Saturday, April 28, 2012

Making Beauty Out of Pain

I received my Three Irish Girls "You Are My Sunshine" this week and I am in love. So in love, in fact, that I started AND finished a pair of socks and have been wearing them the past couple of days. As I finished up a few other projects this week, I realized that there was a theme.  I realized how yarn and beauty and pain inspire some pretty amazing things.

I love being able to turn this, a yarn inspired by pain....

Into this...
My Harvest Dew Socks. (Which IS a free Ravelry Pattern, by the way).
I love that what began as an idea to help support those suffering from the grief that comes with losing a child, became yarn with a meaning. I love that the yarn became a project that I can wear and remember and smile.

I love that this Madelinetosh Vintage yarn in the Terrarium colorway:

became these:  
A pair of gloves, knit with love for the friend of a friend who had to have her finger amputated. I love that the idea to make something special for someone who had suffered a physical loss could become a gift that was inspired AND inspirING. As I knit each stitch I thought and prayed for the young girl who would be wearing these gloves. 

And finally, this.

This is a gift that has been the labor of love of many many people. There are 30 squares in this blanket, made from the Barn Raising Quilt pattern. Each square was knit by people with varying degrees of knitting skill out of different yarns, but an equal amount of love for our friend, Jodi, who delivered and lost not one, but two babies this past year. Nina, feeling her own losses as she cried with Jodi over hers, felt that a quilt needed to be made so that Jodi could wrap herself in it and know that she is loved, so I found a pattern, dug out my own scraps, asked for people in our own group to dig out theirs and asked for some on Ravelry (and had two people who have never met Jodi pass along some yarn to add to the blanket.) And we started to knit. As I knit 8 of the squares, I thought about my own losses. I thought about the pain, the healing, the joy, the hope. . .and I prayed for Jodi through each of those things. Sarah knit 7 of them, and as she has suffered her own losses, I know that she put a lot of thought into her squares. We got together to weave in ends (our LEAST favorite job!) and when it was finished and as I looked at the pile of ends I realized how true it was that we were given the chance to weave beauty out of pain. Kirsten made 4 squares and took the task of sewing them all together. She took each of our contributions and made it into something cohesive and beautiful. Many other people contributed in big ways. Kelsie made 2 squares and used her crocheting expertise to finish the edging. Jamie and Linda, both new knitters, confronted the task head on and made not only one square, but two. . . Kristen, Molly, Shannon, Serena, and Anna each contributed a square, and we couldn't have finished without each of their fun, bright and beautiful pieces.

So remember how I said we made beauty out of pain? I think these are the perfect examples of how that can work. By a small business making a yarn and contributing in big ways to help those experiencing losses. By a friend dreaming up an idea and figuring out how to get it done. By a group of people, drawn together by knitting, taking their time and their skills to create love for a friend.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Shawls. . .not just for your grandma anymore.

 Well, maybe your super hip grandma. I mean LOOK at these! And the best part, they don't even HAVE to be worn like a shawl. I wear them around my neck sort of bunched up, like a scarf or a cowl. Or like this first one, a beautiful lace shawl, which is triangular in shape. It's too small to wrap much around the neck so I hold it on with that lovely silver shawl pin. And yes, that is my handspun yarn from fiber I purchased from All Spun Up.

This one is a long shawl. It has a great construction in that you knit until half of your yarn is gone and then you start getting smaller. It's long, so the shape of it lends itself well to draping around the neck like a scarf. The bits of leafy ribbon and the beads make this an interesting yarn to knit with. . .and while not my favorite yarn, I'm glad I tried it. The pattern, on the other hand, I will definitely need to try again. 

Then there is this one. . .it's a triangular shawl, also, but larger so that I can wear it around my neck. It's knit out of sock yarn, so it's light weight. It has a very simple center section, so the hard part is the bottom edging. This was knit from the Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock, dyed in the Glimpse colorway, which was the first colorway she dyed to benefit SHARE and support for those suffering pregnancy loss.

This one was knit for a mystery KAL. I actually blogged about it a couple of months ago. This one has beautiful turquoise brushed glass beads and lace and a whole bunch of nupps (pronounced noop, like soup). The yarn from Knitpicks also has silvery shimmer to it. Gorgeous and such a fun pattern!

I've also blogged about this one. I think the colors in this one make it one of my all time favorite shawls. This is out of another Three Irish Girls yarn with a little taste of luxurious cashmere in it. This shawl is a semi-circle, so normally this one is worn with the biggest part in the front and then the points wrapped around the back and crossed to the front.

 This is another one of my favorites. I used Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light which I purchased from The Loopy Ewe (see the button in the upper right of the page). I knit this one for Camp Loopy, which IS coming up again in June, so watch Sheri's blog for more info. This is another long scarf/shawl, knit in one piece and perfect for being worn around the neck a couple of times.
This is a fun shawl. It's a square when completed and knit from the center out. The neat part about this shawl is the way it changes the patterning of the variegated yarn as it gets bigger. This one is usually folded diagonally into a triangle and then worn around my neck. . .but it can double as a small shoulder wrap, too, when I'm just home on the couch. . .so dual purpose!
And finally the first shawl I ever knit. This one was designed by Carina Spencer after a friend suffered a pregnancy loss. Every October, the proceeds from this pattern go to a charity that supports those suffering from pregnancy loss. I have made three of these. One for me, one for my mom, and one for a friend. It's big. REALLY big. Probably the closest to an actual shawl that I have ever come. It's done with warm yarn and serves as a hug around the shoulders. Probably the shawl I'm least likely to wear out due to its sheer size, I love the symbolism.

So there you go. A look at shawls. I should probably mention that I'm working on not one but two right now. . . Ha! I might be an addict. . .but I love the versatility of shawls. . .I love how easy the come together. I love the wearability. . .might not be the way your grandma wore them, but I promise. . .they aren't just for your grandma anymore! There are lots of patterns on Ravelry, and there are some great books out there, too! Just take a look! (There IS an Amazon link in the upper right too :) )