Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. In this post she explores the benefits of having pets and other animals in our lives and how we can craft for them as a way to heal ourselves. Read Kathryn’s previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
Pattern: Barkley Loves His BlanketEvery week I pick up a friend’s Golden Retriever and together we volunteer through the SPCA doing animal-assisted emotional support therapy. We visit hospitals, schools, housing shelters, community organizations, transitional living residences … and no matter where we visit, the energy of the room changes as soon as the puppy walks through the door. People relax. People smile. People play.
One of the most underlooked ways that animals can help us is through our knitting and crochet. Whether or not you have a pet of your own, you can find ways to crochet for animals that help to benefit them as well as yourself.
1) Crafting for Pets That Are Ill
It can be so difficult on us when our pets get ill, especially with a chronic illness. Animals with long-term illnesses require a lot of care and support. People sometimes reduce their hours at work or change their social schedules for years at a time in order to accommodate the special needs of a sick animal. We do this because we love them but we shouldn’t underestimate how stressful it can be for us.
Having a pet that is chronically ill can lead to the same kind of caregiver stress experienced by people who are taking care of elderly parents or special needs children. Knitting and crochet help to relieve depression in caregivers. Making items for your own pet in need can be a way that you give to them while sustaining yourself. It can feel especially healing to make something that will comfort the animal – a soft new pet bed, a cuddly new pet toy – because it really feels like the time that you’re taking for yourself is also giving to the animal.
Have you ever knit or crocheted for charity? Mixing a hobby you’re passionate about with the act of giving back to others is a delightful way to make yourself and others feel appreciated. As you search for your next project, consider patterns for chemo caps, prayer shawls, or warm afghans. Gifts like these let those in need know that you’re thinking of them – a good feeling for all!
We’ve rounded up a list of charities that could benefit from your handmade gifts, as well as suggested patterns for each one. Whether they’re in your local community or across the nation, we hope you’ll consider using your talents to give back.
Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. In this post she explores how prayer shawls help both the maker and the recipient of the handmade item. Read Kathryn’s previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
A knit or crochet prayer shawl is intended as a gesture of warmth and comfort for the person who receives the item. The maker prays (or sets their intention) for that person with every stitch. When the item is done, a special prayer or ritual may be done to add emotional value to the item before it is sent to charity or given to the person in need. However, it’s not just the person receiving the shawl who benefits from the act; the crafter also heals.
Benefits of Receiving a Prayer Shawl
People who receive prayer shawls often consider them to be special items that they will keep forever. A prayer shawl can be given to help someone who is going through a difficult illness, grieving the loss of a loved one or reeling from a disaster. The item provides physical comfort, actual warmth and a tangible reminder that there are others in the world that care for them.
Wrapped in the snug hug of a prayer shawl, the person can feel the love that went into those stitches. Barbara, who commented on a previous post we did about prayer shawls shared, “When I had surgery the pastor brought one to the hospital and prayed for me and wrapped it around me. It was very comforting. When I feel anxious I wrap myself in it and I feel the love that was knit into each stitch.”
Benefits of Making a Prayer Shawl
Making a prayer shawl has as many benefits as receiving one. Oftentimes when someone we care about is hurting, we desperately want to help but don’t know how. Making a prayer shawl is a way to channel that stressful energy into something positive. Other benefits people cite of making a knit or crochet prayer shawl include:
Making a prayer shawl is a great way to connect you to your own community. Linda Kennedy finds this is true as she makes baby blankets for the women at her church. (Although we call them prayer shawls, intentional crafting items can be anything at all!) She shares, “I know them and think about them often as I am working on theirs. I have heard some of the women talking about how they can’t wait to get their blanket for their baby. It makes me so happy!” Linda put special attention into a white crochet baby blanket that she made for a mother whose baby had heart problems and they weren’t sure whether or not she would make it and found that this was a way to connect to her during a difficult time. Each experience of prayerful crafting is unique and special. Speaking of another item she made for someone from church, Linda says, “When they gave it to her, she cried because she didn’t think anyone would do something like that for her. Seeing how I can touch someone’s heart is so comfort to me!”
Anja’s Squares: A Story of Making and Receiving
Katinka Steyn shared a story about the healing power of both making and receiving intentionally crafted items. It all began in December 2013 when her eldest daughter Anja had to undergo open-heart surgery after a stent lodged in her heart. She posted in her South African Facebook Group Ons Hekel (which means “we crochet”) about what was happening and “countless messages of prayers and encouragement started pouring in”. Anja made it through surgery and was discharged but continued to have chest pain. On January 22, 2014, Anja passed away in her home.
The Lion Brand Yarn Company is proud to be a Gold Sponsor of Cast Off Chemo!
Comprised of yarn industry professionals, the organization operates on the belief that a cure for cancer is one of the most important goals in medicine. With the understanding that it’s a disease that affects all of us – our family, our friends, our customers, our sisters in knit and crochet – Cast Off Chemo is asking that yarn lovers of the world unite to beat chemo – and cancer!
How? Well, by supporting the research of Dr. David Krag and his team at the Breast Cancer Center at the University of Vermont Medical Center. By developing new treatments for patients with breast cancer by using their own immune system, Dr. Krag’s team believes this treatment could end the need for chemotherapy.
There are several ways to support this research:
Whatever option you choose, your support will benefit over a million women and men world-wide by bringing Dr. Krag’s research to clinical trials.
For more information, visit Cast Off Chemo at http://castoffchemo.org.
Cast Off Chemo! is a program of the SD Ireland Cancer Research Fund, a 501c3 organization.
This past week I had the pleasure of visiting the Big Apple Knitters Guild to unveil some of our newest offerings, live and in person. As the new Brand Ambassador, and a fifth generation member of the family business at Lion Brand, I was bursting with excitement to meet about eighty knitters and to talk about the yarn world that I love so much.
I was SO energized by their enthusiasm that I want to share with you their top 5 “oohs and aahs” of the evening:
|1. The Penelope Poncho – made with Country®, who doesn’t love this snugly, cozy great easy knit project?|
|2. Artisan Gift Wrap – I need it and I need it now! I just want to wrap my cats in it.|
|3. LB Collection® yarns – These yarns are really well-priced, stunning, and they are not going to make me broke. Can I have some more please?|
|4. 2-in-1 Tote – This invention is genius! Always searching for your sunglasses and hoping they don’t get tangled with your yarn? Perfect, this one’s for you.|
|5. Hudson Riverfront Hat – There is nothing bad about some glitz and faux-fur – Pelt and Gold Leaf® create the magic here. I love this hat and I need to make it myself.|
I look forward to speaking to more groups in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area so if you would like me to visit, please contact me at Shira@lionbrand.com. In the meantime, I share the inside scoop about what it’s like living the yarny life at Lion Brand on Intagram and Twitter, where you can follow me @Shiraroars