By Maci B.
Hi readers! My name is Maci, a lover of crafting and making, and a passionate knitter. By day, I am a Senior Marketing Manager for a Health and Wellness company, and by night an avid knitter. When my needles aren’t working, I am usually around a table of people I love, enjoying amazing food and wine. I enjoy traveling, spending time with my boyfriend and our energetic puppy baby Bear, family, and friends. Cooking and baking have been a part of my life since I was a young girl! Growing up, I always saw my Nanny (grandmother) in the kitchen, and I was never far away. As I’ve grown older, cooking and hosting family and friends has become a joy. I love putting smiles on their faces through my love for food.
As a child, my curiosity about new ways of thinking and doing never stopped. I loved things that involved me using my hands, and my mother saw the opportunity to place me in a school that empowered my way of learning. I attended a Montessori school, a school that focuses on fostering a love of lifelong learning through child-led hands-on teachings and methodologies, independent thinking with various activities, group learning, and focusing on the student as a whole – understanding the importance of social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development. As I matriculated through grade school, I held a special place for my fourth-grade year.
The years leading up to fourth grade were very active years for me, outside of school I was a competitive gymnast, cheerleader, and dancer (classical ballet, and tap). So as you could imagine, I had a ton of energy. Staying seated and engaged was a lot to ask of me at times. Thankfully, I had an attentive and kind teacher who knew just the trick. I had noticed her bag of beautiful yarns that sat next to her desk several times. I even saw her knit a time or two! Well, with all the energy I had, we had to find a way to contain it. I vividly remember her saying “Maci, I have a special project for you, and you’re so special that you will be the only one working on this, do you want to know more?” When you say these words to a fourth-grader…can you imagine how I froze in shock and excitement! Of course, I wanted to know more and partake in this “special project.”
Curious and excited to find out what this “special project” could be, she asked me if I wanted to stay in the classroom during “special area” to start the project. Well, of course! I wasn’t going to miss out on this exclusive opportunity. We walked back to the classroom, and we shut the door, she walked to her desk and picked up her bag of yarns. The excitement started to hit me! She then explained, “I am going to teach you how to knit, I’ve noticed your curiosity towards the contents of this bag. But this knitting can only be done during instructional time, and you must be in your seat.” I agreed with no hesitation! She taught me a basic cast on, the knit stitch, and the purl stitch. This cured my overactive energy during instructional time, and gave me a reason to stay seated, and improved my listening skills. There were days when she could tell I needed some stillness and quiet time and would ask if I wanted to work on the “special project”. I remember some days we would sit in the back of the library; I would get to pick two books and work on my “special project”. I would read a page and work a couple of stitches. My passion for creativity and fiber-related crafts was born.
The goal of this story is about igniting creativity, and understanding that everyone is not the same, and we all handle life differently. It’s about having people in your corner who notice and acknowledge your uniqueness and offer up something to expound on those characteristics. As this story replays in my mind every time I pick up my needles, I think about how impactful those moments were as a young black girl.
As an adult, I understand the importance of having something that brings you stillness, peace, clarity, and joy. In a world that constantly overlooks black women, allowing our creativity and passion to seep into the eyes and hearts of others, who are interested and supportive is the key to a door many of us have yet to find, let alone, step inside and walk through.
Knitting has been my key; the key to diving deeper into curating my professional life, the key to trying new things, the key to consistency and staying invested until the end, the key to advocating for my mental health, the key to speaking up and vocalizing what’s important to me, the key to my anxiety, the key to my surrender.
The why to my story
I think we can all relate after a long “scroll session” on social media your mind and soul can be exhausted. I sometimes question what I’ve seen…I know I can’t be the only one? The social media “rabbit hole”, a tool that has become overindulged and consumed almost every millisecond by the majority of our population. I found myself needing something freeing, something thought-provoking, something that would bring stillness, mindfulness, something that would offer a surrender from my anxiety and racing thoughts, something that would give me a piece of peace, an unknowing escape. That’s where my creativity started to tap me on the shoulder. Letting me know that I should be investing my time and energy into something a little more rewarding and fulfilling.
I’ve always had a passion for making. Sewing, quilting, crocheting, are a part of my blood. My great, great-grandmother was a quilting angel! She can create unbelievable beauty with a needle and thread. My Mother can crochet a river of bliss into a beautiful garment. I’ve seen the power of creativity, the ability to create community, inspiration, and comfort.
Slowing down, noticing your breath, breathing deeply, and falling further into that feeling is what I have enjoyed about finding my creativity and love for knitting. Doing things you are passionate about, doing things that allow you to transcend into a meditative state where your mind is free from stress, anxiety, depression, anger, sadness, etc. knitting is that for me. Being present in the task at hand but also allowing curiosity to creep in, and that small feeling of a challenge to not compete with myself. It’s about stillness and meditation, taking the interruptions and mistakes as moments to pause, reflect, and recollect.
Our society is hyper-focused on how to get to the “top”, how to reach this unsaid “status”, how to be seen, and specifically for black and minority races, the pressures can be burdensome. It’s an unregistered competition on who can get “there” first. I have even caught myself several times, thinking of what more I can be doing, in my life, in my career, in my friendships and relationship…but in all reality, I need to be in the moment. Present and captivated by where I am at now. Truly tapping into your creativity, is freedom, and then extending that into a form of freeing self-expression. I have a public health background, where I have studied and researched the impacts that affect black and minority communities, I’ve explored the depths of Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), but, one thing I can say is constant, is the importance of managing one’s mental health. Many health disparities are triggered by declining and/or untreated mental and behavioral health issues. And with the encouragement of helping individuals explore those creative outlets, finding their “communities”, and doing more of what they love, we could potentially mitigate and foster a new way of positive thinking.
I think back to moments in my childhood where creativity was freeing, my outlet. I grew up in a single-parent household, my Mom, the best mom around, sacrificed an immeasurable amount to allow me to be where I am today and instilled the importance of always believing. Believing I can be and do anything I set my mind to! Nothing is impossible! Never let anyone say you can’t do something! Always try something new!
Encouraging me to keep reading, keep creating my own stories, keep coloring, keep baking, chalk the large sidewalk squares with a bright blue or pink, watch and see what my elementary school teacher is doing with those two sticks and yarn. Of course, as a child, it seems like parents are just saying those things. But now, as an adult, I want to acknowledge those moments and words that sparked my creativity and curiosity.
It’s important, extremely important, that young black girls, black women, minority women, all women know and understand the power of limitless creativity. Having passions are impactful and freeing, and knitting has opened the door and lit the fire for me to keep exploring and challenging myself to dive deeper into this craft.
I am here to give you a call to action! Explore your creativity, explore your passions, explore what brings your happiness, and do that thing, whatever it is, do it passionately. Do it for you! Do it for the stillness and mindfulness you feel in that moment.
I want to leave you with one thing –
Own your creativity, explore your passions, and always be curious. Never let the stories settle of the foundationalist that brought our creative passions to life. Lean into your calling, surrender to it, and whatever it is, do it with ease, comfort, and joy.
You can follow along on Maci’s creative journey by following her on Instagram @littlemissknitss!