Look at this picture. Gray. Lots of gray. Mounds and mounds of gray. Or "grey" if you're from the Commonwealth.
After all the exciting colors and monsters of the last several months, this project came on the needles: a man hat. For a man who would probably wear exciting colors if I knit them into a hat for him. But who would actually be much more likely to wear a hat made out of "earth tones." And since I'm committing so many hours to this, I'd much rather have him want to wear the hat than not.
I won't lie. It's hard for me to knit with yarn that isn't an exciting color/baby soft feel and a pattern that doesn't have constant changes. At least it's not all K stitches. If you look at it closely, you'll see that it's a rib pattern: 2K, 1P. For those of you who don't speak Knit, it's two regular stitches + one backward stitch over and over and over.
I've had to trick myself to work on this. I trick myself with screen time: lots of movies and Downton Abbey (and soon, Sherlock!) help me get through a foot of doing this over and over and over and over (check out the pattern here if you're interested). I sometimes read and knit at the same time. That's pretty difficult, but not as difficult as the designer I follow who walks with a project bag over his shoulder and knits on the go. Sometimes I put on my earphones and listen to stuff while I knit. A lot of times I'll work on it while I'm talking to one of my friends. That took a few years to master.
Sometimes, though, I very intentionally just look at my needles and the yarn and focus on knitting and purling. I will try to push out the world, all noises, and just go into the knitting and the repetitive activity and just have a knitting meditation. I will deepen my breathing and will so focus on the activity that I can feel myself going into the yarn at a molecular level. Every activity has a version of going into the zone, and this is knitting's.
Just like regular meditation, I can gradually feel a sense of well-being come over me, and if everything is in alignment, I can feel myself opening up to the world and myself and solving problems that I didn't even know I was working on. (Weird that we have to shut out the world in order to feel truly open to it?) It's amazing enough that I wonder why I don't do it all the time, but as you can guess, it's really difficult. Stilling yourself completely when the world is always screaming for attention? Nearly impossible.
I would still much rather knit with exciting colors and use yarn that is caressing me with every stitch, but this yarn and project make it a lot easier for me to go into a knitting meditation. And if I can get to that good place and have my knitting meditation, then I end up feeling really good.
January is called "Selfish Knitting Month." I may not be knitting for myself, but in a way, I'm always knitting for myself, right?