There are just a few notes of instruction on the BSJ knitalong on Mrs. Foss’s blog… Go look but come right back.
Most of us have gotten to a really easy part of this sweater, without any stressful new skills. Therefore, I thought perhaps we could talk about the powerful combination of knitting and prayer. Many people inaccurately attribute the simple phrase “ora et labora” to St. Benedict. His concept was actually a bit more complex, including adding “holy reading” to the mix, but few of us, Kelley Petkun excluded, can knit and read at the same time. I think, though, that all work done with the right spirit can be a form of prayer. And of course art can be prayer, and a way of leading us to prayer. Many non-Christian religious traditions have movement associated with their prayer rituals. And what about methodically moving our fingers along the beads of our Rosaries?
Some people find knitting helps so much with prayer. Those of us (like me) who don’t sit still well, don’t listen well, and absolutely can’t meditate do so much better when our hands are moving. But what if you’d like to pray while you knit even though the two things seem incompatible… how can you concentrate on two things at the same time? Here are some ideas:
Only concentrate on one thing. Only try to pray while you’re knitting easy parts, like all that garter stitch between rows 11 and 48.
Listen to your prayers while you knit. Try a CD of the Rosary set to music…
My very favorite is Our Lady’s Musical Rosary, by Donna Cori Gibson, which you can find here : http://www.catholicmusicnetwork.com/cmn_cd_detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=10039
Knit while your family prays together. I’m sure that your family doesn’t have any boys who have a hard time sitting still during read alouds, but if you did, you might want to put knitting needles in their hands and see what happens 🙂
My favorite thing to do when nothing else seems to help me settle into my prayers or my knitting is to add rhythm to both. Knitting sort of has a 4/4 beat. In. Around. Through. Off. Try this while you knit… Have. Mercy. On. Us. Have. Mercy. On. Us. or Hail. Mary. Fullof. Grace. Hail. Mary. Fullof. Grace. or even Yes! Jesus! Loves! Me!
And what if singing is praying twice? Another option, which according to St. Augustine, reportedly (but sadly probably also inaccurately…) gives us “double extra credit bonus points” in the prayer department (Danny’s words 🙂 ) , is singing while we knit. The rhythm has to be right, though.
Start with “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” or “God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen” if it doesn’t drive you crazy to sing Christmas hymns out of season. Those two have the right tempo and time signature. Go SLOWLY at first… if it’s hard to sing those carols slowly enough to get into the beat, try “Tantum Ergo Sacramentum” All those steady quarter notes are perfect. Once you can get your needles and your voice working in unison, other songs that work well are “The Church’s One Foundation” or perhaps “Holy, Holy, Holy”??? Skip songs like “What Child is This” (too many dotted eighths and sixteenths right lined up with “THROUGH” ) and “Hail Holy Queen (those half notes act like quarter notes and will really slow you down)
Tomorrow or the next day, on Mrs. Foss’s blog, we’ll move on to the increases that line right up on those diagonals. Here again, you get to choose between several options… one increase is the KFB kind that we did for those 9 stitches over the cuffs . The kind Elizabeth Zimmermann writes about it a kind of M1 where you pick up your yarn and make a backwards loop on your right needle. I think perhaps we might get Emily to make a video of this for us? I have photos of the results of both choices so you can choose which one woks best for you.
Tomorrow on my blog I want to tell you that I just figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Either that or maybe I should post all my First Holy Communion pictures. But tonight, even though it’s dark and raining, just one more photo… my roses are blooming and you have to see