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Zen and the Art of Knitting – Bernadette Murphy

I found this book at the Borders closing down sale and was intrigued.

Here is the blurb …

Knitting has become the hip new trend among twenty- and thirty-somethings, with celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, Cameron Diaz, Hilary Swank, and Julianne Moore leading the way. This book explores what virtually everyone’s grandmother always knew — that when passionate knitters become one with the craft, amazing things start to happen.In Zen and the Art of Knitting, Bernadette Murphy explores how knitting fits into the large scheme of life itself as . . .– Meditation– Creative expression– A way to cure writer’s block– A gift to express love– A way for children to develop fine motor skills– A way to connect generations, past and present. Throughout this magnificent work, readers find practical advice, including a knitted stitch per chapter and a basic pattern in the appendix. For serious knitters, casual hobbyists, creative thinkers, and those seeking to discover an unexplored spiritual channel, Zen and the Art of Knitting is a unique work that will be treasured for years to come

Each chapter consists of an essay on knitting, for example Chapter Five is the ‘Contented Soul’. The start of every chapter also has instructions for a different type of knitting stitch; garter stitch, stocking stitch, trinity stitch, etc and there are projects at the end of most chapters ranging scarfs to a jumper.

This book was an easy read and I particularly enjoyed the chapter on knitting and education (Chapter 4 – Ripening the Intellect). My girls are keen on knitting and they have each attempted a garter stitch scarf for their teddies, but neither has shown the patience to finish it. The first grade students at the Waldorf School she visits are making lions or lambs, which must involve a bit of complexity and makes me think I should have persevered more with my girls. Apparently knitting is good for fine motor skills (which is obvious), but it also helps with speech development and when knitting you use both hemispheres of the brain.

I am quite interested in using knitting for therapy (or as therapy), but I didn’t find the book as strong on this aspect. There was quite a bit on knitting as mediation (although no one was prepared to truly commit one way or the other – is it? Isn’t it?). I think I would have preferred more personal stories and less generalities – having said that, however, Ms Murphy’s own story (Chapter One Knitting Myself Back Together) was the type of thing I wanted to read.

It is also a little bit dated, but that’s my fault for reading it 11 years after it was first published. If you like knitting and reading about knitting, then this book is definitely worth reading.

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