On Wednesdays, or a Sense of Community is Good for the Soul

This may sound strange to the TGIF-type people of the world, but Wednesday is the highlight of my week. It’s not as odd as it sounds, after all Wednesday night is when my knit group meets.

Now, if you’re not a knitter or part of one of these groups, that may in itself sound kind of odd. After all, how much interesting conversation can you have about the knit or the purl? Seriously, once you’ve covered those two topics, you’ve pretty much covered it all, right?

Not right. In fact, not even close. The fact is that while my knitters (and crocheters, we are an inclusive group) do talk about the finer points of technique and help each other with patterns, the truth is that the group is much more than that. As one of the women in the group remarked recently, outside of knitting, many of us have very little in common. And yet, we are a group of kindred spirits, sisters (and one brother), cut of one cloth and dyed in the wool, so to speak.

Our knit group is a chance to chat about the exotic or the mundane, to kvetsch about our minor annoyances, and to get advice about many things. Our topics range far, from the naughty to the nice. And we are inclusive – welcoming anyone who shows up with sticks and string. We care about each other, support each other, and even worry about each other if someone misses the group for a while.

You might think this a unique occurrence – after all, some groups are really special. And these folks are. But, it’s not the first knitting group where I felt this way. Over the years, knitters have helped me move from making basic squares to socks and sweaters. It was one of my knit groups (yes, you Lorna and Rachel) that got me interested in spinning and helped me get going. One knitter even let my entire family stay with her when we had a gap between real estate transactions. Now, that’s a caring community.

This doesn’t just have to be a knitting thing. Who is your community? Where do you feel warm and welcomed? And if you don’t have such a place, why don’t you be the one who creates it?

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On the Joy of Handmade Things

Whether you paint or draw or knit or crochet or make things out of wood or clay, I’m sure you know that in the hearts of the general public there lies The Skeptic. If you’re one of these crafty people, I know you’ve encountered The Skeptic, who says things like “I don’t know how you spend so much time doing that. I would be so bored.” Or the classic, “Don’t you know you could buy that at Walmart?”

You see, we live in a culture that admires cheap plastic goods made in factories far away. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like a bargain as much as the next guy, or that I don’t think people in China should have jobs. It’s just that I, in my very small way, rebel against our disposable society that likes quick gratification. No, you can’t buy what I make at Walmart, or any other store for that matter. What I make by hand is very special, at least to me and I hope to the others affected by my craft.

Take my current spinning project for example. You can probably buy black alpaca yarn in any yarn store. But it wouldn’t be the same. You see, this particular alpaca blanket was raised on a farm owned by a friend of my good friend Peggy. She bought it directly from the farmer and had it cleaned and processed, then sent to me for spinning.

And boy did I spin. You see, alpaca is fluffy so a pound is a lot of fiber. I spun and spun and spun, and while I did, I thought of all the great times Peggy and I have had together. And I put in a few prayers that her life was going okay and that she’d get as much pleasure out of knitting or crocheting with this yarn as I did out of spinning it. And while spinning, I told my new friends here in Colorado about Peggy and our good times together. You can’t buy that in a store.

You see, the things I make with my own hands, while not as perfect as those made by machines or in a factory, have a little part of me in them when they go on to the person they are made for. And with them come my love, my prayers for their well-being, and my hope that this warm soft thing they are receiving will give them comfort on cold days and remind them that someone cares about them.

So, here’s to handmade things. And to friendships which never grow old or apart, even if the people in them do.

On the Question of Blogging

I’m a somewhat reluctant blogger. I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a blog for years, and even had jobs that required blogging about professional topics. All along, I’ve wondered whether my life is really all that interesting that anyone would bother reading about it. Blogging is an interesting exercise – a blend of self-relevation, ego and fear of putting things out in the universe that could come back to bite you.

So, today I decided to take the plunge. Maybe because it’s a Leap Year, maybe because I finally want to answer the question of whether I really ┬áhave anything all that interesting to say. After all, I come from a long line of writers, perhaps they are cheering me on.

Welcome, dear Reader, and join me on my journey. We’ll knit a bit, spin a little, and tell a few Westie stories. I don’t promise answers to the big questions in life, but maybe we’ll learn a little on the way too.

And besides, for those of you that read Douglas Adams, you already know that the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is 42. Now, if only we knew what the question was!