The Joy of Passing It On
This past weekend, I gave half of my stash away. What would cause me to do such a thing?
Recently, a friend and her daughter started learning how to crochet together—at another time, I might not have thought much further about it. But I’ve been reading about the social media giants and studies on the detrimental effects of their apps on kids. “Compare-and-despair” depression and online bullying are on the rise. I thought about how much better it would be if children, tweens, and teenagers had something other than a phone in their hands—like yarn and knitting needles and crochet hooks.
My friends, I had half my stash in a big pink bag before you could say cast on.
Years ago, our elders passed along the skills of knitting and crochet because we needed to learn how to make clothing. Now, we absolutely must pass along these fiber arts along because the next generation needs them. Knitting and crochet help hand-eye coordination, brain development, and STEM skills; they also build self-esteem and personal satisfaction. And they’re fun! Studies showing those results have been done too. If the social media giants won’t act on their studies, we can act on ours.
At the same time you teach a child to knit or crochet, add meditation techniques to support the stress-reducing benefits of handwork. Once the kid you’re teaching gets the hang of basic stitches, during the soothing space of endless rows to make a scarf, you can introduce meditation in a few easy steps:
Be mindful of your posture, and teach your young student to do the same. Many teenagers have “text neck” from looking down. Teach by example and check out Carson Demers’s post on posture here.
Deep breaths are a signal to mind and body to release stress. Encourage a few deep breaths at the start of your lesson to help both of you get calm.
Reframe mistakes. Part of meditation is cultivating an attitude of patience and compassion for a busy mind. Mistakes happen—like the inevitable dropped stitch or backwards row. Model acceptance, and that will extend to other areas of your young friend’s life.
Create a judgment-free zone. When my friend Tanya Singer held an impromptu knitting camp in her backyard during lockdown, her beginning knitters, all teens, became so relaxed by knitting that they began opening up about personal issues. Tanya trained herself to respond, rather than react, without judgment (speaking with parents when necessary).
Knitting is fun, and it’s stress relief. We know this, but sometimes it can be helpful to make it as clear as the instructions on a pattern: Handwork is a way to feel better. The next time the kid is upset, they may reach for the yarn before the phone.
When I gave my friend’s daughter that big bag of yarn, I saw pure tween-age combustive joy, and something else: possibility. She has a tool now, and she can use it to fight the dragons of this tech-heavy time.
Knitting is all about possibility. We see yarn and envision all the things we can make. The greatest thing we can make is a difference. Teach a child to knit. If you don’t have children in your life, teach a teacher, who can then pass it on to their students. If we can make garments out of two sticks and a string, we can make positive change.
Save it for later. Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click.
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.