I’ve been a recreational knitter for several years. Unfortunately knitting takes away from family history time and vice versa. But in re-reading the diary of midwife Martha Ballard (I was searching for mentions of my Savage ancestors who were neighbors of Martha’s in Augusta Maine) I suddenly realized how often she discusses her knitting. Knitting seems to Martha to be a resting state activity. Whenever she has nothing else demanding her attention, she knits. She knits while waiting for babies to be ready to be born. She knits while she and her daughters cook or clean. She knits while traveling and in the evenings. Although she doesn’t mention it, I wonder if she knitted while listening to the 4 hour sermons in the freezing cold church. Of course, every woman knit in Martha’s day. That is how stockings, leggings, hat and gloves were created. To keep warm or even to keep “decent” (A word with very specific meanings in the late 1700’s in New England) the women in any household had to knit. But Martha seems to use knitting the way some today use meditation. She knits to think. Busy hands free her mind to roam. Often after jotting down how much knitting she accomplished during a particularly lengthy delivery Martha moves on to record her feelings and thoughts about larger events that are impacting her family. These types of digressions are fairly rare in Martha’s diary so I wonder, is it the knitting that gives her the opportunity to think and record her thoughts. Maybe I should try knitting whenever I have a particularly knotty genealogy problem.