Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A yarn about hooks and needles

There is a ministry here at work church, called the prayer shawl ministry. It is an area of giving- through ministry, that is very well received and slides right into the swing of the popularity of knitting as the be all- end all today. Knitting for meditation, Knit Fix, The 12 steps and knitting , How I found romance by Knitty Purl. Lots of needle clacking going on these days.

The impact of the prayer shawl is pretty phenomenal. Imagine wearing a wrap that was created with love. There is every chance that it was created by a total stranger, as well. The wraps are blessed and delivered. It's neat. I think it is really really neat. Between the shawl activities and the sound of aluminum and bamboo needles clacking about around me, I succumbed and finally, the hobby sparked my curiosity.

I watched a friend come alive after her mom stayed up half the night working with her (quality mom/daughter time no doubt) teaching her to knit. The experience, for her, was restorative. I saw the positive energy flowing through her yarn. It was pretty amazing-but still, the two handedness of the craft was intimidating for me, so I hesitated casting myself onto the needles. I waited. I watched. I roamed through the yarn aisles at local stores and then I let a little time pass. One day, I woke up and said to myself, "Self, this is the day you will learn the art of crossing sticks ." I marched myself into her office and said, "Show me the way"

My friend showed me how to cast on and knit and I pretended to practice. I wanted to make my needles clack. My initial interest didn't really go much farther than needle noise; then I really did start practicing and still, months and seasons later, I am practicing. My practice project is big. BIG. Bigger than any shawl, and it's a recyclable project so really if you think about it, I'm helping the world. Who's to say my practice project isn't putting a chill on Global Warming in some small way? ( I don't think i would really say that it is but I wouldn't say that it isn't, either)

My recycle knitting works like this: I practice, pull it out, practice, pull it out, Breathe. Practice, pull out, practice, rip, no, pull it out, practice. Breathe. Practice damn it, poke, pull, practice and pull it out. There's meditation in repetition so I hear. The knitting did not awaken my meditative energy,however. That realization made me sad in my heart, so I set my needles aside for a bit .

During my initial knitting fiasco, I discerned that I wasn't too interested in making prayer shawls. Maybe I was concerned about what out- of- the -world- kinds of prayers might be inadvertently woven into a shawl created by me. I also decided I was more into socks or slippers. Better to leave the important warm and comforting work to my pals in the prayer shawl ministry club.

I remembered something. In the old days of yore , in another life, I crocheted. My grandmother taught me and I enjoyed it and I made all the granny squares for an afghan one summer. No, I never connected them. They are probably still in a trunk somewhere motheaten. I liked the mindlessness of the motion.

After recognizing I was knit-phobic, I pulled out an old crochet hook and tested the hook crook again. I have taken to my old friend, crochet, and am at the same time still sneaking in a few minutes of practice with the two needle challenge of knitting. Sighhhhh. I practice and it looks odd, and then I make my own self mad and go at it again as if the Yarn is argh arghing me. Maybe it is a challenge I can conquer. Maybe not. We'll see.

Crochet is so Melanie. The craft is forgiving, thank gosh. The stance of a crochet hook reminds me of someone looking at me and crooking their index finger as if to say, come here, and try it again. Read the directions and try again, it's okay. Crochet seems patient to me, and it's a pretty darn good thing, as I have made probably 8 or 9 slipper-like-objects following the same pattern and they all look different. Go figure. I think it is my signature. Inconsistency in production.

In the middle of this windstorm of interest in yarning, I became curious about felting, ( when you wash wool the fibers shrink, come undone, and intertwine with each other to become solid like a felt hat) so I made a slipper and felted it and it shrunk so much that I decided to call it a pot handle holder. I took it to church and it fit the pots I use just fine, so it is now Officially, a felted pot handle holder. I made a bigger one and the finished product wasn’t much better than my first try, so I decided it could be a ping pong paddle handlecover, and finally, with aggravation fueling my hook, I made a Gulliver size slipper-like-object however, unnoticed by me, I ended up using non-wool yarn, so it didn't shrink at all-and since I don't know anyone with a foot the size of my front door welcome mat I moved onto cat beds. Yes, Cat Beds. I am determined to complete something felted that is useful.

The first one, after felting, turned out just the right size to hold a small, miniature sized quadraplegic kitten; and the second one, well, it is now lining a basket that will hold my yarn. UNCLE, already. I'm giving up felting. It is neat but I can't gauge well with it, so maybe when I am saner, I'll give it another go. Or maybe not. It’s hard to say.

Back to slipper-like-objects............................

My next door office mate has been incredibly kind in my sudden efforts to interact with yarn. I completed my first crocheted slipper (-like -object), and it looked, no question about this- it looked like a fish. Not unlike the kind that could feed 5,000. A pointed nose, and wide open tail. I showed it to her and she is so tactful by nature that she didn’t miss a stitch. She responded with,“Wow”. One of my daughters offered to wear it, but she didn't ask me for another one to go with it so I'm not sure she was serious.

My second try produced something that was more slipper like than a fish, but not quite foot friendly. I showed it to my office sock/slipper supporter and she gave me the best response in the whole world. “ Oh!! You made another one!” I will love her forever for that acceptance. It was as if it was perfectly fine and normal to create one slipper- even though most of us wear two. Her encouragement empowered me to keep at it and I have now made, as I said earlier, 8 or 9. They look like cousins, but none are exactly the same. Most have a little spit of a backside sticking out of the heel. But when stretched over the foot, the poke -out disappears. I’ll admit it looks odd. My oldest daughter says it looks like a, well, like a tiny, gnomelike,well, penis. It hurt her to tell me, I could tell through her gasping laughter she was really torn about blurting out this horrendous observation. She waited for number 7 or 8 before she asked me,"Where is the penis on that one?" I thought iImis-heard her. I neatened up my latest yarn art, thinking maybe she couldn't see it well from where she was sitting, and out it popped. Oh, crud.

I think she was hoping I would give up the hook and move onto glue and scissors or something.

How inappropriate! How could this be?! I was, heck, I AM mortified. Sometimes the truth hurts. Who would wear a sock that has a gnome penis poking out the back of it? My daughter is painfully right. I’m a slipper -like -object-penis crocheter, I guess. How embarrassing. I can’t possibly become famous and have that in my collection. I refuse.

I’ll just have to keep working on the heel directions. It sort of concerns me to think that if I have one hook crochet penis issues, what will happen when I finally get the two needle knitting downpat?

My prayer for the day is this: Oh Dear God, I promise not to make slipper like objects for you if you promise to help me stop crocheting and knitting body parts.

All we can do is hope this prayer is answered, right?

Church Chick

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I am posting my first picture today. This is a stole I just finished for a friend. Sewing is a way I can connect to the quiet inside me. I love creating stoles for individuals. Maybe later I'll add the pics of some of the others I have done.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Early Spring

In early spring-
It’s the best surprise-
To rest in the grass ...
or under protective branches,
as the darkness sighs in-
A minute later than yesterday

The changing of seasons.

The blades are crisply stiff-not yet released from winter’s grasp- they poke through
pants and stick bare feet.

The earthen dirt and rocks that fuel their roots are holding the cold still.

Spring and Summer cousins are playfully impatient
On an early spring night
that is clear and dry; sometimes the warmth of summer will
whisper by
Offering the comfort of escape for all who are weary of chills and bitter breezes.

The easy moving air weaves through roses and hydrangeas, and into the grassy dips
that line the road-
Ruffling eyelashes along the way and gently brushing bangs

This evening summer wind sneaks in on occasion; early but always welcomed.


Monday, April 09, 2007

The After effects of Easter

The church rocks during the Lenten season and the anticipation of Easter is second only to waiting for Santa to slide down the chimney which has nothing to do with God or religion unless he is carrying the baby Jesus with him when he comes.
One would hope that after all the build up and setting free of our spirits during Easter time, that the pace might slow for a bit after. I believe this to be true unless your church is engulfed in a Capital Campaign, or say, perhaps is in discussion over a large purchase like new pews, or a new church top cross or maybe a new organ.
Yes, friends, if you are sitting on one of those soapboxes, keep your seatbelt on. Buckle Up.
For the church chick, these events mean mailings, and lots of practice on making mailing labels. Our folding machine and copier, Biz, and the label sticker machine have been worked hard hard hard. On my way home from work, I thought I saw their chords hanging around outside the neighborhood bar last Friday night. Well, who can blame them, right? They probably all went out together to trade work stories. …
“Yeah, boy howdy friends, I had a good holler when a newby tried cranking up my two sided zoom feature last week. The gal was pushing my buttons like she knew me from another place, and I just turned right around and flipped my switch to OFF. She called the church chick and just as the chickster stepped into the copy room, I switched myself ON like magic. Back and forth, back and forth, I pulled her in there a good amount of times til she threatened to pull my plug- Kill joy.
“What’s with sticky? Cat got its tongue?"
“ No, his lips are stuck together again”
“ Oh, Mr. G run a big mailing ?”
“ mmmhhhmmmmhhmmm”
“What’s that? What’s he trying to say?”
“I think he’s saying pass the butter, his lips are chapped”
“Oh, gosh, jeesh, oh (moan)can you do that for me, Biz? My back is killing me from folding 3,000 of those darn tri-fold programs”
"Sure, buddy,sure I will."
When it is busy time around this place, everybody marches.
I hope it is settling down wherever you are

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Calling CAlling CALLING

Calling is a term that I hear a lot here. As a parent of young children, I became very familiar with the action form of that word. I called my children to lunch, called them on the carpet, called them to dinner.. I called them with a mom voice to find out who did what to whom? And I drew my flock back into the fold by calling them home.

I passed the torch as they grew into adolescence, and as usual, they took the term and ran with it. They discovered that calling is more fun via phone and they spent many an hour calling or being called.

Here in the church setting, calling takes on a whole new meaning. Being called is something that invites God into the mix. Had I known that years ago, I may have had better success in gathering my children, or enlisting their help around the house. Gosh, hindsight…..Consider- “Girls! Time to come in and clean your rooms!!” vs. “ Girls, I’ve been called to gather you and send you forth into your abodes to cleanse your rooms of idle dirty clothes and mislaid toys.” Now, doesn’t that sound better?

I fully understand the significance and powerful importance of being called. I was called to come and apply for this job a few years ago. I had no appointment. I had, in fact, just completed an interview at another church and was in shock at the prospect of working in that particular constrictive albeit Christian environment. I very nearly backed out and ran to my car. The scariest part was the feeling that I was going to be offered the job ( and I was) and had I stayed a minute longer, I may have been offered the job on the spot. ( oh, dear Lord)

Realizing this, I was “called” to say, “ Oh!! Look at the time, I’m late for picking up the girls at school, I’m sorry, but I really must go!” No connection sparked in my interviewer. My girls were all in high school or College by then, how likely would it be that I would need to race to carpool? But thank gosh for that calling. It got me out of there.

Driving home, I decided to scope out churches close to home and just go for it. I went home and googled churches and found a few close by and HBUMC came up. Something about that particular church tugged at my hem. I had taught summer camp many hundreds of years ago and I liked the energy there. I checked out the site and saw the opening and then I thought to my interview -dressed self, “Self, get your wrinkle free bod over there STAT” and I did. I just walked right in. Immediately, I felt at home. I asked to see the business administrator, and the front desk volunteer sent me back to his office.

I had nothing to lose, I had not planned this visit, I just felt the need to go forward so I did. The business administrator sat across from me frozen at my daring delivery. I told him outright that I thought they needed me. How insane is that? Don’t answer that. I can’t explain it, I just spontaneously spilled my heartfelt thoughts. He started out saying if this turned into an interview, I’d have to make an appointment because the Senior Pastor and he were interviewing. I got around that by saying, “Well, let’s just pretend this is an interview, let’s just practice, okay?” and so we did. The next thing I knew, he held up his index finger and said in a Barney Fife anxious and excited way , “ Excuse me just a minute.” Apparently, he ran down the hall and grabbed the Senior Pastor by the tie and dragged him back into the office. I met the Senior Pastor and I found him delightful and warm.

Not long after that I had a full fledged interview with all staff and was so intimidated by the interview in the round,I decided to just come clean and I told them the hard truth about me. I feel a little shaky even repeating it now here to whoever has been tracking this blabber. I told the staff that I didn’t really know if I was what they were looking for or not, but that what they see is just what they get. I am just me. I like people, have lots of experience with kids and families, and my preschool Director experience and writing has given me some knowledge of computer skills, I’m willing to learn, and that’s about as good as it gets. I didn’t want to mislead any of them, and I was sure I didn’t know what I was getting into either. Many days, I still don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into. … So I just unzipped my whole soul and laid it right out there.

You know the rest of the story, now, I suspect. That is what calling has meant to me, friends.

But I think, generally speaking, the term called, well,it gets very over used. And I want to caution my readers to consider before voicing “being called to do this or that” is something I don’t want us to take for granted. Our hearts send out a call and the call is from something higher than our human selves. I’ve looked at it as nudging. Teaching from the Spirit. Some of that empowers us to make choices on our own. I’m not sure some “called” statements ring of truth in the calling. “I was called to be president of the PTA”- just doesn’t cut it for me. “ I was called to clean out my closet, and look! I was then called to shop!” nope. I’m afraid that if we overuse call, we may have a problem with hang ups eventually. I have no reason to voice this – maybe I was just “called” to. On the other hand, listening to my work boss and seeing what he is clearly called to do is a miracle in motion.