The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice

9780062512031: The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice

"The purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind so that it can sink down into contemplation of its true nature. You cannot stop your mind by an act of will any more than you can stop the beating of your own heart. Some cultures describe mind as a drunken monkey, reeling from place to place with no rhyme or reason. Like meditation/ knitting calms the monkey down....I believe that in the quiet/ repetitive, hypnotic rhythms of creating craft, the inner being may emerge in all its quiet beauty. The very rhythm, of the knitting needles can become as incantatory as a drumbeat or a Gregorian chant."

-- from The knitting Sutra

Knitting as prayer? Craft as spiritual path? In this wonderfully allusive story of the quest to master a craft, Susan Gordon Lydon's love of knitting and her search for spiritual insight become powerfully and lyrically intertwined.

Lydon's journey begins when she knits a turquoise chenille sweater to help a broken bone in her arm "knit." In pursuit of a perfect silver button for her sweater -- and a medicine man for her arm -- she ends up on a Navajo reservation where a community of women live by the proceeds of their craft in a unified cycle of livelihood, art, and spirituality. They remind Lydon of the women on the Shetland Islands who developed classic knitting patterns and of the women who gather at her local yarn shop. From old-fashioned quilting bees to the hundreds of knitters who communicate on the Internet, she recognizes in craftspeople the confluence of self, community, creativity, ritual, and the urge to beautify the everyday.

Each new knitting project she begins and every new skill she masters bring her closer to serenity and insight that have sometimes eluded her through years of spiritual explorations. In one passage, her arm healed and her passion for knitting rekindled, Lydon finds herself selling old books and clothes to buy a particularly extravagant yarn. The red sweater it becomes represents the lessons in daring and self-trust she learns while crafting it. Even a bout with cancer ("I particularly didn't want to die because I wanted to finish my Alice Starmore sweater") and the hiatus from knitting a tendinitis diagnosis demands guide her to take the lessons she has learned from knitting -- sitting still, focusing the mind, asking for help -- and apply them to the rest of her life.

Dedicated to "all the women who knit too much," Lydon's rich insights will delight and inspire all who seek the extraordinary in the everyday.

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From the Inside Flap:

Available for the first time in paperback, The Knitting Sutra reveals how women can learn to knit their way to nirvana.

When Susan Gordon Lydon was coping with a broken arm, her craft took on new significance. While knitting was essential to strengthening her hands, it also provided her with a newfound sense of peace and creativity. Immersed in brilliant colors, textures, and images of beautiful sweaters, Lydon found healing and enlightenment in a way she had never imagined. Capturing this journey of discovery, The Knitting Sutra recounts her remarkable membership in a community of craftswomen around the world, from sweater makers in Scotland to Navajo weavers, and the adventures that her craft led her on.

As she masters new techniques and conquers old obstacles, Lydon's story conveys how the lessons she learned from knitting, such as stillness and interdependence, later sustained her through a cancer diagnosis and even the incapacitation of her hands. The Knitting Sutra is both a meditation on craft and an affirmation for anyone seeking heartfelt comfort.

From the Back Cover:

"Gracefully links handcraft and spiritual practice in our everyday lives. Because she is both a fine reporter and an honest woman, her book will be rewarding to many women, knitters or not, who are trying to untangle their lives." —Vogue Knitting International

"A page turner because Lydon ... is a good enough writer to bring one to tears." —San Jose Mercury News

"This small, quite wonderful book shows all that knitting and meditation have in common—and it's more than some might suspect." —Booklist

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