Zen and the Art of Knitting

Exploring the Links Between Knitting, Spirituality, and Creativity

Bernadette Murphy

Contains outstanding descriptions of knitting classes in a Waldorf school!


This book has an enormous amount to say about the value to human beings, young and old, of working with our hands. It also happens to contain two wonderful chapters devoted to someone who is an amazing handworker and the best Waldorf crafts teacher it has ever been my privilege to know: Elizabeth Seward.**

Bernadette Murphy has given the most detailed, life-filled descriptions I’ve ever read of knitting classes actually taught to first and fifth graders in a Waldorf school (Highland Hall). Even better, what you’ll find in these descriptions is what I have always hoped someone would do for these classes — Elizabeth presented everything to the children in ways that united their hands with the hearts and heads, and left an opening for spirit and soul to thrive. We can all be inspired by the simple, yet deeply resonant way she guided the children through the techniques and leads them into a loving, caring relationship with the work of their hands. All this, while maintaining an atmosphere of joy along with setting high standards for the outcomes of that work! What she accomplished is truly what we all want for our children.

N.B. Contrary to what the title may lead you to believe, it is not a treatise on Buddhist meditation, though Murphy’s exploration does include this. It is a heartfelt consideration of the core essence of what knitting evokes in the inner life. Interestingly, about 80% of the people she interviewed or observed are practitioners of Christian prayer and meditation. It is a book whose contents and intents are still living in my heart, well past the reading of it. I think you’ll love it, too.

**Elizabeth is no longer active as a Crafts Teacher, but does still offer classes and workshops to adults and makes herself available as mentor and guide to Waldorf Crafts teachers. I have known Elizabeth for about 20 years and can think of no one better to call upon in this role. Whether you are involved with a Waldorf School, public or private, that is ready to deepen its crafts program; or are part of a home school cooperative and would like a workshop to help the adults become more skilled at both the crafts and teaching them; or are an adult wishing to enrich your own life with a deeper, more joyful relationship to handwork — Elizabeth Seward, in my opinion, is some one you could call upon with confidence that your needs will be met and your time and resources more than well-spent. Elizabeth can be reached through her web site: www.workofourhands.net

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