In These Crazy Times, When Events Feel Beyond My Control, I Knit With Purpose

Following the election, I quickly began to feel overwhelmed by the seemingly never-ending series of appalling, discouraging, frustrating, and frightening events that typify the current political and social situation. Thankfully, there are lots of resources that have mobilized to help focus resistance and provide individual citizens with ways to make their voices heard.

But I needed a way to make an immediate, personal difference, something that would allow me to channel my frustration and feelings of powerlessness into something positive. I hoped to find a local cause. The universe provided when I learned about organizations that collect hand-knit scarves to give to victims of sexual assault when they leave the hospital. The idea is to give victims something of warmth and comfort to get them home in the immediate, and perhaps give them solace and strength in the longer term. Even if they never wear it, a hand-made scarf can serve as a symbol of support and compassion.

I jumped on the idea. I love to knit because at the end of a project, you have something tangible, beautiful, and best of all, functional to show for it, and while I will never meet the individuals who receive these donated scarves, I’m content knowing each scarf will (hopefully) make a positive and immediate impact on someone’s life, even in this small way.

And so, over this past holiday season, I purchased yarn and scouted for new patterns to try. After I completed the first scarf, I hit a bump in the road when my repeated attempts to contact a well-known local organization met with no response. Once again the universe provided when a friend of mine attended an event at the Illinois Holocaust Museum that was part of the Women Hold Up Half the Sky exhibition. There she met someone who works as a crisis counselor for women in the ER, directly following an assault. During her volunteer shift, when this counselor receives a call, she heads to the hospital, where she advocates with the medical staff and law enforcement on behalf of the victim, providing support, counselling information, and items of clothing.

Though I have many personal knitting projects queuing up, I’ll continue to make time to knit scarves to donate and each year, as the weather turns colder, I’ll hand them off to my counsellor friend, with the hope that at worst, each scarf will give comfort to someone at a terrible time, and at best, will never be needed at all.

Time Consuming

Hedgehog mittens

Recently I’ve gotten back in to knitting and after making a number of baby blankets I decided it was time to break out of my knitting rut and try something new. I discovered the Morehouse Farm knitting yarn website and flipped for the cuteness of their “critter kits.” It took all my restraint not to buy one of everything.

I decided to start with two kits and see how it went. My first project was the hedgehog mittens, which I stupidly thought would be a quick project to knock off over the holidays, in time for JD’s fifth birthday. Did I not notice the cute little quills and wonder how they were made? The pattern is relatively simple but each quill is the equivalent of nine stitches in one. Can you say time-consuming-pain-in-the-***?

Added to that, is the fun of knitting with tiny double-pointed needles (my least favorite type of needle to use.) You also have to really pay attention to the pattern. I kept screwing up, so there was a fair amount of ripping and swearing involved, mostly because of the tight little stitches involved. But it was a good learning experience and I was very happy with the end result. Not bad for my first pair of mittens.

In comparison, this dinosaur hat was a breeze and took no time at all. In fact, it seemed to take longer to sew the points on.

Dinosaur capIt was a huge hit with the four-year-old recipient and I think she’s been wearing it non-stop since I gave it to her a week ago.

Next up, a scarf for myself.