I picked up some knitting I was working on (an Aran sweater). I had set everything up: the pattern (my own design) was laid out in front of me, the light was adjusted, and I had a blanket to wrap around my feet to keep me warm.
I worked my way through the first row of the day, started the next row, and then it happened. Everything just felt right. I literally felt my body relax, my hands develop a flow as the yarn fed through and the stitches were knit. I was focused, but not obsessively so, on the pattern. Some might call it Zen knitting, but I would describe it as my ‘muscle memory’ taking over.
Muscle memory is what dancers and martial artists train for (I’ve been both). It’s learning to do something so well, that your body does it before you have to think about it.
That’s what happened to me while I was knitting. After the first row was knit, my body ‘remembered’ what it was I was working on, and cooperated with the process.
I’m sure that if you think back to the projects you really liked working on, you’ll find that, perhaps, one reason was that your muscle memory was making everything go more smoothly.
Since repetition and practice are needed to embed muscle memory, beginning knitters will not attain this state immediately, but I’m sure that one reason that so many knitters stick with knitting is that they DO achieve this relaxed, easy flow to their knitting.
So maybe knitting isn’t the new yoga, but the new martial art!