Sometimes, when people see me knitting in public, or when they hear that I'm a knitter, they'll respond with some version of "Wow, I wish I had the time/patience/attention span/ability to knit!" I totally understand that reaction - that's more or less what I say to my friend who gardens prolifically, or the one who goes the gym all the time because she genuinely enjoys it. Sometimes I just nod and smile, and sometimes I tell people that actually, I knit because I need to. Truthfully, I knit for a LOT of reasons.
I love the creativity it involves (even when I'm knitting from patterns, which I usually am). I love the colours and textures. I love that it produces warm, comfortable, occasionally-stylish and occasionally-frumpy garments and accessories and things - it takes my time and converts it into a tangible object I can hold and wear and sometimes give away to a person I like. I love that it connects me with a less technological time (even though technology is pretty critical to my knitting life... *COUGH RAVELRY COUGH.* I love that there are constantly new challenges, new skills to learn, new techniques to master, new ways to expand my knitting repertoire.
But one of the major reasons I knit is that it makes me feel more... okay.
I'm a fairly, ahem, "highly strung" person, to put it delicately. I get nervous easily, I worry apocalyptically all the time (even about things that don't really deserve to be worried about), and I fidget constantly. Knitting lets me channel some of that anxious energy into an activity that is both productive and placating. Most of the time, I can actually feel my body relaxing and my breathing becoming more regular when I pick up my needles. (The other knitters reading this are yelling EXCEPT WHEN YOU DROP A STITCH RIGHT?! - yes, that has the opposite effect! ;) )
Knitting helps keep my mind busy, and it makes me a happier, calmer, more functional person. The last few months have included a bunch of personal challenges, from health stuff to job and academic stresses to being apart from my best friend, which is extremely, constantly, wrenching. As a result, I've found myself reaching for my knitting even more than normal. I'm really, really glad that knitting is part of my life, because I don't think I would be okay without it.