Monday, October 29, 2007

Growing the ministry

I had a meeting last week with a wonderful woman who works for the Office of Family Violence in the Virginia Department of Social Services. We met concering a drive to collect no-longer-used cell phones for the HopeLine project. Please e-mail me if you have a phone you'd like to donate.

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

Knitted stamp for the Holidays

Just in time for the holidays, the US Postal Service has issued a commemorative stamp honoring the craft of knitting. To learn more about the design and creation of these stamps visit the USPS site.

© 2007 USPS. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A rare knitting sight

Today I noticed a guy sitting in the lobby of the office building where I work knitting. Yes, that's right, a MAN knitting in public. And this was not just any knitting project - he was knitting a bright orange and burgundy (go Va Tech!) cabled sweater vest for his dad, without a pattern! I was blown away!

Of course I had to ask him a million questions... It's not every day that I see a manly man knitting a cabled sweater vest. He taught himself to knit a few years ago while stationed in Iraq. He said that some of his fellow soldiers gave him a bit of a hard time for a while, but before he left, he'd taught 3 more of them to knit.

He's a member of a local knitting group that meets at a local bookstore, and as a new tenant in my building, he's planning to join us in our now weekly lunchtime knitting get-togethers. I know there are men out there knitting, and enjoying it, but it really made my day to actually see one!

Monday, October 22, 2007

My new screensaver

While purging a ton of computer files as part of my office makeover project, I found this picture that I'd forgotten that I took several years ago when I was looking for cover designs for my soon-to-be-released knitting book (more details to follow). I decided that it was the perfect screensaver for my new office.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Help for knitting pain

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

Knitting at work

I must have been talking about knitting a lot at work because before I knew it, people started asking me to teach them to knit. Rather than try to schedule a ton of one-on-one knitting lessons, I decided to post an announcement in the common areas of the building that I would be teaching a 4-week beginner's knitting class during lunch time for anyone who's interested.

About a dozen people from several different offices signed up, and tomorrow will be our third class. It's going quite well, although we'd be further along were it not for the fact that we had several new knitters join last week and I'm expecting more to come tomorrow. I don't mind at all, I just worry that it might frustrate some of those who are further along and ready to move to the next level.

Thankfully, I have two knitting buddies who work in another office building a few blocks away and they come over and knit with us, mainly to help provide more hands-on instruction to those who need it.

Already I'm hearing rumblings that several in the class want to transition from a 4-week beginner's class to an on-going knitting group. That hadn't been my original intention, but I think I like the idea. The best part is that because of the nature of my job, the knitting class actually qualifies as "work-related", so I can knit for an hour and then take lunch. I think we should start an hour earlier, knit for two hours, and then take lunch! :)

Looking for a fun way to make new friends and influence people at work? Offer to teach a knitting class. If you're not quite up to that, start bringing your knitting to work and knit during your lunch break. You'll probably be surprised at what an ice-breaker that would be. Even if you don't find another soul to knit with, I bet you'll have a very relaxing lunch break.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Although the I've officially handed off the Think Pink Challenge project, I recently realized that had accumulated many many more scarves than I'd realized since I shipped out several hundreds of scarves last winter to over 20 breast cancer treatment facilities around the country. Since that time I moved and still had some scarves packed in boxes in storage, and as more scarves came in, I put those in storage as well because by then it was too warm to send out scarves anyway.

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!

  • CauseKeepers

  • Awareness Ribbons

  • Charming Designs - Awareness Bracelets
  • Saturday, October 06, 2007

    Planting seeds

    Something really wonderful happened this week. I received an e-mail from a Robin, knitter in NY who'd been to a Knit-Out (or maybe it was a Knit-In?) and seen one of the SKM prayer shawls there. She was moved to contact me to offer her support. She'd already talked to a few of her friends, who wanted to help knit more prayer shawls.

    One of those friends, Lori, is a teacher who'd been thinking about teacher her students to knit. Lori wanted to use a prayer shawl as the focus of both a hands-on knitting class and a community service project. Together, she and her students are going to knit a single shawl (with each person knitting a piece of it), and when it's done, they are going to present it to a woman in their local community who I'm sure will be blessed by their labor of love.

    What makes this special on so many levels is that Christine, who originally knit the prayer shawl, shared it at the knitting event, that Robin and Lori thought enough of this ministry to want to get involved, that Lori now plans to share our work with a set of new knitters, AND, all this is being introduced through their Temple. Yes, even though I'm a Christian, I am delighted that Robin and Lori, who are Jewish, recognized that we are all God's children and that there is more than enough of His work for all of us! I am thrilled to have them helping to spread this ministry.

    I've asked Lori to send pictures of her group's progress so that I can post them here.