hat, scarf, me

Since May or thereabouts, I’ve had no knitting mojo whatsoever. I don’t know why. I finished the last thing I made back then — a hat, I guess — and I lost all urge to knit or crochet. I worked for a while on a prayer shawl that’s been an unfinished project for two years now, but it petered out, and despite a gorgeous yarn stash, I felt no urge to knit any of it. I wanted to, but whenever I tried swatching something, I couldn’t even do that.

I’m sure this stuff goes in patterns. About a month ago, after something disappointing happened, I put some yarn on the needles and started a scarf. You can’t beat that: no swatching, just start. I had four balls of this yarn: three for the scarf, one for the hat.

I am no good at measuring balls of yarn and turning them into projects. In the final outcome, two balls became the hat. The scarf turned into a keyhole scarf, a shorter version of a scarf but with a slit so it stays tight without needing to wrap all the way around, and rather nice-looking I think.

They went into a baggie, got tagged with care instructions, and then I froze solid. I knew where I wanted to donate them (they’re going to a homeless shelter because they’re nice and warm) but just like last year, I was afraid. And it makes no sense, because all I’m going to do is drop the things in a bin at a neighboring parish.

The thing I’ve realized is that I hate for people to suffer, and I similarly hate the idea that I’ve helped these people. It’s a tragedy that someone should be so badly off that he or she cannot afford a hat and a scarf, that someone cannot find a place to live, that someone who wants to work cannot get a job. These things are wrong. And in the face of such hardship…I made a hat. Hooray, we’re saved.

When I knit, I pray for the recipient (which is why it’s so hard to knit for myself) and I pray this person’s life will turn around, that when he or she puts on this hat and scarf, the wearer will feel loved. Will know that God loves him and that the world is not entirely cold. Let that hat on his head be a blessing and the scarf on his shoulders be a hug.

God will bless this person. I have nothing more to do with it once the items are in the bin. And yet, I still feel shaken because in a very tiny way, God will have used my work to bless this person, and that Creator-to-creature relationship is not something I deserved to be a part of at all.

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About philangelus

Mom, freelance writer, novelist, angelphile, Catholic, know-it-all.
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15 Responses to hat, scarf, me

  1. Ivy says:

    I just adore the idea of you with a yarn stash. 😉

    There is a guide to how much yarn you need for various projects at http://www.fiber2yarn.com/info/how_much_yarn.htm I go for 100 grams to a hat and 200 grams to a scarf with worsted weight yarn.

    The hat and scarf are lovely. They look very warm and like they’ll fit very well. You did a rolled brim, yes?

    • philangelus says:

      My stash fits in the plastic container for a queen-size comforter. I’d like to knit that down, so no new yarn for a looooong time.

      It’s a roll brim, yeah. I could have gotten away with a lot less yarn if it had been a wavy-gravy style hat like the last one, but I didn’t have the mental wherewithall for anything other than stockinette. The scarf has my first cabling, too, and the first time I tried keyholing horizontally rather than vertically.

      • Ivy says:

        That’s not a stash. That’s a good start though.

        I don’t do wavy-gravy with anything but Noro. I like how the stiffness of that yarn gives it definition and form.

        Horizontal keyholes are easy. Work half the row, put the other half on a stitch holder. Work the one side so that it’s as long as the scarf is wide, put those stitches on a holder. Work the other side to match the first, then resume working across all the stitches.

        Cabling is a funny thing–it looks a whole lot harder than it is.

      • cricketB says:

        Can’t really see the cabling in that wool. So sorry, you’ll have to do it again in something non-fuzzy and light-coloured.

        Don’t mind Ivy. My stash was the size of yours for years. It’s only recently I started looking more than two projects ahead. The LYS does a great job of maintaining a stash for me. Builds shelves, keeps it current with all the newest yarns, even helps me find things in it.

        • Ivy says:

          Oh, she never minds me. Never fear. 🙂 The LYS is not open at midnight, which is often when I find a project I’m driving to cast on at once. The LYS doesn’t keep restocking all those “one time only” dye lots (like that Rhineback yarn that they had but four skeins left of last I was there, or the deeply discounted mill end cashmere, or the introductory priced qiviut/angora blend that subsequently tripled in price, or..) ahem.

          I’m just impressed she has a stash. When the topic first came up, her entire stash could fit in a desk drawer. I have my suspicions that, even though her stash fits in a large bag, it doesn’t fill a large bag. She’s the rarest of all knitting breeds–the low stashing monogamous knitter.

          • cricketB says:

            My LYS my LYS stores all that yarn I’d never actually use, and make me feel guilty every time I saw. It makes sure it goes to a better home than my shelf.

            I’m too firmly wired with “finish what you start” and “don’t start another project till you’ve finished this one,” at least with things like crafts that Mom could see. I even feel guilty about admiring a yarn but not buying it, or saying, “this yarn that colour would be nice” or mentioning I’d like to learn something, so the LYS buys it or schedules the class.

            So now I’m even again. Talk to me after the post-Christmas budget.

  2. Jason Block says:

    Love the hat and the pic 🙂

  3. cricketB says:

    I hear you about phases. One knitter keeps 7 projects on the go — all with different levels of concentration and size and colour and texture, so she has something for all moods and occasions.

    I go in spurts, sometimes to burn-out, sometimes just to the next shiny thing. I used to have trouble enjoying knitting because I was mourning the loss of enjoying of cross-stitch, or enjoying writing, or whatever. It’s only in the last few years, when many hobbies have come back to the fore for a few months, that I truly have faith that they do come back, all in good time.

  4. Hmmm, I haven’t checked in a while, but I liked this post, the message and the pic. The hat and scarf do look great.
    I just finished reading “The Shack”, which was a profoundly,moving read for me, for many reasons.
    But I was able to relate to your concern that you feel you don’t deserve to be part of the “creator-to-creature” relationship. I often find myself feeling the way. I find myself feeling afraid to acknowledge that I have helped people, like for some reason I am not worthy of being in that position. Intellectually, I know that is nonsense, but I feel it anyway.
    I wish I could knit and make stuff for all the cold people who do not feel loved and warmly embraced. I might even start with one for me!

    • philangelus says:

      Hey, you’re back and I wasn’t talking about forgiveness! 😀

      I hate acknowledging that I’ve helped someone too. I have no idea why.I don’t think it’s a worthiness thing, but it probably has something to do with my self-esteem. 🙂

  5. karen ^.,.^ says:

    i’m not a knitter, but i really liked the picture of you. you are a lovely lady with a very warm smile. 🙂

  6. Ken Rolph says:

    People don’t always like to be helped. In a society which prizes independence, being dependent can be difficult. I don’t imagine the recipients of handouts pray for those who give. I can think of a few examples.

    A church group in the north of Sydney arranged for a house to receive a family straight from a refugee camp in Thailand. The wife was not happy with the house. She said it was too far from MacDonalds.

    When our kids were young we had little space and they slept in pine double bunks. As we got better off, I wanted to donate the old bunk to someone who needed it. The worker at an aid agency asked me (when I turned up with the bunk in my van), “Would you let your children sleep in that?” I pointed out that my children had slept in “that”. She became flustered and asked if I couldn’t make a donation instead, so that their clients could purchase something new.

    On another occasion I wanted to pass on a cane basinette. It was old and had several coats of paint. I, my sister, some of my cousins and my own children had been brought up in it. Donating it was like extending my family to those who might have been accidentally left out. We always passed around our stuff within the wider family. Again the aid worker asked if I would put my children in such a think. Again they really wanted money so their clients could buy new stuff.

    I’ve been poor myself. Once I had to close a bank account to get at the $3.50 to buy milk and bread. I know that people will patronise you by passing on their wrecked junk and expect you to be grateful. You are their alternative to the tip. So it is hard to recognise someone who reaches out in a meaningful way.

    So if you are going to make charitable gestures it is important to do so without expectation of any reward. At least here on earth.

    • philangelus says:

      It occurs to me, Ken, that the fear of donating these things may be my terror that someone might actually thank me for it, as if my hat is in some way worthwhile.

      And yes, I’m knitting stuff because I think it will be worthwhile. But I don’t want to be thanked for it. I just want to donate it and disappear so the hat remains and I’m out of the picture. The other person should continue existing just as if he or she found the hat growing on a Hat Tree somewhere, with the two exceptions that he or she should have warm ears, and that on wearing the hat, he or she should feel loved by God.

    • cricketB says:

      I think some of it is legal issues. With lead paint warnings and laws about the distance between bars of cribs, and this litigious society, the agencies can’t take the chance. This means the younger helpers never see “make do” equipment.

      I remember taking in and letting down pants as a kid. These days, it’s cheaper to buy from Walmart than do the extra work. I was almost in tears when I donated the first three years worth of kids’ clothing. No one wanted them, because there were stains at cuff and collar. They’d been worn by babies for maybe six months, washed, wrapped in fabric for storage, then washed again before donating. It was hard enough packing them up and taking them out of the house, and then no one wanted them. I’d heard that one group was paid by the pound for fabric that got sorted then either sent to the third world or recycled, but the local chapter hadn’t heard of it.

      • Ken Rolph says:

        I’m not in a litigious society. That’s never been an issue. It’s just that advanced economies run by living in a continuous present. Everything is new. Things which are good enough are no longer good enough. People who are on the margins feel this keenly, because they are the target of so much good enough stuff. They want to participate by having only new stuff.

        I thinnk people today value material goods in general, but not in particular. Things have no history or individual value. It is just stuff. You buy it, throw it away and buy more. Under these conditions handmade goods suffer particularly.

        This comes out in other odd ways. We’ve come to depend on the garden for our summer desserts. Leading up to Christmas we can usually go out and pick strawberries, raspberries and passionfruits. Mix this with a custard, cream, yoghurt or icecream and you have something yummy. Of course we do add summer fruits that we’ve bought as well.

        Recently we had some people to dinner who had a young child, about 9 or 10. I thought it would be interesting to have this kid help me pick dessert from the garden. He did, somewhat reluctantly. He wouldn’t hold the fruits in his hand, but used a container. Than at dinner he wouldn’t eat any of it. It was clearly an emotional reaction. Real food came from tins and packets. If you got it from the yard it was obviously dirty.

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