"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

Knitting for my life


I love to knit. Especially in winter, it's such a cosy, warming, and satisfying thing to do, sitting by the fire on a cold night. In fact, over the years I've enjoyed many different crafts, from cross-stitch, to patchwork and quilting, sewing, scrapbooking, and crochet. But knitting has always been the one I can do in different places, different circumstances, and without paying it too much attention. I find it very therapeutic.

Lost love, lost interests
My first marriage ended in the middle of winter. It's amazing how life can change in an instant, and for a long, long time I simply felt unable to continue with any of the crafts that had brought me joy in the past. I completely lost interest. Scrapbooking my family photos, in particular, lost its shine immediately (unsurprisingly), and in fact I've never resumed that one, even to this day. I sometimes look with a tinge of sadness at my half-finished photo albums, and hope that in time I might be able to return at least to some of them.

The rest of that miserable winter (I remember it as cold, cold, cold - I felt like I might never be warm again..............) I was in survival mode, and picking up my knitting needles, or indeed any of my other previously enjoyed crafts, even on a chilly night, was the last thing I could think about. It was all I could do to concentrate on a mindless movie. I couldn't read novels, only books that gave me hope for how to survive this devastating and terrifying trauma that had smacked me about the head.

Getting encouragement to pick up the needles again
A year later, the following winter, my dad and my stepmum came to visit, and stayed with me for a week. Different crafts are one thing my stepmum and I have had in common over the years, and she had brought a current project with her. One evening as we sat on the couch after dinner - she with her craft, me and my dad watching TV - she asked me if I was doing any craft at the time. I confessed that I hadn't been able to muster any interest in anything much for the last year. My previous half-finished projects were all sitting neglected, and I had no motivation to continue any of them. Of course she understood, but she nevertheless gently encouraged me to think about starting a project that was not too difficult but would keep me occupied when alone, something that would grow over time and give joy as it took shape.

She suggested I knit a striped blanket, in fact. She'd made at least one, and had another on the go. She enthused that it was a great way to use up scraps of wool, and encouraged me that I could do just one or two rows at a time, or more if I felt like it, and it would slowly grow and would be finished, well.......... whenever it was finished. No pattern, no complications, no pressure. Something simply to bring me joy.

Project joy
I determined to begin. All I needed was a circular knitting needle and a few different balls, or sufficient scraps, of wool. I had plenty of those in my craft cupboard, and that made it even easier and more satisfying, because I was able to start straight away. And so I did. That knitted blanket slowly took shape over the next year or so, and as I knitted away it took on its own "look" and people would comment that it seemed to have a "Mexican" feel. It was true, it was different shades of blue, red, yellow, green - bright and cheerful and beautiful.

And to my surprise, it did give me joy. I would sit at night or on a Sunday afternoon, and work a row or two, sometimes while watching TV or a movie, and if I was lonely and alone I might sit and knit for longer. One, two, three or four rows per colour, then change. Every single row was started afresh and tied off, and the wool ends would be trimmed evenly to form the fringe of the blanket on two sides. It was a beautiful and simple project, and I'm very grateful to my stepmum for encouraging me not to give up the things in my life that were satisfying and enjoyable, just because I was reeling from the loss of so many other things.

Creating something beautiful
Eventually that first blanket became a gift for my youngest son, who was turning 18 at the end of that year. It took longer than anticipated, and so he didn't receive it until well after his birthday, although he knew it was coming, but that didn't matter. It was a restorative blanket, and I will always remember the circumstances in which it was created. And the love that went into it.

I'm now close to finishing my third blanket. My knitting tends to wane in the warmer months, as we spend more time outside, and especially as the blanket grows and has to sit on my lap in order to manage its size. That's not much fun in our hot summer weather. But once winter comes around again, it's a pleasure to drape it over my knees as I knit. Each blanket project has taken well over a year to complete - sometimes two or more - but as I finish one I can't help but start another!!

So, if you need something to occupy you that doesn't take much brain power, and will be a slow, long-term, little-by-little, growing, healing and restoring project, here are the basic instructions. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

And now for the recipe...... ummm, pattern
Materials:
  • 1 circular knitting needle (4mm)
  • several scraps or balls of 8 ply wool, various colours (you decide what combinations you like - I've done the "Mexican" look, a more muted and sophisticated "shades of beige", and a "jewel tones" version).
Instructions:
  • Leaving an end approximately 10cm, cast on 300 stitches (I know, it's a lot!! And that's why a row can take a while).
  • Cut off the casting wool, again leaving an end approximately 10cm.
  • Join in the next colour, or the same colour again.
  • For every new row, leave approximately 10cm of wool at each end.
  • Change colours whenever you like. For example, the first few rows of the blanket below go like this - 3 rows dark red, 3 rows mauve, 1 row pale pink, 4 rows dusty pink, 2 rows dark pink, 3 rows turquoise, 2 rows white, 2 rows maroon, 1 row navy blue, 2 rows coral, 4 rows mauve, 2 rows emerald green, etc - you get the picture!!
  • Keep knitting until you're happy with the size (it could take a while, but that's part of the joy)!!

This is my "jewel tones" one. I've already planned the colours for the next one - it's going to be "the blues" and I'm looking forward to starting it.

Happy knitting!!

4 comments

  1. I can understand the appeal of knitting - I have had a similar experience with cross stitch, although haven't picked it up now for a good couple of years. It's nice to have a quiet hobby that relaxes you while you sit on the couch. Good on you for finishing three whole blankets!

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    1. It's definitely a winter craft, but I do love it, and to have something functional at the end adds to the satisfaction! xx

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  2. I knitted one of these last Winter - my friend makes them and encouraged me to have a go - very simple knitting and lots of changes of colour and texture (she also supplied several different lots of wool scraps). Here's a link to the post I wrote because I can't include a photo of the rug (https://www.crestingthehill.com.au/2017/07/my-winter-knitting-project.html) I'm glad yours helped restore your love of knitting and kept you busy and recovering x

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    1. Leanne! I must have missed this post of yours. I'm shocked....... and delighted that you're not totally anti-craft, lol. Your throw rug is beautiful xx

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