A couple of weeks ago, I went to a craft fair in Hiawassee, Georgia.
I am sure just hearing about it you wished you could have been there with me also. Eat your heart out: There were candle makers, glass blowers, honey collectors, knitters, beaders, painters, flute makers, cabinet makers, jam cooks, tomato growers and purveyors of many other important items that could add to the clutter of cute knickknacks around our homes.
In other words, it was really fun.
Whenever I go to a craft fair, I am always looking around and seeing what other people are doing with their jewelry and knitting. It’s a great place for me to look for ideas.
I bought a pink blanket with hearts in it for a measly $40. I am sure the lady who made it earned about 4 cents per hour, given the intricacy of her accomplishment. I examined the blanket carefully but decided I would drive myself nuts having to pay that much attention to counting every stitch.
There were two ladies at the craft fair selling shawls. One was out to lunch, and her unfortunate husband who had to man her booth didn’t really know much about shawls or the latest fashions, but he made a great effort to be friendly.
The second knitter had an even bigger booth. Like me, she had made many ruffled scarves.
I have had such personal success with my scarves that people have been buying them literally off my neck. I will be out someplace wearing one of my scarves when another lady wants the exact one I am wearing.
I have had great fun knitting my ruffled scarves, but when I came upon the knitted shawls at the second booth at the craft fair, I was really really impressed.
Each shawl contained three or four yarns knitted together, creating layers of depth and color.
The lady who made the shawls used to be an art teacher.
This very kind person told me exactly what she had done. Many great craftsmen like to keep their art a secret, but she very generously shared with me. She took size 19 circular needles and followed the pattern for the Amazing Self Fringing Shawl at http://www.brooksfarmyarn.com/fringeshawl.pdf.
She collects corded yarn and told me that she found her best materials at a fiber arts shop in Asheville, North Carolina, just down the street from Malaprops Bookstore.
I immediately went out to the Hiawassee, Georgia, equivalent of Michael’s craft store and bought myself a pair of size 19 Susan Bates knitting needles and a skein of Red Heart Light and Lofty yarn in antique rose. I figured I needed to start with $5 yarn, get the basics down and go on from there.
My first shawl ended up costing me $10, not counting the plastic knitting needles.
It felt warm, fluffy and comforting.
Encouraged, I purchased silver glitter thread, hot pink ribbon yarn and a third strand of hot pink and gold glitter cord. I thought I had enough yarn to begin with, but ended up having to go buy more yarn half way through. I knitted all three yarns together into the shawl you see above. It’s my favorite color, hot pink, since I am really just still seven years old on the inside when it comes to important issues like fashion, and is shiny with gold and silver glittery yarn, since all of us little girls really love our bling.
I showed off my hot pink shawl in my yoga class this week, the same class where I gave everyone earrings I had just made. I passed around a heart-shaped box, asked each person to pray over the box and then open it up so they could select their own pair of earrings.
My hot pink shawl has several mistakes in it, but that is O.K. by me as you can definitely tell it’s homemade. I love the feel of things that are made by hand. I usually am wearing at least one thing that I made myself, whether it’s my earrings, my bracelets, my necklace, my scarf or my shawl.
On Monday night, I went to the Zen Center and meditated. After meditation, I sat with the other meditators, drank green tea and we talked about Zen philosophy. As usual, I knitted while listening.
Afterwards, one of the other meditators approached me. She told me that she is an art therapist at Georgia Regional Hospital, which deals with adult mental health and developmental disabilities.
“Oh,” I said, “that means you are a saint.”
The lady told me that she is no saint, but that she had studied art therapy and that one of her fellow students in her art therapy program had written her thesis about the therapeutic value of knitting.
I don’t need to read or write a thesis about what knitting does to improve my mental health. I know I feel happy and calm and excited all at the same time when I knit.
Not only do I enjoy the process of knitting, I feel great when I wear my finished accomplishments.