Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Circle of Friends

It's been an exhausting week, spent mostly on the computer. I'm taking a break for a few days, but want to tell you about what I've been working on.

The Circle of Friends Comfort Shawl Project, in the words of my press release (thanks Jill for the re-write!) is a project I created to harness the efforts of a community of knitters to create warm, handmade shawls for those in need of the comforting hug these will provide.

Shawl ministries are a grassroots movement that is growing in the US. They are sometimes referred to as healing, or prayer shawl groups, reflecting the positive energy, caring, meditation and love that go into the work. Knitters know that their prayers and healing thoughts can be directly channeled into the tangible items they make. When created with mindfulness and care, these items can give comfort to the user. Shawls in particular are comforting by their very nature, from the physical embrace and warmth that wrapping can bring. I believe that the tactile nature of fine fiber combined with textured patterns can have a meditative and calming effect best appreciated with the hands, hence the textural patterning in the shawl designs — they are designed as much to be stroked, as to be looked at. This feature was designed specially for recipients with low vision or cognitive impairment.

The work is beneficial to the knitter, as well. The repetitive, meditative nature of knitting helps create a peaceful state within their hearts, allowing them to focus less on daily stresses, and become open to the needs of others.

We will be working with local churches, hospitals and nursing homes to place the shawls where they will be needed most, and welcome individuals of all spiritual beliefs to join us in the project.

The hope is to help people in crisis situations such as serious illness, bereavement, long hospital stays, hospice, Alzheimers, and overwhelmed caregivers, where the handwork of a caring knitter can help the individual feel surrounded by a circle of loving friends.

Pocket Meadow Farm will have open house evenings for knitting. Knitters are welcome to stop by any time to work on their shawls, get technical assistance with the knitting, or just chat. The patterns are suitable for advanced beginners, with enough challenges to be interesting to an experienced knitter.

For a limited time, my shop, Pocket Meadow Farm will provide yarn for the shawls. I hope that as the group grows, some support will come from yarn companies and other sources. Donations of yarn are welcome from individuals, and knitters may use their own materials as well.

Monetary donations to the project are welcome. All funds will go towards purchase of materials. No salary, reimbursement, or other payment goes to the Sponsor of this project.

In this era of mass production, throw-away goods, and global unrest and violence, the work of a few caring knitters can and will make a difference — one stitch at a time.

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