The Privileged Life: Knitting and Needlework

“All the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. And all the women whose hearts stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats’ hair.” Exodus 35:25-26

Spinning, knitting, lacework, crocheting, weaving, crewel, quilting, cross-stitch, and all other kinds of needlework have been around since ancient times when the first wool or cotton fibers were twisted into thread. In our mad-dash 21stcentury, however, many of those skills have been neglected or forgotten…until the coronavirus pandemic unleashed a new wave of interest.

Sales of yarn, fabric, and other needlework items at craft vendors have skyrocketed in recent months. During the shutdown, a Ben Franklin crafts store reported a 40 to 50 percent increase in yarn and sewing notions, along with an incredible 620 percent boost in fabric sales and 20,000 yards of elastic (presumably for face-mask making).* That’s a lot of elastic….

During the pandemic, I’ve joined countless others in sewing masks, making them for family members on my grandmother’s 1949 Necchi machine. And, I recently learned how to knit from a sweet friend, Melanie Hiatt. My first efforts aren’t very impressive, but it’s easier than I thought!

There is something about the methodical rhythm of a hook or needle that is relaxing and soothing in an otherwise stressed-out environment. It has made me grateful for those who passed along these treasured techniques to me. My grandmother Kathleen originally taught me how to crochet “granny squares” around 1974…I remember the year because we were watching TV together when Richard Nixon resigned as president. The squares were intended for a “hope chest” afghan for my future husband. I actually finished it…almost 25 years later, when we had been married nine years. (Does that make you feel better about dragged-out projects on your list???) 

My beloved hand-knitted keepsakes are still stored in my “hope chest,” a cedar chest made by my grandfather. Among them is a delicate baby sweater made for my daughter by my college roommate, Patty Roe, with owls for our alma mater mascot at William Woods University. Another is a wall-sized knitted tapestry with a cross-stitched hunt scene created by my grandmother in a long labor of love for me. My mom Betty carries on the family tradition by knitting “prayer shawls” for church members who are hospitalized or bedridden, using soft-colored yarns and textures for warmth and comfort.

If you have a hand-sewn or knitted item, give thanks for the person who took the time to make it for you. If someone taught you how to sew or knit or whatever, be grateful for that person’s efforts to pass along their wisdom. If you still have extra time on your hands, create a mini-masterpiece that can be lovely and practical in use.

These are wonderful privileges from God, much like the knowledge He gave to the artisans He prepared to create His desert tabernacle and dwelling place: “He has filled them with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen, and of the weaver—those who do every work and those who design artistic works.” (Exodus 35:35) Enjoy stitching!

Thank You, O Master Creator, for hands and fingers that function, eyesight for colors, materials for crafting, and the skills to make beautiful, useful items for others. As You did for Dorcas, Your beloved servant who was full of good works and charitable deeds, please grant us the skills and time we need for handiwork. Make us mindful that as we serve others, we bring glory to You and Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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