Knitting 4 Peace and Dry Bones
Contemplative Crochet in Community
This article first appeared in Knitting4Peace’s newsletter
written by Kathleen Marsh, Executive Director of Knitting4Peace
Recently, I visited Dry Bones in Denver, Colorado. Dry Bones seeks to meet spiritual and physical needs of homeless and street-connected youth and young adults. While there, I was fortunate to listen to Joyce Garrett, Life Formation Coach, speak about contemplative crochet.
Joyce spoke gratefully of Mary Ellen, Knitting4Peace assistant, who made deliveries of warm winter hats and scarves last year to Dry Bones. These deliveries later turned into gifts of donated yarn, hooks, and needles for this young, transformative group.
As the Dry Bones group began to learn about the mission of K4P around the world, a couple of the youth wanted to be a part of it. Joyce writes, “we found that a craft or handiwork of some kind helps the kids recall, remember, or experience relaxation.”
This relaxation, Joyce and other staff members shared, is evident in the yarn. Joyce occasionally uses the art of contemplative crochet in her therapy sessions with Dry Bones youth. Joyce says, “K4P has given Dry Bones Denver an amazing opportunity through textile arts that also has created purpose and direction for our youth.”
Joyce’s own practice of contemplative crochet stemmed from visits with her care-giving grandmother. Joyce’s grandmother, while caring for her grandfather who had Parkinson’s disease and cancer, noticed the “tightness within” Joyce as a young girl. Grandma would reach deep into her magic basket of yarn, place it in Joyce’s lap, “with a knowing smile that (Joyce) would do her best to bring order to the muddle”. Joyce writes, “later in life I came to realize that my visits with Grandma were woven into all of the motifs of my life. She had given me the template, the ultimate pattern of emotional and spiritual self-care to support the tough times life held for me.”
Graciously, Joyce shared this recent reflection on the interweaving of her grandmothers’ teachings and her work with Dry Bones youth:
As I sat crocheting a couple weeks ago with some of our friends at Dry Bones I recalled my Grandma at one of our “sittings” as she added another one of my balls of un-muddled yarn to her bag that it was the left overs that made for the most beautiful and creative projects because creativity weaves whatever the creative heart desires. I do believe it was that day that Grandma began to teach me “contemplative crochet” and, for me, the path to my deepest spiritual life and learnings.
Wouldn’t grandma be surprised to know what she taught me is part of a mission that not only has created a path to my deepest spiritual life and learnings but can be passed on one stitch and one conversation at a time.
Many thanks to Joyce Garrett and Dry Bones Denver for their contributions to this article