I learned to knit in 2012 over Christmas vacation. My mother-in-law flew from England to Ohio for a 2-week visit, and during that time she taught me the basics of knitting. I enjoyed the process and immediately invested in a ridiculous amount of yarn. As with many things in my life, I went gung ho and focused all of my attention on my new hobby.
When my mother-in-law flew back to England, I felt lost. I didn’t know how to fix my knitting mistakes, so I would try to knit my projects perfectly, which completely sucked the fun out of this pastime that was supposed to be relaxing. I would chastise myself when I made a mistake (which was often) and gradually stopped knitting.
Months later, my yarn was in trash bags in our basement and I rarely picked up my needles. But in 2016 I started eating disorder recovery, and I rediscovered my passion for knitting. My old friend Amanda came back into my life, and she reminded me that knitting is supposed to be fun. She patiently helped me with my many mistakes, and although it took several months, I finally learned to fix them myself!
Amanda also introduced me to the online knitting community. I had signed up for Ravelry back in early 2013, but I soon realized that there are podcasts, blogs, and Etsy shops devoted to all things yarny.
I started watching several knitting podcasts, including Yarn Hoarder, The Grocery Girls, and Inside Number 23. I fell in love with this community of people who never mentioned dieting or clothing sizes. It was a breath of fresh air from the diet culture I had immersed myself in for so many years.
Body image and mental health issues did come up on some of my favorite podcasts, and I was truly grateful to feel another layer of support and understanding from this amazing group of makers.
Although the majority of knitting and fiber podcasts are positive and don’t play into the misleading ideals of the diet industry, I do admit to being “turned off” by those podcasters who share that the smallest pattern size is too small for them, or those who talk about endless hours spent in the gym. But I simply turn off those select few and remind myself that not everyone is on the same journey.
Knitting has become a safe haven for me. It is a common bond between me and my best friend and my mother-in-law. It’s also versatile; if I’m stressed and I need a mindless task, I work on a stockinette project. Or if I need a challenge, I pull out a fun pattern.
During my eating disorder recovery, I came to understand that I had no idea who I was. I had tried to fit in with other people for so many years that I didn’t know what it was that I truly enjoyed. I had to get to know myself again and as it turns out, a big piece of me is my love for knitting.