Gratitude Day 17: Knitting

Snow Angel Knitted Lace Shawl with bead embellishment
I was just a kid, 9 or 10 years old, when my mother taught me the basics of knitting. Having been raised in Germany and the Netherlands where almost all women  knit, my mother could whip out warm woolly things with stunning speed. I was OK at knitting but preferred crocheting because it was easier for me and I could produced finished items much faster with a crochet hook than with knitting needles. By the time I went to graduate school at Vanderbilt, I was firmly entrenched as a crocheter. That is until my dearest friend in school, a passionate knitter, made it her personal mission to convert me to the other side. She took me to my first real yarn store and helped me find a sweater pattern and suitable yarn to knit it. I knit my way through the stress of a Master's degree, producing several sweaters and other small items.

I moved to Utah after graduate school and continued to knit and crochet, though my crocheting was far superior to my knitting. When I moved back to Tennessee I added tatting to the mix. I love tatting but let's face it, it takes forever to tat anything big enough to use, let alone wear. I needed something else so I started knitting again. After a few too many fun fur scarves and a couple of fuzzy sweaters I decided I needed to find a real yarn store and knit something better. That's when I saw my first fine knitted lace scarf and fell in love. I bought some fuzzy mohair yarn, found a free pattern online, and dove in. I still have and still wear that lace scarf, but mostly I use it as an example of what not to do when I teach beginning lace knitting classes.

I knit countless fine lace shawls, scarves, and doilies during the long years while I was working on my PhD and was so ill with fibromyalgia. When I couldn't do anything else, I could sit in bed and knit. Knitting was soothing to my frazzled soul and the finished results were pretty! Buying fine quality lace yarn to knit big shawls was affordable on my limited resources, but buying yarn to knit sweaters wasn't. Before long I was addicted to lace. I joined knitalong groups online and knit lace from "mystery" patterns where you had no idea what the finished product would look like when you started. I knit lace with other knitters during the Olympic Games, March Madness, and the Tour de France. I gained a reputation locally for being the "lace queen." It's been great fun. It's also been great therapy.

Back in July I started another lace shawl as a Tour de France knitalong project. I knew I probably wouldn't finish the shawl by the time the cyclists rode into Paris 3 weeks later, but I didn't care. I liked the design and I loved the yarn. that was all that mattered. Five months later, the Snow Angel Shawl is finally finished and wet-blocked. It's the most pitiful blocking job I think I've ever done on a shawl, but hey, it's going to look fine when I unpin it in the morning. This shawl represents five agonizing months of my life. I knit on it when I sat with my father through his hospitalizations.I knit on it when my mother was having knee surgery and when she lay dying in the ICU days later. This shawl is filled with memories and tears. But I'm grateful I have the talent, the skill, and the presence of mind to knit through yet another series of life challenges The shawl is beautiful. I will wear it with joy and know that it means much more than something pretty to wear. I'm grateful for the therapeutic effect knitting has on me. Knitting heals me, so I will knit on, and on, and on!


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