When I was 5 years old my great grandmother taught me how to knit. She had emigrated to Australia from Italy late in life. As a result she could not speak a word of English. But she knew how to knit and did not need words to teach.
She was patient, thoughtful and watched over every stitch that I made. Teaching me when I needed it, guiding me through the process, watching as I learned the rhythm of the needles. Encouraging me when I made mistakes. And thrilled when I had finished the square for the blanket we were working on. It was a very special way to bond without words and I will always remember those times with her.
Growing up I was always making something either a dance routine, a cubbyhouse, a pair of shoes, a dress for my barbie doll. It was no surprise that I would choose to create, innovate and build businesses across the world as the focal point of my career.
Last year I was introduced to We Are Knitters — a company that has made knitting ‘cool’ again with their DIY knitting kits and colourful yarns from Peru. It reminded me of those days when I first started knitting. But this time the colours of the yarn were beautiful, the texture was chunky (and so soft) and when I saw the patterns of the scarves, beanies, blankets and sweaters I wanted to make all of them. Immediately.
When my first kit was delivered I was excited to start, even though I had not picked up a knitting needle in years. I opened the kit, watched one lesson on YouTube and started on my scarf. I also turned my phone off. For the next six hours I methodically stitched row by row watching the light grey scarf evolve before my eyes. Not once was I tempted to try to turn my phone back on. Mainly because I was too scared that the yarn would fall off the needles!
At 2am I finally crawled into bed feeling calm, relaxed and happy. And slightly in awe that I had actually made something I would actually want to wear as soon as I woke up the next day.
What I didn’t expect when I started to knit again was that everyone that I spoke to also wanted to learn. Or was already knitting. In secret. There was an entire community I was unaware of.
Everyone is looking for a way to disconnect, relax, unplug and have a time out from every day life. A break from the never ending stream of emails, texts, status updates and news feeds that we see every day. And knitting is that outlet for so many people and now I understand why. Because it gives you something to focus on instead of your phone. And that can only be a good thing.
Originally published at medium.com