HIT THE GROUND RUNNING: Life–stitch by stitch


Sometime around 2008, I signed my mom, my mother-in-law, and myself up for knitting lessons at the Knitting Cottage in Leitersburg.

Knitting has always fascinated me; the ability to create everything from a scarf to a blanket, from a pillow to a cozy cardigan, is mesmerizing. 

I have never been a “crafty” person – but that’s not to say I am against DIY projects or fun creations. Most of the time it boils down to not having (or not making) the time. 

I have vivid memories of my grandmother, Lois Cavanaugh, crocheting blankets and snowflakes and filling her days painting a variety of trinkets like tissue box holders and lightswitch covers. 

My mom and I took a toll house painting class before my oldest daughter was born and had fun learning how to meticulously paint with acrylics and stencils. 

So a few years later, I knew the knitting class would be an opportunity for the three of us to learn a new hobby together. 

Every Monday night for quite a number of months we headed to the Knitting Cottage to learn whatever technique Susan and Elizabeth were focusing on that evening. After a few classes, we picked projects to do and ended up just sitting together knitting and talking – asking for help whenever we ran into a snag. The conversation was therapeutic and the time away from the chaos of daily life was priceless. 

No distractions. Just time to ourselves. 

Over the years, my mom has held tight to the knitting talent. She always has a project in the works, whether it be a sweater for a new baby or a cute headband for my girls. My youngest daughter, Eve, even knew a travel knitting bag was the perfect gift for my mom at Christmas. 

Over the years, life and responsibilities have gotten in between me and my yarn hobby. 

I tend to pick involved projects, like an oversized, wool tote bag or a complicated beanie, so that I end up losing steam after a few weeks and many times don’t end up finishing them, not only because they require patience and focus, but also because I fill my evenings with tasks I feel need to be done right now. 

I find it hard to fit in time for myself during the workweek, which is why I run first thing in the morning. 

It seems that for the rest of the day I am unable to calm the urgency of my daily responsibilities and turn off the idea that things need to get done. 

Over Winter Break, I decided to pick up my knitting needles again – primarily because I wanted to spend some time in the evening with my husband watching television, but I often fall asleep because I am just lying on the couch watching…not doing. 

First I embarked on a few washcloths – super easy projects that reminded me that the product doesn’t have to be big to feel like an accomplishment. 

Next, I found the pattern for a blanket that involved basic knitting strategies but would yield an impressive result. 

I know, I know…here I am aiming big again. 

This time though, the knitting has been easy, almost thoughtless and the progress is going by quickly, giving me continuous personal satisfaction. 

I can see the beauty in what I have already done and I can envision how nice it will be once I have finished it.

The past few weeks of 2022 have been difficult for our family as we navigate some things and look for answers to others. It has also been a difficult time for many people I deeply care about. 

Saturday was a rare day for me. I met a close friend for brunch where we talked for a few hours and then I headed home without a chore on my list. 

I found Eve on the couch not feeling well watching Hamilton on Disney Plus for the 537th time. At first, I sat down with a book I have been reading and attempted to read. 

I found myself engaged in the musical instead, so I grabbed my knitting and got to work. When the musical was over, Eve turned on The Muppets and I continued knitting. 

I sat on that couch for the rest of the day, knitting like I couldn’t get enough.

And in some regards, I couldn’t.

Even when Eve turned the TV off and headed upstairs, I kept knitting.

In the silence of the room entranced by the cadence of the stitches, I found myself thinking of all the people I care about and the obstacles they have been dealing with lately.

Then I found myself knitting my prayers for them into those stitches. 

For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, I continued to knit and pray, letting the disorder of the outside world melt away. 

The next morning I felt spiritually revived in a way I haven’t for a long time. I looked at my progress and not only felt satisfaction in how far I had gotten but also in how I was able to connect with my loved ones in an unspoken way. 

During those hours of knitting, I realized the importance of silence, of taking the time to listen, feel, and try to better understand what is happening within the havoc of daily living not only for myself but for the ones I love. Too many times we get caught up in our own story that we forget to pray for and check in on other people. 

In the past, my morning runs have often provided this opportunity for meditation and reflection, but lately I find that I don’t take the time during those miles to really hone in on all the people and concerns in my life. Instead I seem to be on auto-pilot, checking off my run before my day officially begins.

Now, knitting is providing me a new opportunity to look within myself and see how I can help in my corner of the world and in the lives of those around me. 

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