Monday, June 23, 2008

Providing comfort

I'm sure all of you know about the Prayer Shawl ministry that has been spreading across religions and the US. People in our church come from many different faith and non-faith backgrounds. Therefore, in our liberal church we recently began a "Comfort" Shawl ministry.

There is something very appealing in knitting a shawl that will wrap someone in comfort, care and warmth. At a time in his/her life when spirits might be low, physical strength might be waning and need for caring is high. I felt very good when I made this shawl, but sad knowing that it will be given to someone in the time of need, illness or great stress.

I stepped in to the Comfort Shawl ministry with great enthusiasm. I know that many comfort/prayer shawls are made of acrylic for ease in laundering. Because I believe that wool from an animal's back is more healing than spun petroleum, I decided to use a machine washable sport weight yarn from Lorna's Laces. The colorway may not be available; I purchased it as a "mill end" from the dying location in Chicago.

I wanted a shawl that would stay on someone's shoulders, so I used the Litla Dimun pattern from Folk Shawls--a Faroese style. by the way, I am very enthusiastic about the Folk Shawls book. I return to it often, to dream and plan and knit.

So, here's the finished shawl, blocking.
The symbol of our church is the "flaming chalice." I thought that the design up the middle panel of the back looked like chalices. Therefore, I added a lace-type flame from one of Barbara Walker's books. It is very hard to see the flame, but the recipient will know that it is there.
Here is the shawl with the patterning from the book.
And here you can see the entire middle back patterning, including the chalice.

I feel good about doing this, even though I don't know who will be the recipient. I hope it will be received in the spirit of sharing and caring.
The shawl was my big project. These Sockotta short socks were my "ziplock bag knitting." I keep a small project in my purse for knitting at stop signs, restaurants, in dark movie theaters and the like. My daughters have convinced me that wearing socks with sandals in the summer is just too out of style to be tolerated! So, I've been making short socks to wear with sandals. I don't know about you, but for some reason my feet are always cold, even in the summer. I think these socks are perfectly stylish, no matter what the muggles think!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Still Stuck on Short Rows

Here it is the middle of June and I am still stuck on short rows. There is something so very soothing and hypnotic about every row being two stitches shorter than the previous row!! And, I had some Lorna's Laces sock yarn just begging to be made into something elegant. And, due to the end of school year rush at our house, garter stitch was about all I could tolerate. No more stress needed in our household when the 11th grader has tests, exams, reports, performances, recitals, SAT's, ACT's and so on and so forth. I am so glad that I am no longer in school and that I'm not a teenager any longer. I firmly believe that our schools expect too much of teenagers in terms of heavy load of homework, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, etc. Horrifyingly, I find that I am no longer surprised when a teenager commits suicide due to pressure; rather, I am surprised that more do not. We expect way to much of our children.

Back go garter stitch and short rows. Once again, Rachel Rocking Chair has volunteered to model my Easy Pie Wedge Shawl.

The mail color is Lorna's Laces pine, from the mill ends available only by visiting the dying facility in Chicago. I'm not sure if the color is available in stores.
I was concerned, unnecessarily so, that I wouldn't have enough yarn to finish the shawl and, therefore, I added a six row inset between each pie wedge, using Colinette's Jitterbug. Although the color of the camera is poor, the lime green really sets off the darker green--in my humble opinion.
Also, because I used only 100 stitches for the longest row in each wedge, rather than the 120 that I used in my previous pie wedge shawl, I was concerned that the shawl would not be wide enough to wrap elegantly. Therefore, I made 8 wedges, about 2/3 to 3/4 of the complete circle. this made for great drape.
Rachel Rocking Chair is about a wide as I am, but not as thick (shall we say) and the shawl still has a nice drape on me too.
I love the scalloped/pointed edging that is knitted into the shawl.

I seem to be at a point in my life these days when I need to knit simple things. Life is going too fast, my husband is too cranky, there is too much gardening that needs to be done, the flooding in Wisconsin and Iowa is so disastrous and worrisome, we are about to embark on a 2.5 week vacation (about 1.5 weeks too long in my estimation) and my soul needs simplicity. I bow to those of you who can knit intricate lace to relax. I find that I need peace in order to work on complex knitting.

I recall studying Maslov's hierarchy of needs in some psychology class ages ago. He posited that higher order thinking and creativity could not be accomplished unless certain basic human needs were met. In times of stress, I think that I revert to easier knitting because it soothes my soul and permits me to "veg" rather than think. Something I need these days.