Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hello everyone,
This is the first blog post of my life. It seems fitting that I should do it about something that I have put a lot of time and love into. My Cloak!
                                 So this is my Journey to the Creation of a Masterpiece.

      It began when I decided to do BVS, and realized that the warm blooded Floridian that I am was not going to appreciate the super cold winter in Chicago. Also its hard to be motivated to knit in Florida. So for my birthday (May 25) I received some yarn. However, since Micheal's didn't carry enough skeins we did a special order, so I had to wait for it to be shipped to me.

      June 1st I was able to pick up 8 skins of Yarn.
Each skein is 255 yards of yarn. And they are a beautiful green!
      One problem I try not to have as a knitter is I try to finish projects before I start new ones. So I had to wait until I finished a sweater I was knitting for a ladies aid group at church to be able to start my cape. This took me a long time during the summer because well summers in Florida are HOT! But on July 16, 2012 I was able to begin my cloak!
      I spent time prior to choosing the yarn looking for cloak patterns. I am sorry to report that I don't remember where I got my free pattern from, but I rewrote it so I wouldn't have to do any sewing!
     (Leave a message in the comments w/ your email if you want the full pattern, i realized I can't/ don't know how to upload it. but there will be snippets of the pattern as we go along.)
     This is a picture after I cast on 240 stitches and knit 1 row. the markers are at 30+45+90+45+30 and the first 2 inches are in seed stitch (row 1 *k1,p1* rep, row 2 same but do not rib)

   After 2 inches, you seed the first and last 30 stitches, and knit the right side rows, and purl the wrong sides. As you go you decrease every few inches. I had to measure from my elbow to where I wanted the cloak to end. This was about 32 inches for me. So I choose to decrease every 5 inches (for a total of 6 decreases). The decrease rows were seed +k, k2tog +k2tog, k, k2tog+ k, k2tog+seed.
To the left you can see it on August 5th when I was about to do my second decrease at 7inches long.

     You can also see the end of my first skein of yarn. (thinking of all I had left I was mildly worried I had not gotten enough)

      Soooo.... The dates are coming to you via facebook timeline for this blog. and somebody forgot to post this picture. I am going to guess it happened around Aug 20th. This was taken shortly after my arrival to the BVS house in Elgin, IL. The cloak is at 12 inches and is around my third decrease.
      Here it is at 17" on September 3rd after I started my third skein of yarn. (That's about 600 yards of yarn.

     At this point in the cloak, because I'm still at around 220 stitches a row, I was taking half an hour per row, and 4 rows = 1 in. So while watching a movie, I would finish 1in.

This picture is also halfway to my elbows.

   September 14, it is now at 22 inches, at my 5th decrease row. This was taken not long before I left for my BVS Orientation.
      So we had some really nice speakers at orientation who didn't seem too upset that I was working diligently on my cape throughout their sessions. (Me answering questions and engaging in discussions probably helped) This picture was taken September 21 when the cape was at 27 inches. This is where I did my 6th decrease, And it looks like I am on skein #4.

     At this point I was counting down the inches until I would get to start the arm holes.
      October 2, during orientation we took a weekend trip to DC, where I took a break from knitting. The last few inches were going really slowly (like waiting for water to boil). So i decided not to measure it until I had finished off skein #4, and started #5. So here it is at 32in!
     I also had a problem trying to/not to stretch the cloak out. I thought the weight might add a few inches when it was done, and it was really stretchy, but i didn't want to stretch it tooo much... but it seems to have worked out.

     Time to start the arm holes. To do this I decided to do something super insane. I was going to knit 3 panels at the same time! (One option in the original patter was to knit 5 panels separately then sew them together, but I want to be done when I am done, so I decided not to do that.)
     Sew I did my usual seed 30 + then I knitted 26, bo2 and using a new skein of yarn, K8+k+k8 bo2, and picking up a third skein of yarn k26+seed.
     This happened also on October 2nd while watching the presidential debate. (I am glad I had a distraction for that.)

     After orientation was over I got to visit Bridgewater College for their Homecoming! I loved getting to see all my college friends! So during the drive to Bridgewater, and while I was there, I got to juggle 3 skeins of yarn. The result is that it continued to grow until it reached 36" which is halfway through the armholes.This photo was taked Oct 7th.

     In the pattern I have it detailed out where all the decreases happen, suffice it to say there are a lot happening around now.

       Here is a completed armhole. When the armholes reached 8" in length I took the first skein and cast on 2 stitches across the armholes kept going till all the stitches were on one skein again.

     The 12 hour drive we had from Virgina back to Elgin gave me lots of time to knit. So on October 10, I was able to post this picture.

      This is a photo after I did the last decrease of the torso area. It is 44" long, and has been 12" since I started the armholes. I originally cast on 240 stitches, a count after the last decrease told me that I was down to 156. That's 86 stitches fewer than when I started!! This photo was taken October 15.

October 17 I  finished the last 4 inches, bringing the total length to 48". This is right before I start the shoulder decreases.
Again I was creative with the original pattern so I wouldn't have to pick up stitches for the hood, I did a lot of knitting multiple stitches together.

     This is the narrowest my cloak ever got. It is right around my neck it is down to just 48 stitches. that is nearly 200 less than when I started! I finished the neck decreases on Oct 18th. Time flies when you are knitting fewer stitches.
       I took this picture earlier this afternoon (October 27) when I had a measly 3in left on my cloak. I was determined not to stop working until it was done. And by golly except for a quick bank run I finished it today!
The cloak is as long as my tape measure-60 in.

      The only thing left after I bound off my hood (using a cool no sew technique). Was to stabilize the armholes. I crocheted the near front side, and picked up stitches and knit 2in on the near back side. Then I sewed the arm flaps down.
I also wove in the ends.

   And Vola! Done!



     You can see the lovely broach I found at Goodwill. Still looking for the perfect one, but I really like the one I have now.

     And there you go! These past few months of work feel like they have flown by. I'm not sure what to do with my life now that this huge project is complete. On the plus side I got to wear my cloak out in public for the first time today! It was so exciting! and I am very glad that this was a successful project. I am very glad that it was a forgiving project, because I made some mistakes, but the beauty is no one but me knows where they are. Wearing it tonight made me feel Awesome! and I guess that's the point of creating fun things. So you can enjoy them.
     So I encourage all of you who have read all the way to the bottom of the blog, Get out there and get creative! and have fun documenting your success!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thank you for the night

Kendra here, once again. A few weeks back, I had the chance to lead chapel at the office. Upon request, I am sharing it here:

Matthew 26
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me."

Stay with me.
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray.
Watch and pray.

“Even if we have no hope, does that give us permission not to fight?”

After a day of rebuilding efforts on the Abu Omar family home, we sat in our circle of folding chairs, hearing yet another trend of oppression that characterizes the occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Reflecting on all we had seen and heard so far, one camp participant pointed out the hopelessness of the situation, causing the challenging question posed by Michael, a young Israeli activist who may well speak of hopelessness, as his family has shunned him and his community has labeled him a traitor.

This acknowledgement of hopelessness was something of a new idea for me, however, having always clung by nature and by faith to the apostle Paul’s conviction that through hope we are saved, to the idea that joy comes with the morning and that morning is really out there. But by the end of my three weeks in Palestine, I too left with a sense of hopelessness, carrying with me the knowledge that though we had rebuilt one family’s home, this small act of resistance seemed insignificant amidst so much injustice and heartache. This feeling would only be magnified six months later, shortly after my arrival in Elgin, when I learned that this home had once again been demolished, together with the home that annually housed the rebuilding volunteers and the entire neighboring Bedouin village.

My education in hopelessness continued this past spring, when at a conference, I had the fortune to listen to the Reverend Dr. Miguel de la Torre, a minister and scholar-activist who works with migrants crossing the border into the United States and the inhumane treatment with which they are confronted. Treatment created and reinforced by institutional policies. De La Torre states that “hope has become a middle-class privilege that we impose upon a situation to feel better.”

I’m not sure about you, but I have found this statement to be troubling. As followers of Christ, we genuinely care about the suffering in this world, and furthermore, we commit ourselves to becoming informed and taking action for the advancement of peace and justice.

But at the same time, as followers of Christ, we
are an Easter people. We surround ourselves with the comfort of hope and faith in God, that persistent, lingering, if ever-so-slight belief that God will lead us through these trials, that God will carry us from suffering to joy. The horizon of Easter Sunday lies constantly before us.

The danger, however, of looking to Sunday is that we become inclined to look past the Saturday. Instead of giving the day of mourning its due, we try to hurry through it to the day of hope and newness.

This isn’t to say that we don’t have the best of intentions. It is not just for ourselves that we hope for Sunday, that we raise our eyes to the hills for deliverance. It is for those all around the world who we know are suffering - we maintain the hope that the God of the resurrected Christ will not let them suffer forever, the hope that wars will cease and justice will reign. And in full faith, we give our efforts and resources toward that end. But perhaps our hopes and efforts are also motivated by a fear and discomfort with the idea of mourning and suffering.

So what if, for a moment, we lay aside our hope that things will change and let ourselves become vulnerable to the way things are now. What if we remain in the Saturday? What if we lower our eyes from the hills and focus on the faces of those among us in the valley? What if we rest from our efforts of trying to fix things and quiet our inclinations to speak words of hope, and instead sit in silence, grasp hands, and let ourselves feel the pain and hopelessness.

This isn’t a call for despair or for giving up. There are people in marginalized communities the world over who continue day after day to fight for their rights, for justice and peace and equality, not because they have hope of seeing it achieved but because they have no other choice. And perhaps our call isn’t always to bring them hope and help them win that battle but rather sometimes, to stand with them when they lose.

 If I had known that the Palestinian home I had helped rebuild would be demolished again in a few months, I don’t honestly know if I could have put as much energy and effort into it, knowing it was a hopeless show of resistance. And maybe, if I had been with the family when they were once again surrounded by rubble, I would have immediately started to pick up the pieces, to try to make it better. But where I was, far away and helpless in Elgin, I couldn’t make anything better. All I could do was hurt and grieve, and all I needed were people to listen to me cry and share my grief with me.

We don’t have to go very far to find people in our own lives and communities who are experiencing times of grief and hopelessness. And very often, the urge is to console, to bring hope, to make better. And there is a time for that. We are held in the arms of a God of new life, and we should sing of our hope and joy from the mountaintops. But there is also a time to hold back our words and solutions, a time to accept the grief and pain for what it is, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

As poet Oriah Mountaindreamer states:” I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.”

Because, at the base of it all, the God of resurrection is also the God of crucifixion; the God of hope and joy is also the God of grief and mourning. And we limit God if we try to glaze over that which is difficult. Christ himself faced a situation of hopelessness, a time when his torture and death were inevitable and all he asked was for his friends to sit and share his grief with him.

There is much injustice and oppression in our world and much grief and hopelessness in our communities. So by all means, let us hope, pray, and work for Sunday to dawn upon us all. But let us not forget that sometimes what is most needed is for us is to remain present in the Saturday, for there too, maybe even more than anywhere else, God is with us.

Please pray with me:
God of hope, God of sorrow, we pray for those living in hopelessness, that they might feel the comfort of your love. Grant us the courage and the strength  to remain in the places of grief and pain, with the reassurance that no matter how deep the darkness, you are there. Amen.

Thank you for the night, a measure of your care.
In darkness, as in light, you, Lord are there.