Trying to Find the Words

I’ve been trying to find the words, but they just won’t come. I sit with knitting in my lap, needles clicking on socks, a sweater, and I swoon. No, maybe “swoon” isn’t the word. It’s a feeling like that though…of love and adoration, for the color, the texture, the yarn, the process of hands moving, producing a fabric.

But there’s something else too, that the word “swoon” doesn’t touch. There’s memory, of past times when I sat making the very same stitches but for my children, or when I was healing, or for gifts for friends, or knitting with my mom or my daughters.

And then there’s focus. A settling down and into a rhythm I would prefer to spend my days. A pace that isn’t frenzied. A repetition of hands that allows my mind to muse and sort out the days events. An anchoring activity that no matter what else is going on, this, these stitches remain the same. And I can do these simple stitches, one after the other, and eventually accomplish something, SOMETHING at least!

All this you say? In the stitches of knit and purl? Well, yes. And yet, so much more. Can the love of knitting be put into words? Perhaps not. Perhaps that is why knitting is wordless, soundless, except for the clicking of needles, the faint swishing of hands.

Perhaps not every knitter swoons. I imagine sometimes the women of past generations who knitted out of necessity, may have just knitted to be knitting and “swooning”, or whatever that feeling is, wasn’t a part of the process for them. But I’m sure some of them did. And perhaps they too couldn’t find the words to describe it.

I’m seeing now that there are a few words here. As little as they may make sense, I have found some words to begin to describe the swelling of my heart, that fullness of contentment, as I knit. Sometimes I even have to put my knitting down just to revel in it without moving the needles, to try to pin down exactly what is going on there as I knit. But then it shyly scoots away and only revisits again when I’m lost in knitting…

…no words, just the clicking of needles and colorful yarn running through my hands.

The Camaraderie of Stitches

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They come in to the shop or home with at least one bulging bag. It is not only bulging with yarns, needles, hooks and patterns, but also the events of their day. As we greet each other and settle into our “pews” (somehow we adopt a chair that becomes “ours” each time we meet:), the bags are set on the floor and the contents are slowly pulled out and offered on the table.

The contents of each person’s bag are as varied as the individual. The projects, chosen colors, ways of working with the yarn are all unique to each woman. As they begin knitting or crocheting, our conversation is woven just as the stitches are. Laughter, kindness, the occasional tease, and-oh yes-the jokes and funny stories flow through our group as fibers flow through our hands. Beauty is in the making.

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What each woman brings to the table can be staggeringly different from the gal next to her. Some are single, others married, and many are mothers. Some are teachers who have spent their day (and their energy) with students. Some are nurses who have been on their feet tending the sick for 10 hours. Some are postal workers who have driven miles and miles delivering post. Others are computer tech workers, paralegals, law professors. Some hold positions in human relations, animal hospitals, and banks. Some are retired yet equally as busy as those working full time. These women are all different ages, backgrounds, and have differing political and religious beliefs. Yet we are all there for the love of making things with string. And that string binds us all together.

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I have the privilege of being among them with the title of “teacher”. I don’t actually think of myself as “the expert who has great knowledge to impart”. I view what I do as a facilitator, a guide, an inspirer and encourager to women in their fiber journeys. As we gather around the table, the real teacher is the yarn. Whether it is knitted or crocheted, the stitches teach all of us. I am there to offer new stitches, to give guidance for getting out of tangles, to provide inspiration, and to marvel at the beautiful lives being knitted together.

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The camaraderie of stitches is one of the most amazing and wonderful things I know. As a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, I am transformed into an extrovert by the common love of yarn and all things stitching, whether knitted, crocheted, embroidered or other. It’s as if each woman’s yarn is attached somehow to my heart and a love for them flows through my hands to theirs as we stitch together. I am grateful for the privilege and honor to have so many comrades in yarn.

As they pack up their bags, I imagine that their load is a bit lighter for having been together, sharing our lives through the vehicle of our stitches. I know my bag is lighter and more colorful for having been with them.

To all my students, who are also my friends…thank you.

And to Knit One Smock Too, thank you for being a beautiful hub for women to gather, to find all the yummy yarns and tools they could need.

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“When peers thus knit, a kingdom ever stands.” -Shakespeare

The Silence of Stitches

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It isn’t often that I am alone in our house. On top of that, to be alone and sitting down with feet propped up, knitting in hand. I know you may think I get to do this a lot. But the thing that is so very delicious right now is the

SILENCE.

Oh how I crave silence. That deep, rich silence, punctuated only by the tick of a mantel clock and the click of knitting needles. I marvel at it. I revel in the silence as one who slowly twirls in falling snow reaching out the tongue to taste it. It’s that kind of silence…snow silence…albeit with an air-conditioner running in the house.

This silence seems to seep into my body…shoulders relax, brow unfurls, weary thoughts abed, breathing slows. Only the automatic movement of hand and fingers belie the stillness infusing my mind and body. I drink in the restorative properties of silence.

Silence with reading is not true silence for me. My mind is still taking in words and words are not quiet. Silence with someone else in the room is not true silence for me either. My energy is still tied to them. Silence with my eyes closed is good for a few minutes, but if it’s late in the day, like it is now, I’m asleep in the span of 2 minutes, head lolling about as I sit on the couch.

But silence and knitting is perfection. The no-thought activity of my hands keeps me awake to the silence, alert in its presence, and almost seems to allow the silence to be knitted into the fabric of my mind and heart.

Knitting and crocheting is wonderful with friends. It’s terrific while waiting at soccer practices, the pick-up line at school and while riding in the car. But knitting or crocheting in absolute silence is a delectable treat you must allow yourself from time to time.

No. Check that. It needs to be quite often!

The Goodness of Stitches

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I do believe, I might be content to just make stitches. Random stitches, crocheted or knitted, or embroidered. Any kind. Any way. With any fiber.

I love making them. I love looking at them. Garter stitch. Stockinette. Cables. Singles. Doubles. Triples. V-stitch. Shell stitch. Bullions. Clusters. Yarn overs. On and on…stitches are a delight.

But when I translate that to life, the minute, small, insignificant stitches of everyday living, I don’t know that I appreciate them as much. Knitting and crocheting reminds me to revel in the ordinary stitches of living just as I do in stitching with yarn.

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If, in addition to ‘just making stitches’, I can work them into something, anything…well, that’s even more fun. Shawls. Socks. Sweaters. Washcloths. Booties. Hats. Wraps. Vests. Bowls. Baskets. It seems a little silly to be so fond of making things with just stitches.

But when they can be wrangled into a picture, an image, a something to hang on the wall or sew into a pillow, well, that’s just the cherry on top! Icing on the cake. I recently made six little freeform crochet “paintings” and was reminded how good and wonderful stitches are.

In life, the key is to trust that all the stitches are adding up to something! I may not be able to see what it is in the moment, nor in a month or year from now, but I can be confident that the slow everyday making of stitches will produce something worthwhile. Perhaps my life will be a basket to hold beautiful things. Maybe it will be a shawl to comfort others. I’m hoping it will be a lovely picture of the grace of God.

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I’m not sure that anyone else, other than fiber folk, can understand this love for stitches. Stitches are comforting, rhythmic, soothing, soft. They are also bold, daring, confident and reassuring. How does all this get into stitches you say? Well…you just have to try it. And for those of you who know what I mean, here’s to a day full of stitch making! Or even a few minutes of your day!

May the goodness of stitches carry you through your day!

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