I am. Letting go of perfection, means that I can make room for acceptance. What happened when I started to embrace this in yoga is that I had more fun, felt more free, and came into my own body. It’s no different in knitting....I became more relaxed as I knit, more confident in trying new things and more accepting in my mistakes and mishaps. 

As a teacher of yoga and knitting: beginners are my favorite. Constantly reminding students to let go of what things look like, I tell them to simply feel the pattern of knitting in your hands or feel the yoga pose in your body. This is the best way to learn. Awkwardness is a part of starting anything new....when you can leave some space for that to show up, your experience becomes easier and begins to flow.

Letting go of the Final Destination

It’s simply human to always be looking at the end-product or the outcome of things. But when we do this, we take ourselves immediately out of the present moment, cutting off our current experience. In knitting, we often choose what we will knit based on the final product we see in a book or a yarn shop window. Yoga is no different, we see the pose in a book, DVD, or modeled in class by the instructor and we strive for that final expression. But what if there were no pattern? No names for asanas in yoga? Instead we were asked to simply knit and purl to our hearts desires? Or stretch and move to our body’s liking? Would these still be knitting and yoga? Absolutely!  It’s this very concept that ignited my knitting in a much more spiritual way. Choosing yarns and colors only because I was attracted to them in that moment, not because they would be good for socks or a hat or a great scarf, then casting on these luscious wools onto my favorite wooden needles and knitting with no final destination in mind. Knitting whatever patterns I wanted, making mistakes along the way, sometimes fixing them, sometimes leaving them.  What I found was a deep liberation in the craft. The simple act of looping wool around wooden sticks became a quiet meditation and the opportunity to be in the present moment with my handwork. Of course, I still choose patterns and knit with the intention of finishing something to be worn by me or given as a gift. And I still find poses in my yoga practice that I work towards. The difference now is I try to enjoy the journey along the way, knowing that each and every moment that takes me there is important and worth experiencing.

Of course, these concepts of letting go of perfection and final destination can be applied to all aspects of our life allowing us more freedom to live authentically. But what I have personally found is that when we take concepts as full as these and attempt to blanket them over all that we do our efforts tend to get lost. For me, my teachers have been yoga and knitting. Who’s to say you can’t explore these concepts in gardening, cooking, or dancing? Find what you love to do....and embrace the present moment allowing for acceptance in these activities and watch them unfold in your life as your own spiritual teachers.

 

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About the Author


Michelle Pietrzak-Wegner is an E-RYT 500, a certified registered Yoga Instructor of Yoga Alliance with 950+ hours of yoga training and over 2000 hours of teaching experience. She is also a certified Yoga Therapist in the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy tradition working with clients one on one to help create emotional, mental and physical release through yoga. You can find her on the web at www.omwithmichelle.com.


 

 

 

 

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