The knitting patterns were of varying degrees of difficulty, to accommodate a range of skill and inclination. There was no pressure at all as to how many squares everyone was supposed to make. After all, this was a Retreat. We were retreating from our daily cares for one weekend, to help us slow down and process recent upheavals that we were all exposed to, good (new president) or bad (economy; war). We had comfy beds to sleep in and had the luxury of being served extraordinary food that was lovingly prepared.
The meditations led by Elaine Yuen helped us calm our minds, stay in the moment, and direct our thoughts towards others who are less fortunate than us. The premise going in was that we would make squares, which would be assembled into a blanket or two, which in turn would be donated to people in need.
While I realize that many many knitters do this on a daily basis, it was fantastic to see what 12 women could do over the course of one weekend. As we all sat around a big table, the conversation ebbed and flowed, there was lots of laughter, and community was palpable.
Story after story was shared, while colors and patterns were selected, new techniques learned.
To me, it was a distillation of what knitting is about. There was a huge sense of gratefulness for the abundance of yarn, for each other, and for each other's accomplishments.
I had brought my blocking board so we could block the squares as they got finished.
We had divided the yarn into wool/natural fibers, and acrylics/machine washable.
By Sunday morning, there were enough squares for me to begin assembly. Amy and I crocheted squares together into rows; Angela and Jen wove in ends, taking care of the wool blanket.
Dina and her helpers (forgive me, I can't remember who they were!) took care of the acrylic blanket.
There was actually one more row than is shown here.
In the end, we had made 72 squares. A brandnew knitter, who was a volunteer at the retreat, added #73 at the end, which will be added as a little pocket on top of the acrlylic one for a child to put a toy inside.
Arranging and flattening felt like we put our blessings on the blankets one more time.
Group portrait in the shrine room.
Thank you ever so much, everyone!
(front row: Nancy, Elaine, Barbara, Amy, Abby. Back row: Gretchen, myself, Angela next to me, Patrice in back between us, Pat, Dina, Jennifer, and Annie our beginner standing tall behind Pat.)
I am finishing and blocking the wool blanket as we speak, it will go to afghans for Afghans *.
Amy took the acrylic blanket home to finish and donate to an agency in Bennington, VT, that helps teenage pregnant girls and their babies.
* I just read the guidelines for the current campaign. There is a rolling deadline. The blanket as it's sized now is too small. I will add another row or two of squares to comply with the requirements.