I have had many people ask me just what I mean by purposeful crochet. Isn't there always a purpose to doing it? Yes, of course there is. To understand what I mean by the term, you have to learn more about how I got here, and how crochet has lead to, and mixed in with, my faith.
I first learned to crochet as a young girl, before the teen years hit. I had not learned much, just a few basic stitches, but I was able to make a square that was pretty even, and usable for pot holders or the type of decorations mom's always use, but aren't all that pretty. My aunt Maymie had taught me during a visit to her when us kids were visiting another Aunt, Irene. Maymie made beautiful afghans that I longed to make. I tried back then, but larger items always turned out a bit lopsided.
Fast forward a lot of years (more than I would care to count, really) to 2006. MySpace was the big thing back then, and I had a pretty good sized following there. At the time I was following a lot of metaphysical type teachings dealing in Shamanism, Wicca, etc. My page was followed by many who had the same beliefs and practices. Also on my page was a couple, Dave and Kirsten. They were Christians, and just kind of there, until one day in June, Dave and I started chatting, and over the course of a few days, I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I hope you will hop over after this post to my Faith page and read the beautiful details on that in the featured post there.
Dave, Kirsten and I became good friends, even though I was in Florida and they were in California. Not too long after this Kirsten was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy at just 38 years old. She also began aggressive treatment. My heart was broken, and I wanted to help in some way. Searching for things I could do I found a site www.headhuggers.org. They had patterns and ideas to make hats for cancer patients. I got some yarn and hooks, and made my first few hats. Kirsten was the recipient of them. Looking back at them, they weren't very good, but she proudly used them, and I practiced and honed my skill.
In January of 2009 as Kirsten was finishing up treatment, Dave tragically passed away, suddenly, at 39. I was at a loss for words. He was such an influence in my life, and, again, I just wanted to reach out across the miles to Kirsten. Another search of Google and I found a pattern for a prayer shawl. The idea of sitting in prayer over my dear friend hit my heart. I got some yarn, and started. It was like sitting and stitching prayer and love into something that was tangible. I also sat in prayer for their young son, Tye, and made a blanket for him. Kirsten had now received my first hats, and shawl. She said that it was like wrapping God's arms around her and that she felt such comfort and peace in them. It was at this point that my journey in crochet began to flourish.
I contacted HeadHuggers and became a satellite site for them, listing my information on their site. I began to make MANY hats, and delivering them to local cancer centers. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised by the welcome I received from them. They said there was such a need, even here in warm, sunny, Florida. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer I found that she liked hats even to sleep because the scalp is very sensitive and she didn't like it rubbing against her sheets. This set me more in motion.
I was then contacted by a lovely lady, Nancy. She had found my information on the HeadHuggers site and wondered if I would be interested in partnering with their program and distributing hats. Nancy works with a program in the Federal Women's prison here in Florida. The program is called Crafts with Conviction. They have ladies who's job it is to crochet, and they needed an outlet for the hats they were creating! WOW! God has such a way of answering our prayers. I was feeling useless, and wondering if what I was doing actual mattered. We met, and I received my first group of 200 hats from the ladies. Yes, 200.
The hats I received were carefully labeled and distributed to many cancer centers throughout the Tampa Bay area. Another wonderful thing happened from these labels. People who had received hats began to contact me with yarn they had and never used, or that a loved one who passed away had never used, and they wanted to donate it to the ministry. I was now able to take the yarn that was donated and give it to the Crafts with Conviction ladies, and the circle continued. What a huge blessing.
Since I was receiving so many wonderful hats, I was able to begin to make more prayer shawls. I joined the prayer group at our church, and also made meals for people having surgery and so forth thru another church group. As I felt lead, I gave prayer shawls to the prayer group leader, or with a meal I was dropping off. What a blessing it was to know that I was giving comfort to someone who was ill, or lost a loved one.
I continued to receive more contacts thru the Headhuggers and had a sweet lady who was 94 that was making hats, but preferred to make small blankets. I then reached out to Hospice, as was able to donate those as lap blankets and comfort to their patients. Another friend who lost an infant daughter was collecting blankets for the NICU. A number of them were able to go there, too.
The ministry continues to ebb and flow. We were able to donate a large group of hats to a homeless ministry in the area as well during a pretty good cold snap here a couple years ago. What a blessing that was to see the excitement of the hundreds of recipients.
Every once in awhile I still wonder if what I am doing matters. It never fails that when I do, God steps in and makes sure I know that while I don't often hear from the people receiving the items I make or donate, they are bringing His love to them, along with a peace that passes all understanding.
That is what purposeful crochet is all about.