Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Make the World a Better Place...

... One Stitch at a Time.

That's what the flyers said. They were tucked into every needlecraft book at my local public library branch. They were stacked at the checkout. There was a poster at the door. And yet it took me several months to attend my first meeting.

Not knowing what to expect, an hour beforehand I grabbed the Lion Brand pattern for a knitted preemie cap and cast on some lavender baby yarn and stitched a few rounds. I pictured us all sitting around a table, chatting while we worked on separate projects, and I wanted to have something to work on, too.

I was half right. We did sit around a U-shaped cluster of tables and knit, but the group's effort was going into a group project, a patchwork blanket to be donated to a local women's shelter. At one end of the U, skeins of Bernat "Super Value" were being wound into smaller balls for us to work with, while a dozen pairs of needles worked at a variety of stitch patterns. Each patch is to be 7" x 9", in "earth shades" of blue, green, and gold.

And while some chatting did occur, our energetic and enthusiastic leader Laura talked almost non-stop. And when she wasn't talking, she was doing: making copies of the preemie cap pattern for our next project, handing out flyers for the local fiber festival, showing parts of a DVD called "The Art of Knitting and Crochet," sharing stories from KnitLit, welcoming new members and encouraging us all.

Initially, I found the experience nerve-wracking. For one thing, I was late, and felt like I had to hurry and catch up. I happened to have some size 7 needles to cast on, but my gauge was off. The woman on my left murmured, "I found that casting on 30 stitches instead of 35 works better," and then I was torn: do I do the expedient thing and cast on fewer stitches, or do I do the right thing and drop a needle size until I obtain gauge? I'm embarrassed to say I chose expedient simply because I didn't have any more needles in my bag.

But at least my patches will be the right size, unlike the woman on my right, who had produced a small hill of blue squares without the aid of a template. Laura gaily accepted them, but between my patch with the wrong number of stitches and her patches of the wrong size, I could not help but wonder how the finished product was going to fit together.

Since then, I have been conscientious but not competitive about doing my "homework," finishing one patch in garter stitch...

... and starting a second in seed stitch. I also finished a preemie cap...

... and have started a second one of those as well. Both projects are no-brainers that are good for business meetings. (Where I work, we participate in meetings via PC and telephone, so I could be picking my nose and no one would be the wiser.) And they are good alternative projects for when my other, more challenging projects, are getting the better of me.

A while back I wrote a post about mindful knitting. While most of my knitting still goes to loved ones and I am far from being willing to knit anything for my ex, at least now I am knitting for strangers in need.

Baby steps.

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