Where does knitting live in the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs?

Who needs a knitting subscription?

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the types of people who need a knitting kit subscription in their lives... and those who don't.

Today we'll unpack the word "NEED" thanks to our friend Abraham Maslow, who's created this handy pyramid:

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

For (most of) us, knitting isn't a physical or safety need.

In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, there are a slew of boxes to be checked before we get to "knitting." Physical needs (air, water, food, shelter) and safety needs (employment, health, personal security) form the foundation of our pyramid. 

As we climb the hierarchy, however, things start to get interesting.

Belonging & love through knitting

My son Andrew was born during a snowstorm in January 2003. We lived in a sweet apartment across from the high school in Montclair, New Jersey.

Whew, being a new mom was so hard! I had a baby who wouldn't latch, and was always hungry. I felt guilty at not achieving the Earth Mama triune of breast-feeding, cloth diapers, and a drug-free delivery (I had a C-section.) My husband was finishing his doctorate in the city and my own Mama was hundreds of miles away. 

I remember reading in one of these new-mom brochures, "Make sure to take time for yourself, even if it's only fifteen minutes a day." That made me so angry! Only fifteen minutes, that's all we get? Before Andrew was born I would cross-stitch for hours each week, waiting for my little baby to arrive. I would read or play music.

Baby Andrew

All the trouble of having this kiddo? Worth it.


In desperation, I created the community I longed for: a fiber arts group at the local library. I put an ad in the local newspaper (yup, this was pre-Facebook) and put together my cross-stitch project bag for the next Wednesday night.

To my surprise, over a dozen women visited the library that night. Most of them knitted or wanted to learn to knit. The tiny needles and slow pace of cross-stitch was getting to me anyway, so I leaned into knitting too.

We became a family of friends, often going out for ice cream after knitting group; seeing each other's children grow up; supporting each other each week and there was only knitting that connected us in the first place.


Self-esteem through knitting

As a student teacher, studying to be a choir director, I worked with several excellent mentors. One of them told me that self-esteem is not something we can just wish into existence. Rather, it develops naturally as we set goals and accomplish them.

When I first learned to knit, it took me weeks (okay, months) to get to a point where I could make a row without increasing stitches or leaving a hole.

I didn't even learn to purl until two years later!

This was the first time in a long time (since learning to play the French horn) that I practiced something over many years and improved slooooowwwly. In other pursuits, whether athletic or academic, I'd simply quit.


 Benefits of Knitting

When I meet "newbies" who express awe at my even tension or ease with cables, I remind them that they're comparing their beginning with my middle. And that the only difference between me and most people who learn to knit is that I didn't stop.

Self-fulfillment through knitting

Maslow's definition of "self-fulfillment" is our tendency to reach our potential. It's about enjoying and being open and curious about the process of knitting, of life, of all of it, rather than obsess over the end game.

Are you interested in finding a warm, supportive community of creative knitters?

If you'd like to learn more about receiving delicious knitting projects delivered to your doorstep each month, click here.

1 comment

  • As a Nurse by trade and by life whose basis of care is Maslow’s, I couldn’t have said it any more beautiful!! We all need knitting or some other form of self-love thru self-fulfillment ❤️ No matter how small, in the words of the famous “philosopher NIKE”…Just Do It! lol

    Angela Girod

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