Zen and the Art of Knitting: Exploring the Links Between Knitting, Spirituality, and Creativity
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Zen and the Art of Knitting: Exploring the Links Between Knitting, Spirituality, and Creativity

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  312 ratings  ·  50 reviews
This volume uses knitting as a metaphor to discuss the unity of all life and the spirituality involved in all endeavours carried out with mindfulness.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2002 by Adams Media Corporation
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Gloria
I found myself compulsively knitting between sections of the book - it really inspires your hands to start moving! Murphy does an excellent job of interweaving many sub-narratives into a single tome. A lot of the book focuses on the meditative aspect of knitting and the intricate lessons to be learned through the process of creation. The art of patience, endurance, silence and ripping out stitches to start all over again if need be. The diversity of knitters represented offers something for ever...more
Kathie Boselowitz
Anyone who loves to knit but needs just a minute to put down the plethora of projects we tend to have will find this book a great break. It's refreshing, inspiring and a bit spiritual. The author tells her story of how she came from a very low point in her life, losing her very serious boyfriend to death, losing her career due to injuries, and found solace in knitting. The first chapter she went to Ireland, and her great aunt (I believe) taught her how to knit. Typically of just beginning, it wa...more
Nicole Ackley
I just picked up knitting and received this book as a gift from Mom. I loved it! The stories of women who use this "craft" as a means to overcome depression or illness were inspiring. I like the idea of taking something simple, everyday like knitting and turning it into a spiritual act. Is it art? Practical? Therapy? A means of connecting with others? This book touches on all of that and gave me a lot to think about. Bonus: it also had a few patterns, project ideas, and stitches to try woven int...more
Cris
This book reinforced how I have always felt about the stitch..the summer of turning 10 I taught myself the continuation of an already 3 inch knitted piece/peace from 2 odd sticks attached to a ball of yarn my Mother had purchased for me at a garage sale in 1968. She handed it to me in a rumpled paper sack. Such a colorful time in our world made the knitting even more soothing...each stitch is a breath that gets laid aside from time to time but always picked up again with joy. Best summer ever.
Susan
Pretty good book. I enjoyed the stories from other knitters about what they made and how it linked to the way they felt. I enjoyed reading about others who used their knitting as a way to improve concentration in themselves and others as I used to do that also. I did find myself skimming some of the more obvious spiritual passages but overall enjoyed the book.
Lauren
Brilliant. I bought this book the day after the presidential election in 2004, on Broadway from one of the vendors. I read it that Christmas and adored it. Unfortunately, I left it in my house where it was destroyed thanks to the levees. I need to get a new copy. Cheezy, new age, and totally comforting.
Margaret
Knitting for the 1%.

Recently I found this book stashed in a box with its bookmark on page 140 (Sister Elizabeth), and as I read the remaining chapters, discovered why I had never finished the book (or any of my knitting projects for that matter.)

Here's an example from page 136 "It's the planning stages of a knitting project in which Nietzcka takes the most pleasure, and as she talks about it, the process sounds rather like the film editing she so loves..." Nietzcka has used 21 colors in a projec...more
Kelly Maybedog
Repetitive and not particularly interesting. Kind of a "duh" kind of book. But not so bad if you're into self-help and knit or if you don't know a lot about Buddhism in practice.
Karen
I've read many books about knitting as more than just a means to an end (the finished product), and this is the one I return to time and time again when I need to explore just a little deeper. Ms. Murphy captures the essence of knitting on a deeper level with her writing via study and interview. She writes concisely, with just enough anecdotes and patterns to add a little flavor. Her chapter subjects stay on course and don't wander aimlessly, free-styling through her transcendent moments like in...more
Helen Southall
Interesting - good look at how the repetition of an activity like knitting can become a meditative process.
Vanessa
Though it took me quite a while to finish reading this book, I found it very interesting. The author interviewed several knitters to see if they use knitting as a meditation or some other spiritual link. There was a range of answers: several people said that yes, they felt closer to God when knitting, or were able to focus on the act of knitting and using their hands in order to get away from the stress of everyday life; others said it was just a way to make nice gifts for friends and family. Th...more
Pj
I started reading this little book back in early 2000 based on my penciled notes within the book....for some reason I put it away through my many moves and discourses. This time, however, I'm in a different season on my life and it's wonderful thing to pick up because now I realize the peace, spirituality, and creativity that that author takes the reader through- I have grown! I am there! Her informal way of describing the mindfulness of action....a meditation that comes from doing something rep...more
Stacy
I read this book, picking through, to explore the spiritual side of how I was spending my time during the dark winter evenings... I enjoyed the stories; they were well written.

The book provides inspiration and sparks the creative side. The book explores the common link between knitting and meditation and how knitting can break many 'holds on daily life', such as bridging the generation gaps in family, unlocking your inner creativity in writing and other forms of expression. Also, the importance...more
Tanis
I absolutely loved this. I wasn't expecting to because of the spirituality aspect, I thought it might be a bit on the preachy side but is really isn't like that at all. Such an uplifting book. I had never thought of knitting as a sort of meditation but having read this it just somehow clicked with me. There is a Buddhist chant I like very much that will fit with knitting very well that is all about bringing the peace of enlightenment through the satisfaction or absolving of desire (for objects o...more
Victoria
This book was interesting because I love knitting. Reading about knitting makes me want to knit more. I often had to stop reading and knit for a little while before reading again. Her concept for the book has no proven studies to back it up. Its just Bernadette Murphy's research consists of interviews with a lot of knitters and the shared experiences that commonly happen when you knit. I found all of it logically acceptable and related to what these knitters feel knitting does for them. It also...more
Ursula
I really enjoyed the book. It was an interesting view on knitting and I really like how the author presented her point of view.
Nina1982
A delightful collection of knitting stories that inspire to learn more of the craft.
Betty
Read this for a second time. As a knitter, I always knew I was putting myself in a special place when I knit. This book helped me realize I'm experiencing meditation or spirituality and not addiction when the second thing I think about when I wake up is my needles.
Kristin Jones
For any knitter who spend non-knitting time reading about knitting, this is a great choice. Each chapter explores a slightly different aspect of the meditative benefits of knitting. Although the reading grew tiresome, or perhaps just repetitive, after some time, the chapter on Waldorf education was worth the wait. For anyone who has children or works with children, I recommend a read through chapter four. In a time of standardized testing, ranking, and absurd accountability, how refreshing to re...more
Christine CC
A nice journey with the author, Murphy, on her quest to find the links between knitting and spirituality. It was comforting to know that so many other knitters, like myself, find comfort, solace and a meditative quality to their needlework. Murphy name-drops so many wonderful and fascinating knitters that half the fun was looking them up on the internet to see their work and read more about their philosophies! If you knit, you'll really appreciate this book.
Erin
When it comes to inspirational or spiritual books I prefer those authors who illustrate their points by story and example rather than just waxing philosophic or religious ad nauseum. Hence, I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend Bernadette Murphy's book to any knitter (or any crafter, for that matter) who enjoys a good story and is interested in delving into the 'deeper' reasons behind their yarn obsession.
Laura
I expected to think this book was rather silly and woo woo. Well, it is, slightly -- the title is pretty self-explanatory and sufficiently descriptive -- but if you can suspect your cynicism for a little while, it gives some interesting and worthwhile perspectives on why people knit and how it fits into their lives. There's also a nice set of instructions for making an afghan, and I'm keen to start.
Jay Friedlander
A thoughtful and interesting take on the complexity and relationship between craft and crafter in this case knitting. As a knitter myself I found it interesting but not compelling. It was a lovely, light book to read while it was term time and I could pick it up and put it down again and still keep track as it is written in sections. I am even trying some of the suggested patterns!
Natalie
Slow starting and not at all what I expected, but I learned a lot and am convinced I need to spend time to teach Sam to knit and I'll teach Tom too. Waldorf schools teach it in first grade, partly to help kids with fine motor skills needed for writing, so since Sam can write pretty well she should be able to learn it. In theory. If her mom is a good enough teacher ;)
Michelle Cristiani
Bernadette Murphy did a lot of research about people who knit - I found it a well-done ethnography of an interesting subculture. My favorite part was the school where children learn to knit. What a great idea.
What I loved most was that I can relate to the spiritual aspect of knitting, some kind of safe addiction, and it inspires me to be creative.
Virginia
Loved this book. I read it slowly and in between other books.
It was excellent few-pages-before-bedtime reading. Soothing and interesting.
It inspired me to look further into the subjects covered and discuss it with friends.
I tracked down blogs and recognized folks in the knitting industry that I was already familiar with.
I plan to read it again.
Glynn
good food for thought. there are so many reasons for knitting, and really, a finished product seems to be one of the least of them....

the author also showed a link with healing- yes! valid

yarn is colorful, fuzzy, soft, non-verbal, (nearly) endless, unravelable, reknittable, and just the thing sometimes.
Sara
This book is definitely a keeper. More a spiritual journey than an actual Zen Buddhist one, this fun book (with lots of instructions on different stitches!) examines the relationships between knitting and spiritual growth - why do we knit? What do we get out of it? How does it enrich our lives? Loved it.
Bev Currie
I'm really enjoying this book but for me, raised in a non-religious home, spirituality does not equal religion. Spirituality equals a peaceful oneness with nature. So where the talk gets more 'religious' than I'm used to, I equate my feelings of nature and the wonder and beauty around me on the farm.
Anne
A bit too flattering towards the people she interviews - at times it's like she's in love with him/her she's so guching, making the interviewes seem fake even though they are real people. Otherwise I loved the idea of knitting as a meditation and the power the simple act of creating a stitch has.
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