Knitting in a Time of Mass Upheaval: Remembering Madame Defarge

One of my favorite books is A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. In this novel, set during the turmoil of the French Revolution, my favorite scenes are those of Madame Defarge, sitting and knitting while all hell breaks out around her. Yes, she’s one of the villains, and yes she’s knitting the names of those on the revolutionaries’ death list into her work. But the whole idea of sitting and knitting in the midst of chaos has always spoken to me.

Here we are again. For those of us of a certain age, we’ve seen this film. We know this plot: evil dictator reigns down terror on innocent population. This time, we see it in real time on TV. Things will change and change quickly in coming days. So it’s time for self care (again). It’s time to just sit still and knit.

Knitting allows you to put worry aside, focus simply on the movement of your hands, and truly live in the moment. All you need to think about, just for a few moments, is whether you need to be knitting or purling at this specific second of your life. You might get a sweater or scarf out of it, but what it really gets you is a state of peace and calm amongst the madness of a world in turmoil.

Maybe you, like Madame Defarge, are knitting while you watch major world events unfold around you. Maybe, like Madame Defarge, you’re keeping score and thinking where you’d like to put one of those knitting needles. Or maybe you’re just knitting for a few minutes to find a little bit of peace, trying to get through the day without freaking out.

In any case, do take up those knitting needles and take a few minutes to breathe. Take a few minutes to calm down.

With prayers for peace, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. 

Copyright 2022 Cynthia Coe

Legal Disclosures: I provide links to products (including books I have written), and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (which means I may get a very small fee if you click through the link and buy something).