Knit yourself together

So if boredom is a loss of interest in our actual surroundings, then some of its finer cousins invite us to tour our internal selves but without all the existential angst. And while there may be many more (send in your own favourites), my top 4 cousins after train-dreaming are triggered by the following potentially boring activities:

  • Cleaning my room
  • Walking to work
  • Combing the beach
  • Knitting

I’ll start with knitting first because for those of you who know me, I can’t knit. I don’t mean I’m really bad at it, I mean I do not knit.

But knitting belongs on this list because it’s the exact sort of activity that’s very good for us. Trouble with insomnia? The LAST thing we’re meant to do is watch television before bedtime. Something about the way televisions emit light agitates the brain and is far from restful even if we are engaged in zombie-like practice which we might think is perfect for getting ready for bed.

Instead we’re meant to knit or iron or paint our toe nails — do something physically undemanding but manual nonetheless and something entirely repetitive. Such micro-work lulls the brain. Because I don’t knit, or iron, or paint my toes (though when strongly encouraged by friends, I will go get a pedicure), I cannot tell you firsthand whether these activities are also good for mind-wandering — but as I am about to find out, a quick Google can.

While there are whole books on the subject, ( see for example Mindful Knitting Inviting Contemplative Practice to the Craft  and Zen and the Art of Knitting) because I’m not interested in knitting, I offer instead this feature from magazine (again, who would’ve guessed – clearly not me.)

In her article Knitting Yourself Together, Kat Welsh explains why knitting makes it onto my list today.

“We are a left-brain dominant society . . . we need to get out of the dominant full-of-rules left brain and into the more innovative, solution-advancing right brain. And we get into the right brain by engaging in activites that are:

  • physically repetitive
  • intellectually undemanding
  • visually stimulating

This explains the wonderful place to which my mind goes when I’m knitting. “

For an inspiring description of the places her mind goes (no interest in knitting required), read her piece.

Me … I’m off to get coffee (I’ve blogged without coffee!!), more later on the wandering eye turned inward as I work through the rest of my top 4.



Filed under States of mind

3 responses to “Knit yourself together

  1. jessica

    How fascinating. As a confirmed knitter, I would argue that I knit to keep my mind occupied on something rather than let it wander into scary territories. That being said, I do, of choice knit complicated things as when I do plain knitting it defeats the purpose of the knitting and my mind wanders. Am I just contrary?

    • nathaliehourihan

      Ah …. a whole new angle on the brain distraction thing!! I don’t think this is necessarily contrary. The brain going exactly where we do NOT want it to go (our scary places) is why we all have our ways of fending off the risk of boredom. I got addicted to exercise (wish that I still were) to stop obsessing over a broken heart — it was the only form of activity that I found so hard I just couldn’t do it AND think about the wrong stuff at the same time. Also, because you’ve got a big brain Jess it makes sense you’d need more complex knitting to keep it really occupied

  2. Eek.. there’s no way I could knit before bed – I’d get far too stressed! But maybe that’s because I’m not a knitter. I wouldn’t have the faintest idea where to start. I’d need too much concentration to allow mind-wandering to happen. Cleaning and walking though…

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