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  • The Knitting Sutra
  • Written by Susan Gordon Lydon
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780767916332
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The Knitting Sutra

Craft as a Spiritual Practice

Written by Susan Gordon LydonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Susan Gordon Lydon

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Available for the first time in paperback, The Knitting Sutra reveals how women can learn to knit their way to nirvana.

When Susan Gordon Lydon was coping with a broken arm, her craft took on new significance. While knitting was essential to strengthening her hands, it also provided her with a newfound sense of peace and creativity. Immersed in brilliant colors, textures, and images of beautiful sweaters, Lydon found healing and enlightenment in a way she had never imagined. Capturing this journey of discovery, The Knitting Sutra recounts her remarkable membership in a community of craftswomen around the world, from sweater makers in Scotland to Navajo weavers, and the adventures that her craft led her on.

As she masters new techniques and conquers old obstacles, Lydon’s story conveys how the lessons she learned from knitting, such as stillness and interdependence, later sustained her through a cancer diagnosis and even the incapacitation of her hands. The Knitting Sutra is both a meditation on craft and an affirmation for anyone seeking heartfelt comfort.
Susan Gordon Lydon

About Susan Gordon Lydon

Susan Gordon Lydon - The Knitting Sutra
SUSAN GORDON LYDON is the author of Take the Long Way Home: Memoirs of a Survivor and The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice. She has written for numerous magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, Ms., Interweave, Knits, and Rolling Stone, which she helped found. She has also taught knitting retreats at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. Lydon lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Lydon is a good enough writer to bring one to tears.” —San Jose Mercury News
“A very special book about women… Gracefully links handcraft and spiritual practice in our everyday lives. Because she is both a fine reporter and an honest woman, her book will be rewarding to many women, knitters or not, who are trying to untangle their lives.” —Vogue Knitting International

“This soul-stirring volume offers proof positive that crafts are much more than creative outlets—they can be catalysts for our personal transformation.” –Body Mind Spirit
“This small, quite wonderful book shows all that knitting and meditation have in common—and it’s more than some might suspect.” —Booklist

Reader's Guide|Author Biography|Discussion Questions

About the Book

The Knitting Sutra is a groundbreaking work, the first book to acknowledge that the kind of spiritual connection that we seek in yoga, tai chi, or meditation can be found in the handcrafts that women have pursued for generations. With their own lore, rituals, and traditions, knitting, and other crafts can resemble the familiar spiritual practices that have been providing meaning for many cultures.

Knitting and reading have a lot in common - both are self-sufficient, endlessly entertaining, sometimes all-consuming. Both can also be solitary endeavors, but knitters and readers have known for years that by sharing their thoughts and their time with others who pursue the same activity, they find more pleasure and enrichment. Enjoy the reading, crafting, and sharing journey that Susan Gordon Lydon invites you to join in The Knitting Sutra.

About the Author

Susan Gordon Lydon is the author of the acclaimed Take the Long Way Home: Memoirs of a Survivor. She writes regularly for Interweave and is a contributor to Knitlit. She has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times Magazine, the Village Voice, and Ms. Her column, "Cityscape," appears in the Oakland Tribune. She conducts knitting workshops at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is at work on a new book about knitting.

Discussion Guides

1. Do you feel a personal connection between craft and spirituality?

2. What connection does your craft have to your family, cultural heritage, or history? What traditions are passed down in your family? Do you have clothes, blankets, or doilies that were made by a family member, either someone close like your mother or father, or several generations back, or even someone close enough to be family? What connection do you feel with the objects they have made?

3. Discuss the idea of "practice," in its secular and spiritual meanings, as it relates to knitting.

4. Does your craft bring you into a community? Are there people you sit around a project with, like a knitting circle or quilting bee? Is there a group that has sprung up around a craft store? Do you like being part of an on-line knitting community?

5. If you lost the use of one of your arms, what would you miss most?

6. Do you have any passion or desire, outside life's basic necessities, so strong that you would literally sell your clothes to fund it?

7. Is there a connection between work and play that comes into your craft? Is it as satisfying to craft without making something useful? Do you think you would enjoy making your livelihood as a professional crafter?

8. Is there a connection between the physical aspect of your craft and its importance to you? Do you like to "get out of your head" by spending time with your knitting needles, or keep your fingers flexible, or enjoy the texture of the materials?

9. Do you make or contribute to the production of anything else of practical use in your life? Do you grow herbs, bake, work in manufacturing?

10. Which is more important to you - the process of making something, or the finished product? How do you feel when something is finished?

11. What do you think someone could learn about you from observing your hobby?

12. How willing are you to accept mistakes in your projects?

13. Many religions use beads, knots, or other objects as complements to prayer. Do you ever feel that your handwork has a religious component, whether formal or not? Have you ever made a prayer shawl, or a yarmulke, or a christening gown?

14. Who is the intended user of your finished projects? Do you knit mostly for yourself or for others? Is it more enjoyable to give a knitted item to someone you've been thinking about while you make it, or to imagine using it yourself, or to give it to someone you may never meet?

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