Making Sense of Symbols

     I took a class in reading Japanese stitch patterns recently.  Once the teacher explained what the symbols meant on the chart, I realized that I knew how to do most of the techniques.  It was like lace knitting but some of the symbols were different.  The class was two hours the first day and the goal was to knit two swatches.  The teacher warned us to mark up our charts so we wouldn’t “forget” that we have an edge stitch on each side of the swatch that is not on the chart and that the wrong side row needs to go from left to right and so on.

     I cast-on and went to town knitting as fast as I could so I could be on the right row for the demonstration of the “new” technique (picking up 3 stitches from three rows down…).  I didn’t mark-up my chart because I heard the teacher give the warning about what to watch out for and I thought that was enough.  You can see where this is going, right?  I forgot about the first edge stitch and when I got to the end of the row and saw that I had an extra stitch, I knew exactly what mistake I had made.

     There is so much in the world that competes for our attention.  I this case, I was anxious about keeping up with the class and being able to knit 8 rows quickly so I could knit the difficult stitch along with the teacher.  I realized I could try the stitch even though my swatch was a mess. 

     When I tried the swatch on my own, I was hyper aware of the potential mistakes I could make.  I took the time and marked up the chart. 

     I focused my attention.

     Prayer is like marking up a chart.  It focuses our attention.  It may not seem like anything is happening while we are praying but what does happen is that our level of awareness changes. 

     I remember when my friend bought a mini cooper.  It was a tiny car that I had never heard of.  All of a sudden, I was seeing them on the road.  They were always there; I just wasn’t paying attention to them.

     Prayer opens us up to the grace that is all around us but passes us by because the world is demanding our attention for something else.  Prayer invites us to “see” differently.  It starts to shift our awareness.  We go from just seeing ordinary things to seeing the Holy in ordinary things.  We have been trained to “see” our knitting. We know what to look for. Where do we find our attention as we begin this Lenten process?

Project Update

Published by Julie Cicora

I'm an Episcopal Priest that loves using knitting as a spiritual discipline.

4 thoughts on “Making Sense of Symbols

  1. I need quite to do uncomplicated stitches. Prayer shawls are my thing as guage is not very important either. Wish I had learned how to knit and pray earlier in my journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. re: knitting uncomplicated stitches: I have been knitting for about forty years and, while I have knit aran sweaters, I still love to knit shawls and stocking hats the most. this way, I don’t have to concentrate on the pattern and I can get into the rhythm of the knitting. I’ve often felt like knitting – especially knitting in the round — is like saying the rosary. so, let’s hear it for uncomplicated stitches and prayer shawls. I think you’re on to something.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Often we may be focused on the wrong thing. There are so many competing priorities in our lives. I see prayer as a way to let God show us what to focus on. But prayer requires focus as well.The act of knitting narrows my attention to a repetitive manual activity which allows my mind to focus on prayer. If I am open I will become aware of what God wants me to focus on. Thank yo for another wonderful eflection.


  3. I am so glad I stumbled on this KAL. I found out about it while watching another knitting podcast. I have started my Lent KAL which will be a scarf to match a headband I have already completed. I am the musician at our church and we currently have online services only. However…..I meet with the Pastor every couple of weeks and we record music to go with the service online. I was able to play last night for Ash Wednesday as a meditative time while people received their ashes. It was wonderful. Wishing all a peaceful time during Lent when we have so much to be thankful for yet the world really seems to be spinning out of control at this time.


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