Magical Knitting by Vanessa Armstrong
Last summer I decided to knit a blanket. I learnt to knit and crochet many many years ago but apart from a failed attempt at a sweater in my early twenties (I got bored!), I had only previously knitted some clothes for my dolls – very basic I might add – a scarf and crocheted a small blanket – all many years ago!
I’m not sure what prompted me to want to pick up the needles again, but one day I decided that I wanted to create something. As a young girl, I was always making things, be it needlework, drawing, writing, just being creative but over the years that had stopped – with the exception of my KW studies and subsequent branch lesson writing and blogs, which I enjoyed immensely and still do.
I wanted a blanket as I do love to cozy up on a cold day in my chair. There is something comforting about wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and reading, listening to music, or watching a good film.
I decided to match the colours of my new project with those in my sitting room – my rug for example is Aztec inspired in various shades of teal, blue, burgundy, rusts, browns and dusky pinks, so I went with those colours and came out of my local haberdashery armed with several balls of yarn and some knitting needles and that evening, I started to knit.
As I began knitting that first rectangular piece, I found my mind wandering – thoughts turning to the process of what I was doing. It felt more than just ‘knitting – there was something quite magical in those stitches and the idea behind it. I began to think about lots of things as I knitted – I switched off from social media, negativity in news programmes and just focused my energy on my thoughts, untangling them and various feelings which gave way to memories. Thinking about my childhood, my family, my parents and my life. There were good memories, there were some not so good memories, but as each row in that piece was done, those thought patterns were completed and processed too! I began to look on it as a form of self-care, of therapy, of working with shadow. Knitting allowed me to switch off from the bustle of todays world to go within.
I decided to experiment with my blanket. Knitting, although enjoyable, was making my fingers ache, so I got the crochet hook out. That reminded me of when I taught myself to crochet. I must have been 10 or so, maybe younger. I went from holding a hook in one hand and a ball of wool in the other to producing a blanket in a huge array of colours and different yarns – all given to me in a big bag by my mum. All left over yarns from garments made previously by my mum and grandmother.
There is a saying about the ‘tapestry of life’ – about weaving individual threads that create what is our life. I looked upon my knitting as a similar thing – as each piece was completed and I started to put them together, more memories were remembered and processed. Some of the pieces had hearts knitted into them – love for my family and close friends. Another had a basket weave pattern – each willow or straw on its own isn’t very strong, but weave them together and you have a strong basket that can hold many things and a lot of weight. That reminded me of friendships and relationships. It also reminded me of my coven and our ritual writing team – we all come together, bring our ideas and we produce very powerful rituals which we are very proud of!
I began to think about the colours I chose – did I choose them because they matched my décor or was there a different reason?..
Blue – is about healing, emotion and knowledge Red – love, passion, anger and courage Pink – honour, friendship, self love and respect Lilac – peace, tranquility Orange – social skills, strength and confidence Brown – stability, family issues, grounding
All those things came up in my thoughts and memories as I knitted, in one way or another.
Some of the pieces were easy to do – garter stitch, stocking stitch. Others took a bit more thinking – the heart shapes and the basket weave and such is life – sometimes there are times when we sail through, other times things take a bit more work and life isn’t always so easy.
I finally completed my blanket yesterday – all the pieces sewn together and crochet around the edge to finish it off. It took me just over a year to do, apart from a couple of months in the summer when the light evenings took me for dog walks or in the garden. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, both in my blanket and what it has ended up representing in a strange way – the threads and stitches of my life!