Knitting in Gratitude

My recent prayers have been colorful and, frankly, rather woolly. They are relatively quiet, except for the clickety clack of knitting needles crossing paths. As my fingers form fiber into garment, prayers make themselves known. My concentration is on the pattern I am knitting, and I do not consciously form these prayers. They are shaped slow and steady, from the same love that motivates me to knit in the first place.

Knitting starts in the imagination. Sometimes a garment appears in my mind and I want to find out how I could craft it, so I go in search of a pattern. Other times, while browsing in the yarn shop a particular color or pattern will catch my eye and I will feel unable to resist taking it home.

Without fail, when I am in a yarn shop gazing at and tenderly handling fibers, I become overwhelmed with awe. I will feel my heart swell in amazement. The fibers, after all, came from a creature—sheep, goat, llama, rabbit. Somehow, at some point in time, humans figured out how to shear a sheep, wash the wool, spin it into yarn, and knit yarn into garments. The gift of the fiber, and the knowledge of how to create it, astound me.

I am constantly aware that the animals that provide this special gift of fiber are not treated as well as they should be by all of their caretakers. I seek out fiber merchants who are concerned about the source of their merchandise, and I spread the word where I can that animals need to roam freely, to eat pesticide-free food, to remain with their young. When I pick up a skein of yarn, all of this runs through my head: a prayer of gratitude, and of commitment to work for improvement of farming conditions.

Once at home with my pattern and fresh yarn, I settle down to knit. I cast on my stitches, again feeling gratitude for the fiber, the animals, a shopkeeper who was my willing teacher. If I am lucky, thoughts of household chores and other distractions will fall away as the rhythm of the knitting takes over. I can concentrate on the sensual pleasure of color and fabric in my hands.

While working on a blanket for a friend who was expecting her first child, I realized something else was happening. I was knitting prayers. The blanket, intended for physical warmth, took on symbolic proportions. "May this child always feel held in the warmth of his family’s love, and the loving embrace of God. May this child never lack for physical nourishment. May the Holy Spirit watch over and bless my friend while she is in labor, and while she strives to do the right thing for her offspring." These prayers, and many more, flowed from my heart through my fingers as I continued to knit. The prayers came unbidden, from my center, from a place of my deep gratitude.

It was a humbling experience. As I sent that blanket in the mail to my friend, I was glad to have found a way to make my values tangibly manifest. In a world on fast-forward, Spirit showed me the need to sit down, to use my hands and heart. Thanks to the sheep, I was able to be a co-creator. I received gifts of the Holy Spirit both wondrous and woolly.

Lisa Rand

Lisa Rand, an attender of Central Philadelphia (Pa.) Meeting, is assistant editor of Friends Journal and a teaching assistant at Germantown Friends School.