Beautiful Addiction - What's Your Diversion?
I learned to knit when I was 42. As can happen when someone starts something later in life (painting, sculpting, writing), I became obsessed with my new found skill. I became addicted to the colors and textures of yarn, the mystery of patterns and the triumph of paying attention to gauge.
And, as so often happens with a gateway drug, knitting led to crocheting. And with crocheting, the creation of small figures and animals called amigurumi. What writer of children’s literature doesn’t like creating monsters, unicorns and gnomes? One thing leads to the other.
Knitting and working with yarn is non-verbal. Yes, yes, there are those occasional bad words that fly from my mouth when I’ve dropped a stitch, and no, it’s not “dang-it”. (This is not your grandma’s knitting.) Moving your hands, concentrating and not speaking are welcomed pleasures after a day of writing grant proposals or an afternoon of struggling to start a new story. Knitting just asks that you pay attention until you have the pattern repetition memorized. Then it’s kind of like yoga: breathe out, breathe in. There’s activity, but it’s quiet activity. There are even charts, very popular in Japanese knitting, that have only symbols. I pretend to know a secret code.
Doing something that doesn’t require language is a godsend when you are crafting with words all the time. I appreciate the softness of the yarn – I don’t have to describe it. It’s tactile and immediate. You could cook up a character or a story line while you’re knitting or crocheting – but you’d be creating them subconsciously in the haze of thoughts that haven’t reached the front of your brain yet. It’s delicious.
I like to walk. I love to go to museums, see films, shop at a farm market. These are lovely diversions, too. But they do not compare with knitting. I can still think about words, deadlines and dialogue, when I’m doing any of the above. A true vacation from the writing machine I have to be sometimes, is realized in an armchair near the fireplace. There’s a basket of yarn at my feet. There’s a cat on the side table ready to make off with a half-finished sock. The sci-fi channel is on, and my husband is engrossed in a mega-shark- attack-marathon. But I am creating something with no words and quieting my mind. When I’m in that zone long enough, I sometimes have the urge to get up and sit at my computer.
So what do you do as a diversion from writing?