It's been a particularly stressful 18 months for various reasons - both home and work related. Looking back on how I have coped two things spring to mind - chocolate and knitting! I have no hangups about the chocolate habit, whatever has got me through all this has to be good and I've got it under control (I think!). Knitting however has added benefits. Once you've eaten that bar of chocolate it's gone. Once you've finished a piece of knitting it's there for ever, either to keep and cherish or to give away to someone who will appreciate not just the article but the time and patience that went into creating it.
That's the thing about knitting, it's creative as well as being calming. There is something so relaxing about the simple repetitive movement of needle in, wool round, needle through and stitch off. You repeat it time and time again and it develops a rhythm of its own. I started with squares which require very little thought, are small enough to finish quickly, and build up into something as large or as small as you wish - a cushion cover, a small blanket or a large afghan. Then I moved onto socks and these were wonderful. Again they are small enough to finish quickly, and small enough to carry around wherever you go. They require some concentration at key points but a lot of the time you can just pick them up and do a few rows. With the wonderful wool around they look fantastic and they make fabulous presents. Currently I'm knitting a scarf with 2 ply (lace) wool from Shetland and there is only 1 pattern row. That's just right for knitting on the train or at odd moments, without getting involved in a complicated pattern with lots of wool.
Knitting therapy really works for me. However agitated or worked up I feel about yet another thing that has gone wrong knitting never fails to calm me down. I knit on the train on the way to work and on the way home; I sat quietly at the back of a wedding service on Saturday and got my knitting out (I wasn't a guest but one of the bell ringers waiting for the service to finish so we could start ringing again). I have knitted in lectures and at presentations, not because I wasn't concentrating on what was being said but because having my hands and one part of my brain busy helps me to focus on what is being said. I have knitted on our narrowboat and on ferries. I haven't managed to get my knitting needles past airport security so I haven't knitted on a plane but am working on that one! When I next fly to China I will take some wool and use the plastic chopsticks that they provide with the airline meal. So if you see someone knitting in an unlikely place it might be me, particularly if I am looking calm and relaxed.