Knitting in the Dark – Rev. Georgia Carney

I will knit pretty much anywhere at any time. I have projects suitable for many different knitting environments from meetings-mostly Zoom meetings these days, waiting for appointments, family gatherings, and quiet time at home. I save my lace, cable, and colorwork projects for quiet focused time under my Ott light. Truth be told, I have a hard time sitting still and focusing without something in my hands. This includes occasions like going to the movies. Years ago (in the pre-pandemic times), I had a weekly date to the Little Theatre with friends and at first, they laughed out loud when I pulled out a sock to knit during the movie. As weeks went on and I continued knitting in the dark, there was less laughter and a few other brave souls tried it. Why not? If you make a mistake, it can be fixed.

I am thinking right now about folks who have knit in the dark through the centuries because light in the evening, when one might have the leisure to knit, was precious and limited to a candle, a lantern, the fireplace. In a family setting, those who were reading would have been closest to the light. You can imagine the women and men knitting as a family member read or perhaps sang to pass a winter’s evening. Currently, my thoughts are with those in areas without electricity and how their knitting has provided them with warm garments, blankets, and I am betting they have found a way to keep knitting through it all. Knitting calms us, helps us to feel a bit of control when we are forced to acknowledge that the bigger picture is beyond our control. 

For those of you knitters who work with impaired eyesight, you have much to teach those of us who take our vision for granted. I look forward to hearing your observations in the comments. If you are already an experienced knitter or a novice, let’s try a simple exercise together: Choose your most basic project in garter or stockinette. You can wait until evening falls-and in fact knitting as darkness falls around you is a great way to enter this experience. You can also just choose to close your eyes while you knit. Take time to be very aware of how you are sitting in your chair. Take time to breathe deeply and center yourself. 

Here are some of the senses around your knitting to contemplate:

  1. How does the yarn feel as it passes through my fingers? Do I need to change how I hold my yarn?
  2. How do I use my fingers while I am knitting? What is the job of each of my fingers? Are my hands, arms, and shoulders relaxed and balanced? Do I grip my needles tightly?
  3. How do the tips of my needles feel as I take each stitch and wrap the yarn around? What do I hear? How do I feel?
  4. What is the pace of knitting without light as opposed to my regular experience? Is it frustrating or perhaps something else?
  5. If I am knitting in the dark, am I struggling to see or can I accept the help of my other senses? 
  6. If I drop a stitch or feel like I am making an error, how will I manage it? Will I forge on figuring to fix it later? Wait until there is light? Should I use my sense of touch to try and correct it in the dark? If I am knitting with someone else can they help me?

How I approach each of these questions, informs me about how I approach my prayer/ spiritual life. Full disclosure- I often forge right ahead and only ask for help when I have thoroughly messed up. This is where I will focus during Lent – how to prayerfully ask for guidance from the Spirit with each stitch. I look at this post as a beginning of a conversation. Thank you for reading and knitting with me and I look forward to the insights you will share with me and our knitting community.

Bio: Georgia serves as a Deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY. In 2015, she founded the not-for-profit SewGreen@Rochester, Inc. in cooperation with the original SewGreen, Ithaca through a major grant from the National Episcopal Church. Find us online at sewgreenrochester.org.

Two set up rows and pattern rows 1-6 of Pattern #56 from the Japanese Stitch Bible.

Published by Julie Cicora

I'm an Episcopal Priest that loves using knitting as a spiritual discipline.

One thought on “Knitting in the Dark – Rev. Georgia Carney

  1. When I first started reading this I thought that it doesn’t apply to one who prays while beading because you literally cannot bead in the dark. I might have known that it would also apply to prayer, life, trust, vulnerability and my ongoing need to stop and ask for help, practically with every breath. Thank you Deacon Georgia for this truly helpful reflection.

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