small kindnesses

I thought I might start 2015 by writing a bit regarding a project that I have been working with on and off over the the past few years.  I don’t think I realized it was a project until I had noticed a pattern to how I approached what I was doing and then, without setting out to do so exactly, the small project was born.  Ach! I sure can beat around the bush and ramble on, can’t I?  Well, please indulge me just a while longer, if you will.

I had a terrible time making friends when I was younger.  I just didn’t understand how people came together, connected and moved on from there to form the bonds of friendship, I suppose.  It all seemed like such a production and I didn’t know how to even initiate the process.  I started a very bad habit of giving my toys away around that time.  I figured if you give people things, then they have to like you, right? In the case of 7 year old girls it does not mean that at all, no – it only means that they keep expecting you to give them more stuff. Pretty soon my Barbie doll collection was looking awfully meager and I came to the conclusion that this just was not working for me and I closed up shop.  Around that time we moved from Ohio to Florida; this presented a new set of challenges for me and shifted my focus to other things and what do you know – once I stopped focusing on desperately getting schoolmates to like me, well, they started to like me a bit more.

I think about it though, every now and then.  Giving away beloved possessions to people you barely know – from a child’s perspective that might make good sense and as a grade-schooler I didn’t really know any better, but as an adult I still get terribly embarrassed whenever it crosses my mind. I resolved long ago to save my nice things for folks who were actually worthy of them.

One summer evening, back in 2012, I was knitting a shawl from some grey wool that resembled wispy fog and felt like low morning mists as it slipped through my fingers.  It made me think of a lovely, brilliant woman with whom I’d had some correspondence online and who I greatly admired.  I posted photos on Instagram of the finished item when I had just woven in the last stray end, and strangely enough, she was the very first person to comment on the picture.  It just sort of clicked for me right then: I think maybe I was knitting the shawl for her all along.

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‘Clapok-tus shawl for P.

And so it has been over the last two years.  Sometimes I will start a project with no one in particular in mind, and over the course of the yarn choosing, the pattern repetition and the trances induced by midnight hypnostitches – it just comes to me.  Ah!  This shade of red would be perfect for this person’s fiery, feisty personality!  Oooh, this dark night blue would be marvelous for that incredible space babe!  Or sometimes, someone will know just the right words to say to me after my mother has died, just the perfect combination of gentle, thought provoking kindness and reflection, and I will know that the next project I am going to embark on will be a journey through mourning and forgiveness and that particular person is going to be a part of it, every step of the way. It can’t belong to anyone else but them when it is finished.

It all sounds a little silly, and maybe a little crazy, doesn’t it?  And how do I know anyway, that anyone will even want my shabby handmade things?  I do hope that everyone who has received something from me in the recent past knows that what I have given them is because they gave me something I needed first.  A moment of levity during a rotten day, a compliment, a beautiful story, a provocative thought, some small measure of kindness.

Below is a bit of a gallery of some of the projects I have worked on and subsequently sent away over the past few years.  It should be noted that a few of these are actually swaps with other creative folks, who may have sent me one of their handicrafts for one of my knits.  And it was also called to my attention that I may have started doing this long before I realized I was doing it! Lovely E. sent me a photo of a sari silk scarf that I must have knit 7-8 years ago! Wow.  I hope to continue this practice for a long while.  Thank you for not being too weirded out about it, and for your kindnesses to me over the years.

‘Fetching’ mitts for B.

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‘Song of the Sea’ cowl for C.

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Sari silk scarf for E.

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‘Lenore’ socks for M.

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‘Dashing’ mitts for E.

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‘Hanging Gardens’ shawl for L.

 

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‘Charade’ socks for L.

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‘Celestarium’ for L.

‘Ilean’ cowl for T.

‘Herringbone’ scarf for B.

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‘Imagine When’ shawl for A.

‘Blackjack’ shawl for A.

‘Evenstar’ shawl for A.

 

 

8 Comments on small kindnesses

  1. anita
    January 9, 2015 at 4:28 pm (3 years ago)

    lovely post. thanks!

    Reply
  2. OTB
    January 10, 2015 at 12:10 am (3 years ago)

    I love this post. I neglectfully did not send a pic of the lovely shawl you made me but I assure you I was beyond thrilled to get it…I still can’t believe someone would want to make me something by hand.

    Reply
    • S. Elizabeth
      January 10, 2015 at 2:05 pm (3 years ago)

      Well, if you recall, you made me a lovely thing as well! A sweet brown wrap that I pull out and wear in the mornings with a cup of coffee sometimes when the temperature dips down low :)

      Reply
  3. lau
    January 10, 2015 at 2:16 am (3 years ago)

    its not weird at all and i can relate as well — putting together and sending packages is one of my all time favorite past times, something i used to do constantly and for people i did not know and would never meet. it feels so good, to think something through so thoroughly, to craft something special for a specific person. i think its a lost art, like writing letters. true gift giving, where the thing itself isn’t really as important as the intention and the thought and love that went into it.

    and of course, i still can’t believe that you made me that shawl, it’s almost too much for my brain to handle! and i totally cried. i think i told you that, but i did. these gifts mean more to others than you could probably ever realize. so thank you, again.

    Reply
    • S. Elizabeth
      January 10, 2015 at 2:12 pm (3 years ago)

      “. true gift giving, where the thing itself isn’t really as important as the intention and the thought and love that went into it.” Oh, yes, yes! I agree completely. I am going to try to do so much more of that this year and going forward.

      And I am so glad you like that shawl…it really was so much fun to make and everything about it just reminded me of you!

      Reply
  4. annie
    January 15, 2015 at 1:42 am (3 years ago)

    i still feel so humbled by my inclusion in this special society of the gift’d. your knitted pieces are made with care and magic intentions and it is an honour to be given something of that. i’m constantly talking about your knitting. i think a couple of my sisters started following your instagram over the holidays because of my going on. heh. i’m so sorry i missed the deadline to send you a photo, btw! i feel really awful. could i still send you one?

    i just want to add, on a completely mushy note: having special ladies like you (and miss lau, too) in my life made a very bad year not just bearable, but beautiful, too. simply by your existence. so there. and thank you. <3

    Reply
    • S. Elizabeth
      January 15, 2015 at 3:07 pm (3 years ago)

      Oh, yes! If you still want to send an image I would be happy to swap out the one that’s there now! We’ll just consider that one a temporary place-holder :)

      Reply
  5. V.
    January 28, 2015 at 6:37 am (3 years ago)

    You are so talented!

    Reply

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