Ruhee Dewji, a Canadian software developer who lives on her own, took up knitting in early spring at the encouragement of some friends. Before the pandemic, Ms. Dewji, 31, filled her spare time playing music in bands; she found playing on her own during lockdown just emphasized her loneliness.
She finds knitting an uncomplicated joy with many benefits, but one stands out.
“I’ve mostly made things for other people, and I realized that when you are making something for someone you love, you are thinking about them with every single stitch, and somehow that feels less lonely even though I am doing it all alone,” she said.
Although knitting is a single-person activity, many knitters enjoy gathering, both online and in person, to share the successes, laugh about the mistakes and learn from one another. The portability of knitting is crucial, and as knitting doesn’t require one’s full focus or attention, you are able to engage with the people around you. In the Before Times, yarn shops would hold knit-nights and libraries had crafting groups. There are also formal knitting guilds, and most major cities seem to have at least one group of self-identified “drunken knitters” who meet in bars.
Most knit-nights and classes went virtual early this year, making them accessible to faraway members and those nearby with physical or other limitations that may not let them appear in person.
Before the pandemic, Seattle Yarn hosted three regular in-person gatherings every week. Destiny Itano, a co-owner, said that when travel and gathering restrictions were put in place, both staff members and customers were “devastated” at the thought that these groups might not continue. Within a couple of weeks of the city’s lockdown, they set up online sessions and have been hosting two events a week ever since. Ms. Itano said that she was “surprised how well they work — not only as social gatherings, but as a way for knitters to offer and get help with their stitching.”
And the local knitting community has expanded: Ms. Itano’s mother joins from her home in Alaska, and a regular attendee to their Saturday morning group lives in Germany. They plan to keep these groups going even after the shop is fully operational again.
How to get started
Before you begin, know that focusing on the end result means that many beginners are often too impatient with the inevitably imperfect results of their first projects. The first of anything you make will not be great. (Admit it, there was some disastrously inedible sourdough this past spring.) And it doesn’t matter one bit. You still get all the benefits (virtuous or not) whether or not you come away with a wearable scarf. You’re still going to be relaxed and mindful whether or not the beanie fits.