With rain and spring-like temperatures, it hasn't looked a lot like Christmas this year. In fact, I haven't encountered a single family member or friend who admitted to being "in the Christmas spirit" this year. I wonder why that is.Perhaps its the ever-increasing commercialization (and attending stress) of the Holiday Season. I remember seeing Christmas decorations this year before Thanksgiving. Retailers seem to be dragging out prime shopping time for as long as possible. Perhaps its the incessant news stories about the ridiculous bickering that's going on in schools, airports, malls and town halls around the country. Apparently it's no longer politically correct to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. After all, someone might be offended. Or perhaps as our children grow up, family squabbles escalate and relationships fade, there are fewer "loved ones" to share this special season with.Whatever the reason, it's been a difficult holiday season for many people. Perhaps that includes you... If not, consider yourself doubly blessed. Whether Christmas is turning out to be all you hoped for or not, it's important not to lose sight of the real reason we celebrate this special time. No matter how many gifts are or aren't under our trees this year, whether we even have a tree at all, we have all received a very special gift, God's unconditional love as expressed through His son Jesus. We all have a reason to celebrate - we have hope, we have forgiveness, we have redemption.It's easy to get caught up in all of the wordly symbols of the holiday season, to compare the "success" of our circumstances to others, and for some of us, to become depressed by the perceived gap between how we spent this Christmas and how we'd hoped to. What's not as easy is to remind ourselves that no matter how alone or depressed or out of sorts we may feel, there is so much to be thankful for.One of the most effective ways I've found for kicking that "poor me" feeling is to lose myself in service to others. Somehow, doing something for someone else always reminds me that even if I'm feeling helpless to make a difference in my own life at that moment, that I can make a difference in the life of someone else.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
I was surprised to learn how many brands are distributed by the Hershey Company. Here's a partial list, which unfortunately includes some of my favorite candies:
- Ice Breakers
- Hershey's (bars, kisses, morsels, etc.)
- Caco Reserve
- Kit Kat
- Almond Joy
- Jolly Rancher
Friday, December 07, 2007
- A child finds some blue packets on the street, in an alley, or on the playground at school. He or she assumes it's candy and "eats" it. The child subsequently (1) gets sick; (2) consumes enough to get addicted and starts doing who-knows-what in order to be able to get more; or (3) overdoses and dies. Who's ultimately responsible?
- Children start bringing blue packets to school. Teachers and administrators don't know if it's candy or crack. What should they do?
- The article states that police officers are already concerned about the impact on law-enforcement efforts. Because they can't tell the difference between the candy and a dime bag of cocaine, they will have to test all of the blue bags they find - not knowing whether it's candy or cocaine. Is this how our law enforcement officers should be utilizing their already limited resources?
- It's well-known that drug dealers often try to mix or replace drugs with common household products, some benign, some harmful. Imagine the number of additional drug-related deaths that are likely to result from drug deals gone bad over selling candy instead of crack. While I'm sure there are some that this would be good riddence, but many innocent people are harmed by drugs, sometimes just by being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Who didn't watch with horror as wildfires raged in California just a few weeks ago? Although the media has moved on to other stories, there are thousands of people whose lives have been changed forever by the fires. GeorgeAnn Smith heard the call and immediately started the San Diego Wildfire Blanket Project. She is soliciting donations of 8" knitted or crocheted squares, in any color or pattern, that will be stitched together to make afghans for families who lost their homes in the fire. Already the response has been overwhelming, but this is a huge project and there's a lot of work that needs to be done. Please visit GeorgeAnn's blog and considering sending a square or two.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
The "official" rules say to indicate items that have been done in bold and things you want to try in italics, but I've decided to keep it simple. Things I've done are in bold, and my editorial comments are in italics. Feel free to copy and paste to your blog if you're interested:
Afghan (I'm almost finished a very unusual afghan project which I'll be posting about soon)
Knitting with metal wire (I took a class in knitting with wire at a local yarn shop. We made wire and bead bracelets)
Shawl (I've made dozens of prayer shawls for this ministry)
Knitting with camel yarn (I didn't know there was such a thing!)
Knitting with silk (I just bought some recycled sari silk to make a purse)
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL (I started, but never finished)
Sweater (at least a dozen)
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn (that's the beauty of the SKM prayer shawls)
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting (this is just about all I do these days)
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing (do people really do this?)
Knitting with circular needles (the only needles I use if I can help it)
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffiti knitting (I don't have a clue what this is)
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran) (I LOVE cables!!!)
Publishing a knitting book (I'm expecting the final manuscript back any day now. Stay tuned!!!)
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money (unfortunately, people don't want to pay anything close to what the items are worth by the time you include the cost of materials and time spent)
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Dying with plant colors (I do want to try this ... it looks like a lot of fun!)
Knitting items for a wedding (are you kidding?_
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting in public
Knitting with buffalo yarn
Knitting with pygora (what???)
Dyeing with food dye/drink mixes
Dyeing with chemical dyes (acid, etc)
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
While we were talking, I mentioned this ministry and the prayer shawls we knit for victims of sexual violence. She was very interested in learning more about the ministry and working with me to find ways to work cooperatively with the domestic violence shelters throughout the state. An obvious connection would be to provide shawls directly through the participating shelters through this umbrella organization, making it much easier to ensure that the shawls are getting into the hands of women who may be blessed by them.
Another longer-term idea would be to develop an informal "knitting therapy" project in which local volunteer knitters would "host" knitting sessions, perhaps accompanied by a group therapist, where shelter residents can sit, knit and talk. While they're talking about their issues, they would also be knitting prayer shawls for other survivors. Not only would they reap the therapeutic benefits of knitting, but they would also be helping to create something special to be passed on to another woman who was a victim of similar circumstances. I don't know yet how big the shelters are (how many women live in each), but it would be awesome to come to the initial meeting at each shelter with a prayer shawl for every woman who was staying there, and then to leave the group with the ongoing goal of having enough prayer shawls for each new resident who comes there.
I know this is a lofty goal, but I think it's doable, and I think we could really make a difference in the lives of these women who have suffered so much. I'll be posting more on this soon, but if you have any comments or suggestions on making this happen, please let me know. Also, please e-mail me if you live in the Richmond area and would be willing to join me for a yarn-winding party to make more shawl balls sometime soon.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
© 2007 USPS. All Rights Reserved.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
A few years ago during a particularly difficult period of my life I was severely stressed and found that knitting was the only thing that helped. This continued over the course of several months until I developed a serious case of "knitter's elbow" and carpel tunnel. I had no idea that knitting could cause repetitive stress injuries, but it can. Since then I've met other knitters who've had similar problems.
But at last there's relief. I saw an ad in the paper yesterday for a new product from Thermacare, the company that makes those wonderful, long-lasting heating pads that last all day. They've just introduced a fingerless glove product called "Thermacare Arthritis Heatwraps". What a brilliant idea and a God-send for serious knitters!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
However, since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I decided that this was the perfect time to make sure that all the scarves get to women who will be blessed by them, and to make mores room in storage for yarn donations for the prayer shawl ministry.
Today I delivered 200 pink scarves to the new Virginia Breast Center, part of the Bon Secours hospital network. They have three facilities throughout the local area and promised to distribute them among the centers to patients as they are diagnosed. They were absolutely thrilled to receive the scarves.
Thanks again to everyone who worked so hard to make this project a success! It exceeded my wildest expectations by far.
If you're interested in continuing to knit in support of breast cancer, please contact a local breast cancer treatment facility in your local area and deliver your donations there directly. Also, during this process I received two special requests that I promised to pass along:
First, although the numbers are small, there are men who are diagnosed with breast cancer as well. It was suggested that at least a few scarves be knitting in shorter lengths, with deeper pink tones, and basic patterns that could be worn by men.
Second, several centers mentioned that there are many other patients fighting various cancers other than breast cancer and because the breast cancer awareness groups are so visible now, breast cancer patients are getting a tremendous amount of support, which is wonderful, but I can imagine how sad it must be for other cancer patients who feel overlooked and forgotten. So, please consider knitting scarves in other colors for in support of other types of cancers. The following are a few links I found that list colors for the various types of cancers. Please note that I have not compared these lists to see if they are all consistent. I hope they are!
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
According to the review, the three lead women characters are each given a gift of pearls by an older friend, who explains that a grain of sand or other irritant invades an oyster, which in turn coats the irritant with a substance (nacra) which eventually hardens and protects the oyster from the irritant. "This is a metaphor for female lives, she explains, in which painful challenges make women stronger and more beautiful."
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Another excuse that I often hear, and that I've used myself, is that it's too expensive. Somewhere along the way we've been duped into believing that a good gift is an expensive gift. Of course money can buy some really cool stuff, but in my opinion, that's not what "gift-giving" is about.
One of the most heartwarmingly beautiful wedding bands I've ever seen is one that was made by a soldier for his wife out of a silver nickel. Although I can't imagine how painstaking the task must have been, he described the process of hitting the nickel with a spoon over and over again to shape it into a band. That's how he spent long lonely days onboard a Navy ship while separated from his girlfriend. He was probably in his 70's when he showed me the ring. He'd given it to her when they were in their 20's.
I love to knit. When I was married, my husband made a pair of knitting needles for me out of wooden dowels. He carved, shaped and sanded them by hand. He stained them and then added jade caps on the ends. We are no longer together, and I've donated or re-gifted many of the expensive things he gave me. But those simple knitting needles, that he made with love (when he still loved me) I chose to keep.
I think Ralph Waldo Emerson got it right in an essay entitled "Gifts" in 1844.
"The only gift is a portion of thyself... Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the sailor, coral and shells; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing. This is right and pleasing, for it restores society in so far to the primary basis, when a man's biography is conveyed in his gift... But it is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy me something, which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith's."
My dear friend Susan must understand what Mr. Emerson was talking about, because recently she sent me a gift that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Susan is a talented, thoughtful and sensitive blogger. She's also an accomplished and successful writer, having published and sold many books. She's written before about how she loves to write long-hand and has written about the tools of her trade. She knows that I love to write too and has been very supportive of my writing goals.
Susan sent me the most beautiful pen I've ever seen. It's a Levenger pen, which is awesome, and the fact that it's orange, which is one of my favorite colors, makes it even nicer. But the best thing of all is not that Susan went out and bought me an expensive ink pen, because she didn't. What's incredible to me is that this is one of Susan's favorite pens, one that she's written thousands of words with. It has been a part of her world for a long time... and she gave it to me. Somehow she knew that I'd understand the significance, the eloquence and the "perfectness" of her gift.
Susan and I met through our blogs in early spring. We post on each other's blogs and e-mail privately off-line almost daily and talk by phone at least once a week. For some unexplicable reason, although our friendship is still relatively new and we live on opposite sides of the country, I feel like we've known each other forever. And now, I have a very special piece of her world here in mine and I am truly touched. Today I want to publicly thank Susan for her thoughtfulness and I thank God for Susan's friendship.
Monday, September 24, 2007
To be honest, I haven't been knitting as much in the past few months as I had been. After knitting literally dozens of prayer shawls, pink scarves and baby hats last year, I think I burned myself out. I didn't pick up my knitting needles for months, and I'm surprised to admit that I really didn't miss it.
But then, I re-read the manuscript of my book, The Joys of Soulful Knitting, which is about to be published at last (more on this soon). I was reminded of why I engage in the practice of Soulful Knitting and how important it is to me, on so many levels. I'm going through a difficult situation personally, and there is a special person that I feel the need to knit for, so I've undertaken a truly "soul full" knitting project that I try to devote some quality time to each evening. I'll post a picture when I'm done.
As far as the future of this blog goes, it's been on my heart for some time now to use this space to highlight some of the many wonderful charitable projects that are bringing knitters (and crocheters) from around the world together to generously donate their time and talents to brighten the lives of others. I'd also like to share some stories of Soulful Knitters in action. So stay tuned, I hope you'll enjoy the new additions that are coming.
Of course, if you know of projects and/or stories of Soulful Knitters, please let me know. I'd love to spread the word of their work.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I was re-energized this morning when I counted 7 new prayer shawls that have come in from wonderful volunteers over the last several weeks. They're beautiful and my heartfelt thanks goes to all who've so generously donated their time and talents to create these shawls. For those who've requested new kits, I'm way behind in creating the shawl balls, but I'll get more yarn out to you as soon as I can. I really need to host a local yarn-winding party to get this done. As a side note, if any of you live in the Richmond area and would like to help, please send me an e-mail off-line.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
In the episode I watched last night, Nikita was training another agent and trying to help her through a simulation in which she had to shoot-or-be-shot, in rapid-fire succession. The agent was growing increasingly frustrated because she kept getting shot and the harder she tried to avoid getting shot, the more the shots came. Finally Nikita stepped in and did the same simulation herself, also getting shot several times, but making it through the simulation.
As I watched, I had the same initial reaction that the agent-in-training had - why is it that Nikita was getting shot so much when she was clearly a very capable agent? When the test was over, Nikita explained that the point of the exercise was not to avoid getting shot - that was impossible - the test was how you reacted AFTER being shot. In other words, do you give up or do you regroup and keep fighting back?
Interestingly, I've been thinking about that episode a lot since last night and I realized that I'm like that agent-in-training in my own life right now. I'm in the midst of a series of tests, which I liken to those shots that are being fired in rapid succession from multiple directions. The more I try to avoid being shot at, the faster and harder the shots come. I had it wrong - Nikita is right... spiritually, it's not our ability to avoid tests and trials that matters to God, because He's already told us that trials will come in our lives. Instead, it's our ability to get up, dust ourselves off, rearrange that spiritual armor and fight back. As long as I continue to focus on the attacks, the pain they're causing and the seeming "unfairness" of it all, the more they cripple me and stunt my spiritual growth. But when I turn my focus instead from the actual problems to my reaction to them, things don't seem as overwhelming.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
I've received e-mails from some of you asking about collecting yarn and/or knitting prayer shawls for women in Canada, so here's your chance! Linda has set up a new e-mail address specifically for SKM. If you live in Canada and want to join our ministry, either by donating yarn and/or knitting prayer shawls, please contact Linda directly.
I can't thank Linda and her friends enough for stepping up to the plate and participating in such an amazing way. This is what Soulful Knitting is all about!
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
I contacted the local police department and was put in touch with a detective who is working closely with her. He's offered to deliver the shawl to her next week. While I was writing a letter to her, God also laid it on my heart to ask her if she was a knitter, and if not, to offer to teach her to knit once she's feeling better. Who knows if she'll take me up on that offer, but in the process, I realized that just as Jesus instructed his disciples to teach men (and women) to fish, as soulful knitters, we also have an opportunity to spread the joy and comfort we gain from our craft, as well as the love of God, with other women we meet along the way.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
At the heart of Simple Abundance is an authentic awakening, one that resonates within your soul; you already possess all you need to be genuinely happy. The way you reach that awareness is through an inner journey that brings about an emotional, psychological, and spiritual transformation. A deep inner shift in your reality occurs, aligning you with the creative energy of the Universe. Such change is possible when you invite Spirit to open up the eyes of your awareness to the abundance that is already yours.
... [There are] six threads of abundant living which, when woven together, produce a tapestry of contentment that wraps us in inner peace, well-being, happiness, and a sense of security. First there is gratitude. When we do a mental and spiritual inventory of all that we have, we realize that we are very rich indeed. Gratitude gives way to simplicity - the desire to clear out, pare down, and realize the essentials of what we need to live truly well. Simplicity brings with it order, both internally and externally. A sense of order in our life brings us harmony. Harmony provides us with the inner peace we need to appreicate the beauty that surrounds us each day, and beauty opens us to joy. But just as with any beautiful needlepoint tapestry, it is difficult to see where one stitch ends and another begins. So it is with Simple Abundance.
Pick up the needle with me and make the first stitch on the canvas of your life. Invite Spirit to open up the eyes of your inner awareness. Be still and wait expectantly, knowing that in the warp and woof of your daily life as it exists today are the golden threads of a simply abundant tomorrow.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Happy New Year!
It's that time of year again. The time when we wake up with a long (or maybe not so long) list of New Years resolutions, things we're going to do differently, things we're going to get right this year. Whether our goal in prior years has been to lose weight, to get out of debt, to get a raise, to find a new job, to find Mr. Right or lose Mr. Wrong, I bet it's safe to say that they share a similar pattern. Most of us are making the same or similar resolutions year after year - and that's because we're unable to fulfill them. In fact, studies show that most of us have given up on our ambitious goals and fallen back into old habits by March.
Are we bad people? No. Are we lazy and undisciplined? Perhaps, I know I can be. But probably not as much as we've led ourselves to believe. I think the truth beneath our inability to hold firm to our New Years resolutions lies in our approach to the process. Simply put, the process by which we set our goals often sabatoges our ability to successfully meet them.
That's the bad news. But because it's the goal-setting process that stumps us, and because they are OUR goals and WE set them, we have the power to transform the process and thereby increase the likelihood of our success.
I'm sure you've heard the old saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. As Susan Powter would say, let's "stop the insanity" and try something new this year.
This is my year of KISS (Keep It Simple Sweetheart), so in that spirit, I'm implementing a simple 4-point plan for meeting my goals this year:
- Put first things first. It sounds simple, but it's not. First of all, I'm constantly amazed at how many people don't have specific goals or clearly articulated core values that govern their lives. When you're not clear on where you're headed, how do you know how to get there? How do you know when you've arrived? What's really important to you? If you're not sure, please do yourself a huge favor and take the time now to figure that out. Once you do, I promise, life becomes so much simpler. Once you've clearly identified your core values and priorities, and made a commitment to living in accordance with them, decisions like how you'll spend your time, your energy, and even your money become second-nature. When faced with choices, you'll start to choose those that are consistent with your values. And the more values-consistent choices you make, the more closely aligned and balanced you'll find your life to be. If you've ever had your "colors done", you know how much easier shopping for clothes and accessories became almost instantaneously once you knew which color palette was yours, because you no longer wasted time trying on (or even looking at) clothes in colors that don't suit you. It's the same principle.
- Identify and maximize synergies. I spent a lot of time clarifying my goals and values in 2006 and was pleasantly surprised to realize that there were lots of areas of overlap. In fact, because my overriding mission is to live my life for God, I discovered that my 4 main areas of focus - spiritual, mental, physical and social - were all interrelated. Take Soulful Knitting Ministries, for example. It was a no-brainer for me to find a way to turn what had once been a hobby that I loved, into something much more. Through this ministry we are reaching others in need through our knitting and our encouragement, both with the finished items and the prayerful process of creating them. And even when I knit for myself, I often pray, meditate or spend quality time with other knitters. It's the ultimate two-fer, several times over!
- Take small steps. One of the biggest sure-fire ways of sabotaging our success is to set huge goals. Don't misunderstand, big dreams are very important, but in order to be realized, they need to be tackled in manageable steps. When we decide that we're going to change our lives overnight - lose 50 lbs, stop drinking coffee cold-turkey, de-clutter and reorganize the entire house in a weekend - the task often seems so big, so overwhelming, that we either scare or exhaust ourselves out of it before we even get started! Remember the saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step? It's true. Rather than focusing on the HUGE end goal, try focusing on the first step instead. If you want to drink more water, which sounds easier: "Starting today, I'm going to drink 64 oz. of water every day" or "Starting today, I'm going to drink one small glass of water every day". Once you start drinking the one small glass each day, I bet you'll find it wasn't so bad after all. In a few days or weeks, you'll probably be ready to go for a bigger glass, and then maybe two glasses. The same theory applies to exercise, giving up coffee or cigarettes, and Bible study. Which do you think is more benefecial, small goals and small successes or big goals and no success?
- Create a rewards system. I did some seasonal retail work this Christmas and was surprised to see how many people used credit cards for all sorts of purchases. Even people I know personally, who I knew didn't need to use credit were using their plastic. Why? Because of the rewards programs offered by the credit card companies. I am not at all a proponent of credit card debt, but I do understand now why people who can and do pay off their credit card balances every month are charging practically everything in order to benefit from the various reward programs. If it works for Visa and MasterCard, I'm betting that we can create our own rewards systems that work equally well for us. As you set your small goals, try setting up small rewards for yourself when you meet them. This doesn't have to be (and probably shouldn't be) anything fancy, but it should be something enjoyable that you can look forward to in celebration of a job well-done... some extra knitting time, a few extra minutes over a cup of hot tea in the morning, a long hot bubble bath, a glass of wine. Only you know what motivates you. Make it fun. And of course, be sure to plan for some bigger rewards when you ultimately reach the end goal.
So, there's no better time than today to get started. With some focus, some planning, some commitment and of course, with prayer, you're on your way to having your best year yet! I know I am.
Please feel free to share your goals/plans for the new year here. If you decide to try any of the suggestions I'd offered, I'd love to know if you find them helpful. And as always, if you have other suggestions, please share.
My prayer is that each one of us will receive all of the love, joy, peace and abudance that our hearts can hold in 2007.