Carol Caparosa is the founder and board member of Project Knitwell, an organization dedicated to bringing comfort and therapy to people facing stressful situations through the joy of knitting. In this piece, Carol shares the story of her first born, and how a difficult time led to her back to knitting.
After 19 hours of labor, my first child was born, a beautiful, healthy little girl we named Emily. She was discharged in two days and life with a new baby began. Sleepless nights, lots of staring in the crib, holding and soothing her, navigating the early days of nursing and figuring out what she needed – not an easy task. At one week old, I noticed that Emily seemed to be breathing funny, a little labored and her coloring a little paler than the day before. I called the pediatrician’s office and the nurse didn’t seemed to be alarmed but said I could bring Emily in.
My Mom and I drove to the doctor’s office and they took her to a room immediately. Within a few minutes, several doctors rushed into the room with their stethoscopes and started asking me multiple questions about Emily and my pregnancy. The mood in the room was serious and hurried. The senior pediatrician scooped Emily into his arms, ran out of the office, down the hallway, out the door, across the street, and into the emergency room. My Mom followed him, while I went to an office to hysterically call my husband.
The Longest Wait
The ER doctors were uncertain what was going on but they knew that Emily was in kidney failure and shock. One smart neonatologist had a hunch that it might be a certain heart defect and administered medication that provided some relief. She was transferred to Georgetown University Hospital and rushed to the pediatric intensive care unit. We waited as specialists examined our tiny daughter and tests were given. We called our families and asked for prayers. Finally, two cardiologists’ and an intensivist sat down with us and one of the cardiologists said “if she makes it through the night, her first surgery will be.” That cardiologist made a drawing, which I still have, of a normal heart and a drawing of Emily’s heart. He numbered 4 areas that were defective. I asked for a priest who came and baptized Emily that night.
The surgery was the next morning and she survived it. But within 2 weeks, she was losing weight and in cardiac failure due to one of the other defects. At 3 weeks old, and 5 pounds, she had open-heart surgery. They kept her in a coma for days after the surgery so she could begin to heal. She did heal, but faced more surgeries during the next 5 years.
A Welcome Distraction
I lived at the hospital and only came home for very brief periods. I couldn’t stand being away from her, even though in those days, parents could only be in the ICU’s at certain times. I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and slept on a cot with other random parents in a room down the hall. I couldn’t read, watch television, or talk on phone, when I was at the hospital. I could literally stare at the same sentence in a book for hours. There was no internet, cell phones or caring bridge website to let concerned family members know how she was doing. I could only worry and I did that well. One day, my husband brought in the mail from home and there was a package with a hand-knit sweater that my sister-in-law’s mother knit for Emily. I opened it and thought that it was the nicest gift anyone could give a baby. I knew how to knit but hadn’t in a long time. A light bulb went off and I thought that I would start knitting for the rest of the time Emily was hospitalized. Not sure why, but somehow, I imagine this would help me.
The next time I went home, I found some yarn, and needles, because all knitters, even when we aren’t knitting, have a stash. I knit my way through the rest of her hospitals stays. At first, I just knit, without really making anything – it was the process, not the end product for me. Eventually, I got patterns and started to make things for Emily. Her surgeries were long – 7 plus hours and we didn’t get a lot of updates, but somehow I could manage waiting by knitting. I knit when I couldn’t sleep and when she was sleeping. I felt productive when I was knitting even though I never finished anything in the hospital. But once she was home, I continued to knit and completed many sweaters that I still have packed away.
A Happy Present
Emily’s surgeries continued for 5 years, we had another baby, a son, and our life eventually took on a normal pace. After 15 years, I went back to Georgetown Hospital to volunteer. I volunteered in the in-patient pediatric unit and told the Child Life Specialist that I would be happy to teach Moms to knit. It took off, and so did the idea of Project Knitwell. I wanted to build an organization that would provide knitting instruction and quality materials to people who were in stressful situations in healthcare settings in hopes that they would gain the benefits that I had gained.
Emily, at 21, had to have another heart procedure. It was suppose to be out-patient, but it turned out to be more complicated and included a stay in the ICU for a few days. The day of her procedure, I brought with me music to listen to, sudoko puzzles, a book I was reading, my knitting, and, of course, the waiting room had a television. I tried it all, my book, sudoko, TV, but the only thing I could do was knit and listen to my iPod. Hopefully Emily won’t need more surgeries but, if she does, I’m only going to pack my knitting and iPod.
One last thing… Emily is now a healthy 25 year old, recently engaged, and a pediatric intensive care nurse in the same unit at Georgetown Hospital where she was cared for as an infant. I still volunteer at Georgetown and love seeing her in her new role on the days we are there together. She knows how to knit too!
Project Knitwell Presents: The Comfort of Knitting, is a unique book that focuses on how to alleviate stress and offer comfort to families and caregivers facing difficult situations. More on Project Knitwell’s mission, as well as 7 new patterns are included in this publication. All proceeds from Lion Brand’s sale of this book go directly to Project Knitwell and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Here at Lion Brand®, we love yarn every day. For I Love Yarn Day, however, we’d thought we’d share a glimpse at one of our most recent events. This summer in New York City, we teamed up with yarnbomber London Kaye (who you might remember from an episode of Tea with Shira) to get our community outside and knitting and crocheting together!
Over a hundred local yarncrafters met up in Union Square Park to collaborate on a yarnbomb piece that London later hung up in another NYC neighborhood. Together, we made a lion with a rainbow mane, consisting of hundreds of intricately knit and crocheted pieces! With lots of passersby stopping by to ask about our crafting, we were more than happy to share our favorite pastime with a new audience.
See the process from start to finish in the video below!:
You can be a part of I Love Yarn Day too! Enter the I Love Yarn Day Stitch It Forward photo & video contests — you could win a fabulous prize pack full of yarn, tools, books, and more!
Share with us how you’ll be spending I Love Yarn Day — tell us what you’re working on, what new pattern you’re most excited about, or simply tell us what your favorite Lion Brand® yarn is in the comments below!
This week, David Babcock — aka The Knitting Runner — shares his crochet plans for the first of two marathons he’s running this fall. Read on to see what he’ll make!
Lion Brand® is sponsoring David in not one but TWO marathons this fall! David is running to raise money for Alzheimer’s research and he needs your support – last year, with your help, David raised $10k, will you help David beat that?
Please donate today: http://lby.co/1Kl24cG.
In 2013 I broke the Guinness World Record for the “Longest Scarf Knit Whilst Running a Marathon” which was originally set by Susie Hewer to help raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s. This year I am trying to establish my own record to continue to fight Alzheimer’s and support caregivers. I wanted to do something that would be very visible and funny. When I think of crochet doilies I think of my grandmother. As out-of-place as a scarf is in a marathon I think that seeing a man running a marathon while working on his giant lacy white doily would be even more engaging – I’m calling it the Doily Dash!
Doily Dash Plan:
With that in mind my training began, first the running. I think that I am like most of you when you think about running: A) you can’t imagine deliberately engaging in the pain and discomfort and would rather stay in bed on a cold morning, and/or B) you both love and hate running for its health benefits and messing with your brain to convince you to keep doing it. I’ve worked up to running a half marathon at 8 minutes per mile (without knitting). You can see my progress on Strava as user David Donotstaple. Most record-breaking races only require that you finish in under 6 hours. The longer you take to run the race the more time that you have to work on your knitting. A student told me once that when they were talking to their friends about my record they were somewhat dismissive saying that it wasn’t a serious marathon effort (like they could do better). While I do see a marathon as a collaborative and friendly supportive event, I also like passing people obviously younger than me. So for this race I’m looking for a balance. While it will give me less time to work 4:20 is a respectable time that a lot of people aspire to and not too far from my personal record of 3:56. I’ll run with a pace group for control and the chance to make some new friends.
Yes, I do crochet training. The first problem is that I had never made a doily before. I’ve made snowflakes with some success but I’ve found that making a large flat doily is difficult. I have a strange sort of crafter’s pride where I don’t like to follow other people’s patterns (but I hope you’ll follow mine). I’m an artist, a designer, a creative professional, I thought, “I can handle this”. I love experimenting and failing and learning something new. I needed something easy enough to deal with during the stress and frustration of a marathon while still being impressively doily-like. I’m not a math genius and it took a lot of failures to find an appropriate pattern and increase per row that would lay flat. I couldn’t go too long with a chain stitch because my other hand would always be holding the work. I wanted to maximize stitches going into spaces rather than hard to target previous stitches. I needed to keep the counting simple and repetitive, easy to see where I was without memorization or referring to a pattern.
So what is it like to actually do this all while running? I’ve done some training on the treadmill and have found that I can use a whole skein of Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in 1:17, 2 1/2 hours and 17 1/2 miles later I have a nice doily 30 inches in diameter from two skeins. I should be able to use 3 skeins in under 4 hours to get to 36 inches in diameter. I’ll carry 4 skeins and try to make it over a meter. So, no, it isn’t a 15 minute scarf, but if you aren’t running you could make yourself a nice little rug in about 3 hours. While I’m running my hands get sweaty and just advancing the yarn can be a struggle requiring very aggressive and overstated crochet motions. And of course there is always the bouncing around of a moving target for my hook. Just breathe, relax the shoulders, two chains and a double, advance & repeat.
— David Babcock, the Knitting Runner (and Running Hooker?)
This week David wants to know – what do you find hard? Keep reading …
Lion Brand is sponsoring David Babcock, aka the Running Knitter, in not one but TWO marathons this fall! David is running to raise money for Alzheimer’s research and he needs your support – please donate today: http://lby.co/1Kl24cG.
David is the Guinness World Record holder for knitting the longest scarf (over 12 feet!) while running a marathon, which he accomplished in 2013. In Kansas City on October 17th, he will attempt a second world record – the largest doily crocheted while running a marathon! Last year David ran the New York City Marathon in under four hours, setting a personal record while finger-knitting a scarf with the words, “I’ll remember for you.” Together, David and Lion Brand raised just under $10,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter and we’re going to do it again this year!
The Knitting Runner’s Training Diary Part #2
I’m training again for a marathon. Yes, it is hard. Like most people, I would rather be comfortable = not running. So why do something hard and uncomfortable? Short answer: because I can and it matters, plus it’s good to do hard things.
I like to find parallels between my running, learning more about yarn arts, and life. So while you may not be marathon training chances are that, as a visitor to this site, you are trying to improve your yarn skills. It is also safe to assume that most people are dealing with something hard in their life.
To keep myself motivated and moving I keep telling myself, “I can do hard things”. There are three key parts to this that I would like to share with you.
The worst time to decide to slow down, or quit, during a race is when it is toughest while you are running uphill. Make decisions when you are stable, cooling off, or at a rare resting point. Don’t decide when your knitting is knotted or your crochet is crooked. Frustration and despair are what we are training against.
I’m running races while doing crochet this year to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s and caregivers. If it was just me it would be easier to sleep in. I’m doing it for them and they are counting on me. Find a creative way to connect with a cause. Most hard things find you. If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease they might not thank you. Don’t confuse someone’s appreciation for service with the value of that service. For your yarn projects it helps to find a recipient with a good sense of humor. Pets tolerate less-than-perfect projects as well as they do successful ones.
It is hard to look good in a marathon race photo. Being positive and hopeful about your efforts is like a turbo boost. Smiling is not a way to hide your pain but a way to invite others to share the load. If your hard things are for someone you love let that love lift you up. Hard is important. It is how we get things done that matter. The things that do the most good are often the hardest. Does being better with your yarn really matter? Make it matter by connecting it with other people.
The Alzheimer’s Association uses flowers as a symbol for remembering our relationships with those affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. For the NYC Marathon I’ll be making finger-crochet flowers while running. I’ll be making lots of flowers as I train. Everyone deserves a flower but I won’t be able to manage that but I can give away a few. Last year I shared training scarves with randomly selected readers who shared a story about their relationship to Alzheimer’s and yarn arts.
This year I’d like to hear about the hard things that you can do, leave your message in the comments below. It doesn’t have to be connected to yarn but we are all connected here through our yarn. I think you are awesome for working hard and working through it. You are becoming more talented, stronger, more able to serve, and more able to love. You deserve a flower and much more.
– David Babcock, the Knitting Runner
Share the hard things that you can do for a chance to receive a crochet flower.
Today we’re sharing a few popular patterns from Tamara Kelly, the amazing crochet and knitwear designer behind the blog, Moogly! If you haven’t checked out Moogly yet, you must! There’s just so much inspiration to be found on her site, you can literally dig through the content for days.
With modest blogging beginnings as a “mommy blogger”, this crafty woman realized her wonderful potential in designing knit and crochet patterns, which eventually led her to change the focus of her blog to showcase more of her creative side, and we’re glad she did.
Our team recently traveled to the Knit and Crochet Show in San Diego, and the lovely Tamara was there and willing to be interviewed by our very own Brand Ambassador, Shira, for an episode of Tea with Shira. Watch below, as Tamara shares why her blog is names Moogly, and shows off some extremely popular patterns of hers, the Alpaca Your Wrap, and Moroccan Tote Bag (patterns below).
Tamara is also an instructor for the increasing popular tutorial website, Craftsy. She teaches a highly rated crochet course (4.75/5) “Quick & Easy Crochet Cowls“, in which she walks you through crocheting 3 different cowls in the round. No need to fear circular crochet with her easy-to-understand instructions. In this course, Tamara shows you how to crochet some of our most popular patterns: 45 Minute Cowl, Cardiff Cowl, and Brompton Abbey Cowl. We hope you start following the Moogly blog and enjoy her fabulous work just as we do!
Find Tamara’s patterns from the video!
in LB Collection® Cotton Bamboo
|Alpaca Your Wrap
in LB Collection® Baby Alpaca
|Easy Log Cabin Afghan