For knitters, the season of Advent is a time to find a unique indie yarn dyer and sign up for a set of mini skeins. This wonderful idea comes from the more traditional Advent calendar which was used to count down the days to Christmas. Traditional Advent Calendars have paper doors to open that might reveal a verse of scripture, lines from a poem, or if you were really lucky, a piece of chocolate.
I bought an Advent yarn calendar last year and I loved opening the package of yarn each day and sometimes there was a piece of candy packed inside the wrapping. It is amazing how mini skeins in an array of bright colors can bring such joy.
Spiritually, Advent is a time of preparation and expectant waiting for the birth of Christ and his second coming. It reminds me of the times I was pregnant anticipating the birth of my own children. I knit them blankets, tiny booties, and little sweaters. So much love went into preparing each garment.
There is a special joy that spreads in the anticipation of a birth of a child. But as we know, sometimes the pregnancy isn’t viable and there is a miscarriage or a stillbirth. This happens more than we might think but no one talks about it. Women endure the pain of losing a child and then keep it to themselves as others encourage them to “try again” or get on with their lives.
We have a hard time with grief in our culture. Many of us struggle with what to say when we are confronted with this kind of tragedy. We want to find the words to make the people suffering feel better when there really is nothing to say other than “I’m sorry.” When people grieve, especially after the loss of a child, they need a listening, caring presence so they can process their thoughts. It’s hard to be present to someone’s suffering. We naturally want to help them feel better. We want to say something to magically take the pain away but the best thing we can do is be quiet and listen. It is usually the little things that make a difference, like a tiny blanket.
This Advent, I have decided to knit some tiny blankets for my daughter-in-law’s project called Carter’s Care Packages. This past summer, she delivered a little boy who was born too early to survive. This stillbirth was devasting to the entire family. Our only comfort came from the caring staff who provided us with a handmade blanket and other keepsakes. I have been so grateful to the knitter who took the time to create a beautiful blanket for a child that would never take a breath. I usually knit a baby blanket during Advent but this year I am planning on knitting four tiny blankets for Carter’s Care Packages (one blanket for each week during Advent). These packages contain items that my daughter-in-law picked to help families after a stillbirth. There are books on grief and loss, candles, gift certificates for restaurants, and a variety of other items she knew others would find especially comforting.
.If you are interested in knitting some blankets to donate to families to use for their stillborn child, here are some simple instructions. Choose a yarn that does not contain any animal fibers. I’m going to use a cotton/acrylic mix. Pastel colors work best. Cast on enough stitches to create a square that can vary in size from 12 inches up to 24 inches. Use any stitch pattern you like except lace. The blanket needs to be solid without any “holes”.
Advent starts on November 28th and ends on December 24th. Check back here every day during Advent for a short meditation and for progress on my tiny blankets.