My grandma was a legend. She was never far away from a ball of yarn and a pair of needles. She always had something on the go, and our family were never short of jumpers, cardigans and tea cosies. The soundtrack to an afternoon at her bungalow was the Countdown theme and the gentle tak-tak sound of needles.
While I’ve been learning to get to grips with my depression and other health problems I’ve been thinking about Grandma a lot. How did she manage to stay so strong when raising four children (one with Down’s Syndrome) through the Second World War? What kept her going when she watched Alzheimer’s Disease gradually take her husband away from her? What about near the end of her life when she couldn’t get out and about? I think it might have been the knitting.
In a recent issue of Psychologies magazine, there was an article about the increased interest in crafts like knitting. This particular paragraph jumped out at me:
‘Crafts can be all-absorbing, helping us reach a state psychologists call ‘flow’,’ says psychologist Claudia Hammond. ‘You stop worrying about anything and the hours pass like fascinating, all-absorbing minutes. You get to decide on the level of difficulty of your task, and research has shown that it’s the goals you set yourself that can be most satisfying to achieve.’
The endless ‘tak-tak’ of knitting needles made sense. While Grandma was in the state of ‘flow’, she had a distraction from the mental chatter that can rip a mind to shreds. Inspired by this, I got myself kitted out with needles and yarn. Instead of Countdown, I watched The Killing. Knitting plus subtitles equals no room whatsoever for harmful mental chatter. It does, however, leave me with an urge to knit a jumper like Sarah Lund’s, which would have been a piece of cake for my Grandma, but quite a challenge for me. Maybe when I’ve finished my first scarf.
So to my Grandma, to Sarah Lund and to the good people at Psychologies Magazine, I bid a friendly ‘tak-tak’ from my needles and a grateful “Mange Tak” from me.