Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A big bear hug for Sister Lauren

Sister Lauren Spence, of Mankato MN recently completed her 1,000th teddy bear knit for charity. That's right, I didn't add any extra zeros. This amazing woman knit ONE THOUSAND teddy bears for the Mother Bear Project that will be sending the bears to African children who have lost their parents to AIDS. Just think, of the 23,170 bears that have been donated to date, this woman made 1,000 of them! And who said that one person can't make a differentce? To read more about Sister Lauren, click here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gratitude Quotes

If I had to pick one state of mind to live in all the time, I think it would be gratitude. I believe that those people who can express sincere gratitude in any circumstance are truly blessed. I've got a lot to be thankful for this Holiday Season and I'll post about that soon. But for now, I decided to share some of my favorite quotes on gratitude.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." (Melodie Beattie)

"Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting."(Author Unknown)

"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."(Epictetus)

"You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."(Sarah Ban Breathnach)

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."(Author Unknown)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Defying the Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater

A few months ago I "broke up" with the man I'd been dating. To be honest, to say that we "broke up" is not quite accurate. Technically, he dumped me. But that's not the point of this story.

My ex knew that I love to knit and to my surprise, just a few weeks before he vanished, he mentioned the possibility of me knitting an afghan for him. I was elated. I scoured the internet for patterns and he finally chose a great one and I ordered the yarn. In fact, the box of 15 skeins of black wool arrived the week before he flew the coop.

So, there I was, sitting home alone, newly dumped and crying like there was no tomorrow, staring at a big box full of black yarn - a very expensive big box of black yarn, I might add. Yes, I was aware of the Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater. And, although I don't consider myself to be superstitious, I've been a victim of the curse in the past. So naturally my first instinct was to return the yarn, or if that wasn't possible, to sell it on e-bay.

But then this wasn't technically the Boyfriend Sweater Curse because he wasn't my boyfriend anymore, right? More importantly, although I couldn't explain why at the time, I needed to knit this afghan. And I'm so glad I did, because transforming that black box of yarn that symbolized a failed relationship into something that I'm very proud of was just what I needed to do to help me move on.

What started out as a big box of black wool is now a beautiful black cabled afghan that I gave to my ex today. It took the better part of two months to knit, but it was worth every minute that I spent on it.

Why would I spend that kind of money and time on a man who dumped me? I'm so glad you asked! :)

Knitting this afghan was not about him, it was about me. For me, there is something so cathartic, so healing, about knitting. The time I spend knitting is meditative, it's contemplative, it's prayerful, it's relaxing and it's creative. And in the end, it's much less expensive and much more productive than time spent talking to a therapist.

When I started this project, it was painfully slow-going. Perhaps the flood of tears clouded my vision and slowed me down. I didn't think I'd ever be able to get through this. By the time I reached the middle, I was mad as hell and the yarn was almost flying through my fingers.

But then something very different happened. The true lessons of this experience started to take shape. I did do it right this time. I did learn from all those failed relationships of the past and entered this one with hope and optimism, but also with important knowledge about myself, my co-dependent tendencies and my "relationship issues". In this relationship, probably for the first time, I was the woman I wanted to be, and damn it, she's pretty cool.

So while there are days that I still miss him, and though I detest the way he handled our break-up, I can't help but be grateful for the lessons this experience gave me. I'm more self-confident now than ever before. I have an even clearer idea of what I want (and don't want) in a relationship, and I know that I can survive without one. How can I stay mad at someone who, albeit unknowingly, helped me discover these truths about myself?

Needless to say, I'm no longer heartbroken. I'm no longer angry. I just am.

So what's the moral of this story? Not everything we think we're doing for someone else is really about them, sometimes it's about us. Knitting, in particular, is about so much more than the finished product. It's about the process. I have no idea how my ex will respond to the afghan. I have absolutely no illusions about getting back together. In fact, although I'm hoping that he'll keep it, I'm not even sure that he will. But that's not the point. What matters is that the process of knitting that afghan for him helped me find much-needed closure. In this case, the quasi-curse turned out to be a blessing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We can all make a difference

There is no shortage of opportunities around the world for each of us to use our knitting and crocheting gifts and talents to make a difference. Whether you're interested in helping organizations that support children, pets, senior citizens or the homeless, there's a project out there that can use your help. Even if you don't have a lot of time or money, there's always something you can do. And... simply reading the lnewspaper or watching the evening news reminds as all that there are so many people that could use our help.

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

Autumn leaves

The summer was very dry in Virginia this year. As a result, we haven't gotten the fabulous display of fall color this year. However, I couldn't resist taking this picture of some trees near my home.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Apparently this knitting meme has been around for quite some time, but I saw it for the first time today at The Knitting Wildflower and decided to post it here just for fun.

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)
Garter stitch
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)
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn (I didn't know there was such a thing!)
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
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)
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffiti knitting (I don't have a clue what this is)
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran) (I LOVE cables!!!)
Lace patterns
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
Norwegian 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 smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting

Kitchener stitch
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn

Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/armwarmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Hair accessories
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

A spoonful of sugar

Today I remembered a song from the Mary Poppins movie that I loved as a child. I'm sitting here at work trying not to be too disappointed that I didn't get a job that I interviewed for recently. Spiritually I know that when one door closes another door opens, and that something better is in store. But that is long-term thinking. In the short-term, that door closed on an immediate way out of a situation that is not working. I hate job-hunting under the best of circumstances, and know enough about the current state of the economy to know that this is not the best of circumstances to be looking for another job.

But, today is Thursday and it's almost noon. That means that it's time to go to the weekly knitting group that I started in the building where I work. It is the one thing that I truly look forward to at the office. And for that one hour each week, I'm glad I'm where I am. So for now, knitting is my spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down.
What's yours?