Back in the saddle...

by Christina


Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.
— Ann Frank
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It's almost been 3 months since I last wrote. A lot has happened... I've not had the words or perhaps the drive to put pen to paper. To soothe my soul and attempt to heal my pain, I retreated and did what all knitters do... I knit.

Project Peace 2017 was, by all accounts, a huge success. Collectively we were able to donate $3000 to organizations focused on making this world a better place. We had 1000's of knitters creating "ripples of peace" shawls and so many people around the world knitting for peace on 12/21. The comments left on the blog are a testament to the fact that we can spread peace through knitting. I thank each and everyone of you for your participation and commitment to making this a better world, one stitch at a time.

But with all of the successes, came serious exhaustion. I needed a break. And then, my beautiful, seemingly healthy, young, genius of a father died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve. They say it was complications of the flu. It took me by surprise. I was caught off guard... this wasn't on my radar. This wasn't supposed to happen for at least 10 years, maybe 20. And from all of this I've been digging deep to find peace in the midst of losing someone so precious. It's just one day at a time... just like one stitch at a time.

So, I've been wanting to write but didn't know what to say. And, now there's so much I want and need to say about so many things that this post almost feels a bit like goulash. Funny, that was one of the only dinners my Dad knew how to cook, a recipe he learned in college. Take a can of cream of mushroom soup, can of franco-american spaghetti and some ground beef. Voila, goulash. And to think he survived; well, it's a miracle. I once tried to make this "vegetarian." While it's really not that good with the meat, it's horrific without it. My, how we all chuckled about this goulash over the years.

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And so, I created a new shawl inspired by my Dad, our relationship, peace, moving through grief, and Sandhill cranes. I'll release it in May but know that there will be a soothing knit coming your way; perhaps you'll find it restorative as have I. I'll share more as we get closer to May.

While the sadness is still so real, I am finding a way forward. So, let this be a segue into what lies ahead. I've been able to reflect on what is the best way I can create a life with meaning. Certainly, there's a lot of work to be done in the realm of spreading peace through knitting. But I've been able to see how I really want to utilize knitting to capture human experiences. Knitting is never really just knitting. There's a message in it for all of us... we began to explore this topic during Project Peace 2017. While my designs have always carried meaning, this will become a more intentional aspect of my designs.

Here's what's in store for the next few months:

  • Tomorrow, March 20 is the International Day of Happiness. Check out the Action for Happiness website. Host a dinner in honor of the day, say something nice to someone, or do one thing that brings you joy. How will you celebrate?
  • April is the month for the annual mystery knitalong and walkalong. In the past 2 years, I've conducted this in April and November. With Project Peace in December, I've decided to host the walkalong only in April. On March 26, I'll announce all the details for this year's mystery KAL and walkalong. You won't want to miss this one. There'll be lots of inspiration to get you walking as we transition from one season to the next. Please consider joining...even if it's only for the walking.
  • Earth Day is April 22 and I'll be releasing a new shawl/wrap pattern in honor of bees and pollinator plants. There'll be a give-away! I'll have a couple other shawl patterns using plant-based fibers that will become available throughout the summer months.
  • Here's something I'm extra excited about. In soccer, when you get 3 goals it's called a hat-trick. So, I'll release 3 hat patterns on the 1st of each month beginning in June and we'll call the collection "a hat-trick." While it might be hot outside, you can still knit on a small, portable project and be ready for cooler walking weather. Won't that be fun?
  • And yes, there will be more in the fall with a commemorative pattern for the International Day of Peace (September 21) and a couple other items but mark your calendars now... Project Peace 2018 will happen from 12/1-21. The theme... yes, there's a theme, will be the "seeds of peace."

Each time a pattern is released (except for Project Peace) there'll be a blog-subscriber exclusive coupon to use on Ravlery. So stay tuned.

Again, I want to thank each and everyone of you for your interest in knitting, walking, and peace. May you find something here that makes a difference in your day. That is my wish for all of you. Until next Monday... with news about this year's mystery KAL and walk-along.

I'll leave you with a poem I found...

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom
— rupi kaur
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... the ripple effect

by Christina


Throw a pebble in a pond, and the ripples in the water extend out.

A friend stands on the shoreline next to you, throws a pebble, the ripples in the water move and intersect the ripples from the other person's actions.

Project Peace this year was about the ripples. Choose peace. Your peaceful actions will extend to reach others. It grows and grows and grows. So many times we think "I'm only one person. How can I make a difference?" To this I say, "you can make a difference." Never doubt the power of simple acts of peace. There is power in peace.

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The back story on the design.

The idea for this year's shawl had been in my head for months...actually since Project Peace 2016.

I wanted a design that would capture the ripples in the water after the pebble was tossed in. It was to be a crescent-shaped shawl so that the ripples would look curved. I had a few other criteria... the shawl needed to be accessible to most knitters, be peaceful to knit, and could be adaptable to any type of yarn, e.g. fiber type, weight, or color (solid, tonal, speckled).

I had many projects to complete before I could sit down to work on this but I knew it would fall into place because I had it all figured out in my head. It was going to be easy. I gave myself 3 months to get the shawl finished... in my world that's light years’ worth of time.

And so it began, the knitting, the frogging, the starting, the stopping. For 2 months, I attempted my design. I frogged so many times my yarn began to fall apart. I mentioned to a friend that it just wasn’t working… she said “let the yarn speak to you.” Ugh, now what was I supposed to do with that advice.  The yarn had to become the design in my head. There was no listening to the yarn. I surged forward. “Listen here yarn, you will be this shawl. I’m running out of time and I don’t care what you want to be… this is how it is. Got it. After all, you are only yarn.”

On a walk, it came to me. That yarn didn’t want to be that shawl. And my mental image, well maybe it was just a launching off spot. So, I let go of that yarn and that design shape. I opted for a shape (asymmetrical triangle) I knew would be easier to knit, found a different yarn, and said good-bye to having a shawl that looked like ripples in the water, or so I thought.

Half-way through the new shawl shape, I realized the intended effect was still there and perhaps even better than the original idea. The shawl begins with a single point representing the person standing on the shoreline with the pebble, the ridges get farther and farther apart as the shawl grows and radiates outward. The border design was simply a fancier set of ripples.

Now I was that person in the literature class that said “really, you think the author meant all that? We're overthinking this; they wrote a story and let’s not analyze this to pieces.” So yes, what I've put forward here is what I intended.

What I didn't anticipate was how many incredible interpretations that others generated as a result of the project. I love how some have the perspective that the body of the shawl is the larger body of water, the ridges are waves and the border is the frothy waves as they hit the shore. Genius! I also took delight when someone on the Ravelry group said the finished shawl looks like a pennant and the shawls are peace flags. And this is why there are peace flags in the village where Candace and Penny reside.

I never expected the community that would develop on the Ravelry group and how the meaning behind the shawl grew. Again, letting the yarn and process speak to you. Someone offered the advice that the ridges don't have to occur in a structured way. Let the ridges fall where they are and not view it as a mistake. Some adapted the shawl to better suit their needs which is perfect... isn't that what cultivating peace is all about. Find something that gets you started and adapt it to your situation.

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Moving forward.

After last year's Project Peace, I began to notice symbols of peace, acts of peace, opportunities for peace everywhere I went. My eyes were opened to a new way to look at life. I experienced a shift that brought me out of my own world and I began to see how I could play a bigger role in doing right in this world, a world that needs a little extra kindness and compassion.

My story about Penny and Candace was truly inspired by the 21 days of Project Peace. If you re-read the story, you'll find mention of knitting, walking, trees, the water, listening, and an orange. Ultimately I wanted to write a story about how we are treating the earth. Penny was the earth... she gave, and gave, and gave until there was very little left to give. How long will we continue to take, and take, and take from this gracious planet we calll home. Candace represented so many of us seeking ways to help but not knowing what to do because we're so busy trying that perhaps all we need to do is stop and listen to what's in our hearts.

And then, there was so much more to the story as written by others. I loved the renditions that were provided. They brought me to tears.

So, where do we go from here?

First, I need to take a break. I'll be resting up for the next couple of weeks. This past semester (my day job) has been extremely taxing, rewarding yet draining. I need some time to sit by my tree, make Christmas cookies with my daughter, wrap some packages, and take some walks in the woods.

Second, I'll be back in the New Year with some more ideas, patterns, actions, peace-writings, etc. Mark your calendars for Project Peace 2018. I already have the theme, the pattern concept, and have commissioned the artwork. So, November 15, pattern info will be available on Ravelry and we'll begin on December 1. Yes, it's a busy time of year but if we always wait for a less busy time to embrace peace... we might be waiting a long time.

Third, it is my hope and wish that all of you will carry forward our message of peace into your lives.

Peace is active and not passive.

Peace is a journey and not a destination.

Peace is your choice and not something that will be given to you.

Keep your eyes open for symbols of peace, acts of peace and opportunities for peace. You'll begin to see it everywhere.

On my recent trip to Seattle, I made my way to Bainbridge Island to visit the iconic Churchmouse Yarn and Tea shop. As I walked down the street, I saw the most amazing artwork in the sidewalk. I stopped to take photos of the magnificent detail.

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My friend who was watching me stepped back and looked down the street and said "it's kind of like the ripple effect." I looked up and said "wow, it is."

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And there it was, another sign...

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Peace...

Give-away.

Thank you to all that left a comment for the give-away on Day 3 and again on Day 21. It's been so rewarding to read everyone's notes. I'd encourage everyone to take a little time to peruse the comments from Day 21. It really is evidence that peace has the power to change lives...

Here are the winners (3 winners of yarn from KnitCircus and 1 winner of a LightShine candle). Please send me an email (thehealthyknitter@gmail.com) and I'll let you know how to receive your prize.

Maggie (winner of yarn):

"The thing I most enjoyed this year about Project Peace was the idea of lighting a candle for peace each full moon. I followed the link and read about the Native American names for each moon and their meanings. Each moon represented a time in their lives, marked by struggles such as bitter cold and hunger followed by moons which represented rebirth and warmth." Comment continues...

Ann Mitchell (winner of yarn)...

"This peace journey for me has involved noticing and embracing my slow pace and mistakes. I am in awe of knitters who have already finished."

Deborah M. (winner of yarn)...

"WOW - that was a beautiful ending - I am going to print it out and send to my closest friends and family women. It is the true meaning of fellowship, peace, and love. Thank you for sharing and for allowing all of us to experience happiness and a "piece of peace" in our homes, sitting by the lamplight, knitting alone or with others, and finding that we can survive this world with inner hope and resilience."

Dana (winner of candle)...

Peace to me, at this point in my life’s journey, is the ability to tune out the daily stressors, pressures, and my internal monologue (often critical of myself and others and just BE. Being in the moment is something I’ve been working on lately and that is what I’ve been meditating on while I’ve been knitting the ripples in my shawl.

 

Peace to all of you. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

 


Day 21... choose peace

by Christina


A certain darkness is needed to see the stars.
— Osho

And here we are on the 21st day of our journey together on this path of peace. Sharing my morning with all of you has been a delight. You truly are the brightness in this world that has come to feel a bit chaotic and dark. It is my wish that we'll continue to find time in our day to create a space of peace whether it's in the still of the morning with coffee and knitting, sitting and just being, or maybe a walk in the afternoon. Find that time that's just for you... create that ritual and then hold onto it tight. That ritual is like the cupboard in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe... it's the gateway to something grand.

Before I tell you the rest of the story, if you have not had a chance to read Chapter 1 of the story I wrote for all of you, please read it now.

Chapter 2.

And so her adventure began... Candace walked, walked and walked. She climbed mountains, scurried down hillsides. She stopped to marvel in all that was around her and to breathe in the fresh air. She met people that were happy and those that were sad. She asked everyone she met what peace meant to them pondering each response. Since she knew not where she was going, she relied upon the advice of strangers to point her in the right direction. Through good times and the bad, Candace moved forward on her quest knowing that she must find a cure for Penny.

Meanwhile back in the village, the villagers gathered in the community center to discuss how they might assist Penny, the one that had provided them with all their basic needs. They recognized that Penny could not continue to give for if she did there would be nothing left. And so, a shift began to occur. The villagers began to care for Penny providing her with nourishment, warmth and friendship. They sat by her bedside through the long dark hours of the night...giving back but also in those quiet moments accepting their role as provider and giver.

No one really knew how long Candace had been gone yet she was beginning to grow weary from the long, hard days of travel. The days were growing darker and colder and Candace began to feel hopeless in her efforts to save her friend. She stopped in a quiet spot in the forest overlooking the ocean. She listened to the sound of the wind in the trees and watched the waves roll up on the shore. She began to weep... "how can I save my friend?"  She reached in her knapsack and found an orange. As she peeled the orange and slowly ate each segment she pondered the simplicity yet wondrous orange. It was at this moment that Candace knew the cure for Penny and where she needed to be.

Candace walked and walked and walked. As she drew closer to the village, she began to notice the forest looked healthier, a vibrancy existed that hadn't been there before. She rounded the corner and saw the most magnificent sight... knitted flags surrounded the village waving proudly in the breeze. The flags knitted by each member of the community in honor of all that Penny had given. There in the center of the village stood Penny as strong as ever awaiting the return of her beloved friend.

Candace had learned that the cure to what ailed Penny had already been found. A peaceful community gives and receives; the people are connected and dependent upon one another to share their dreams and hopes as well as sorrows and grief. 

Now it would be wonderful if we could say that from here forward all was good but that my friends would put an unrealistic expectation on how to achieve peace. Instead, the villagers came to realize that peace was a choice and not an expectation.

The end.

This story was inspired by Project Peace 2017, Candide by Voltaire, The Odyssey, and the four elements (Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water). Penny was short for Penelope, Ulysses' wife who knit by day and frogged by night waiting in the hopes that Ulysses would return. Penny also represented Earth and our continual dependence on what she can give. Candace represented Candide who searched the earth for utopia only to discover that the physical place of perfection was not all he quested.

Day 21. Peace tip.

It's solstice. A day in the Northern Hemisphere that is the shortest and darkest with the promise that the light will return whereas in the Southern Hemisphere it is a day to celebrate all the wonders of the light. Today's tip is to ask that you take time to reflect on peace. This isn't the end of your journey but rather the beginning. Where do you go from here?

Knit for peace today... in solitude, in a group, in public, in your home. Light a candle for peace.

GIVE-AWAY

Jaala from KnitCircus has generously provided some incredible yarn including a skein of the most amazing colorway "peace, love and understanding" for the final give-away for Project Peace. KnitCircus is a yarn company committed to creating beautiful yarns with a giving spirit. Jaala will host a kindness knit-along in the New Year so be sure to sign-up for her newsletter to find out more.

To enter the blog, leave a comment about peace... something that made you say "wow" during the last 21 days. I'll close the entries at 6 a.m. central time on 12/22. I'll send a final email tomorrow announcing the winners of the candle and yarn give-aways.

~peace is a journey... one stitch and step at a time.

Christina

 Photo by August Wren. Used with permission.

Photo by August Wren. Used with permission.