Monday, 14 February 2011

Between the Stitches: What Started you Knitting?

Northern Loops Dunnet is off and flying with their triangles. I have seen folks in the Coop and on the street talking about triangles and colours and shapes. It is great to be part of that conversation and I look forward to seeing what we come up with on March 3 when we get together again.

Meanwhile, Northern Loops Thurso starts up again this Thursday (Feb 17) in the United Reformed Church with a new project. No more squares! If the group agrees we'll do strips of different stitches that can then be combined for a blanket or shawl. I have been given materials from Project Eve for their campaign for March as Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and as a group we can figure out how to use our knitting to aid their campaign. I have a friend in the States right now who is struggling with ovarian cancer and I know others who have or have had this particular form of cancer strike their family or friends.

Cancer and knitting are linked in my mind because it was the cancer of a workmate that started me knitting. What started you knitting? I love hearing people's stories of how they began. I'd love to hear yours--send it to me or tell me and (if OK with you) I'll share it here on our Northern Loops blog.

As a starter, here's my story:

I had always wanted to learn to knit. A new store that taught knitting had opened up (Stitches and Scones) in my little town of Westfield and so the ingredients were all in place. The catalyst was provided by a workmate who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

As every beginner knows, your first project is usually ill advised. The soft wool (Chinchilla) was not easy to knit with, the pattern was a mystery, and the needles felt like chopsticks. With gentle guidance, the chemo cap became my second knit project. I bought some tame wool, a simple beanie pattern, and sat down to lessons in which I could make several mistakes and get put quickly back on track.

Having mastered sort of--a simple beanie--I made a chemo cap for my workmate with more help from the knitter-teachers around the big wooden table in the centre of the shop at Stitches n Scones. One woman had made several chemo caps. When I said how brave I thought she had been as a nurse of terminally ill patients, she confided that she felt a bit guilty when she heard that because she felt as if she had received more from her patients than she gave them.

I understood her story a bit better when I knit chemo caps for the Maggie's centre in Inverness and saw how much it meant to one woman.

So the stories I have learned (and continue to learn) along with the knitting help shape me as a person. How did you get started knitting? Share your story here.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

We Came, We Met, We Knit!

It wasn't easy to find the Dunnet Church Hall--even though I had been there before, and the weather earlier in the day had been somewhere between dire and just gloomy. But a handful of us got to the hall (Thanks to the person who came early and turned the heat on!)

Without too much faffing we settled into knitting in a more or less structured way. From the outside it may have looked a bit chaotic--piles of miscellaneous wool in the centre of the table, a noisy ball winder on one corner turning the coned wool into balls (If you are not a knitter, just take it from me that is progress.)

And balls become triangles and the triangles will become a shawl. We talked so much between and among ourselves that we hardly wanted to stop for coffee and tea and biscuits. And so in its own way, the group and the projects come together. I think a knit group is probably as close as I'll ever get to finding those elves that came in the night and made the shoes for the hard working cobbler.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Groundhog Day, Candlemas, and Shadows

Groundhog Day is, of course, not original to America--although it certainly has all the flavour of a distinctly American holiday: hucksterism, tomfoolery and food.

Groundhog Day is rooted--or perhaps in the spirit of the time I should say, its roots are burrowed in history. In America the holiday began with the Pennsylvania Dutch settlers (who are really German in their origins, but in America things get a little fuzzy on details like that) for whom the groundhog filled in for badgers or possibly even bears from the old country all tasked with weather prognostication.

And perhaps Candlemas day got plumped on top of February 2 in the hopes of suppressing pagan activities like watching for mammals to come out of the ground.

At any rate, February 2 is one of few days on which we actively hope for clouds because we do not want the groundhog to see his shadow and take fright and tumble back into the burrow for 6 more weeks of winter.

Of course, there is a little bit of groundhog in us all at this time of year. It is too easy to pull the winter doldrums over our heads and tumble back into bed.

Northern Loops will be celebrating day after-Groundhog Day with our first ever meeting at Dunnet Church Hall. Needles at the ready, shadows or not!