Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Every Stitch Matters

Our first brochure had the tag line, "Building Community a Stitch at a Time." These carefully stitched triangles brought that back to mind with a smile. I put them next to the corsages left over from last year because, they, too, made a difference and will be incorporated into the stitched up triangles for a shawl.
I had begun to feel like the sorcerer's apprentice whose magic threatened to overwhelm him. Instead of buckets of water I had triangles and triangles and a few more triangles and a couple squares and somehow out of this had to come something other than stacks of triangles. All the usual crew were hard at work stitching up and I felt as if I were moving in slow motion while the triangles---much needed and much appreciated grist for the mill was working overtime.
And then serendiptity stepped in --as it so often does for me--in the form of a new friend who said with characteristic enthusiasm, "I'll stitch some up for you." I expected her to take a few, so when she took the whole box I was nonplussed and delighted. When I opened the box and the first triangles to meet my eye were these cheerful yellow and blue ones, I knew that we were on the right path with Northern Loops.
It's working. Every stitch matters and more importantly every stitcher matters. We matter to ourselves, each other, our craft, and our community. When we started Northern Loops I was focused on the people we would be helping--those on the receiving end of our blankets and shawls. I did not fully appreciate how much pleasure and growing is in it for each of us.
Thanks, L., for the lovely stitches and your wonderful enthusiasm. You can never have too many ideas or too many triangles.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Starting, Finishing, and the Bit in the Middle

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I hesitated on the title for this post: Zen and the art of finishing sounded just too pretentious, but maybe it would have been catchier. And as photos go, the cloth bags on the line are not too eye catching either, but it struck me as a metaphor. I use these cloth bags to hold projects--a knit project, a collection of information to be passed on, the notes and handouts from various projects: working with the home ec classes in the high school, corsages from Knit in Public Day, brochures for Prince Charles's Campaign for Wool--you get the idea--a motley assortment for my varied interests.

I started using cloth bags as a quasi organisational technique when I went back to grad school. I was juggling teaching, a part time job, and my life as a student. The cloth bags were part of the lore of teaching writing--they were sturdy enough to keep student's papers together and intact and light enough that you did not give yourself a hernia lugging them around. The senior teachers had posh bags from Land's End or L.L. Bean--more like cloth baskets if you will. I made do with bags from stores like Trader Joes or Wild Oats. When I moved over here, I started the habit up again.

Since my first kindergarten report, it has been noted of me that I prefer starting things to finishing them. And in the fullness of time I have come to accept this of me. Sometimes I still try to rationalize it away or joke about it, but when I did a bit of a cleanup in the loft --a nest of projects past, present, and future I was gratified to be able to work to the ends of these project bags. When I get around to it, I find finishing up things exhilarating. There is a marvellous sense of --purposefulness, satisfaction, completeness that comes with finishing something.

OK, there are still way too many half baked thingies hanging around calling for my attention and probably always will be, but I washed those project bags and hung them on the line as a reminder that finishing is fun, too.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Going to the Hospital!

It is rare that a trip to A and E (Accident and Emergency aka Emergency Room for American readers) is cause for celebration, but in this case, it is our blankets that are going to A and E.

"The first batch of knitted blankets went to A&E at Caithness General Hospital and the remainder are ready for delivery to whoever next requests them." Valerie Barker, Caithness and Sutherland Project Linus Coordinator, emailed me this message along with a photo of the blankets with their label and "adoption papers".

As often happens with me, serendipity kicked into overdrive to get this message to me just when I needed it. I had begun to look longingly at my own knitting sitting in a corner as I worked on my Northern Loops knitting--a shawl for the Dunnet group's shawl ministry; a blanket for Project Linus. And that wee grumble was sent packing by the news of our blankets going to a good home.

It was a much needed reminder that giving is good for the giver as well as the receiver!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Triangle Shawls Coming to NiteKirk

The completed triangle shawls (thanks to all of you for your wonderful efforts!) will be on display tomorrow night at Dunnet Church for the NiteKirk celebration--a kind of open house for a church.

I hope lots of people come by to see the shawls while enjoying the rest of the open house-er church. There will be music, munchies, and an opportunity to enjoy a little time and space outside our everyday humdrum world.

I wrote the above lines hastily yesterday and the computer--sensing my hurry--refused to post it, so I can update it with the news of great success. We had nine shawls spread out on the back of one of the old wooden pews. The colourful shawls were even more beautiful against the dark wood background in the candlelight of the church. Each one was so wonderfully different. Now we have labels to do so the shawls can begin their lives as part of the shawl ministry here in Caithness. The central churches will be in charge of giving them out.

And we also recruited another knitter. Since my car is a travelling cabinet of wool and needles, as soon as she expressed interest, I was able to kindle the spark into a flame of good intentions.
Now after just a little breather, I'll pick up my needles again and start another shawl and finish a blanket for Project Linus.

Tomorrow, I'll share some news about the blankets for Project Linus.