Crochet · Info · knitting

Knitting and Crocheting as a Sensory Experience

examining yarn crafts through a mindful lens

Hello, yarn enthusiasts! Today I have a little bit of a different post for you. I have been wanting to write this one for a while. This is an important post for me because my craft is my meditation. The time I spend with my hooks and needles helps to center me and reorient my headspace. In this post, I explore yarn crafts (knitting and crocheting) through the five senses: taste, smell, sight, sound, and touch.

Taste

Don’t worry, I’m not going to encourage eating yarn (despite the high ~fiber~ content!)

Knitting and crocheting is most frequently complimented by a hot cup of coffee or tea in my house. I love to start my mornings with the meditative mix of coffee and my current project. There’s something equally cozy that I find in both knitting and a warm cuppa. This appetite for working stitches is fulfilled by my morning ritual.

One of my favorite mugs… “Lay Flat to Dry”

Perhaps you have a holiday sweater that reminds you of holiday dinners surrounded by your loved ones. Maybe you have a go-to snack break dish that is the fuel behind your knitting. It doesn’t get much better than a full belly, a warm night cap drink, and an exciting project on your needles.

Smell

Blocking my Midori Shawl. I can almost smell this photo…

The scent of wool (specifically wet wool) is a polarizing smell. Some people love it, some people are repulsed by it! For me, the scent of wet wool (mixed with Lavender Eucalan) is the smell of a finished project; I either recently completed a finished project and it is being blocked, or I’m wearing something I finished and washed.

Washed wool is a unique smell that I do not experience in other parts of my day. The scent of a clean knitted garment is specific to when you get dressed for the day, or when your shoulders are cold and you pull a shawl around your shoulders, breathing in the scent of your hard work. The aroma of wool alerts my sensory receptors that I am in a warm and cozy place.

Now, if you do not particularly prefer the scent of wet wool, there are other smells I associate with knitting and crocheting. Perhaps your local yarn store has a candle going, and the yarn you bring home has traces of that signature scent. Perhaps you knit in a coffee house, by the lakeshore, or on the patio. While you’re knitting stitches, pause to notice the smells that meet you in that space.

See

I love watching fair isle designs stem from my needles.

Other than what you touch and feel, I think understanding the sensory experience of seeing your work comes quite clearly. There’s the sense of pride in seeing the stitches that grow from your needles, the sheer flexibility of what can be knit and crocheted, and the magical reveal of colors and textures as you progress through the pattern. Watching your knitting and crocheting come together is what it’s all about!

I find so much inspiration in nature. These are all photos I have taken in my travels that influence the design and color choices in my work.

But I want to argue there’s more to it than just seeing your handiwork. Experiencing the world around you through sight, and making mindful observations about the colors and textures in our world, are so instrumental in the design and color selection process. Without sight, it is also harder to picture your finished product, how different colors would match together, and what you’re making! Have you ever followed a pattern with no chart and no photos, just step-by-step written instructions? When you’re searching for a pattern through Ravelry or other websites, isn’t it easier to find a pattern by the photo instead of the description? When you find a burst of inspiration, how often is that found through a photo? For me, I love to see what people have made, the finished project that I’m working towards, and brilliant new interactions on the color wheel. Being able to experience knitting through sight is the first step we take towards the rest of the project and the other senses. Without sight, it becomes much harder to knit and crochet. (Though, not impossible! Here is a fantastic blog for blind and low vision knitters, and an article by Barbara Pierce for the National Federation of the Blind, proving that knitting is a sensory experience beyond just sight. )

Hear

Listen to the sounds around me as I knit. Can you hear the water fountain I have going? What about the swish of the metal needles?

There are many auditory elements to knitting and crocheting that I cherish. One of the most relaxing sounds in the world to me is the click of my knitting needles between stitches. I love how my lightweight wood needles tap into each other as my yarn moves among them. If I’m using metal needles, the smooth swishing and slipping sounds calm my soul. This reliable and consistent sound is the part of knitting that relaxes me the most. Maybe you are watching TV or are listening to music while you work. If you’re lucky, you get to knit while hearing the light patter of rain outside and the purr of the cat next to you. These audible moments help define your space for knitting and crocheting.

Always knitting with Beans, my cat! Both the video above and this photo show me working on my 20th Anniversary Fair Isle Hat.

Feel

The ability to touch and feel is likely the most exercised sensory element of yarn crafts. I thoroughly enjoy the squishiness of a new skein of ultra soft alpaca yarn, or those moments in the yarn store spent holding some luxurious cashmere that is likely outside my budget, or the delicate drape of a well-loved cotton baby blanket. Being able to gain information about your yarn because of how it feels in your hands or against your skin is vital information that directly impacts the outcome of your project. How many times have you ordered yarn online, only to receive it and find it feels nothing like you imagined, thus rerouting or postponing your project? It is ultimately the information we gain through our sense of touch that starts the ball rolling on our projects.

Can’t you just feel how soft and squishy this yarn is? This baby alpaca yarn is from Blue Sky Fibers.


I hope this perspective of knitting and crocheting gives you a new way to consider your work. If this post resonated with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Perhaps it helped you understand knitting and crocheting more, and why us yarn enthusiasts spend our free time with our projects. Until we talk next, stay mindful and happy knitting!

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