It’s hard to find the words to type up this post, (don’t worry its a good thing,) because of all the love, care and time that went into this project. Its something that I’ve had under wraps for a little over a year, and I want to share our story of shawl/blanket for Cathy. Let’s start at the beginning shall we? It sounds like the easiest place to start, even though its a little blurry on how this all began.
Way back in December of 2008 I read a post on a good blog buddy Cathy’s blog and I cried, you should also know that I cry during Christmas movies, hearing the National Anthem, most ceremonies, and today while listening to the song “this little light inside” with Allysa, yes you could say I’m a very mushy person. Anyway. I still can’t read it without tearing up, I thought of how she was feeling, how scared she had to be. I knew that she has a great family that supports her, and wonderful friends too. I thought that someone as wonderful and caring as her deserves a hand-knit hug, I felt that I could help where I was needed. Remember the blanket for Jenn? She came up with that idea to comfort her friend in her time of need. The first week after reading that post I had so many idea’s floating around in my head, I wanted to do something different. Mostly because crochet isn’t something I’m good at, and I was *really* burnt out on squares at that point. I thought about knitting her a shawl by myself. But I kicked that idea out. Why? Even thought it would be meaningful and bring hope to her it wouldn’t be as special as one that was made by many hands. I had the idea of contacting all the people who made the squares for Jenn’s blanket and asking them what they thought about a traveling shawl for Cathy.
The response from them was overwhelming, 24 people said they where in . I didn’t expect so many people to say, ok count me in. At that point I came up with” The Big Idea” I remembered the yarn aboard swap. We used that idea, but changing it. I told everyone I would start knitting the shawl, then send it on to the next person who would knit a bit on the shawl using blue merino wool of their choosing. Then that person would send it on to the next person on the list. And so on. The number of rows each knitter would knit would depend on how many of us sign up. We talked about the feather and fan comfort shawl but threw that out because we had a few beginner knitters. Browsing through Ravelery I found this shawl. I loved the idea of writing on strips of ribbon, which we would all attach to our finished part of the shawl, helping identify who knit which portion. Then I came up with the idea, based on a gauge swatch which lied like a dirty dog (ok maybe it was user error, I think I measured it wrong :p) , to use the knitpicks option’s US 8 (5mm) on a 60″ cord and cast on 165 sts and each of us would knit 16 rows each before mailing it to the next person. After I started the cast on, it didn’t look like enough so I increased it (a lot) to 220 sts. After I finished my first portion I packed up a little kit of ribbons, the knitpicks needles (when the shawl traveled the caps where on the cables), and the special pen and mailed it off to its first stop in Canada.
While I was waiting in line I had a brilliant (ha) idea to cast on the other half of the shawl and to mail it to the US knitters so it wouldn’t’ take so long to get this finished. I would just graft the stitches together, it would be all easy peasy. So I ordered more needles from knitpicks and cast on for the other half, my mom knit a portion while she was visiting before I mailed it off to the next knitter in line. Its very impressive how many stops this shawl made, I’m a little jealous of all the traveling it got to to. The first half made 4 stops across Canada, first to Leslee in Ottowa , then to Cindy in Ontario, Dorthy in Ontario, Michelle and Lois in British Columbia. While the first half was traveling in Canada the second half started out with Kimberly’s portion knit by me since she lives in Germany. She used her machine to embroider her message onto her ribbon and I added it to her part. Then when my mom was done with her part I mailed it off to Karen G. in CT, who mailed it to Kelly in CT, then to Kimberly RI, Cheryl in MA, Karen F. in MA, Karen V in MA. (it really amused me that there where so many Karen’s,!) Julie in MA, Bethe in MA, Lynne in NY, Amy in IL and to Cindy H. in MO who mailed the 2nd half back to me. Somewhere in there the 1st half was done in Canada and Michelle & Lois mailed it to Christine in AZ who mailed it to Carrie AZ, June in AZ, then back to me to knit Janine’s portion. She lives in the UK on the island Guernsey. Janine sent me some lovely handspun to knit her portion with. After I was done with Janine’s portion Kristianne in CA was ready for it and she mailed it back to me when she was done. Not only is that a lot of linkage, but its a lot of miles too. Now that the package has been delivered to Cathy I can say this: The post office didn’t lose it. The shawl didn’t get lost in Canada, customs didn’t’ lose it, it made 20 stops and didn’t get lost. (Watch this, I’ll lose a package now!) Which is amazing, I know USPS doesn’t get a whole lotta credit, but this time they earned it.
I bet your all wondering how that big graft went. Well, the first time I did it, it didn’t come out to well. I think its because I’m so used to grafting stockinette that after a few stitches I went from grafting in garter (the stitch pattern) to grafting in stockinette. And of course that looked all wonky. I ripped that out and started over paying closer attention to what I was doing. Halfway though I thought “damn, I shoulda called Guinness!” Grafting 220 stitches together takes a bit of time but it wasn’t horrible. It was nice to sit at the table and work and just listen to the radio for an hour. The end product is amazing in its simplicity.
It’s amazing how I can find so many word to describe something so simple. In the simplicity of this project there is so much love, so many prayers, good feelings and hope. Cathy, we hope that this shawl/blanket brings you comfort. I can’t tell you how happy that I am to hear that your doing well, that your big surgeries are behind you and that your on the mend enjoying life, . I hope that our big fibery hug brings you comfort. ((hugs))
PS. If I got anyone’s linky wrong, pretty please let me know. It was a lot of linkies! Please take the time to go visit everyone, they are a bunch of wonderful woman who delt with my crazy way of organizing things. I could have been a better moderator and I would like to extend my gratitude to these lovely ladies for all their help, their time and their talents. Thanks for helping me pull off this wonderful project.
PPS. Yes, Tracy dryer lint. (You so crack me up grl!)
PPS. I started something new.
PPPS contest is still open 🙂
Thanks Amanda Cathleen for organizing this giant hug! It is beautiful! You recapped the experience wonderfully 🙂
It turned out great AC!
Awesome job on the graft; I really enjoyed doing my part which really took so little time. Cathy is such a lovely person and it was pretty easy to do this for her.
Thank you so much for organizing this and for letting me be a part of it!
Wow, what a touching story. I am sure that Cathy will be touched beyond belief. I am so impressed that so many people kept their committment to knit and then pass on the project. Kiddos to the USPS for getting it there too!
what a lovely gift. you’re pretty amazing ms. mistress!
What a thoughtful gift! Thanks for sharing the story.
Sweetie, I cry whenever I hear our National Anthem and when “Amazing Grace” is played on bagpipes. The whole project became a gorgeous FO and I think that Cathy will feel our hugs of love for her. Thank you for including us in this! =:8
Oh Amanda Cathleen, I am so incredibly touched! You have so many things going on in your life, and all of those beautiful little ones to take care of….. I am having an enormously hard time finding words that will convey just how VERY MUCH this absolutely gorgeous shawl means to me. It is so incredibly beautiful and the thought that you spent so much time organizing , knitting and grafting (I know firsthand how much time it takes) renders me virtually speechless.
I am so blessed to have met you and all of the wonderful knitters who knit their love and prayers into the stitches of this shawl that it continues to bring tears to my eyes. Wrapping up in this beautiful gift, with all of the heartwarming messages attached to it, will most certainly ease the pain I feel at the end of the day and any apprehension I may have at my follow up MRI’s and tests.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done for me. I love you dear friend and am truly blessed to know you. ((sniff)) xoxoxo
I really like this blanket. It looks amazingly warm and cozy – something like that could be a good idea for a fall project, so that it could be ready for next winter.
A huge thank you to you for coming up with this wonderful project and letting us all be a part of it!
I am speechless. this is a beautiful thing you have done.
What a wonderful outcome! Thank you for sharing the story with us. You did good, gal!
What a colossal act of kindness, this post made ME tear up:)
That’s a pretty amazing story. I like the way that blanket traveled around the country including Canada. I’m sure Cathy will get a lot of joy out of it…ciao
I’m grateful to have been a small part of this project. I love the fact the blanket traveled around the world collecting love and care from each knitter. I hope those sentiments help Cathy as they are truly heart-felt.
beautiful, both the finished project and the story.
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It turned out so beautiful and I’m very glad that Cathy likes it as much as she does. Everyone should have a friend like you Amanda Cathleen!