Skip to content

The water poured from the ceiling light in our home office and onto the floor, which would soon start buckling like wooden waves. There was a steady splat from the bedroom ceiling; a more rapido staccato in the kitchen. This was at 2:30 in the morning, so I was groggily fazed, but I became wide awake when I saw water pooling at the baseboards … near my yarn. Noooooo!

There have been leaks here and there in the apartment my husband and I moved into sixteenish years ago as honeymooners, but this was looking more like Niagara Falls. After putting every pan and towel we had under our new indoor water features, I did what I do when I don’t know what to do: I sat down to knit. 

I came to knitting in 2001, just after 9/11. During that time, one of my best friends was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I lost my job, and my cat died, all within six months. A friend took me with her to knitting lessons. The scarf I made was too wide and too long (I think I was trying to build a yurt to hide in), but as I made each careful stitch, the volume on my inner existential shriek was lowered as if by magic. 

I’ve been practicing yoga and meditation for 30 years, but when this pandemic came and we were all locked in our homes, I was not enthused about closing my eyes, focusing on my panicky breath, and chanting Om. A simple garter stitch shawl, granny squares, a scarf—these “mindless” projects are the best mindfulness techniques I know.

Knitting, and my other love, crochet, take me not away, to a place unaware and in denial, but to a place where I know I can find some peace: within. The home of the “still, small voice” that guides us, or that sometimes says, Nothing you can do right now. Make the next stitch. And the next one. Take the next breath. And the next one. 

Our neighbor’s ceiling collapsed from the water damage. Ours held, but I wouldn’t let you sit for long under certain parts of our home. The pandemic changed the gauge of stress: Is this leak issue getting to me more, or has ongoing tension dulled me? Both, and neither. It’s Life. It goes on, some of it joyous, some tragic, some just annoying. 

We all have a favorite pattern for a sweater, a shawl, a scarf, or a hat that never fails us. The pattern I return to again and again is a design for living: I sit in silence and knit something simple for 10 minutes. One stitch at a time, one calmer breath at a time. Always, the yarn leads me to a place where I understand that, while things around me may not be OK, I can be OK. 

About The Author

Suzan Colón is a writer, a reader of the tarot, and a teacher of MedKNITation, a system she developed for meditation with knitting and crochet.


  • Thank you. Just what I needed to read tonight when parts of my world are falling apart on the other side of the world and I can do nothing to help. I feel a bit better now.

  • Thank you! For so many of us knitting is the way to calm and the anchor we need.

  • Thank you for the article. As Elizabeth Zimmerman said decades ago, “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.” She also said, “Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” Her words are so lovely and, during these last 2 years, I’ve thought of them often. I am so grateful I know how to “properly practice” my knitting, as do many of my friends, as it brings us together, challenges our brain and soothes our spirit.

    • What a wonderful essay Suzan and I enjoyed your thoughtful reply PT. I found myself completely unable to knit in the beginning of lockdown – I could not calm my mind unless I was using up a lot of nervous energy while concentrating on something (I wound up delivering meals to low income and elderly clients as it required both movement and concentration and feeling marginally helpful allowed me to breathe again). This was such a strange feeling as knitting is usually my meditation. I always feel sorry for people who do not have something like knitting to, as PT put it, soothe the spirit. I hope that your housing woes are short lived and your apartment is better than ever once the repairs are finished.

    • Thank you for this essay and for your reply PT. These words resonate with me. Knitting has helped me, by the process, not necessarily the product.

  • I love your interviews at most every Virtual Vogue Knit Live Suzan, thank you for doing those and for this letter too!

  • As a member of a knit group in our church with 2 deaths involving the group this week this was a very nice message .

    • I, too, are part of a very small knit group at our church. We have also had 2 deaths from our group but not in the same week. It is like family, their places are empty in our meeting room and they will always be missed. Praying for you and your group at this very difficult time. Remember the happy times.

  • Thank you Suzan. As I sit here while my canine companion is being treated at the vet hospital for some serious medical issues, this is exactly what I needed to read in this moment. I’ve made myself a cup of tea and am now off to pick up my needles.

  • Amen.

  • And in the end, I have something useful and positive, and often pretty, or at least fun.

  • We’ve just emerged from a week without power due to an ice storm in Memphis, TN. On the second day of the outage, I slipped on black ice and broke my right wrist. Of course I’m right handed! No knitting for me for several weeks. So I’m pulling out my knitting books and engaging in “mind knitting.” There’s nothing I can’t do in my imagination!

    • You poor thing! Mind knitting is a brilliant coping mechanism. I will have to remember that one.

    • Ooo! I broke my hand and had it in a real plaster cast. Try as I might, knitting was impossible because of the way my hand was casted. If you are able to knit while you are recovering ❤️‍, cheers for you! I am thrilled for you! But if isn’t in the cards, keep one thing in mind: This too will pass.

    • I broke my arm near the wrist and had many weeks of PT after six weeks in a splint following surgery (small plate with 8 screws). My poor husband had to do almost everything for me! I used some of my time for craft housekeeping – organized my stash and recorded it all in Ravelry, gathered needles from all corners of the house, collected all my WIPs and made decisions about finishing or frogging. Between all that fun and reading I managed to not lose my mind.

      I wish you speedy and complete healing!

    • I agree about the “mind knitting”. After my shoulder surgery, I pulled out my knitting books. Not only is knitting an integral part of my life, reading books about knitting & knitting history. Both bring me peace during difficult times.

    • broken wrist – yikes! Think continental knitting, or left hand knitting, or the one where you anchor a needle and do the work with the other hand. I ‘m a leftie and had to learn how to knit right handed because the person teaching me said she couldn’t teach me how to do it left handed and walked away. I thought that since I didn’t know how to do it left or right, what would be the difference, it will be awkward regardless. So I learned right handed throw method. Then I wanted to do fair-isle and self taught how to knit left. Now I knit left for knitting in the round, and knit right on sticks. Give it a go!

  • Yes. Knitting is my prayer partner of choice on many a day. Thank you.

  • I just wish I could knit during a dental appointment!

    • I keep my knitting on my lap during dental appointments. I can’t knit, but just touching the yarn helps calm me down.

      • wonderful strategy! Thank you so so much.

    • Oh I am so with you there! I get panic attacks even with teeth cleaning. I really knit up a storm prior to the appointment and while in the wait room.

    • Amen to that about the dentist. Maybe a knitting picture on the ceiling of the dentist’s office might help.

  • Thank you, very well said.

  • I love that you allowed yourself to find calm in other ways. Your writing is beautiful.

  • Lovely, lovely, lovely.

  • Of all the projects I plan and plan and test and test with samples, I always have one going that is a simple knit one and knit another. As simple as it can be so it is suitable for all occasions.

  • I am finding the simple repetition of sequence patterns like the Marlogram helpful during stressful moments. Just enough concentration required to keep my mind anchored in the present, but not so much that it becomes another source of stress.

  • Thank you, Suzan for the beautiful piece.

  • I transitioned from a 2305 sq. ft. Home to a 575 sq ft one bedroom apartment 2 1/2 yrs ago. And then my husband started working from home. Only good thing is my stash is getting smaller.
    I have fought water demons many times and the resulting insurance calls and claims. Knitting always helps. This activity lowers my blood pressure and helps me cope. I have tried yoga and walking but knitting is what works. That and cooking.

    • Of course, don’t tell me why, but when I read how you downsized from a palace to a closet I gasped out loud!

  • Thank goodness for knitting, it can help so much when the world seems to be going off the rails! But also keep in mind that if you are renting your apartment, it almost certainly is your landlord’s duty to provide a ceiling that feels safe everywhere. If that is what you want and your landlord isn’t responding, the local building inspector can help get their attention although that could lead to having your apartment condemned if the ceiling is really bad, so there are pro’s & con’s. Good luck!

  • Beautifully said, knitting has been my life line during the pandemic.

  • Thank you so much for putting words to what’s real for me also.

  • Yes. Some years ago, when my father-in-law passed away unexpectedly (he was ill but the timing was a shock) while my husband was visiting him, 8 driving hours away, I managed to pack, and get toddler and myself there by air. Want to guess what I didn’t pack? Off to what we used to call the five-and-dime. Washcloths it was. I knew the pattern by heart, and could get Sugar ‘n Cream and necessary needles. Sanity preserved by cotton.

  • And things need not make sense.

  • Thank you for your post. It’s remarkable how that place within is both the home of the ‘still, small voice’ and the source (sorcerer?) of anxiety, fear, doubt. Thinking about what my go to pattern is, I realize I almost always have a pair of Elizabeth’s baby booties going — often several — in sandwich baggies tucked into the glove compartment, a backpack, a book shelf — so I’m never far from my knitting mantra. A gift to a newborn that also gives me a new breath of peace every time I pick them up.

  • Suzan, thank you! I just threw a mental snit fit over something that is really awful in the news, of course, and there is nothing I can do about it. But, you had the Biblical Flood coming through your apartment and you didn’t lose your mind! I thought, there’s a lesson to learn, here. I’m knitting some fingerless mitts for a friend and at the rate I’m going she may get them in September. So, rather than twist my little brain into pretzel knots I will work a bit more on my friend’s mitts so she can have them next week.

  • For whatever reason yesterday’s news just got to me…nothing specific, just the idiocy going on in my state and our nation. Since it was my day off, I turned off the news and social media and spent most of it knitting. Finished the toe of a second sock, worked on a baby sweater and started a dishcloth. Oh and I also made a potholder on my loom. And I felt much better…thanks for the reminder.

  • Somehow I missed this during the week. Just saying thank you for this post.

  • Thank you-this was a powerful essay to read.
    I’ve had so much stress in my life this past 3 years-I turn to knitting, any day I knit is a better day. Thanks again

  • I’m reminded of the recent past when my darling little granddaughter went through 18 surgeries. I was not a devoted knitter at that time but with each surgery I knitted until she came out of recovery. A cast on and garter stitch to quell my nerves.
    Each time I left the hospital, the “ fabric of fear and worry” were ripped off my needles and thrown into the trash. I really can’t imagine handling it in a better way. Knitting, wonderful healing, knitting.

Come Shop With Us

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping