Weapons of mass construction
Saturday February 17th 2007, 1:13 pm
Filed under: afghans for Afghans,Knit,Knitting a Gift

(My Rabbit Tracks pattern with the recommended extra edging at the sides. Yarn: Lisa Souza’s Seafoam colorway; sorry I don’t have any more of the requisite cashmere knitted up on hand for the illustration.)

I am so stealing this line from Carol H., a commenter over at Yarnharlot’s blog. Stephanie aka Yarnharlot wrote a superb post Friday that every knitter who has ever been condescended to, but who wants to handle it well, can relate to. For me, the biggest such moment was when a medical resident last October, seeing me knitting as I sat in my hospital bed, having just met me and knowing nothing whatsoever about me except the fact that I knit, when I mentioned something about my blog and website, gasped loudly, “YOU!!! have a WEBSITE?!!?”

Like wielding two sticks and some wool means you’re not capable of using a computer? Sir?

Stephanie is a woman who, single-handedly, raised $320,000 for Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres from her fellow knitters simply by asking for people to open their hearts. This is a woman with great power to do good, by how she writes and who she is. Her picture is on the very first day that this blog was launched, if I may so brag, from when she was in Los Altos, CA for a booksigning–one that involved a city permit to take over a large parking lot to accommodate the over 300 knitters who showed up for it.

And yet at another venue, she had someone hesitate to set up that tenth chair in their hands, no matter her protests, sure there couldn’t possibly be ten knitters in the area to want to come to a signing for a knitting book. Knitting?

Thus Carol H.’s line: we hold “weapons of mass construction” in our hands. We use them to show people we love them. And there are a lot of us. Ann Rubin’s Afghans for Afghans project, putting warm clothes and blankets made by hand–not just physical warmth from things bought, but a real and human warmth, stranger reaching out to stranger–I think goes a huge but quiet way to launch peace between the peoples of our countries. Our hours spent doing so cannot be bought: they can only be given. And when they are given, when we measure our lives in a manifestation of real caring, we have great power to do good.

Weapons of mass construction. Let’s knit!

Oh, and, that resident? The last day I was there, he looked at the lace scarf I was working on, in cashmere that I had dyed in shades of a royal blue, (absolutely gorgeous if I do say so, and I do say so), and said, wistfully, “I have a wife…”

I thought long and hard about it after I finished it, and finally went back to Stanford and left it with my favorite nurse, whom I’d already gifted with baby alpaca/silk lace, to give that man for his wife, the resident being unavailable just then (she paged him; he was there somewhere; we tried.) A physical reminder, soft, lovely, and skilled in the craftsmanship, that he needs to truly see his patients, not write them instantly off on the basis of his prejudices. It gently holds fast to the truth that I did not write HIM off despite that and other mistakes I believe he won’t repeat. I figure, if I’m to be part of his medical education, then it’s essential I play the part well.

We can construct a massive amount of good by holding fast to our good will. When we express it in stitches, all the better.

6 Comments so far
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Very nicely written..as always!
Thanks so much for your inspiration Alison!

Comment by Anonymous 02.18.07 @ 7:47 am

You can catch more flies with honey …..I wonder if the Neurologist’s wife is a knitter? Wouldn’t that be something if she was, and she got your book? I loved your story. You are such an inspiration, Alison. And I’m so glad I live near NYC so I can rally my friends to go to Yarn Harlot’s gig. If you want to come, Alison, you have a place to stay at my house!

Comment by Jeri 02.18.07 @ 8:10 am

Thank you! And Jeri, what a wonderful offer! The spirit is willing, but the white cell count is weak. I have a sister moving to Manhattan right now and a sister-in-law who knits who lives in NJ, and I hope to be able to send at least one of them to be there for me in spirit.

As for the resident’s wife, I’m sure she couldn’t have been a knitter–then, at least–for him to have had the attitude he did, but you never know what will interest someone in taking up the hobby. I do like to be subversive that way. You never know…

Comment by AlisonH 02.18.07 @ 3:04 pm

Hee. It’s amazing how people just make snap judgements based on really nothing at all!

Comment by Romi 02.18.07 @ 3:42 pm

Amen, honey.

Comment by AlisonH 02.19.07 @ 5:44 pm

[…] Rubin is the person behind Afghans For Afghans, as I noted on my Weapons of Mass Construction entry, and for the last several years she has run a booth cum collecting point at Stitches for people […]

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