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Sometimes I have complicated feelings about our nonstop stream of “Knit to This” recommendations. I worry that what we’re really doing is coming up with ways to make knitting feel “faster,” as if we didn’t enjoy doing it or something. Why is simply sitting and knitting in the quiet not enough?

So that’s what I tried to do last week. I made sure everything was turned off—including my phone, which is actually trickier to do than I thought (both psychologically and mechanically since I have no idea which button to press and I refuse to believe that Airplane Mode is a thing)—and picked up a new project that’s been waiting for The Right Time.

Turns out it’s really hard. Not to just sit and knit, but to find true “quiet.” I could hear a neighbor dragging his trash can bump bump bump from the street to his side yard. Another neighbor struggled with attaching a new garden hose to an intermittent sprinkler. I could tell it was a struggle because he invented eight all-new cussings while doing it. I heard the jingling collars of no fewer than eight dogs attached to dog walkers who use our street instead of the adjacent busier one to exercise their pets. 

Speaking of dogs, I could hear the growling tummy of my own black-and-tan coonhound Opal, asleep on the sofa opposite me. Asleep, asleep, always asleep, the way rescued hunting dogs always are. Also: the slight wheeze of her deep breathing and her occasional snore or dreamy whimper. When we adopted her, she came with the name “Symphony,” and now I know why. Well, all that plus the occasional thunderous hound dog bay triggered by the quick shave-and-a-haircut door knock from UPS.

The mildest breeze occasionally flirts with the backyard hackberry, reminding me with its increasingly creaky creaks that that tree really must get chopped down soon, before the only sound I hear is an angry neighbor yelling at me while shaking a roof-repair estimate in my face.

Even my own house has its own mysterious score. Why does the ice maker keep turning on and off? I haven’t used any ice in weeks—surely it knows that. But there it goes again, whirring and chirping and tumbling new ice into the bin. Maybe it just takes a lot longer to make ice than I think it does. The air conditioner (on in May despite my “never before June 1!” resolution) clicks and then pauses and then mercifully whirs its sweet sweet freon all over the place.

The house is a hundred years old, so it makes non-mechanical sounds of its own. “Settling” I guess, though it sounds pretty restless to me. Nothing identifiable triggers some of them, but suddenly the back hallway floor might pop like a firecracker and the baby-rattles of a window pane in the dining room catch my ear. 

It went on like this for a long time. I got a lot of stockinette done, the same amount I would have finished had I been watching the new season of Hacks or an old one of The Twilight Zone. I wasn’t knitting in a vacuum. There was no quiet at all, really. Even after the neighbor coiled up the garden house in resignation and slammed his front door shut, even after my own dog got up and sighed dramatically and went into the bedroom to sleep nine more hours in a different room, even after the quick crack of a tree branch startled me into thinking “uh-oh, I did wait too long to deal with the hackberry” … even when all of that gave way to night—which brought its own sounds—it was okay to be sitting alone in a room for a bit and knitting to nothing more than my own heartbeat.

Knit to nothing this week, y’all. I think you’ll be surprised.

photo © DG Strong

About The Author

DG Strong took up knitting in 2014. He lives in Nashville with his sister, her rat terrier and a hound dog named Opal. He has a blog of drawings and faintly ridiculous rambling called The Psychopedia—there are worse ways to spend your afternoon.


  • That was wonderful ! Mindful knitting

  • Please can you make that photo of Symphony into a poster or something? So beautiful! And a lovely post that will stick in my mind – gonna give it a go. My sister who is staying with me said just yesterday that she has done a listening meditation in my peaceful suburban garden yesterday and was shocked at just how NOISY it was!

    • I had the same response to that beautiful photo, so professional yet intimate and warm. Just love it!
      As for knitting in “silence”, I just heard a talk by Mingyur Rinpoche about meditating and hearing all the sounds. It was riveting and inspirational. Thank you DG for your wonderful, real world take on the same concept of being present.

    • I agree that the photo of Symphony would make a lovely poster! She is beautiful! Great name for a coon hound! I also agree that DG’s post is once again on target! I love your writing, too! Great humor and style! Thanks for sharing.

  • Oh Lord, the yard work here is unbelievable. We live in a wooded neighborhood which should cut down on mowing and noise but the hills somehow amplify it. Sometime in the last 30 years everyone got a yard guy so instead of Saturday mornings being yard time it’s all day everyday. My ideal neighborhood would have “assigned yard day” one day a week and all the trucks would show up for a good now and blow. There is no way to knit to this, I’ve tried!

    • Well spoke! Well spoke! Our city is observing “No Mow May”, for the sake of the bees and pollinators, and the reduction in mower and blower noise is really nice! Hey DG, I’m with you all the way, and when I see your name on the byline, I cheer!

    • I’m with you there! It also seems like there is some kind of conspiracy to do yard work one after the other. No sooner do I breathe a sigh at the silence than the next one starts up.

    • Don’t know where you are, Rebecca, but I can’t tell you how hard I nodded my head when I read your reply here in my little patch of wooded suburbia. The cacophony of mowers, blowers, and chainsaws makes me yearn for a city apartment where at least there is an underlying hum. The only thing I’d miss is the kids laughing and screaming as they jump into their pools.

      • Our village recently outlawed leaf blower use from May 1 through Oct! Only electric (silent) powered machines are allowed during that time. But of course people are ignoring that and still using them, very annoying.
        I agree, that photo of Symphony, great name, is gorgeous, and thank you for this lovely post DG!

  • I love your writing. You are truly gifted … and yes, Symphony is a beauty.

  • You write beautifully….I generally do not read all the way through but your writing grabbed hold of my attention…thanks

  • DG you’re such a talented writer! I felt as if I was sitting right there in the room with you. That is my favorite was to knit -listening only the everyday sounds around me! Thank you!

  • Well done, DG. Well done!

  • At least you didn’t try to take a nap. Then all hell breaks loose. Always so fun to read your take on life’s everyday adventures.

  • More, please. Knitting while bus riding…doctor’s waiting room…Anything.

  • Beautifully written article; and to echo other comments, you are such a gifted writer. I often knit (or spin or weave) in the quiet and have found it to be sort of meditative. Symphony is a beauty and that photo needs to be a poster!

    • Correction, Opal is a beauty.

  • I loved this!!!

  • I think I’m in love: with your dog. What a handsome creature! Beautiful, dignified, quiet. (hopefully also intelligent) My idea of an ideal partner.

  • Loved this article. Wish I could express myself like that because I too often knit to the quiet. I love the sounds of life that we often overlook and even “don’t hear”. That is life at its most elemental. The dog sounds from the dog we love. The distant train sounds running through town. The birds. OH the birds.
    How many songs! The house speaking of its history. I love to cook early in the morning and that sound it great too. It’s all a symphony of life. The gifts we have around us everyday that we tend to ignore for the blasting TV first thing in the morning.

  • Love Opal and the comfort demonstrated. Love that Opal has such a great life and many places to sleep. The description of your house is perfect. Glad to hear the bizarre sounds in mine are not as unique as I once thought. I too love to sit and knit with the least amount of electronic sounds. Thanks for inviting me in.

  • Loved. This. What a great mood creator you are. Thank you!

  • Knit to nothing….perfect….thank you, I needed that

  • You struck a chord with this piece.
    A perfect read as I map out my day, considering when to knit, when to garden, when to do paperwork. Made me grateful for my neighbors who are generally quiet. I love the sounds they make. You also reminded me that it is useful to know the sounds of your house. It should be investigated when they stop, start, or change in uncharacteristic ways.

  • What a clever essay!

  • Symphony is so adorable. I too like knitting in the “quiet” of the house. We have three doggos so when they are not playing (which sounds like they are actually killing each other), they are barking at every passing person or car out the front window or snoring and dreaming loud enough to wake the dead.

  • My rescued hound dog mix does that, too—gets up and goes to sleep again in a different room.

  • Agree with all the commenters regarding your writing, except renaming Opal “Symphony”! I knit to nothing most of the time but I think I get more knitting done when I’m listening to something like a Normal Gossip podcast or Gunsmoke on TV

  • I very often do. I live in a 100+ year old apartment building in NYC, which ironically has far less noises than your house, albeit also the very annoying never-ending white noise of the highway.

  • I ♥️ this! I often knit in silence… Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • And we all agree! Your writing is beautiful, poetic, creating pictures and sounds in one’s mind. Thank you for helping me feel better about life today.

  • Like everyone else, loved the essay and loved the picture.

  • this post reminds me of why I wanted to be a writer when I was young — that ability to create an entire picture with words is so amazing — as I was reading it I took a few moments to listen to the “quiet” house around me — two Stellars jays in the tree were having a domestic disagreement, the smallest dog in the house snoring the loudest, and yes, the ice maker (what is it with those?) — I will doing some knitting to this quiet later today

  • I call it “Peace in my Valley”. Horse snorts, dog grumbles, tops of the trees swish in the wind. Good cup of coffee and I’m in knitting heaven.

  • OMG, Opal is a Black and Tan?? I fell in love with one of those years ago and if they weren’t such runners, I’d have one. Friends often ask what I listen to when I’m knitting or gardening. I’m sure they mean what music or podcast, but that’s rarely the case for me. It’s just me and the birds, the horses talking next door, the tractors in the fields around us, and occasionally my “what the hell am I going to make for dinner?” thoughts.

    • Opal IS a runner, but we’ve learned during the couple of times that she’s escaped that she can only do it for about a hundred yards and then it’s nap time, so she just….stops. She is, above all other things, a sleeper.

      • I have two blueticks! Best dogs ever. They ignore me when I am knitting though.

  • How I loved reading this essay. It was a joy to read this early morning while I sit on the back porch listening to the bird melodies. I have never thought of intentionally knitting in the quiet and enjoying it as I usually like to knit with someone and chat or watch a podcast. Your description of Opal’s daily routine was hysterical. I almost choked on my breakfast reading about her thunderous response to the friendly UPS knock.
    Anyway, thank you for the lovely respite from the awful news about this gruesome world we find ourselves in.

  • This was the best read of my morning!

  • Beautiful. Thank you.

  • I have a rule not to turn on the TV until the hub comes home from work. I like knitting in the “quiet”. Birds make quite a lot of music.

  • Your Opal is beautiful, DG! I have three dogs myself and love when they are sprawled gurgling as I knit. I often listen to podcasts or audiobooks while knitting. I do though sometimes knit in silence…or not silence. I try to look at it like “moving meditation” instead of fast, fast, fast. Sometimes I manage this and sometimes it is very difficult!

  • Contented sigh. Lovely.

  • I listen to the “quiet” frequently while knitting. Today it’s an early morning thunderstorm. But DG, I count on you for “knit to this” suggestions. I finally finished the 20+ hours of the BBC serialized version of Emile Zola’s “Blood, Sex and Money” you recommended. As we say in Minnesota “oof dah”!. In the spirit of sharing I offer one to you (only about 5 hours)…”Companion Piece” by Ali Smith. Let me know what you think.

  • I went for a hike in the nearby National Forest a few days ago and there were so many people there with earbuds in their ears: they preferred their own playlist or a pod cast to hearing the tumbling water, the wind sifting through the treetops, the birds announcing their presence in song. Or maybe they just never had tried hiking just to the music already around them? They need to read your post!
    And Opal – what a gorgeous dog with her perfect glossy coat and noble face. So good she is able to rest whenever she wants and has her choice of soft places to sleep. A good life.

  • Perfect trifecta. Opal. Your writing. And you. And as one comment said reminding us that there is still wonder and beauty in our world and lives to be grateful for.

  • My beloved beast’s life – a rescued 60 pound hound mix – is similar to Your Opal’s lovely life. So much interesting noise going on while sleeping, amusing and endearing. Here’s to an unplugged weekend with knitting and anything else we choose to do. Thanks for the reminder to take a break!

  • Loved this piece, DG, and will use it as a prompt in my writing class!

  • One time, I lost power during the day. Enough light to knit by. It was amazing how QUIET it was! No fridge, heat/ac fan, etc. Really showed me how much noise we live with.

  • I look forward to your musings every Saturday ! I live in a very quiet cul de sac ! But my ice maker must be a distant cousin to yours

  • Beautiful writing DG. Thank you for this and the look into your world. You’ve inspirired me to consider finding out how to silence my phone.

  • Greetings from Europe ! I do appreciate your culture tips very much and they work even in a faraway land. Pls don’t stop 🙂

  • Beautiful writing!
    I love knitting in the quiet on the mornings I wake up before the rest of my household. No voices, no TV … it’s a lovely way to start the day.

    • Yes.

  • Loved this!!!! You’re a great writer.

  • It finally got warm enough to open the windows here about 2-3 weeks ago in Albany (yes, I know some of you are already harvesting vegetables) and now I can sit at the desk in the morning and work to the sound of various bird chatter. Learned last year that one of the lead singers is a Carolina Wren.
    Thanks, DG!! Enchanting dog portrait of repose.

  • There are only two button on my phone. A long one, which raises or lowers the volume, and a shorter one, which will ring up a menu including “turn off phone”, when given a long press. I hope this helps. Most phones have similar set-up

  • The birds are chirping, the dog snoring and the chickened next door warbling. Putting down the iPad immediately and picking up my knitting

  • I’ve read your piece several times over the past days, DG. I love everything you write, but I superlove this one.

  • I love sitting on my porch early on a weekend morning when no one else (at least in my house) is awake and knitting in the “quiet”. Quiet here is mostly bird noises and the rustle of trees in the breeze an occasional car and the background hum of the not too distant highway. Then everyone wakes up and it gets “noisy” with various neighbors running lawn mowers, leaf blowers and weed whackers, snatches of conversation as people walk by and my own family chatting and puttering about.

  • Opal is adorable! I often knit to the sound of my rescue Molly snoring- it can be very soothing.

  • I want a coonhound! I have a standard wire haired dachshund and a miniature long hair dachshund who are not quiet! I’ve learned to knit through anything because it stabilizes me and because I love it. PS I always read your writings.

  • This was beautiful, DG. Thank you.
    p.s. Guys, his dog’s name is Opal. Rescues give dogs names when they get rescued, and Symphony was her rescue name.

  • My favorite way to knit is on a settee on the back porch with the only sounds that of the wind, a multitude of birds, and the occasional car out front. We live on ten acres and looking out across our pasture at our horse and little donkeys, the occasional coyote and elk, is peace to me.

  • Lovely! I live on that busy street and this is motorcycle season. The riders have done whatever it is they do to make as much noise as possible (will they be deaf in old age?) but other than that I do sometimes knit to this. The best time is just before and during daybreak when I can hear the birds. Thanks for this lovely piece of writing.

  • Please writ books. I can’t get enough of you! ❤️

  • I’m with you. The ‘sound of silence’ can be a roaring chorus of whirs, moans, screeches, thumps, clicks and creaks!

  • Just a pleasure to read. I have a similar experience when I go walking. So much to listen to, no need for earphones!

  • I love your writing so much DG. I also cheer when I see the post is yours. I love it so much that I look for someone to read it to, out loud. My husband (only the 2 of us live here) is graciously allowing this….one of those rare pandemic positives!

  • Great story DG. I live with a hard of hearing partner and it is very load in our house, except when he goes golfing. I love the quiet. We live in the country and our house is far away from others. The only noise I hear is purring from my cat Sophie, when she thinks I have been knitting long enough. I do agree with everyone else, the picture of Opal is fantastic.

  • I almost always knit in ‘silence’ (quotes because like many responders here I live in wooded suburbia and yard maintenance never seems to stop entirely). Occasionally I turn on a podcast, but mostly I knit with nothing but the creaks and groans of my 80 year old house, my cats (one gently snores, the other purrs and purrs before she actually sleeps – we call purring her ‘singing’), the birds in our trees, kids playing in the streets. I live a quarter mile from a busy suburban park and the calls of a baseball or soccer game reach me on my porch. Summers are a bittersweet symphony, gone too fast every year.

  • Loved this!!!!!

  • What a beautiful piece of writing and observation and reflection. Thank you!

  • Oh I love your writing!!!! And Opal!!!! If you ever need a house sitter I’m sure Opal and I would get along. It’s been a sad week here in South Texas. Yesterday I strung green lights around the front door and puttered around old Christmas light boxes until I found some green bulbs for the garage door lights. Green for mental health concerns and growth. It’s a local thing to remember the children and teachers of Robb. For all lost in that way. Then I made a peach cobbler and did some sock knitting. I gained so many rows I missed the lifeline for the heel and I gained a pound from eating the cobbler. But I also tried to be quiet. And those ice makers are loud! Not to mention the snoring mini-poodle and purring cat in my lap. I inherited the poodle from my mom and my love of knitting. Find the quiet…as much as you can and knit on my friends!!!

  • That was a lovely idea! I know it didn’t end up as “quiet” as you would have liked, but I could feel every moment with you! I have also given up on finding silence, and now I wear earplugs when I need quiet!

  • I have been knitting to the outdoor sounds of singing birds and wind chimes. So calming!

  • My phone, which is almost always muted, sometimes “forgets” to come with me and stays in a different room. It has also been known to slip into the cushion of the chair I’m sitting in and so fails to alert me about anything…

  • “Quiet” is a lot harder to knit in because it so isn’t. Same ice maker, dogs that grumble and snore, the large neighborhood bear dragging a 30 lb sealed bag of birdseed across the driveway (because I forgot to shut the garage door), the tearing of the bag so the bear could nosh on the seed, the diesel dump truck that pulled into the driveway to take photos of the bear dragging the goods, and on and on. Very little knitting was done. Very much guilt about forgetting to shut the door continues. Next time, I am CRANKING some tunes.

  • I love this… especially the “house music!” I enjoy knitting to nothing at least for a little while every day.

  • Loved this article! Well written and I found myself chuckling a few times. I’m apparently not alone in my introverted knitting adventures.

  • I love it, DG! I usually knit to the news or an old movie, since my hubby often turns the tv on for most of the day, but I LOVE knitting to the quiet sound of my two black labs breathing, snoring, sighing, or whimpering in a dream, or the pup suddenly taunting the old dog into crazy play. Inevitably the house makes restless “settling” noises or the fridge turns on, just as you described it. I live in the woods so on mornings like today the primary outside noises are birds chirping or squawking, and in the afternoon maybe a few deer or turkeys wandering through the yard. Lovely!!
    And I second Belinda’s comment asking for a poster of Symphony (Opal) – it’s beautiful!

  • Such a beautiful piece, thank you.

  • This is a beautiful portrait of a moment in time at a special place; thank you for writing it! And with a sense of humor!

  • Noiseless knitting???except when your tips are clicking.

  • This was a lovely piece of writing that blessed my feed. I may also share this with my students as an example of using descriptive language and creating a “mood”.

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