Crafting, whether it’s knitting or sewing or making a cheap lopsided foam unicorn, has helped me to become a well-rounded person.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a crafter. The Girl Scouts helped hone my crafter status. Knitting. Hand sewing. Quilting. Friendship bracelets. Beads. Sit-upons (always use foam, never newspapers like the instructions say). I did them all.
In grad school, my fiber crafting hobbies were a lifesaver. Moving to Washington, D.C. and attending The George Washington University, not knowing anyone outside of the office and my classes, I had to force myself to meet new people.
This led me to fibre space, a yarn shop off of the Orange/Blue Line stop of King Street. Don’t get the wrong idea; knitting isn’t just for your grandma. There, we were all crafters of all levels of experience, shapes, sizes, and occupations. Stay-at-home moms. Military members. Government employees. Lobbyists. Hotel managers. Retirees. College students. Men. IT Managers.
But more importantly, I found a community of great people that didn’t care I worked in sports and especially understood that I had some long and odd hours. They were always glad to see me when my schedule allowed to stop by knit night.
Additionally, as a female trying to find her way in a male-dominated profession, the owner of fibre space was my first interaction with a strong businesswoman and leader who continues to fight for her business and her family and improve her community.
The influence of my fellow crafters at fibre space and of the shop’s owner made a huge impact on my life, both in and out of the office.
I can take a few steps away from my job to knit a row or two at lunch or after work to relax. If I pull out a project to work on while waiting in a long line, I don’t seem to mind that I spent half my day at the DMV. By keeping my hands busy, my mindset isn’t instantly in the dumps because I had to spend half of the day stuck somewhere not enjoyable.
When people see me knitting or find out that I knit, they usually say one of two things. First, “wow, you’re such a young person to be crocheting.” And second, “You must be a really patient person.” On both accounts, I am not. But knitting in public has opened my mind to how instantly and powerful perceptions can be formed. In a digital world where strangers can snap a quick photo or video of someone acting out, I try to explain to interns that how they act in public not only represents the athletic communications staff, but the university as well. Many more people than we know are watching us put on home events.
Knitting, especially knitting lace, has honed my problem-solving skills. The delicate pattern created by over thousands of tiny stitches can send a person to their knees crying and cursing if a stitch slides off the needles, or if a stitch is dropped, but you didn’t catch it until 10 or more rows later - it really is like surgery to fix that problem. After a deep breath, swifty evaluating the situation and maybe even after a quick walk away from the problem, I often feel in better control of myself and have a plan to solve the problem.
Knitting has also taught me how to have genuine conversations with people. I am not looking down at my phone or glued to my computer. I can’t deny that knitting orange socks in public is a pretty good conversation starter. Usually, I get a nice complement and a great story about a family heirloom or how their grandpa knit while serving in one of the World Wars. Sometimes I get to chat with another knitter. And after some time, I get a great new sweater, hat, pair of socks or a great handmade gift for a friend or family member.
My crafting hobby probably started as a means to keep a little kid from getting into trouble; it has helped me grow, and given me more than just a way to busy my hands. Find something that allows you a release from the struggles of the day. You never know what unintended positive outcomes could result.