In June I had an unexpected realisation – I didn’t want to knit. Something that had been so much a part of my life and my identity for years had become something negative, and I needed to step away. I didn’t intend to go cold turkey, but it turns out that’s just what I needed. I left my WIP in my knitting basket, logged out of Instagram and turned my attention to other things.

Knitting for me is tied so closely with expressions of my personal style, and that’s one of the things I chose to explore. I went through my wardrobe (again!), and pulled out a whole heap of things that weren’t working for me (again!). I no longer felt like the person who chose those clothes, and in wearing them I was stifling the me that I am today, and feeling pretty rubbish about it. What this taught me about my knitting, is that I was still knitting for Jess of the past, and not the Jess I am becoming now. A Jess who wants to feel a little more refined, making a little more effort; more pulled together, and more covered up. I encouraged myself to go shopping, an experience that I used to love but now dislike rather strongly, and with a lot of trial and error I found a few key pieces that really make me feel like my most confident self. It was refreshing for me to allow myself to buy things from the shops, as I’d previously planned to knit and sew all of my clothes, but often found that the finished product just didn’t feel right. Taking that pressure off was such an important and kind thing to do for myself, and I’m so grateful that I did.

In freeing up my time from knitting, I also found I spent more of it exercising and moving my body. I’d been attending physiotherapy for a long-standing issue with my knee, and my end goal was to be able to exercise regularly without pain. With significant progress made, it was time for me to start experimenting with different types of exercise to see what I liked and what I didn’t. I’ve dabbled in a few things in the past, but this was the first time I was making a concerted effort to try new things and step out of my comfort zone. I’ve spent more time exercising over the past two months than I have in the previous year. I’ve tried resistance training and kettle bells and even one I never thought I’d enjoy – running. In making exercise a priority, and committing to it fully in a way I might not have done if knitting was still at the top of my list, I’ve learnt that I actually really like it, and it makes me feel good and energised.

But stepping away from knitting has taught me more than other things that I want to focus my time and energy on, it’s also taught me what I don’t want from knitting itself. I don’t want knitting to be an obligation. I don’t want to do it because I should, I want to do it for the joy. I no longer crave for it to be a sustainable source of income, and I am happy to keep it at hobby status right now. I don’t want it to be the way I define myself, I want it to be one of many interesting things about me. And I don’t, in any way, want it to make me feel negative and bad about myself.

I’m tentatively re-embarking on my knitting journey, having recently picked up a long-forgotten WIP after a knitting date invitation inspired me to dust off my needles. But I’m proceeding with caution, and allowing myself to take it slow. There’ll be no jumping in at the deep end, no running back to where I was. I just want to focus on the joy of looping stitches, and test the waters to see what about knitting makes me feel good, and what doesn’t.

I’m excited to be making a little time for this old friend, in this new season of my life, and I can’t wait to see what kind of relationship we make.

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