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!