Thursday, February 23, 2012

In defense of knitting when times are tough, part ten

When I did an interview for a podcast (, I told her there were ten parts to this series. But then I truly thought i was done with nine--much as that's rather an odd number with which to end--until I read an article in Oprah magazine while staying at a B&B in Atlanta. The issue was dedicted to intuition, and so I found my tenth piece of the puzzle.

We all have intuitive thinking that serves us in emergencies, when we have decisions to make,  during tough times. And it's important to both access and trust what our intition tells us. But how to do both?
One thing Oprah says--something by which she lives--is "If you don't know what to do, do nothing." Stop working, be calm, sit quietly, and listen for that inner voice. And you might well imagine that that inner voice comes from the right brain . . . which is active when we are knitting. While knitting, we are calm, we are at peace, we are in our right brain, and we can hear our inner voice.

But just in case you think "I'm not exactly doing nothing when I am knitting," here is some other research that supports what I suggest. Research says that we don't need to sit perfectly quiet (in a state of meditation) to hear that inner voice--although that works too. Researchers found that we are also able to hear that voice when we are distracted.  If knitting for you is "busy work," then when you are knitting, the busy-ness of it can distract your logical brain--in which intuition does not reside--so the intuitive brain can rise up and speak.

Actually, it's not a rise up and speak kinda voice: it's more like that whisper we hear that just kinda comes to us and to which we need to listen. My experience is that it comes when I am listening very carefully, which knitting allows me to do.

And my experience is also that  I must trust it. If I don't, lessons are learned. Remembering some of those lessons (and their regrets) reminds me to trust the voice and act upon it. And perhaps this is just something that comes with experience.

But when times are tough, isn't this the voice we need to listen to--the voice that will help us make the right, the authenthic, the creative decision?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In defense of knitting when times are tough, part nine

So, despite everything I've said before, this might be my favourite response to this topic--probably because it challenges some basic assuptions and makes us think deeply about what matters. 

Some research was done on "happiness." How happy are you? Obvious results were about family income. If your family income was below a particular level (and I don't remember what it was, but it wasn't huge--something like $80,000 per household, but please don't quote me), you were less happy than those at that level: in fact, the further below this level you were, the less happy you were. All to be expected.

But here was the part that challenges our assumptions: for folks above that level, the researchers saw the flattest results they had ever seen. No matter whether you earned $100 more or $1, 000, 000 more, you were no happier. So, research supports what we've always tried to tell ourselves (even if we never quite believed it): money does not make us happy. (When I saw this information, the moderator asked if this would be used to direct taxation policy: it's an interesting question . . . . )

And then the recession of 2008 hit . . . which drove the researchers back into the field. Would these results hold when incomes went down and life became less certain? Here's what they found over the recession and the year following.
  • People's levels of happiness went down with their incomes (paralleling the stock exchange).
  • When some measure of recovery appeared, people's levels of happiness went up (paralleling the stock exchange).
  • At the end of the year, even though their incomes were lower than before and their job security was less than before, they were happier than they had been before.
The researchers assumed something they called the adaptation principle: when times are tough, we find out how resilient we are, we find out who we can count on , and we find out what really matters. In other words, we find out what it takes to make us happy.
For all the reasons listed in all the posts below, knitting makes me happy!  So, no matter how tough times are, I will knit. And I am comforted in this choice by the words of Neitsze:

For happiness . . . how little suffices for happiness. The littlest thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, little makes up the best happiness.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

In defense of knitting when times are tough, part eight

We've heard forever that life is best in balance. We can't play all the time, nor can we work all the time. We need a little of everything in good measure. No matter how tough times are, we need some fun--some escape from it. So it's not surprising that the movie industry has always done well in trying times. And so should KNITTING!

For all the reasons listed below, knitting is good for us--our brain, our psyche, our closet, our economy. But it's also FUN! Kinda like going to the movies, it's an escape. (If you've read the second post then you know that that escape is to a very positive place--the right brain.)
But let's take a moment to think of the cost of escape--in terms of hours of entertainment against dollars spent. Knitting, while initially expensive, rates very well within this analysis--much higher than a movie and even higher than a good book! This may be all the thought we need give before making that yarn purchase. It's your form of escape, it brings balance to your life, and it's less costly than most any other way to have FUN! So go have some!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

In defense of knitting when times are tough, part seven

People who don't knit look at us in wonderment, that we can spend so many hours working towards a result we're not even sure of. (Actually, they don't know about the uncertainly: that's our well-kept secret.) They see hours and hours of work, that's all they see, and they don't get it.

What they don't appreciate is the lesson we learn about commitment--the commitment learned from setting goals and working patiently towards their completion. And isn't that skill something we complain about the lack of  in our world?

We complain about those who show little understanding of the motivation it takes to do a job well. We can blame the whole financial mess on a debt crisis precipitated by those who wanted something without putting in the work to achieve it. We understand how teachers suffer in classrooms filled with students so expectant of instant gratification. Even of government, whose wheels are purported to gind slowly, we are impatient for results.

Knitting has a valuable lesson to teach--of choosing a task and working patiently towards its finish . . . again, an essential skill for challenging times.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

In defense of knitting when times are tough, part six

I, like everyone else, am aware of reports of slow economic growth. And while the causes are many, when asked for the solution the pundits usually say consumer demand. People need to buy.

What I don't understand is why they don't see that consumer demand--at least as we knew it before the recession--will probably never return. People are scared: consumer confidence is low (for very good reasons), and this is something that probably can and maybe should change. But at the same time, people--from their experiences of the past 3 years--have learned to both want and live with less. I do think learning what we can live without--learning what is really important--is a good thing, and I wish the pundits would acknowledge and address this new reality . . . because I am not sure this will readily change.

But what I have learned is that while I can live without a new car or another pair of shoes or the newest tech gadget, I choose not to live without yarn! My part in the economy's turnaround will be to continue to buy yarn. In this arena, my confidence is high! I know what good every dollar spent will do for my closet, my brain, my well-being. They want me to spend, and I will. If that's my duty as a citizen, I will happily oblige.

See come join me at our LYS! Good times to be had by all!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

In defense of knitting when times are tough, part five

For this portion, I am offering you information that was discovered by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. It is results of a study done in Cambridge. 

The study set up 3 groups of people and asked them to watch the film of a traumatic event.
  • One group was to do nothing while it watched.
  • One group was to talk to each other while it watched.
  • One group was to do a simple, repetitive task (like keyboarding) while it watched.
They then measured which group was least or most traumitized. What we usually get right is that the group least traumitized was the group working through the repetive task. What we don't usually get is that the group most traumitized was the group talking to each other. And then, of course, we might wonder what the science is behind these results. Here's what the scientists theorized.

We have two brains--not the right and left but the reptilian brain (known as the brain stem) and the cerebral cortex (what we think of when we picture the brain). The reptilian brain's job is survival: I will live or I will die. The cerebral cortex's job is reasoning: it thinks its way through situations.

Repetive tasks calm the reptilian brain. So the panicky brains were kept busy with  the keyboarding, and those folk could use their reasoning brains to realize that this was a horrible thing but that they were not personally theatened by it.

Talking to each other uses the cerebral cortex. So those talking had their reasoning brains engaged while their reptitlian brains were reacting in panic (which they likely exacrbated by talking to each other).

So . . . the reseachers decided that people who use worry beads or rosaries or who knit have always known what they were doing--calming themselves through stress with a repetitive task. My conclusion is that we should never watch the news without knitting in hand--especially if we feel inclined to discus it.

Your conclusion might be to keep knitting through tough times!