Any knitter can commiserate with me — finding the end of the yarn in a center-pull ball can be an infuriatingly fruitless task. You’re digging around, inevitably tangling your yarn and muttering to yourself; all the while, the ball of yarn is mocking  your abilities as a knitter. I mean, if you can’t even get your project started properly, why bother with the sticks and string at all?

I’ve also been struggling to find my center in life lately. In the last few years, there was always something to consume my brain — starting a new job, hitting the dating scene, moving into yet another place. Once things evened out, I started feeling lost. Of course, I can go to my yarn and find comfort, but sometimes, it isn’t enough.

Last spring, I strained my neck terribly and was having issues with carpal tunnel, so I turned to acupuncture. I found the process to be calming and inspiring. The practitioner deeply listened to my ailments and concerns, both physical and mental. There, my interest was sparked. Later, I started to read articles on an awesome blog called The Maven Circle, which seeks to help creative women find balance and and fulfillment in their busy lives. Their posts were by no means revolutionary, but were a reminder to take better care of myself and planted a seed in my mind. I then stumbled upon a blog post from A Smaller Life on metta meditation, which challenged readers to will love and compassion on the world — both those people with whom we agree and those whom we find difficult. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I tried to start meditating on my own, but I couldn’t turn away from all the distractions. Netflix, texting, blogs, phone calls, books, work emails, even yarn; all of it pulling me away, but still feeling stressed and taking it out others around me. I recently went to a meditation group where we were encouraged to simply focus on the breath. I couldn’t believe how the time flew. Yoga has provided a similar experience for me, but there I also feel the power of my body and am reminded of the amazing things in which we are capable.

I’m obviously still new to all of this, but I’m finding there’s a certain virtue to simply being quiet and listening; and when I can’t seem to do that, to return to the breath and see where that takes me. I know that knitting is seen as a meditative activity, but sometimes I struggle to see it that way. I want to make beautiful things. I want to be technically proficient and learn new skills. I recently started a sock (I know; who would have thought it?) and made a mistake as I turned the heel. It’s hard to find a meditative quality when you’re ripping back heel decreases. Sometimes it feels impossible to complete a project, but I read an article from Knitty on knitting as meditation that said this: “When we knit a ball of yarn into a sweater, we are constructing a whole, bit by bit, stitch by stitch. We can go as slowly as we like, but each stitch is progress.”

I’ll be thinking on this as I work on my sock, my cardigan, and whatever else ends up on my needles (did I mention that I’m in the middle of a serious bout of startitis?) to keep working towards being a more peaceful and present self.