School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

Back to contents

A Path Made by Knitting

By Kerri Cripps
“Can I come to the Long Dance?” “Don’t be silly knitting doesn’t belong in a ceremony, people might think it was disrespectful” “Oh I didn’t know that! Oh well … Can I come anyway?” “I suppose so, since you are already in the car, and there might be time to knit before the ceremony”

When I told my travelling companion that my knitting had invited itself to the Long Dance he said, “That’s a great idea you could knit during the community round when we are doing the Joanna Macy exercise, it would help.”  So, in spite of my doubts about whether or not I could knit in a ceremonial way, I took my battered plastic carrier bag full of different shades of pink wool and my almost completed strip of knitting up to the marquee, stuffed it out of sight behind my chair and promptly forgot all about it.

I am not sure exactly where we were in the ceremony when I finally heard a distinctly pink whisper saying, “It’s time now!”  Luckily, by then I was sufficiently expanded beyond my everyday persona to respond positively to the invitation and as I began to knit my lingering doubts were quickly soothed by the power of the embodied experience. I felt an almost audible ‘click’ of satisfaction at being in the right place, at the right time, offering what was mine to offer - knitting was clearly the perfect thing for me to be doing. And it quickly became clear that as well as being good for me (1st  dimension, relationship to self) knitting also had positive resonances for my relationships to the other four Movement Medicine dimensions as well:

2nd dimension, other - many people paused and smiled and thanked me

3rd dimension, community & environment - I felt connected to  all the other people, known and unknown, involved in Wool Not Weapons who are knitting pink strips to make a scarf to stretch the 7 miles between Aldermaston and Burghfield, two Atomic Weapons Establishments, in UK, where nuclear weapons are made.  And I was glad to be connecting that circle with the Long Dance circle.
*Click on the link at the end for more information on this amazing bit of dream manifestation

4th dimension, ancestors - knitting is such an old craft it invoked the archetypal feminine, connecting me very strongly with my paternal grandmother and, through her, to all of our  ancestors whose spinning and weaving and knitting have  created the fabric of our lives - materially, emotionally  and spiritually, over the generations.  Here again I felt a strong ‘click’ as I settled into a new level of realisation of our deep interconnection and the recognition of our ability to co-create such a strongly woven container for our dancing prayers

5th dimension, divine - somewhere along the way the rhythmic clicking of the needles began to dance with the devotional beat of the Big Drum calling softly to the all-encompassing arms of the Great Mother asking her, enabling her and thanking her, for holding us all in the heart of the great mystery so that we can dance our dreams and prayers out into the world. I felt as if I’d had the great privilege of sitting in the witness chair for the great mystery at the centre of our ceremony.

This whole experience raised interesting questions for me, about inner and outer authority. Part of the critical voice which says ‘you can’t knit in a ceremony ‘ is a projected external authority with limited views about what is allowed in ceremony. Since it clearly was possible for me to knit in a respectful ceremonial way, I decided, in the course of writing this piece, to explore this process a bit further. So I asked myself who was disturbed by the idea of knitting in ceremony and  uncovered a part of myself that was afraid of being asked why I was doing it,  because, before I started, I didn’t really know the answer to that question – it only became clear to me as I began knitting.  This belief that I need to be able to fully explain and justify my actions before I can take the first step is one that often holds me back!

In this context ‘How dare you knit here?’ transforms from a critical interrogation into a genuinely interesting question: Given my doubts and fears how dare I go ahead and knit in the ceremony? My answer so far is that I dared to trust in, and follow a dreaming process between me and my knitting  and given the chance the knitting process  explained itself very clearly to me, and to others who witnessed it. This emergent way seems  deeply Yin to me  and very much needed in these challenging times when we urgently need to dream paths beyond what we already know and to trust in the wisdom of our other than human companions whether they are trees, rocks, or knitting.

The prayer implicit in my knitting process was for the dedication, courage and strength to dance an emergent path, a path that is deeply accepting and enabling.  One that values both pushing and holding back and recognises their place in the world and at the same time occupies the in-between space where things happen organically in their own good time. This path required me to be with my doubts without pushing them away or letting them hold me back and to trust that the knitting knew all we needed to know.  As Susannah often says, ‘together we are a genius’ and now I am aware of the wider circle of our collective genius that includes knitting.

“Hmm, you aren’t including me now! This is all very interesting and I can see that it’s useful, but you seem to have forgotten about me - this is supposed to be a story about knitting! And you are in danger of losing the thread that holds it all together”

“Thank you for reminding me, and  I agree, when we are following a path made by knitting, dancing or walking it is essential to stay connected to the golden thread that weaves through the whole tapestry of our lives, keeping us on track and guiding us step by step, stitch by stitch so we don’t wander too far from the path. And that’s another reason why knitting in ceremony is so wonderfully, delightfully perfect. So for the next Long Dance I will find some golden thread and a beautiful knitting bag for you, instead of that scruffy plastic carrier bag.”

“Thank you that would be much more respectful!”

Thanks for reading and hope to see you at the next Long Dance
Kerri and the knitting

PS one of the gifts of a creative act such as knitting is that it is symbolically very rich, so the knitting may have whispered  different things to you  – if so it would be lovely to hear about them on the MM facebook page

 *  for more on how one woman had a crazy dream and stitch by stitch, manifest it in the world in such a way that  as well as a demonstration linking the 2 places on Aug 9th,  the anniversary of the Nagasaki atomic bombing,  the knitting has also created new networks of peace activists across the country 

Back to contents

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.