Susie Kliewer believes in the power of therapeutic knitting.
“It’s the repetitive motion, the clicking of the needles; it all brings you into a meditative place,” she said.
Kliewer really got into the needlecraft in 2008, when the family practice medical clinic closed in Hillsboro and her future was in jeopardy. She said she didn’t know what to do, or where to turn. That’s when she discovered the power of knitting. It allowed to focus on something other than her own troubles – and led her to a place of meditation, where she could be at peace with the world.
“It wasn’t easy at first,” she said. “You can have a lot of frustration and do a lot of crying on your first project.”
After she got the basics down, Kliewer decided to join a knitting circle in Wichita where they taught her advanced techniques. But, Kliewer said, they were also a good support group; they helped her get through the tough times during her unemployment and celebrated her success when she signed on with the St. Luke Hospital clinic in Marion.
“I don’t know if I could have gotten by without those ladies,” she said.
Now, Kliewer offers the same support for the people in Marion. Kliewer said she goes to a small yarn group at Parkside Homes, Hillsboro. They don’t always knit or crochet, but they gather together to talk about yarn — and issues in each of their lives. She said she also discusses different yarns with her patients. Some bring her their current project to look at.
“It’ a way for us to connect,” she said.
Kliewer said she never leaves home without her knitting. It’s sitting right in her handbag, just in case she gets bored. St. Luke CEO Jeremy Armstrong said he was sure that she didn’t have time to do it while at the clinic, saying the staff keeps pretty busy. But, Kliewer knows that sometimes unexpected circumstances arise when there is nothing to do.
“I know this woman who was stuck in an elevator for an hour,” she said. “That’s when you can really use some needles and yarn — and get a lot of work done — all while keeping yourself calm and relaxed.”
Looking forward, Kliewer said she plans to knit through a prayer shawl ministry instruction book. She has already knitted a couple of shawls for some ill friends, but can’t wait to do more. Kliewer said the project has transformed knitting into a true spiritual experience for her. As she knits, she prays for the individual she is making the shawl for.
“It’s brought me into a deeper relationship with God,” she said. “It’s easy to meditate with this project; it’s so repetitive. My only rule is that I knit without the TV on. That really helps me to focus on the project’s true meaning.”
Kliewer said anyone can pick up a pair of needles and start to knit.
“So many people start to kint because of the old adage, ‘I knit so I don’t kill people,’” she said. “That’s why people knit, it’s good therapy.”
Kliewer said therapeutic knitting has been helpful for people suffering with Alzheimer’s, dementia, arthritis, and even high blood pressure.
But, for Kliewer, it is just a relaxing pastime. She looks forward to picking up her needles every day — so she can make baby items for her new granddaughter.