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Contemplative Knitting by Julie Cicora

30 July 2021

Cally Hammond on the click of the needles

THE cover blurb makes the author (a motorcyclist and windsurfer) sound cooler than the title. The only cool thing about knitting is the end result, which evokes envy in those who have to buy their knitwear from a shop. I recognised myself in her descriptions of garments tied to life-events; the excitement of new projects; the reworking of favourite patterns: knitting is awash with metaphors for life.

It is a sensuous occupation (the spring of merino, the slide of silk), its rhythms and patterns fitting well with prayer. By occupying the knitter’s physical attention, needles and yarn channel energy into something repetitive, rhythmic, creative, and gloriously devoid of verbal meaning. Then the mind floats freely, as stitch upon stitch soothes the frets and furies of the day.

Julie Cicora keeps several items on the go: you need plain knitting during the twists and turns of Line of Duty; intricate work to while away long journeys. For her, the best knitting for prayer is simple and plain, but with a tactile pleasure in the fibre, or a visual joy in the colour. She works prayer into her knitting time, to the advantage of both skills (for prayer is, indeed, a skill). I prefer prayer in church, and knitting on a sofa while watching television; I can’t mix and match.

But, even if you can’t either, this book is a good read, if only for its affirmation to every knitter frustrated by the stigma attached to one of life’s great pleasures: that when we knit, and enjoy it deeply, we are unlikely ever to be alone.

The Revd Dr Cally Hammond is the Dean of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

Contemplative Knitting
Julie Cicora
Morehouse Publishing £13

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