Lion Brand Notebook

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How Knitting and Crocheting Makes Us Better

January 26th, 2010

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We were overwhelmed by the impact crocheting and knitting has had on your lives. It has helped us relax, express ourselves creatively, connect with others, deal with grief, recover from health problems, give back to the community, and more. Because we loved your comments so much, we selected 5 of our favorites, and then we randomly selected a winner from there. Here are our top 5:

Jessica writes: Knitting and crocheting makes me better, I realized when my 3-year-old baby was diagnosed with leukemia this summer. I sat in the corner of the hospital room learning to knit quietly hoping to be invisible so to avoid nurses and visitors questioning me or trying to make polite conversation. On the contrary (and surprisingly!) it sparked MORE questions and conversations. Nurses wanted to know what I was working on and came close to inspect my progress. It became an ice-breaker and though many, many tears were shed, I found that I did need others support and having that knit project in my hands gave me a reason to connect with people when I much rather would’ve crawled under the bed and disappeared.

Kathy writes: How could knitting or crocheting NOT make us better people? We live in our self-created society of “STRESS.” We push ourselves and push ourselves. We all need to relax but how many of us would not have any relaxation if we didn’t have our needles or hooks in our hands? It forces us to sit down, whether in front of the TV, traveling, or listening to audio books (my favorite), so we can get some “rest.” I work in the health care arena – very stressful – no opportunity to create something of beauty and at the end of my day, I need to rest my mind as much as my body. But many of us need to be doing “something” besides vegetate and so we get out our yarn and practice our craft. I think all of us who knit or crochet have an artist within us – that need to create, to make a statement, to give gifts, etc. I have given away everything that I have created. Perhaps it is a way to leave a part of myself behind so someone will pick up an afghan, a sweater, and remember me and the love I put into making it.

Sue writes: Knitting makes me better because it forces me to stop. Stop emailing, stop doing laundry, just simply STOP … and sit, and relax, and drink warm tea, and look out the window at the world … and take a precious hour or two where I just focus on counting stitches, rows, knitting up yarn and starting the next new ball. When I’m knitting I see my achievement grow. I’m busy … but I’m not the constant, fighting, struggling kind of busy that is the life of many Moms. I’m busy growing a very special unique project that knits a little piece of me into every stitch.

Personna writes: Crocheting has taught me that I DO have patience and a creative eye, that I CAN find a way to calm down and relax, and what’s even better is that the people I make things for know how much they’re loved just by receiving something that I’ve made for them. Crocheting makes me better because I’ve learned that if I can make a cardigan and socks from string, I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to. I’ve even decided to try my hand at DESIGNING crochet.

Deb writes: Crocheting makes me better because I can say ‘I love and value you’ without saying a word. It is all intricately woven into the thread or yarn of the gift I have given to you dear and beloved friend (or family)!

Jessica’s entry was randomly chosen as the winner. Congratulations, Jessica, and thank you to everyone for sharing how knitting and crocheting impact your life.

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  • joan

    I have been very sick the last 5 years, had to sell my bookstore after 25 years, came close to going home to my Lord. now i can’t walk, but i have learned to knit, and what joy i get. even my great husband of 49 years loves to see what i do with my needles, for my family and for charities. i love any suggestions.

  • http://xosonja.blogspot.com Sonja

    I can see why it was so hard to choose. They are all excellent entries. Knitters and crocheters are such deeply loving people, aren’t they?

  • Pam

    Ever since my only son died at the age of 20 (May 24, 2008), crocheting has been my therapy. I have made approximately 6 baby afghans, several scarves and a hat. I would be in the crazy house now if I didn’t have my crocheting! I have taught my 11 year daughter to crochet. She was 7 at the time and is now entering her projects as 4-H entries at the county fair. She just finished a market bag.

  • Barb

    With such great entires, I can understand the difficulty in chosing one. However, you made an excellent choice.

  • Jean McCormick

    Oh, what a great read. Would love to know more about how her baby is doing. Crocheting does relieve stree that’s for sure.

  • cath evans

    I hadnt knitted for many years then one day i was surfing the web and came across knitting patterns for babys in intensive care and thought the parents of those babys will be so worried about the child that just having something someone has made to keep their child warm means there is hope and someone cares. If what i knit brings a little comfort and hope in those hard days it is worth every stitch.

  • Essie

    I was diagnosed with Stage 2B/3 breast cancer last April. Since then there have been surgeries, chemo, radiation, doctor visits, hospitalizations, etc. I started taking my crocheting/knitting with me to give me something to do while waiting which it sometimes seems is all I do. Somehow, during this, I found that creating something made my soul feel better. I never realized how much I hurt inside because I was always hiding it from my family. Crocheting a hat or knitting an afghan made me feel like I was contributing something good to a world I might not be a part of in a few months. Touching the soft yarns brought back good memories of holding my kids when they were babies. Looking at patterns gave me hope that I had a future to look forward to finishing my project(s). My soul has come to accept whatever the final outcome of my battle will be and my yarn and needles will be with me to the end!

  • Angie

    I have to agree that crocheting has been wonderful therapy for me. I used to come home from work and just pace my floor for hours. No time to sit and unwind. I didn’t do too much, just paced. One day my daughter-in-law and I decided to try this knitting and crocheting stuff. She was amazed at how much it calmed me down. Now I come home and see what the next project is I can do. Always challenging myself. I love it! And Like Jessica, I too have a son that was diagnosed with Lukemia in December and it too has helped me. I hope your little man is doing great! and keep up with the crocheting and knitting, it really does help!

  • Jackie Conrad

    I was humbled and happy to hear that several others use knitting and crocheting as therapy too. All new babies in our family get their first afghan from me, as well as a napghan when they are older. Hats and scarves are a must, and now my newest project is Chemo caps. We all must do what we can to show our love and
    needlework is one of my favorite ways. Even my grandchildren aged 5 and 2, ask if my current project is for them especially if its their favorite color. Keep those knitting needles and crochet hooks humming!! Remember we must all take care of ourselves too!!

  • Marcia Bailey

    I learned to knit while in college and have been “practicing” for over 50 yrs. People used to ask me why I was knitting when I was young; they thought that it was an old-person’s hobby. My reply has always been, “It is my tranqualizer.” Though said in jest, it really has been. I always have a project ready to grab as I leave the house; many trips to emergency rooms, doctor’s appts. etc. with children and others. I knit in the car (when a passenger), in the dark, and my husband swears he has seen me knitting after I’ve fallen asleep while riding.

    One emergency-room visit with one of our sons was to have a double-pointed knitting needle removed from the ball of his foot. He was lying on the floor watching TV, swung his leg, caught my knitting that was in a basket on the hearth, swung his foot back and the needle hit the edge of the bricks, driving it crosswise into his foot. At the hospital, the staff gathered up lots of people to come see; they hadn’t had that type of injury before. He was fine, but that was one time that I couldn’t knit while waiting since my “tool” was “indisposed.” Needlework is the most relaxing and comforting pasttime I’ve found.

  • http://www.singuseniors.com Bobbie Bushey

    I too believe crocheting has been very therapeutic and has made me a better person. I hadn’t thought much about what it has done for me and others till I read the other stories/comments. I have used crochet to relax; for expected grandchildren (they each get a baby blanket and turtle toy–family tradition started by my mother); for charities–Newborns in need (caps & booties), Veterans (lap robes), scarves for silver vixens, hats for the homeless and scarves for the military in Afghanistan; for one-of-a-kind “props” for my teaching of art in elementary schools (with no pattern); and most recently sweaters for my daughter’s new puppy–miniature dachshund (with no pattern) and swinging therapy blankets for special needs kids (my own pattern). I have made many crocheted gift items and put them on craft sites for sale as well. Nothing makes me feel more warm and relaxed than crocheting the next “project.”

  • Lisa Mills

    I learned to knit when I was a child but never progressed beyond scarves. Then, 7 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter and was placed on bed rest for 3-1/2 months I decided to try again. I started with a simple afghan that I could give my child. Now every time I pick up my needles and yarn my daughter asks, “Is that for me?” I may not be the best knitter in the world, but I have one fan and each item gets a little better.

  • chris

    A “napghan?” what a great name! I, too, make baby blankets for the babies in our extended family of relatives and colleagues at work, and find it most relaxing. I work with special needs children, and would love to hear from Bobbie Bush about “swinging therapy blankets.” Sounds like double therapy – stress reduction for you, help for them. I am proud to be in a community of knitters and crocheters.

  • judy callahan

    I love doing both – crocheting seems to go much faster for me though. I am constantly working on a project – I am now in the process of crocheting 7 teddy bears for my grandchildren. Three done, four to go — Thank you Lion Brand for all the free patterns I have received from your website over the past many years, from babies to buddies -Please keep adding patterns for all of us.

  • Carol Elder

    I agree that crocheting is therapeutic! Since retiring, I am busy volunteering in our neighborhood and small town. I have been crocheting blankets for the Linus Blanket Project for the past 2 years, turning in 58 the first year, and 48 last year. I also crocheted hats for the local thrift store, and for several teachers to give to their students. I crochet 20 to 40 hours a week, while traveling, at different meetings, etc. With no young grandchildren/no great grandchildren on the way, it’s my way to connect to young ones, family or not!

  • Carol Elder

    Linus Blanket Project is a great place to start with either quilting, knitting or crochet. Their web site has LOTS of patterns.

  • Brenda Vance

    The joy and peace crocheting gives me is worth more than I can describe! I learned while teaching little ones in Preschool during their nap time in my early 20’s. I wish everyone had the joy this has bro’t to my life. I have taught anyone that was interested. I praise our Lord for the ability He has given me to share in this marvelous craft…..and being able to bless others by sharing with them.

  • Joel

    Thanks to everyone for their stories, it was great to read them. I’m disabled and spend a lot of time resting. My grandmother taught me to knit when I was 5 or so – I remember the red sweater we made – and it’s always brought me a lot of pleasure and joy (except for maybe when I was knitting samples for designers). The fabrics going through my fingers, the colors, figuring out patterns for a different gauge yarn, the satisfaction of finishing, working with a new yarn. When I’m making a sweater for someone, I always feel like I’m knitting my love for them into every stitch. Recently I made a hat for my nephew’s birthday, and his brother wanted one too – yes, knitting makes me better.

  • Marcia Betts

    I learned to knit at the age of nine. My first project was a pair of slipper sox for my brother. I am now 66 and have never stopped knitting. I retired and said I planned to knit until my fingers fell off. Since 2009 I have knitted over 3,000 chemo hats for a local clinic. I seem to be the only one providing them with the hats. I try to make them soft and stylish. During those years I have been diagnosed with Menieres Disease, MS, and had a brain aneurysm that ruptured. All the while I kept knitting Chemo hats and gifts for others in the family.
    I am lucky to be alive and with no disabilities. Mainly, I have always kept knitting, designing and giving. I told my husband my tombstone is to read “She finished her row, she was ready to go.”

  • http://skhan.bakingdelight.com skhan

    I’ve almost tears in my eyes!

    I don’t have words to express my feelings after reading these lines !

  • Jennifer

    I learned to crochet in Junior High School, and made a colorful afghan that was displayed in the corridor of the high school. It was therapy for me because I came to the United States in 1970 at age 13 and did not have too many friends.

    I taught my second oldest how to crochet at age 12, and we currently have many requests for lots of projects. We are trying to open a craft store in the future when my oldest daughter returns from Afghanistan. My oldest is excellent in scrapbooking. I’m blessed.

  • Gwynn Shaw

    I was diagnosed with Lymphoma in late November 2008. I picked up my knitting needles again after a short (30+ years) hiatus and started knitting myself caps to wear when my hair started falling out to keep my head warm. I’ve never been a person who sits still well and knitting helped me cope with the 6 hour chemo sessions.

    When I relapsed and started another round of chemo this fall, I just packed my bag with another project. My daughter was thrilled to get the afghan and scarf I made while getting my treatments.

    Knitting and crocheting is an icebreaker and gives us a common ground (besides our cancer) to talk about while we are receiving our chemo infusions.

  • Jan

    Knitting keeps me sane. Plain and simple. Living in cold ole Michigan, with husband laid off for months, past 60 and prospects of a job not looking real good, very much stress seems to be my life right now. When I stop and pick up my knitting I can “go away” for a while and the best part is I give away my projects as expressions of love to various recipients. It’s more fun than making cookies and far less fattening!

  • kATHY

    My daughter was diagnoised with lung cancer and was given just a few months to live. She loved to crochet and we often did it together. She passed away on January 6th and because of our love for needle crafts I will always have those cherished memories to keep her close to me.

  • Maxine

    How wonderful to read how much this hobby of knitting means to so many – I have recently fallen in love with the prayer shawl idea and have made and sent about 20 off to various friends and relatives. I have an easy baby afghan pattern a friend of mine gave me many, many years ago – I call it my idiot’s delight as it always turns out beautifully. I was glad to hear that many give their projects away as I have almost nothing except dishcloths that I have made. I, too, love the Lion Brand free patterns and pictures of the shop in New York – hopefully a destination some day. Keep knitting!

  • Alma in Mexico

    I come from a family of knitters and crochetters. I learned to knit and crochet when I about five years old sitting in a small chair in my grandma’s “reciving parlor” in a recess by the window where I would watch the passers by and the cars while trying to master the craft. My aunts would come and visit, bringing their own handiwork. The memory of those peaceful and loving times is still with me now that I am a grandma and knit and crochet for my own grandchildren, grand nieces and nephews and everyone in the family. Thank you for making me remember.

  • Sue at Tulalip

    I have been knitting for over 40 years and crocheting almost as long. I made a ‘Spring Resolution’, last year, to make more Christmas gifts myself every year. Somehow, New Years’ Resolutions always seemed to get broken and it was Spring when I decided to make more of my gifts to give to friends and family. I have 3 or 4 projects going right now. It makes me feel good to turn out a well done project. The only problem is that I seem to have an ADD problem and always see a new pattern or new, pretty yarn that is calling my name.

  • Loly

    Thanks alot
    that was very encouraging
    and motivated me to achieve more in my crochet hobby
    thank you

  • Sandy J

    I started crocheting to help me overcome A.D.D. brought on by chemo. My therapy in learning to concentrate over again. It took many months to be able to concentrate long enough to complete a project and now I have completed many and always have one to do. My prayers are with you Essie, I hope you can beat that terrible disease! I have, when March arrives I will reach the 5 year mark.

  • Deborah

    I use crocheting as a way to show my creative side, my compassionate side by crocheting “hugs” for people who wouldn’t necessarily get them. Also a way to relieve the “stresses” of the day. Mixing the colors and yarns together to create something someone can use is a good way to get rid of the self-centeredness of the world today. To see someone eyes light up that you remembered them cannot have a price tag put on it.

  • lemarie615

    There ARE tears in my eyes and running down my face! I have also faced several crisis this last year both physical, mental and with my children. Just before everything started last August, I joined my wonderful co-operative community (I live in a LATCH community – http://www.latch.com – where members maintain the property and support each other) by participating in our summer knitting class for adults. I learned to knit when I was around 10 and have sporatically knitted over the last 50 years, however, wanted to learn more about intarsia. Being with my neighbors and friends was a bonus. We knitted all summer and I caought the knitting “bug” big time. During the hard times this year, knitting has kept me sane, given me a way to release stress and allowed me the opportunity to create. I continue to be amazed at the idea you can take something as simple as cotton string and knit (or crochet) it into a work of art or a practical, beautiful garment or household item. Blessings to Jessica and her family and to all of you who have shared your stories in the comments.

  • lee hammer

    i used to watch my grandmothers fingers fly as she knitted socks, hats and scarves for the soldiers in World War 2 so I asked her to teach me. As a youngster i didn’t accomplish much but through the years I have taught myself to crochet and tat. When my hands gave me trouble, i learned to needle tat. I am now an avid sock knitter and many friends receive them for presents. I’ve heard it said “but I don’t have the patience to knit” and my response is that knitting bestows patience on a person. I taught a class of Spanish speaking ladies at the library (I only speak English) and we had such fun. Its a blessing to work with ones hands. The yarn and free patterns you offer are a godsend to all of us. Bless you all

  • Susie

    I learned to crochet when I was just a little girl. I have loved it ever since. I now also knit. Nothing is more relaxing and rewarding than to crochet or knit and to see a beautiful finished project. My Mother became very ill and was in intensive care. I would sit by her side all day and just crochet. Really helped pass the time and kept me close to Mom. Unfortunately, I lost my Mom. I also take take my project with me wherever I go and pull it out whenever I can…

  • Jean Morgan

    I,too, learned to knit as a child, and as I grew, so did my projects. After I suffered several ruptured brain aneurysms, and four surgeries to correct the damage, I was left side paralyzed for several weeks. I decided that since I already knew how to knit, that starting to knit again might prove to be useful occupational therapy. I also needed to sort out some brain function deficits. I am happy to say that my “homemade” therapy has worked, and I am fully recovered. I have crocheted laprobes for a local nursing home while working the nightshift on a local switchboard, many sets of baby clothes both for my babies and others, and have just learned how to knit socks at the age of 60. Knitting keeps my hands busy, my mind at peace, and the colours fill my heart with joy. My only problem is finding yarns with no real wool in them. It makes me really itchy, and not all projects work so well with synthetics, silk or bamboo, but I am persevering.
    Thank you Lion brand, for all the lovely patterns, I especially like your Chenille Thick and Quick yarn as well.

  • Kathy

    I have been a knitter and crocheter since I was a little girl. It has always brought me peace. Four years ago, when my grandson was diagnosed with a genetic disorder, I began crocheting Scrubbies, selling them, and giving the money to research. I have made over $2000 in that time, and it is satisfying to know that I have made some contribution to the children and families who suffer from this devastating disorder.

  • Sandy Degrassi

    what an amazing group of women! I taught myself to crochet in my teens, 40 years ago, and have never stopped creating and teaching others, women and men. Friends have learnt to escape the stress of everyday life, even given up sedatives, made new friends and received affirmation of their previously sleeping creativity often using their skills to help others. Bless you all!.

  • Dawn

    You’ve said it all. When the day gets crazy and I just want to cry, I lock out the kids, the phones and the noise. I curl up with some yarn and a hook and I crochet. Sometimes I like what I have started, and other times I will tear up four almost complete projects just to get what I want. And this is what makes my crazy day worth all the stress. It relaxes, calms, soothes, comforts and rejuvenates me.

  • Rubby

    all your stories have deeply touched me. I have been knitting and crotheing for two years now. I taught myself. Little by little I learned with my husband. He would sit next to me encouraging me to keep at it. Telling me my project were getting better. I had never know how theaputic it could be. We sit and talk for hours as I make something, anything. Its wonderful. I’ve made blankets for my husband, daughter and mother including many projects I just give away. I had never thought about it as giving a part of myself with each project, but you do! You give someone a piece of your life. You could say a snapshot of your life at that very present moment. Its almost like saying “I thought of you and made this because I care so much.” I hope to be knitting and crotcheing til the end. I love the lady who said her husband will be putting it on her tombstone! “She finished her row, she was ready to go.” That sounds a little like me! Thank you everyone for your encouraging words.

  • Eileen

    My mother in law taught me the basics of crochet 38 years ago, while I was expecting my son. It has been a life long hobby and passion ever since. Last year, when I was laid off from my job, I taught myself to knit, with help from the Lion Brand site. It has been a hobby and a comfort throughout my life.

  • Wendy A

    I picked up my crochet again a year or so ago. It keeps me calm at my 12 step meetings and keeps me from picking anything else up!

  • http://www.easyknittingpatterns.org Sharon

    Like so many others, I learned to knit at age 12, at a YWCA camp. I took a 30+year hiatus between college and last year. I started again after watching two other women knitting at a women’s retreat. I took a dip in the internet marketing waters this summer, and the topic I picked to blog about was knitting. It helped me to remember how industrious my mom was, knitting herself a wardrobe of suit jackets when she couldn’t afford store-bought. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to knit the beautiful tiny Barbie clothes she made, which I still have. Now I’m using knitting as a money-saver, giving scarves for Christmas, graduation, birthdays, etc. and baby blankets for new moms. I don’t get too complicated. I like to be able to talk and knit without messing up. But like so many others, the recipients of my work always express their gratitude for receiving a little bit of my love.

  • Barbara Bennetts

    After brain surgery in May, 2008, knitting was the one thing I could do as successfully as before. I got through speech therapy, relearning how to drive, and being around people again, and major headaches all with my knitting skills intact. I am truly blessed every day and so lucky to be here knitting with all of you. Life is good and it is reinforced every time I get to sit down and knit.

  • Jennifer Dickson

    Great stories! It helps me to destress and make a gift usually for friends and family. I never would have made it through pregnancy without my yarn and needles!

  • Pat Bolzenthal

    I enjoyed reading all of the comments and stories. I learned to knit and crochet when I was in my early 20s. I made mittens, slippers and scarves. During my second pregnancy I started knitting but never finished a sweet yellow bunting for my baby. While raising 2 little ones I never seemed to be able to make time for needle work. When my daughter (that second baby of mine) was expecting her second baby I decided to crochet a layette for her. I finished it and have been doing occasional projects since. I love being creative and can’t just sit without keeping my hands busy. My problem is that I like doing too many different things and don’t always finish my projects whatever they may be (I’ve often wondered if it could be a little A D D)
    My oldest granddaughter is quite creative and has A D H D and I’ve wondered if she could concentrate enough to teach her to knit and/or crochet. I think I’ll give it a try when she comes for her annual visit with Grandma and Grandpa this summer.

  • Brenda

    Crocheting and knitting have been a part of my life since mid-70’s. Made countless presents of afghans for weddings, babies, and “just because I love you!”. There are other things I’ve made as well and passed them along. And don’t forget the stashes of yarns and material! The things you can do. Please, give a labor of love to someone you love or to your favorite charity. Don’t forget the women’s shelters! God bless you all…

  • Jenn

    Knitting is definately therapy! I am an occupational therapist and have always known that what we do with our hands defines our life, connects us with our spirit. I experienced it in a big way this past year as I cared for my mother who was dying. I brought my knitting to the hospital and to hospice, to do while she was sleeping and not needing care. When I look at those items I knitted, I connect with that time. When I “gifted” them I told people of the precious time they were created…thanks for letting me share

  • Pauline

    My sister who is 9 years older than I taught me how to crochet and knit at the young age of 4.
    And in fact, my mother taught me how to mend bedsheets at the same age of 4 years.
    I am now proficient in knitting, crochetting and hand sewing. At the age of 74, I keep myself busy with doing those wonderful crafts. I make many items and gifts. I am presently crochetting a lovely baby blanket for my great grandchild to be. The baby is due in June, therefore, I have plenty of time to make many items for the new baby. I firmly believe that the reason my mind is active is due to the fact that I have these crafts that keep me busy even though I am disabled, I have no time to be bored or depressed for that matter. I love making things for others as well as myself.
    My advice for those young mothers who have children, teach your children to knit and crochet and sew, and they will have no time for doing things that aren’t healthy for them.

  • Jan Huser

    What wonderful responses! I just have a minute but want to share. My mother taught me how to crochet when I was in my late teens. My mother didn’t drive so I was her “taxi”. We went to a lovely women’s home for our weekly ladies night. This beautiful lady had “yarn” store in her basement where we could purchase yarn & patterns and have a wonderful night of knitting, crocheting, and sharing! What great memories I have of those days. It was fun seeing others projects and we all learned and shared so much. I have so much to thank my mom for and think of her every time I pick up my hook.

    Now that I have grandchildren, I have started to crochet again. It is WONDERFUL and can’t say how much it helps me gain a sense of self.

    I hope to be able to teach someone else this great craft–maybe some high school students that weren’t as lucky as I to have a mom or grandmother to teach them! God Bless you All!

  • Karen Gilmore

    I was touched by the many heart wrenching stories of courage told by the crafters above and I smiled as I remembered my own knitting and crochet journey. My yarn stash is huge and I use it to encourage others to learn to knit and crochet, I collect freebie gifts from knitting magazines and re-gift them to friends. I pour my love into my craft, it brings me great joy that I can make something which other people think is beautiful, even my teenage nephews love a soft cuddly ‘blankie’ in the winter – though I doubt they would admit that to their friends!
    I agree with everyone, making and giving bring great joy and the more the merrier!
    Be good to each other :)

  • Charleen Sastri

    I first learned to knit when I was a teenager. Then after I got married and had three children, a woman I worked with showed me how to crochet. Now I am retired and really enjoy the crocheting. I make blankets for the maternity ward for the local hospital, make hats for the grandchildren, made St. Patrick Hats for friends and spend a lot time making dishcloths for family and friends. It is relaxing and I hope to start knitting soon.

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