One of my offerings for the SPRING issue of Seasoned with Peace is this knitted log cabin tutorial. It is also a guided prayer meditation, a way to pray without ceasing. Below is my essay as it appears in Seasoned with Peace, along with more detailed instructions as promised there. Click on the links for some of the knitting how-to’s.
(Click here to order the SPRING issue of Seasoned with Peace)
Piecing for Peace — a knitted log cabin prayer tutorial
“When I was in high school a sixth grade boy named Luke taught me how to knit. From the beginning, I found knitting to be a soothing, meditative exercise. As I knit a project or a gift, I become increasingly calm and centered. When done intentionally and prayerfully, the act of knitting can also bring peace and wholeness to others and to the world around us.
The ‘Knitted Log Cabin’ project is in the spirit of “Gathering up the Fragments” from the More with Less cookbook, using leftover yarn from other projects, and can be used for anything from dishcloths and potholders, to afghans, lap blankets or even scarves. I love the beauty of pieced quilts, so when I first saw a knitted log cabin square on Purl Bee’s website, I fell in love (http://www.purlbee.com/log-cabin-washcloths/).
The technical aspects of this project are not that important. What is important is your intention and attention. When sitting down to knit, you must first intend it as a time of prayer. Take a moment to say a prayer of dedication for this time. Secondly, keep your attention on what you’re doing. You don’t always have to be “saying” something to God, just holding the prayer in your heart as you pay very close attention to your stitching. When other thoughts come up (and they surely will), gently and without judgment, return your attention to your knitting and your prayer. In this way, we can pray without ceasing.
Start by knitting a small square. Try to make it as equal on all sides as possible, as this will be the foundation for the whole log cabin block. Using all the same weight of yarn will help the finished block remain even, and allow for easier piecing with other finished blocks. Bind off the square except for the last stitch. Cut the yarn leaving a 4-6” tail. I know real knitters never tie knots. So if you are a real knitter, do whatever it is you do when changing colors. The rest of us can tie a new color to the old color with a knot.
With the new color, pick up stitches along the side of the square and knit rows until desired thickness. Keep track of how many rows this is so that all your ‘logs’ are the same. You’ll soon get the feel for it and won’t need to count anymore. No matter how thick your ‘logs’ are, after picking up the stitches, knit an odd number of rows, then bind off.
Again, leave one stitch at the end of the row that you are binding off, snip the yarn, attach a new color, and now you will be picking up stitches with the new color along the bottom edge of your original square. Continue, knitting straight across the ends of ‘logs’, knitting your block as large or small as you like. When you finish, count up the ‘logs’ starting in the center to be sure you have the same number on each side. I weave in the ends on the backside as I finish each block so that it is not an overwhelming task at the end.
Here are some ideas for implementing this project:
- You might have a list of people and/or situations to pray for when you sit down to knit. Dedicate one color or ‘log’ of the cabin to each item. If doing a group project, come up with a list together.
- If making a gift for someone, keep track of the colors and tell them how you prayed for them with each one.
- If donating the project to an organization, prayers and meditations can be focused on the work of that group.
Engaging in any act in an attitude of prayer grounds us in the immediacy of God’s presence. Knitting in particular is an activity whereby a long, wound-up ball of yarn is slowly transformed into something whole and beautiful, bringing peace to the world one stitch at a time.”
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