Knitting Away the Stress: Not for Women Only

I’ve joined a small group, about six women, who get together to knit, usually on Monday afternoons.

Early in the morning, someone will dash off an email offering to host and the others chime in who can come, who can’t. There’s no pressure.  We compare projects and patterns, clacking our needles, counting stitches and rows, measuring gauges, touching yarns.

We chitchat about our families, books, movies, television shows and the news of the day. Many of the knitters are also cyclists; we share ride stories.

Disturbingly, today became another one of those indelible days that will be remembered way beyond what scarf we were working on or which difficult stitches we mastered.

The news about the shootings at the Washington, DC Navy Yard stunned us. In April, on another knitting Monday, we watched the events of the Boston Marathon bombing unfold on television. Today, angry about the lack of gun control laws, we recalled memories of other sad and scary events: the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2002 Washington, DC sniper shootings. We remembered where we where, how we were affected, and how we hope to protect our children.  We lamented how times have changed. No longer can parents drop off forgotten lunches, homework or band instruments; there’s a ban on dropping in without an appointment. Some in town have begun a petition, protesting the superintendent’s decision. They believe their freedom to enter schools at whim trumps school safety.

Knitting is a soothing, peaceful endeavor. The repetitive movement of the hands and fingers cooperating and creating something from a ball of yarn is immensely gratifying. Knitting (and other crafts) relieves stress.

Apparently, the perpetrator in today’s shooting is a Navy veteran. It’s unclear whether there was someone else involved.  Gun control seems too difficult a battle to win in this country.  There are too many of these random incidents. Maybe relieving stress through knitting and yoga can funnel the all too prevalent anger and violence.


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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28 Responses to Knitting Away the Stress: Not for Women Only

  1. jennifer Glick says:

    This is so cool. I had no idea what a fascinating career you have! I’m honored I could somehow contribute to your blog today. Looking forward to reading some more.


  2. Such a disturbing trend… glad you can knit and find comfort.


  3. OmaOrBubby says:

    Your knitting group sounds wonderful. And may we have good news to share amongst friends always. No more tragedies.


  4. ShimonZ says:

    I am moved by the story of your knitting group. It reminds me of my mother, who knitted all her life (and lived to be 101 years old). She was an avid reader, and had many other hobbies and activities, but told me that knitting had a wonderful effect on her nerves and her fingers. And she remains with us still, in the sweaters and scarves that she knit. I have a cap she knitted for me years ago.


  5. Letty Sue Albert says:

    How much easier it is to stop a parent from visiting his child at school than to prevent individuals from keeping a store of automatic weapons. Just as it is easier to check eighty year old men with metal hips or knees at the airports, than it is to check some one fitting the”profile” of a terrorist. Governments take the easy route and we all suffer. What has happened to Reason?


  6. jmgoyder says:

    What a coincidence! Last week I decided I would learn how to knit.


  7. Judy says:

    So well said Lisa. Thanks for your thoughts. I would love to start knitting or crocheting someday and to have a group of women to share with sounds wonderful!


  8. You are making me wish i could cut back my hours and start knitting but I have yoga. I had the chance to reflect on the incident during my Physical Therapy session last night. What a tragedy. It would also be sad if he has not had any intervention from the mental health system.
    Thanks for sharing.


  9. Powerful piece. It’s our friends and family who get us through these days. I was at my book club the day after 9/11 with a friend who was on a ferry that turned around after stopping to pick up ash-covered survivors. Women friends help to weave threads of kindness when the world goes mad.


  10. 1createblogs says:

    Hi there I like your post


  11. Poignant. At times in my life I have crocheted. For some reason, knitting didn’t want to stick. And to de-stress as a group, doing such things is something we all could use more of. I can still remember the knifings that went on during the 70’s when they instituted integrated bussing in Boston schools. So sad that we, as a global community, still turn to demonstrations of mass violence because either we weren’t taught about our emotions (“men don’t cry”), or our mental health is unhealthy.


    • And I can’t figure out how to crochet! And apparently this person had a known history of getting mental health attention– but he had access to guns. If we don’t address guns, we won’t end these tragic events.

      On Wed, Sep 18, 2013 at 1:19 AM, cyclingrandma


  12. BarMar Klein says:

    Count me in as #20. It wouldbe a better world if more people relieved their tensions with kneedles and yarn, rather than guns. We shoud start a therapeutic program


  13. tchistorygal says:

    Your stress is relieved. Now we need to teach our would be shooters how to knit. I learned how to knit first from a teenage boy when I was about 16. He broke his leg, and couldn’t skate, so he learned to knit, and taught several of us kids. 🙂


    • What a sweet story– boys need knitting too! Hope you’re knitting while on your vacation road trip.


      • tchistorygal says:

        Actually, I didn’t come prepared. I like to knit in the winter, and we’re not there yet! 🙂 However, if I had a wonderful group like yours, I’d be doing it year round! 🙂 My real knitting came about when I lived in Colorado Springs, and a neighbor was a professional knitter. She taught me how to really knit, and since my husband worked nights and went to school days, I had tons of time. We sat in her living room and knitted almost every night for probably a year. I made sweaters for all the ladies I worked with (about 6), then I quit knitting after a few more sweaters after we moved to California. I took it up again a couple of years ago, after a 20 year break! 🙂


      • Martha– glad you picked it up again! Bring it on the next car trip.


      • tchistorygal says:

        Good reminder, thanks LIsa. 🙂


  14. I love the idea of your knitting circle!

    And I think it is disturbing that your school won’t let you drop off things! My daughters’ would have missed a lot of lunches if that had been the case when they were in school! 🙂

    Sad when events like this impact us in so many other ways that are counter-intuitive to living fearlessly and freely!


  15. Leah says:

    I love how all these historic things are occurring during knitting. Sounds like so fun. Maybe one day I’ll conquer knitting.


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