Knitting as therapy

After my Dad passed away quite suddenly in 2000, my Mum began a diary as a way to keep a track of time and she also began to knit again. She knitted simple garter stitch squares with some wool she had stashed. It upset me at times to see how hard she concentrated on these simple squares after her skilled hands had produced lovely fair isle and lace knitting. But she explained that this was one way that she could produce something constructive to show for the time she spent thinking and grieving. She worked them in the square and diagonally, and invented her own take on modular knitting before we even knew the term existed. She exercised her imagination and gradually, I could see a small part of her coming alive again.

Looking back I was doing the same with cross-stitching. I have samplers on the walls of our home, and when I study them hanging there, I can remember exactly what part I was sewing on when Dad was called back into hospital, when we sat at his bedside and during the sad times when we just sat together at home afterwards.

After a couple of months had passed, I discovered a book by Debbie Abrahams called 'Blankets and throws to knit'. I just had to buy it for my Mum to encourage her to develop her repertoire. By this time she used to say - 'It's just squares - I'm just wasting time knitting these, don't you think?'. Finding this book was a way of saying - 'Squares are good - look what can be achieved by just knitting a square at a time!' She loved it and has already completed a throw and some cushions. We have been fortunate to have attended several of Debbie's workshops held near to where we live (in Northern Ireland, that is no small feat, as we seem to be the 'ugly sisters' of the knitting fraternity - but we are catching up!).

So, to cut a long story a little shorter, I have decided to take the plunge and knit one of Debbie's designs from her second book of blanket and throw designs. It is simply called 'Fish' and has some lovely designs in the squares that make up the throw. There isn't really a good clear picture of it in the book, so I will try to post pictures of some of the squares as I complete them. It should be an interesting process as I am not too good with intarsia - Mum, as a true Shetlander, thinks that fair isle should be good enough for anyone!

I do think we should never underestimate the therapeutic potential of creating things with our hands. In particular things that we can sit and do while thinking. Knitting, I think, provides almost the perfect elements for that, depending, of course, on the pattern you chose. There is something comforting about the simple rhythm of passing yarn over needles and the repetitive movements that calms the soul and clarifies the mind.

(So after spending the day marking dissertations from our final year nursing students, I am off for some soul calming!)

By the way, the garter stitch squares were all sewn up into pretty, colourful throws and sent to Shetland. My aunt works in a lovely nursing home there, and they use small throws as lap rugs for the eldery and infirm residents. So hopefully they will brighten someone else's day there, too.


Hi Pauline - I know what you mean about comments - they're like cookies ;0)