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December 02, 2020 3 min read

I was sad to hear about the death of Tony Hsieh, former head of Zappos, a company that has delivered me many pairs of happiness over the years.  Mr. Hsieh didn’t just deliver happiness, he studied it as a science and understood that happiness was not random or haphazard but was a framework that required 4 things:

  • Perceived Control
  • Perceived progress
  • Connectedness (meaning the depth of relationships,
  • Being part of something bigger than yourself

I strongly agree with Mr. Hseih, and I think this is why the pandemic has made us all so deeply unhappy.  Things are very much outside of our control—we struggle just to maintain the status quo, let alone make forward progress.  Quarantine has disrupted our connectedness which in turn skews our sense of belonging to the whole.  Over the past 9 months, we’ve turned to baking bread, sewing quilts, and of course, knitting.  I believe that knitting, almost more than any other hobby, offers the happiness building blocks and is a balm, not just now, but always.

Perceived control:  We make a conscious decision to sit down and knit.  We control every aspect of the creation of our project.  Sure, there may be a pattern, but we are in charge of executing it.  We choose the colors, the gauge, the size.  If there is an aspect of the pattern we don’t like, we are free to make changes as we see fit.  Or we can  work it just as written – either way, it is our choice.  Remember that happiness comes not from actual  control, but from perceived control.  We could change this if we wanted to

Perceived progress: Knitting is physical manifestation of our time, talent, and energy.  Each stitch represents an instant in time.  A moment in our life.  Many of us, as parents, doctors, teachers, researchers, and others, never see the results of our many hours of our labor.  What we do matters, yes, but the progress is so hard to measure.  Knitting, on the other hand, is tangible proof of our doing.  Before, there was  yarn, and now there is fabric – a hat, a scarf, a sleeve, a sweater.  We can point to it along the way and see our progress.  There is a clear beginning, middle, and end, which is deeply satisfying. I always encourage my beginning knitting students to just continue, even if their first rows have lots of mistakes. While they are not making a project, the fabric is tangible proof of their improving skills.  Knitting allows us to see and measure our progress.

Connectedness and being part of something larger than ourselves: The friendships built around the table at the shop are one of my greatest joys, and I am proud to be part of the shop community as well as part of the global community of knitters.  We are each a stitch joined to our neighbor, but also connected to the larger fabric.  As any knitter knows, every stitch is essential to the integrity of the fabric.  No stitch exists on its own, but needs and is needed by the others.  We all have a role to play.  A single broken stitch ripples through and changes the nature of the fabric forever.  We are deeply connected and part of something larger than ourselves.

Whether you come to the shop or are not, you are still connected to us.  Just by reading this newsletter, you are part of the Crazy for Ewe community and are connected to me, to Ginni and Mary, and to each other.  There’s a more intimate connection available on the Crazy for Ewe Facebook Group where members share their finished projects and cheer each other on.  And while it was trying at first, I am working to re-establish a Zoom knitting get together where we can knit and laugh and see each other’s face.  Interested? click here to email me with the days and times that would be best for you. 

Remember that no matter where you are or what’s going on around you, you are in control of your knitting, you are making progress on your project, and you are connected to us as part of the fabric of this community. 

Keep knitting and create something beautiful

~Ellen

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