I learned to knit from the internet. Actually, first I learned to knit from a book. Then I learned to knit well from the internet. The still photos on flat pages hadn’t really shown me how to move my fingers and my hands, and my book-learning led to a very cumbersome, non-fluid, not-very-fun knitting method. Then, in the fall of September 2005, when my twins were 15 months old, I turned to the internet to learn a better way (because toddlerhood is a great time for a mom to pick up a new hobby, yes? no, actually, it was insane that at the very moment my kids were at their busiest, I constantly had my hands full of yarn and needles). I found KnittingHelp, and just sat in front of the computer while my kids slept, watching the videos and imitating the actions, until I finally got it. And then I got obsessed.
From those videos, it was a short hop to the online forums at KnittingHelp, which is where I made my first knitting friends, and where I first discovered knitting blogs. And before long, in January 2006, I started my own knitting blog. In the days before Ravelry, the knitting blogosphere was, for me, a vital way to learn new techniques, to discover new-to-me yarns and patterns, to share encouragement and inspiration, and to connect with other people who were as obsessed with this ancient craft as I was. Many of the blogs I read back then no longer exist, yet the friendships I made through them remain. Through the wonders of technology, I was able to learn a traditional craft. Through that same technology, I was able to create new friendships and connections with people I otherwise would never have met.
At the same time, and through this same technology, I have found deep and life-sustaining connection with a whole other community. As you may or may not know, in my “real life,” I’m a church pastor. This isn’t something I write about on this blog (and I don’t intend for that to change), but just as I found the online knitting community to be an essential (and fun!) part of growing in my craft, I also discovered a supportive online community for clergywomen to be an essential (and fun!) part of growing in my vocation. That community is RevGalBlogPals, which started as a few dozen women bloggers in 2005 and now numbers in the thousands (and includes not just clergywomen but also supportive clergymen and laywomen). Working in a male-dominated field, in a field that is so easily misunderstood by those outside of it, and doing this work while trying to balance its demands with the demands of mothering, it’s been an incredible gift to have a group of women (and supportive men!) who “get it.” A number of the RevGals are also knitters, and they “get” that part of me, too.
For the past decade, as my identity as a knitter has unfolded, I have reflected a lot on what it means to have an avocation that is so important to me, especially when I also have a vocation that is so important to me. Do these two parts of me – knitter and minister – have anything to do with each other? How do these two parts of who I am nourish and nurture each other? And what about my two communities – the craft community and the church-related community – what are there commonalities, and what do I learn from one community that has application in the other? In other words, I spend a lot of time mentally trying to “knit two together.” If you’re a knitter, you’ll know that knitting two together is a way of decreasing your knitting. In my real life, though, I find that knitting two together brings a marvelous increase – of energy, of creativity, of insight, of compassion.
I recently reflected on this in a little piece I wrote for a book that just came out. The piece is entitled, “I Rise Before the Sun,” and the book is called There’s a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments & the Healing Power of Humor. This book was a collaboration, written by 52 clergywomen representing 15 different denominations, and edited by the Reverend Martha Spong, Director of RevGalBlogPals. And it’s so good, y’all! Every piece is a really nice, tight piece of writing, and Martha did an outstanding job editing it. I’m not surprised she did such a great job pulling it together – she, too, is a knitter, after all. The book is an amazing collaboration of different voices and varying perspectives from all over the English-speaking world. You could call it a mosaic, or you could call it a tapestry, or you could call it gorgeous knitting, made from hand-painted, handspun yarn – every stitch is different, each one shimmering with its own personality and beauty.
I wanted to tell you about this not because I’m going to shift the focus of this blog from the knitting part of my life to the churchy part of my life – don’t worry! actual knitting content is coming very soon! – but because I thought some of you might be interested to know about it and about my wee part in it. Also, I would love to send a copy of this book to one of you. Actually, I’ve love to send a copy to all of you! But I can’t really afford to do that, unless “all” of you turns out to only be one person (which is entirely possible, given my sad lack of blogging lately). If you would be interested in receiving a copy of this book, please let me know in the comment section! I’ll use a Random Number Generator to select the recipient on Friday, May 8th. I’ll only be entering people who comment on this entry (so if you comment on Facebook, please make sure to comment on the blog too, okay?). And it’s open to everyone of course – knitters, non-knitters, clergy, non-clergy, people of any faith or no faith, friends, acquaintances, strangers, all.
Thank you, dear reader, whether you are knitter, clergy, both, or neither, for being part of an online community that continues to challenge and cheer me. Mwah!
I would love to read this book and then pass it along. My husband is a UCC pastor and I know several women clergy as well as a couple of female rabbis. I would enjoy reading this book and it would give me more insight.
I would love to win a copy! Also I am in lust with your knitting magic!
Stacey, I would LOVE to read this book!
Earlier this year I read Dare Mighty Things by Halee Gray Scott with a few women in my church, and we found it inspiring to read the stories of women who are actively serving. I’m intrigued by this book as it falls along the same lines. Even if I don’t win the book, I want say congratulations. How exciting it must be to see your words captured in a book like that!
I too am both clergy and knitter. Love the ways in which we are threaded together.
I also would love to read this book
I’d love to read it!
I wish you were closer to help my kids with their knitting projects!
Instead I’ll just enjoy the wisdom and humor of the women who contributed to the book 🙂
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I’d love to read this book.
Add my name to the list! I added this book to my wish list earlier this week!
I have been looking forward to reading this. I am fascinated with the subject of women in the Clergy. I am an Orthodox Christian, and there are many roles for women in the Church. I am interested in other beliefs as well.
How totally cool this is. Here I am surfing over to your blog so I can maybe find your instagram name in order to link you to a picture I just posted for my in-progress Crackerjack Scarf, and I find this lovely post about women in the pulpit.
My wife is currently in divinity school, and should finish up this year. It’s been a rocky road, interrupted and thrown into chaos with the premature birth of our daughter 3 years ago. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the random numbers smile on me and I win a copy of this book so I can give it to her, but if I don’t win, I’m sure I’ll be adding it to my amazon cart soon.
Stacey, I’m so glad to know you and so pleased to have your beautiful essay in the book Thank you for your kind words.
This sounds like great reading. We attend in a denomination that has women pastors, but it remains challenging, as do many male dominated fields. I think the book will be encouraging to many women.
I have a good friend that is a pastor. I am in awe of the way she juggles her life. I think reading it would help me know how to be a more supportive friend to her. I’ve read your blog for a lot of years, and always enjoyed it!
I am a very new member of RevGalsBlogPals thanks to an ELCA pastor I was privileged to meet when in Chicago. She told me about the new book which I have already purchased on my IPAD and enjoy very much. I just recently retired from full time work as pastor in the ELCIC (Canada) but still serving where needed in pulpit supply etc. A new book would be wonderful to give to a dear friend in nearby parish. Blessings to all!
I can’t wait to read this! And if love a copy 😉
Such a great blog post. I so enjoy your knitting projects and blog posts about them. I resonate with your connection of an avocation and vocation. I have found that connection with my 40 year nursing career. I still sew, knit, crochet, and quilt. From our shawl knitting ministry at church, creating gifts for friends and family, and contributing blankets to my PICU, there is always one or two projects in the works. I would love to read this book and expand my community of women in ministry.
This book sounds like it’s right up my alley. I do not consider myself a religious person, per se, but I love to read about those whose lives are different than mine so I can have a better basis for understanding others. My SIL is a youth minister and I think this will help me understand her passion in a new way and be an excellent gift to pass on to her as she continues on her journey.
Congratulations on being a published author!
I love the way you “knit” these 2 topics together! Makes me think about my crocheting days, years ago, and got much I enjoyed it. (BTW. If you get my number, draw again, OK? I’ve got a book. 🙂
I’d also love the book! And I also love to knit. . .
Each project, every stitch contains some of my spirit. Congratulations on your essay being published in this book. No apologies required – you’ll blog when spirit moves you.
I just discovered your blog today, and I am having the best time “catching up”!
The book sounds amazing, and just like something I’d enjoy reading. If I win it, great, but if not, I’ll likely have to buy myself a copy anyway. 🙂
As another clergywoman and knitter, I would love this book too. Thanks for sharing!
Sounds like an interesting read.
I relate to a lot of what you write. I also learned to knit (primarily from a book) during a very busy time in my life when knitting would seem to be the last thing on my mind. And yet… I also often try to reconcile my vocation and avocation, though I dare say the connection is much easier to make for me, a scientist :).
This looks like a wonderful read!
I would love to read it! I am not religious at all and never have been, and I think it would be very educational.
I’d love to read this! And then pass it along to a former pastor (who I miss but am happy to keep up with via fb – yea social media!) in our church in Chicago who has moved to southern California; she is a wonderfully caring pastor who also enjoys writing and painting.
I’m an avid knitter and I lead a book club. We’ve been reading books about people who have a calling. This book sounds perfect for us!
Love the ‘knit two together’ analogy
Stacey!! How exciting for you!! Congratulations!
I’ve thought of you often during this last year (my first in Divinity school). It’s been the hardest work I’ve ever done but also the most fulfilling. I’m thankful every day for the women who’ve walked the path before me.
Many, many congratulations on this amazing accomplishment!
Tara (chavahsdaughter on Ravelry)