Below you will find a guest blog post from Lois Blood Bennett, a Companion from Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, who shares about her experience attending the Work of Our Hands summer program.
The Work of Our Hands program that took place at Adelynrood this summer was an incredible journey into the world of knitting. We had the opportunity to review the history, diverse community, and fascinating techniques of knitting. The program was well attended and created a sense of community among all participants. We had a fantastic time teaching and learning together.
I gave a slide show Friday night which briefly touched on the history of knitting, exploring its origin and a bit of its evolution through time. There are some fun facts to be found in the history, including “The Cappers Act of 1571,” requiring British citizens to wear caps manufactured in England to support the knitted cap trade; the oldest known knitting from Egypt (that turns out not to be knitting!); the fact that Samurai in Japan took up knitting when their services as warriors were waning; and spy stories involving knitting. I also covered a bit about community outreach, knit-a-longs, prayer shawl ministries, knitting in art and architecture, extreme knitting (very large and very tiny), knitting while skydiving and scuba diving (yikes), and a bit of science (knitting and knot theory).
A primary focus of our program was the exploration of knitting as a form of prayer or meditation. Participants discussed the calming and centering nature of knitting, allowing them to find solace and tranquility in their craft. The rhythmic motions of knit and purl had a therapeutic effect, providing a sense of mindfulness and inner peace. We talked about how knitting can be a relief from stress, and how knitting is one of the few activities that activates both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously, thereby enhancing one’s ability to concentrate and retain information.
The eighteen participants were about equally divided between beginners and experienced. Robin took the experienced group and introduced the technique called entrelac. I worked with the beginners and had the satisfaction of watching them go from not knowing how to knit at all to being able to cast-on, knit and purl. We came together the second day and there was a wonderful exchange of experienced knitters helping the beginners and everything in between. Robin contributed a hat pattern, yarn, and needles, and at least one hat was completed over the weekend. Everyone seemed to enjoy the workshop and come away having learned something new.
The program was undoubtedly an extraordinary experience for all involved. The bonds formed, the skills acquired, and the joyful moments we shared reminded us of the power and magic that knitting brings to our lives. The camaraderie and support the participants showed for one another were heartwarming.
We hope to bring another program to Adelynrood next year that will focus on color in fiber arts, thus expanding to other handcrafts including knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, and needlepoint among others. We eagerly await future opportunities to delve deeper into creative expression in yarn.