Ash Wednesday – Knitting Through Lent
I’ve been obsessed with Scandinavian mittens lately. At least this is what I called them until they started to differentiate themselves. I love the designs. I love how the palm side has a different pattern than the back of the hand. When I saw a picture of the Fiddlehead Mittens by Adrian Bizilia, I knew I had to make them. I had to make them because they had a lining.
The pattern uses an I-chord cast-on so it is easy for the knitter to pick up stitches later to knit a lining. I chose some scratchy, warm, gold and white Norwegian yarn for the outside and a soft cushy dark blue alpaca blend for the lining.
I loved making the outside of the mittens. Even when I made mistakes, I found them on the next row. The I-chord cast-on made the mittens look “finished” and I had watched enough tutorials (including one from Arnie and Carlos) about how to pick-up stitches for the thumb so there wouldn’t be any holes.
Knitting the lining was an entirely different experience. I had no trouble picking up the stitches but knitting with dark blue yarn can be difficult. The stiches were hard to see. My gauge with the alpaca yarn (needless to say) was different. Although I did everything I could to measure accurately, the lining was messed up, the thumb misshaped, and I couldn’t figure out why. My attitude during the time I was working on the lining was – who cares, no one will see it. That may be true, but I quickly discovered that I could feel the bunched-up lining and the strangely shaped thumb when I put on the mittens. I knew I had to fix the lining.
Lent is an opportunity to fix our linings, the interior parts of ourselves that nobody sees and only we can feel when it just isn’t right. Being uncomfortable can be a good motivator to change. Sometimes it’s the nagging feeling right underneath the surface trying to get our attention. It’s the grief we haven’t addressed, it’s the person we haven’t forgiven, it’s the betrayal we’re still carrying, it’s the loss of priorities, the neglected relationships, and on and on. Although we have tried to stuff the lining into the mitten, we are so uncomfortable, we know we just have to pull it out, frog it and use the yarn to reknit our linings into a shape that we can live with. We can do this with prayer. We can ask for God’s help and mercy to reknit the interior of ourselves so we can reflect an authentic sense of love and peace to those who just see our outsides.
The stark reality of the imposition of ashes is a reminder of our mortality and an invitation to turn toward God. It conveys a sense of urgency. Lent can be a time to commit to change and transformation. So, for forty days, we commit to a daily practice of prayer and knitting. In this time, we will knit silently before the face of God for a specified number of rows or time and pray for the healing that comes from reconciliation for ourselves and for others.
One inch knitted. Size 5 needles, 50 stitches, Tandem from West Wool, colorway Glow, Pattern 191 from the Japanese Stitich Bible.