Knitting Saves Lives

Knitting Saves Lives

Knitting came into my life when I was about 5 years old. It was my best friend's mother who showed us both how to do it. I remember it like it was yesterday, the two of us sitting on the balcony steps listening to Diane Dufresne sing to us that she had met the man of her life...

I continued to knit compulsively, depending on certain milestones in my life. I knitted a lot as a teenager to finance my outings and little luxuries: great sweaters and jacquard hats that I sold for a pittance to my high school friends and a sweater for my first boyfriend who finally brought me bad luck since we broke up the day he received it! Later I took up my needles again, several months pregnant, when I was 19 years old. Over a short period, I knitted cardigans, sweaters and hats without a pattern, according to my imagination for my beautiful Julien who was to be born shortly.

The years since the birth of my second son have been more than busy. I was working in Quebec while the family was in Montreal. Many hours of very intense work which unfortunately left no room for anything else, no more than for knitting, except on rare occasions when I needed to release my stress. I often said, jokingly but with a grain of truth, that I knit to channel my negative energy and to avoid killing someone… but I won't tell you who.

Over the years, knitting was something I kept coming back to, but with some frustration. Fanatic about noble fibers, I was unable to source quality yarns, without synthetic component, for many years simply because it did not exist on the market. During the 1990s, a shop located in the Plateau Mont-Royal welcomed me more than once during frustrating searches when I was desperate to get mohair and merino. Needless to say that I often passed for an oddball in the eyes of the owner! Discouraged by the quality and price of the yarns available on the market at that time, I abandoned knitting and plunged into sewing, which gave me more immediate pleasure and a choice of materials much more suited to my luxury tastes.

It was finally when I was sinking deep into professional burnout that I got back to knitting. I had started having murderous thoughts again and I didn't know how to get rid of them. So in early December 2012, days after seeing oversized knitwear at the Society for Arts and Technology Souk, I felt the urge to knit. I then looked for where I could find wool on a Sunday. Returning from the countryside in the middle of a storm, the man of my life led me to a wool shop where I had never set foot before. I had told him to wait for me in the car, that I would only have a few minutes…

At that moment, time stopped. I've seen yarns in this shop that I've never seen before, dye work unlike anything I've ever seen. Independent labels, skeins of noble materials as I had often dreamed of many years before they materialized before my eyes. Clearly, since my last visit to a wool shop not so long ago, times had changed a lot!!! First of all, it was the sock yarn that impressed me the most that day. The sock was in my eyes, this mythical object that I could never achieve alone. I asked how to do it and bought nearly $150 worth of sock yarn. On leaving, the young employee greeted me and said, in all seriousness, “knitting saves lives…”.

In the context, I really believed that she had guessed my murderous thoughts. For a moment, I thought it wasn't my life I was saving by starting to knit again, but that of this person who was giving me a hard time. This answer was a revelation to me and left me thinking for several days. I still think about it often in spite of myself and, despite the misunderstanding, I still find that it's the best answer I've ever been given. I had misunderstood the meaning of this sentence, but since then I have understood that knitting has somehow helped to rebuild my ability to concentrate and my self-esteem.

This December Sunday marked a turning point in my life. Since that day, knitting has been part of my daily life. It occupies a big place in my life and somehow replaces meditation in that it allows me to be all there, in the present moment. I spare you the troubled relationship I have with wool, it will be the subject of a future post on the addiction and addictive behavior of knitters. In the meantime, I'm starting my 70,000th meter of wool...


Mom, lover, trade unionist, activist, feminist and compulsive knitter. Find Sophie on RAVELRY .

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