Essay 2: We Knit to Care for: Our Dearest
A series of short essays on care-taking through making
*a quick note about diction/inclusivity: I use “knitting” here because it is the medium I am most familiar with, but please, substitute crochet or your preferred making medium. How & what you make with is valid.
Have you ever heard the phrase “knitting is my love language”? I assume (correct me if I’m wrong) that this is a riff off the Five Love Languages, a book about how humans express love, written by Gary Chapman in 1995. The love languages, according to Chapman, are: “receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch”. Maybe like the 6th sense, knitters need a 6th love language, a category unto itself: knitting. I’ve thought a lot about this (hello, hi, I’m a huge nerd about knitting and feelings, in case you can’t already tell), and while I think that the act of knitting falls into the camps of gift-giving and acts of service, I think it also deserves its own recognition, because once you’ve made something - particularly knit or crocheted something - by hand, you’ll have an appreciation for what exactly went into that.
Knitting is our love language - it’s an enormous investment of resources, both materials and time. To earn a place in the heart of a knitter, to become a recipient of a knitted object, is a pretty big deal. For most of us, this looks like prioritizing knitting for our dearest - our family members, partners and chosen family. Some of us have beautiful traditions of honoring our family members and family histories with knitting & making. One such maker is James Davis - a spinner, dyer and weaver from Colorado, who has spoken and written about his introduction to fiber art and his reason for making. James engages with fiber primarily to honor his mother’s memory and build on his family’s woven language. He openly shares his use of fiber to process the grief of his mother’s death and to continue on her legacy.
Knitting objects, whether for yourself or someone you care about, is an act of devotion and dedication. As anyone who’s ever knitted anything knows, it’s often cheaper, and definitely faster, to buy something ready-made. But as makers, we know that this is not the point - there’s something much deeper to be gained by both the maker and the wearer (sometimes the same person) when we slowly and intentionally make by hand.
In the next essay of this series, I’ll discuss the ways we use fiber to care for and connect with our communities and to find our place in our physical and online communities.
ICYMI, the first essay in this series was on the relationship that we, as individuals, have with making. Find that here.
Photo credit- Ani knitting at Myrtle Falls by Nina Hamilton Photography