Friday, October 23, 2009

Knit One, Purl One

Several years ago I took up the art of knitting. Or better yet, I should say knitting took up me. My Mom had taught me to crochet when I was young and I had taken a stab at knitting, but my knit one, purl one career was short-lived and my first project, a vest, went into the “let’s forget this ever happened” box.

When my grandbabies started coming into the world, I scoured the yarn shops for crochet patterns and spent hundreds of hours creating booties, sweaters and blankets. But I began to notice that it was difficult to find delicate and cute crocheted clothing, especially as the kids grew. One Easter, I crocheted myself into the wee hours of the morning, developing a raging case of tendonitis, because I was determined that my granddaughter would have her sweater to wear to church. That was the turning point in my needlecraft career. I knew I had to make a change and so I threw myself into learning how to knit. The possibilities were endless, at least much more so than crocheting, and I discovered knitting used as much as half the yarn crocheting required.

Mom had given me a “Learn to Knit” book, that had been hers before she was married, and her old knitting needles. I dug them out, fearlessly grabbed up some yarn, and tackled what to me seemed the impossible. I bought scads of books of baby sweaters and clothing and started knitting sets of sweaters, hats and socks. When I ran into trouble, I went to the internet where I discovered web sites that offer as much help as a fledgling knitter needs, including videos of more difficult stitches. I also spent hours searching for free patterns to print out. But as the pile of baby sets grew, I began to wonder what I was going to do with them. After all, my sons and their wives, much to my dismay, were not going to continuously produce babies to knit for, and those I did have were growing faster than I could knit. I knitted for niece’s and nephew’s and friend’s babies, but the pile continued to grow. There just were not enough babies - or, at least I thought that was the case.

My sister, Dana, is a board member of a local pregnancy center in her area that offers alternatives to abortion. They also have a small gift shop in the center. As the girls that come to the center progress in their pregnancy they earn points that can be used to purchase items in the gift shop. There was my answer, and fourteen sweater-hat-sock sets later, I had learned to knit. However, it was not without its trouble.

Let me set the stage for you: as I began each sweater, I would pray over it as it was created. If I ran into a problem, I would ask the Holy Spirit for help. I recall a particular sweater I was going to make and how I would get to a certain point and make the same mistake over and over. Frustrated, I ripped it out for the last time, picked up an identical yarn in a different color, and the same sweater pattern was created without a hitch. I guess He required the second color for a particular baby that would receive it.

Another example of divine help was over a pair of baby socks. I would often knit in the car as my husband and I traveled. It made the trip over the Oregon Blues go faster. I was knitting the last sock and worriedly kept looking at the amount of yarn I had to complete it. I just knew this second sock would not have a toe. I started praying that the Lord would increase the yarn in order to complete it. When I was done, I had three inches of yarn left over, just enough to bury to prevent it from coming loose. Another baby needed that second sock.

As I have progressed in my passion for knitting it has become obvious to me that it is an art that was created with divine guidance. There is no other explanation. The oldest knitted item that has been discovered is a pair of very delicate socks that were found in an Egyptian tomb. It looks as though they were made with needles the size of a strand of hair and yarn from a spider’s web. However, fishermen and sailors are given credit as the first knitters who whiled away their time on board ships doing needlecraft. When you think about it, it is a little amusing to think of a burly man creating such delicate items. But if you ponder why someone had the thought to sheer a sheep, card its wool, spin it into yarn, then take up two sticks the same size to join loops to create a blanket or clothing, it does defy common reasoning. The mathematics behind knitting is also mind staggering. One may think it is a simple matter to create a pattern out of two stitches, but experience has taught me otherwise. I will leave that to someone with a better brain than mine.

If you have the interest to take up a needlecraft such as knitting or crocheting, I would highly recommend beginning by making items for charity. There is endless help one can find in books and on the internet to aid you in becoming proficient at it, and a vast supply of free patterns can be found. Also, there are several organizations that can be found on the internet that provide patterns and assistance in knitting for charity. But if you ever run into a real snag, the greatest help will come from the One who developed the craft. If you ask Him, He will take your hands in His and knit one, purl one right along with you because there is a child somewhere waiting for your gift.

Oh, and by the way…just be sure you are knitting with the right color, and do not worry about having enough yarn.