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Scarfing it up. October 27, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Today, I’ll finish knitting a scarf, cast it off my needles, and put it in the mail. But it’s not just any scarf. It’s a very special scarf I knitted for Kathryn Hall and her Scarf Initiative, one of almost 80 scarves people like me are sending her way.

Kathryn, whose blog, Plant Whatever Brings You Joy (http://plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com/), is a perennial favorite on Blotanical, Stuart Robinson’s brilliant compendium of gardening blogs, decided early this summer to do something selfless for children—little girls in particular—who were likely to be very, very cold this winter. That’s because they’re refugees in the foothills of the Himalayas. Kathryn hit on the idea of knitting scarves for the little girls to help them keep warm this winter, but even more, to know that people far, far away loved them and cared about keeping them warm. She blogged about her dream, and other bloggers like yours truly responded. (Some volunteered—how, I’ll never know—to knit 13 scarves!!! Mercy.)

I went off in search of yarn I thought a little girl would love, and came up, thanks to my local yarn shop in nearby Kutztown, Pennsylvania, with a yarn in all the sherbet colors (hot pink, orange, lime green, yellow). I felt in my soul that a little girl would love the bright, varied colors in this scarf, and I started knitting.

I love knitting, because I’m so bad at it. Uh, say what?! Well, you see, I learned to knit at my grandma’s and great-aunt’s knees. They were both extremely accomplished knitters, but the same couldn’t be said of their eager and worshipful pupil. After many visits and many lessons, I finally got the basic idea by about age 8. But sadly, that was the only idea I ever got. I can knit, cast on, cast off, add or drop stitches, compensate for unintentionally adding or dropping stitches. But that’s the beginning and end of what I can do. I can’t even pearl. What this means is that I can’t make anything more complicated than rectangles and squares. I can make scarves, potholders, afghans. I can’t make socks, hats, or mittens, much less sweaters.

So okay, why do I love it? Being freed from expectation also frees me from pressure. I can go out and buy beautiful and fun yarn and then sit back with my needles and enjoy myself. I can sit, mindlessly knitting, and think about whatever comes to mind. I can watch a movie or nature program while my needles continue to work. I can love the feel and sheen and colors of the yarn, the smoothness of the needles, without having to give a moment’s thought to a pattern.

Last night, while watching a PBS “Nature” program on Arctic wolves, foxes, gyrfalcons, snow geese, and owls, followed by one of our favorite movies, “Galaxy Quest,” I came to the end of my second skein of yarn. This yarn has followed me everywhere, from our home, Hawk’s Haven, in the precise middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, through our travels in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. By the time it reaches Kathryn’s mailbox, it will have seen a good deal of the East Coast.

Grabbing a yardstick, I measured the scarf, which Kathryn has specified as 5 feet long and 1 foot wide. I’m still 3 inches short. But Kathryn’s November 1st deadline is looming, so I’ll add those additional 3 inches today before I leave the house, and I’ll drop the finished scarf in the mail as I run my afternoon errands.

Needless to say, I’ve followed Kathryn’s scarf saga on her blog, and I’ve been astounded to see the number of roadblocks she’s encountered while trying to do a simple good deed. (I guess that ironic saying, “No good deed goes unpunished,” is in full effect here.) But unlike many, who’d have simply given up, Kathryn has pressed on, tirelessly working to find a way to get our scarves to the people who need them. Bless you, Kathryn! I want to be able to imagine my sherbet-colored scarf delighting some tiny girl as it gets colder and colder in her village. It’s the best Christmas present I could possibly give myself.

         ‘Til next time,




1. mr_subjunctive - October 27, 2008

Yeah, that’s about as far as I can go with knitting too. I can purl, but it takes me a long time to re-remember how, and I often forget to do it when I’m supposed to once I remember how, so mostly I don’t.

And actually it’s been a really long time since I did any knitting anyway, now that I think about it, so it’d probably take me a really long time to re-remember how to purl now.

Still. I have a lot of blankets. Also quite a bit of residual yarn. I should probably do something with that.

Gack! “Purl,” not “pearl,” that’s right, Mr. S. Gads. Sorry all! As for not knitting for a long time, I only knit seasonally, so I can empathize. I like to knit when it’s cold and I can feel that warm wool on my lap. When it’s hot outside, if I do any textile stuff, it’s my (equally awful) quilting. It’s cold, so go for that residual yarn!

2. Kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com - October 27, 2008

Dear Soul, Your name in action. Silently DoingGood. I so enjoyed reading about this sojourn of your scarf! And I can completely and totally relate! I found when I gave up the purls and cables of knitting and simply allowed myself to knit in an unencumbered fashion, perhaps enjoying a little “Survivor” or “Entourage,” watching the scarf unfold in it resplendent colors and texture, well, it was really fun! This is a very endearing post. Thank you so very much for documenting this journey so beautifully. Can’t wait to see your scarf this week! Big hugs! Kathryn xoxo

Thanks, Kathryn! But it’s you who deserves the hugs for making all that effort to take us beyond ourselves. You’re our hero!!!

3. nancybond - October 27, 2008

I, too, took part in Kathryn’s Scarf Initiative and it was one of the most rewarding and pleasurable things I’ve done this fall. Kudos to you, Silence!

Kudos to you, too, Nancy! It was so much fun!

4. vegplotting - October 27, 2008

Soon your scarf is joining mine in California and then they’ll undergo an even bigger journey to Pakistan!

My knitting’s not much better than yours (I can purl, but have to relearn it every time) – but I bet those girls won’t notice when they’re snuggly warm this winter.

I love the simple mindlessness of knitting – it’s so soothing after a tiring turmoil of a day!

It certainly is soothing, VP. And your scarf was beautiful!

5. deb - October 27, 2008

Silence, This morning, I mailed mine along with the six that mom made from fleece. You should have seen the look on the mail room clerk’s face. This was a great project to take part in.

That’s great, Debbi! I’ll bet those fleece scarves are toasty-warm, too!

6. Cinj - October 27, 2008

I think what you all did is great. Kudos to you all on a job well done. I found someone I kind of know that knows how to knit. I’ll have to ask her if she can teach me how sometime when she’s got a little bit of free time. She’s a substitute teacher too who sells those fabulous towels with the top knitted and buttons together.

Thanks, Cinj! And how great that you’ve found someone to teach you. You’re going to love it!!!

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