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Knitting Helps Us Embrace Life’s Messy Imperfections

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Knitting Helps Us Embrace Life’s Messy Imperfections

Dec. 26, 2023, 5:02 a.m. ET
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By Samantha Moore

She is an animator.

I started making this short documentary as a response to my mom developing dementia in her early 60s and forgetting how to read a knitting pattern. After years of having her knit for me, I taught myself how to knit by watching YouTube tutorials. As I learned more, and my mom’s health declined, I began to understand the solace that knitting brings.

I started interviewing members of the Merrymakers, a small group of older knitters in rural Shropshire, England, over five years ago. All the members had their own stories illustrating the therapeutic power of textile arts and how knitting granted them the time and space to process grief, frustration or health struggles.

As the film started to take shape, I expanded my interviews to weave in more voices — Mike Donnelly, a Glaswegian knitter who makes baby shrouds for a hospital; Betsan Corkhill, an occupational therapist who explores how knitting alleviates physical pain; and Lorna Hamilton-Brown, an artist and community activist who uses knitting as a way to bring people together.

I represent each voice with a knit character the participants made or chose. These characters come to embody the stories of their makers, illustrating that we can mend ourselves through creative acts. Sometimes emotional repair can be found in something as simple as a skein of yarn.

Samantha Moore is an animation director based in Shropshire, England.

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