April 14, 2008
How to Knit a Hug
When times are tough, one of the first thing that sometimes gets left by the wayside is charitable giving. What a shame!
I feel very strongly about giving/sharing whatever I have, and in the past few years I've discovered new ways to do just that. There are other things/ways to give besides your money, or even your time, which is often even more limited than your dollars.
Of course giving your time to a worthy cause is wonderful - if you have any extra time! It seems as though everyone I know is frenetically busy these days. Now, my dad died when he was 57, so I gave my year of being 57 to becoming and being a Hospice volunteer. It was a deeply demanding and rewarding year, at times both incredibly sad and unbelievably life-affirming. It also was pretty time-consuming, and that time was spent away from home.
But, with so much to do at home and in the garden, I really wanted to do something more home-based. Of course I grow a gazillion flowers - with the help of our three sixth-grade Garden Girls, Yoshi, Wendy and LuLu - but I needed something to keep my hands busy, especially in winter. The devil does make mischief with idle hands, you know!
Last year's project was knitting blankets and sewing quilts for Project Linus which distributes the blankies to kids in crises. But this year I'm knitting hugs. Well, okay, they're more usually called "prayer shawls", "healing shawls", or "friendship shawls". No matter what you prefer to call them, they're a perfect project as they are so very appreciated. Plus, it's a great way to use up some of that yarn you have squirrelled away for "someday" and if you, like me, can knit while you're riding in the car/truck, these fly off your needles!
My plan was to stockpile a whole bunch of triangular shawls and lengthy stole-type hugs, giving some to my church and sharing the rest through a wide network of friends. Well, the first four flew out of my house almost before I could get them finished. One in autumn oranges and browns went to Nebraska to warm a woman who had just had neck surgery. Another, purple and gold, went to a man finding the after-effects of cancer treatment newly challenging a decade later. Purple and gold are his college colors. Another went to a woman on her 70-something birthday, and the last one, a soft, fluffy yellow shawl, went to a woman, who would be spending many long hours at a hospital away from home while her husband was undergoing cancer surgery.
But now I'm building the stockpile back up. Our friend Lesley has just finished a smoky purple shoulder shawl for the comfort cupboard, I have an aqua blue varigated in the cupboard and am also finishing a stole in rich blues and greens. Sound like something you'd like to try?? But where to find patterns? Lion Brand yarns' website http://www.lionbrand.com/ offers a half dozen lovely and easy-to-make shawl patterns most of which use their Homespun yarn. These patterns and yarn are the mainstay of many prayer shawl programs.
One of my very favorite websites for knitting patterns is http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/ which has an incredible number of patterns from a wide variety of sources. I've printed many, many shawls patterns from this site, and put them in a three-ring binder. Some are vintage, some very sturdy, some downright ethereal. What I really like is that there are patterns that look particularly masculine. Somewhere down the line I'll make one I've seen with a beautiful cable worked down the center.
One other website I'd recommend is http://www.friendshipshawl.org/ where there are still more patterns and some nice ideas for tags to go with your shawl. The tags are where you get to personalize the gift to the circumstances of the recipient. It may be a prayer, a poem, or just a caring note.
Making knit hugs is a project I hope you'll consider. And yes, of course you can crochet them just as easily. The important thing is all the caring, comfort, and oh, so much more that goes into each stitch. And if you do decide to make a few knit hugs, please... share the stories of your shawl projects!