Confession: I am not a knitter. My grandmother taught me how when I was a child and I still know the basics, but she also taught me how to crochet and that’s the fiber art I ran with. (I mean, not literally. That would be dangerous…) I mention this here at the beginning in an effort to beg your forgiveness if I preach any knitting false doctrine in this post. I did try to do my due diligence with research, but if I get anything wrong, please feel free to correct me in the comments.
I love scriptural object lessons. I love the imagery so expertly wrapped up in seemingly innocuous references to everyday items, occupations, or nature. Delving into these symbols can be a great way to enrich scripture study and open the door to personal revelation.
One such object lesson that recently caught my eye was the concept of having our “hearts knit together in unity and love” (Mosiah 18:21, see also Col. 2:2). The image of knitted hearts was so evocative for me that I had to take a closer look, and I found hidden in those simple words a beautiful lesson for creating unity and strengthening relationships in our homes, our congregations, and our communities.
A Single Thread
Knit fabrics are made by creating a series of interconnected loops out of a single piece of thread or yarn. (Yes, I know that’s a bit of an oversimplification because knitters can use multiple yarns in the same project, but for all intents and purposes, they function as a single unit.)
Likewise, we are all the same thread: the family of God. Regardless of what we look like or what our background looks like, every single person on this planet is a beloved child of Heavenly Parents. We are connected to each other by our shared ancestry and divine heritage.
I recently learned an interesting fact. When early European colonizers encountered a variety of different indigenous people, they asked what they called themselves. They took the names offered as indications of tribal affiliation without realizing that many of these words—such as Diné, Tāngata, and Kanaka—meant “people.”
And yet, there are so many ways the world tries to divide us up: white or black. Male or female. Rich or poor. Republican or Democrat. LGTBQ or straight. Believer or non-believer. They use those divisions to drive wedges between us and engender conflict. When we fail to treat others as our literal brothers and sisters, we are excluding an integral part of our collective identity.
In ancient times, a Prophet named Enoch filled a city with righteous followers of God. Moses 7:18 says, “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” Imagine if we were to create such conditions in our communities today. If we loved everyone, regardless of the divisions society tries to force upon us, and worked instead to align our hearts and minds so that all were taken care of.
Each stitch is suspended from the one above it and connected to those on every side. A stitch that has not yet been secured by other stitches is at greater risk of coming undone when the yarn is pulled.
Just as each stitch in a piece of knit fabric relies on the stitches around it to hold it in place, we must support one another. Indeed, our baptismal covenants require it of us:
Bearing one another’s burdens and mourning with those that mourn goes deeper than just offering a kind word when someone is having a hard time (although that certainly helps). It includes recognizing and fighting against the inequities that give some people an advantage and disadvantage others. It means hearing and believing the experiences of others even if they’re different than what you have experienced or been taught. It means following the Savior’s example of giving the poor, the sinners, and the outcasts a seat at the table and the opportunity to grow.
Ancient wisdom reminds us that we all drink from wells we did not dig. Recognizing the privileges we have experienced in life and extending help and relief to others is not only essential to the success of all of God’s children, but it is a commandment. The Book of Mormon Prophet King Benjamin taught:
A Variety of Colors and Stitches
The color and type of thread and the different stitches used contribute to both the beauty and the usefulness of knitted fabrics. Even within the same garment, they can affect a knit fabric’s durability, warmth, stretch, aesthetics, and so on.
Likewise, people of all varieties contribute to the beauty and progress of humanity. As Paul taught the Corinthians:
Dropping a stitch or getting a hole can cause the partial or complete unraveling of a knitted fabric. When we overlook or exclude a person or group of people, we are essentially “dropping a stitch” that can lead to a partial or complete breakdown of our community.
A report from the Mayo Clinic noted:
The good news is, there are ways to fix a dropped stitch in a knitting project. There are also ways to reach out to those who have been overlooked and make sure they feel like they belong. We can serve in our community, seek out opportunities to learn about people and cultures that are different from our own, and expand our circle of friends to include those who might be feeling left out.
Despite our best efforts, sometimes a knitting project becomes so riddled with problems that the best course of action is to pull it apart and start over—a process known colloquially as “frogging.” And sometimes, creating more unity in a community might mean dismantling some long-held beliefs, traditions, and social structures that do more harm than good.
Elder Cook shared this explanation of a time when some “social frogging” became necessary: “The early Church in Rome was composed of Jews and Gentiles. These early Jews had a Judaic culture [while] the Gentiles in Rome had a culture with a significant Hellenistic influence… Paul chronicles pertinent aspects of both Judaic and Gentile culture that conflict with the true gospel of Jesus Christ [and] essentially asks each of them to leave behind [these] cultural impediments.”
Even in the modern church, there are certain traditions and beliefs that are inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of those draw upon those aforementioned man-made divisions, and they cause pride, contention, and anger. But as Jesus taught the Nephites, “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend… one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men… one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away” (3 Ne. 11:29-30).
We have to do better. President Russell M. Nelson has said, “We are impressed to call on people of this nation, and indeed, the entire world, to demonstrate greater civility, racial, and ethnic harmony, and mutual respect.”
Sis. Wendy Nelson said, “Therapeutic change happens when the beliefs at the root of the issue are distinguished, challenged, or solidified… Constraining beliefs prevent us from finding solutions and making progress.” 
As we strive to have our hearts knit in unity and love, we may find ourselves in the uncomfortable but necessary position of identifying and challenging constraining beliefs based on the incorrect traditions of our culture, solidifying our belief that all people are the children of a loving Heavenly Father, and changing our behavior so that it better aligns with the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Finishing a knit fabric requires “binding,” a process which secures the final stitch and prevents the project from unraveling.
When Jesus visited the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, He read a prophecy from the book of Isaiah that spoke of His own earthly mission: “The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).
Ultimately, centering our lives on Jesus Christ is the only way to create truly sustainable, unified communities. If we want to create a Zion people—people of one heart and one mind—we have to align our mission with His: binding up the broken hearted and freeing those held captive by an endless number of mortal constructs. The Atonement of Jesus Christ can help us right wrongs and heal wounds—even those that have been festering for a long, long time.
The Finished Product
Knitted fabrics are unique among textiles in that they can stretch in any direction and maintain their shape, dimensions, and stretchiness even after several cycles of washing and wearing. They are useful in many applications, comfortable to wear, and naturally more form-fitting than woven fabrics.
Being knit together in unity and love makes our communities more durable when life tests our resolve. It makes conflict less likely, but also allows us to be flexible when conflict does arise. It allows all to feel comfortable, useful, and needed, and it makes it easier to see ourselves for what we are: brothers and sisters with loving Heavenly Parents.
A Little Creativity
One of the most wonderful things about knitting is that anyone can learn to do it. (Personally, I need not look further for proof than my own grandfather, a tough jail guard who learned to knit while laid up after heart surgery and ended up making the most beautiful knitted coats.) All you need are the right tools, a little creativity, and the patience and dedication to see your project to completion.
Similarly, creating unity is something all of us can do. We already have a variety of tools to help us, and with a little creativity, patience, and dedication, we can overcome divisions with love and understanding, bear each other’s burdens, reclaim those who have been overlooked, realign our behavior with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and build communities that the Lord can use to further His work on the earth.
How are you building unity in your community? Share your experiences in the comments below!
 “Hearts Knit In Righteousness and Unity” by Elder Quentin L. Cook
 “Change: It’s Always a Possibility!” by Wendy Watson, now Wendy Nelson
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