With the holiday season fast approaching, some of us knitters and crocheters find ourselves rushing to meet project deadlines. Our desire to give something special to loved ones always seems to extend beyond the amount of time we actually have to create. Perhaps this doesn’t apply to you because you planned ahead with your holiday gifts and completed them this fall. Lucky you! Or maybe you’re not making gifts this year. Whether you’ve wrapped up your holiday crafting or not, this article can help you find a little zen in the midst of all the holiday craziness.
You don’t need to take a three-hour workshop or an hour and a half yoga class to reap the benefits from either craft.
One key to peace of mind during the holiday season is taking small amounts of time throughout the day to knit, crochet or meditate. A five minute reset, if you will, can promote peace of mind. Once you know how to knit or crochet, stretch a little or meditate and you can sneak time here and there to enjoy what you love. You don’t need to take a three-hour workshop or an hour and a half yoga class to reap the benefits from either craft. It just takes practice. The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to recreate this peaceful feeling no matter where you are and how little time you have.
No effort is ever wasted when you are working on your craft. So any time you take to make a few stitches, practice your breathing or try a child’s pose and it will add up over time. It’s not the size of the item that determines the quality of it. It’s not the amount of time you spend meditating. It’s all about how fully you can divert your attention to that experience even if it’s only for a minute or two.
Small projects are such a blessing when you have a time crunch, and they still give you a real sense of accomplishment. Small breaks for meditation or yoga can give the same sense of accomplishment. Set aside 2-5 minutes a day just to breathe, meditate, knit, crochet or take a walk outside. Only a few stitches or rows a day and you may find yourself feeling great about the progress you’re making. No effort is ever wasted.
Dare I say swatching is a small task with great rewards? I know, I know, who enjoys swatching, of all things? But, seriously, it can be extremely beneficial, especially when you recall that no effort is ever wasted. You never know how yarn is going to behave.
Just the other day I bought yarn that I thought was perfect for a vest. I did a swatch just to be safe only to find out that it wasn’t even close to the right yarn for the project. The weight was heavier than the pattern called for and the drape of the vest would have been too stiff if I had stuck with it. But I was so committed to the yarn, I ended up making two more swatches to try to trick myself into being ok with it! By the end of the third swatch, it was even more clear the yarn had to go. I took a deep breath, chuckled to myself, and accepted the lesson. Even that effort was not wasted. It taught me to let go of my preconceptions faster and it reminded me that yarn will get used eventually.
Being mentally flexible with your yarn and projects can help make knitting or crochet a more joyful process. It can help you stay present with the stitches and see the work really unfold as you go. You may discover as you knit or crochet that you want to add in a little mohair, or a few extra stitches, maybe an eyelet here or there. Let it be a fluid process and accept hiccups along the way.
I love making hats, cowls and mitts. They travel easy and can help you feel as though you’ve accomplished something. Speaking of small projects, I recently took a needle felting class and enjoyed the pleasure of being able to make something by hand within a four-hour time frame, start to finish. It was a fun class, but not something I want to spend all my time doing. There was a joy in making something small, in making to make and not feeling like it needs to be perfect.
Whenever I teach the brioche stitch in a knitting class, I recommend that afterward the class knit two rows of brioche a day, every day, for a week. You don’t need to spend an hour each day afterwards to remember the brioche, but a little each day can go a long way. When we first start a new craft, it can be helpful to practice daily for at least an hour. But that isn’t always possible. Most days I feel like I’m struggling even to find that five-minute window where I can practice yoga or meditate. I do my best to make the most of those brief moments. The key is that I’m giving myself fully in those five minutes.
So, no matter what project you’re working on at the moment, see if you can fit in 1-2 rows a day. Or if you feel like you need more of a full body reset, try a breathing practice (pranayama). A few minutes of deep breathing done right never fails at quieting the frenzied holiday feelings.
My favorite breathing practice to quiet the mind, body and breath focuses on rebalancing the energy flows in your body. It’s called Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadhi Shodhana), and it’s a great way to balance the mind and calm your thoughts.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Begin seated on a chair, pillow, blanket, or yoga mat. Anywhere you’ll be able to have good posture and avoid slouching.
Step 2: With a tall spine, bring your right hand up towards your nose and bend your middle and pointer finger into your palm. Place your ring finger on your left nostril, closing it off. Breathe in through your right nostril. Close the right nostril with your right thumb, and release the left nostril, exhaling out the left.
Step 3: Inhale through the left nostril, place the ring finger back on the left nostril and release the thumb from the right nostril, exhale out the right.
Repeat steps 2-3 for 5 breaths. 20 if you have the time.
And remember, these holidays, find just a few minutes a day. No effort is wasted!
ABOUT THE Author: Liza Laird
Liza is a spinner and knitter of wool and a lover of handstands. Liza started knitting at the wee age of 8 and hasn’t stopped since. She received formal yoga training in her early 20s in NYC as a 500 HR Registered Yoga Teacher and an 800 HR Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She taught at studios for nearly a decade in NYC and Boston, including Yoga Works and Harlem Yoga Studio.
Liza leads yoga retreats worldwide in places including Bali, Thailand, Italy, Peru, and locally in Vermont and Texas. She also hosts workshops on yoga and knitting in the eastern United States when she’s not taking care of her husband and daughter, Tom and Isa, or her dog, Cosmo.
Liza can be found at raglineknits.com.