Wabi-sabi in Knitting, Learning and Life


I officially see myself as “someone who knits”.  I am a knitter.   A close-up of the hideous Chartreuse sweater I knitted for my cat a decade ago would reveal serious flaws.  My rectangles became heptagons and I never took the time to figure out “why”.  Thirty dollars in precious yarn wasted and I never finished the project.

Fast forward to this winter.  I’m back on.  I figured out my problem with consistency and dropped stitches.  I knitted my first muffler for walking the dogs.  It is pumpkin, the color of my car.   It has flaws-  little holes I pretend to have placed on purpose for oxygen access, in the event that is needed.   The important part?  I finished the project! 

My second muffler is lapis.  There are fewer breathing holes.  It fits more snuggly.  I altered the pattern to meet my needs.  Since I am on a roll (and the cats and my humans like it when I just sit with them), I bought incredible yarn to make an infinity scarf for my beloved kid.  She will wear it once she leaves the social straight jacket called high school.  I just know it.

I proudly wore my flawed muffler to work.  I showed it to several people, including a special someone who told me about wabi-sabi.


Wabi-sabi (?) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.  Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

Wabi now connotes rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects, or understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object.

Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs.

There is beauty in the quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction.

It is messy; full of lessons for those brave and persistent enough to learn.



People talk about failure as a guide.  If you think of learning from the constructivist viewpoint, as I do, failure isn’t the right word.  Learning is a process.  Mistakes (or glitches) are just temporary roadblocks designed to help you think and learn.  With learning, there are some “musts”:

  • you have to dive in and get your hands dirty
  •  take risks
  • monitor and problem solve around glitches
  • go at it again

Embracing Wabi-sabi:

Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.  .  

Learning happens if you dive in, take risks and go at it again.  

There is beauty in the quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction

Glitches add uniqueness and elegance


In Knitting.  In Learning.  In Life.  


2 thoughts on “Wabi-sabi in Knitting, Learning and Life

  1. See: Eugene Herrigel “Zen and the Art of Tea” ………I see a book here for you…..and the Art of Knitting……. Ying/Yang, Intention/No-Mind, Control/Integrity, Distinction/Wholeness……ya buddy; shave your head and will do a book tour!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s