Categories: Wednesday ripples 4 Comments

Casting On With Kindness

“ No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for God.”-Isaiah 64:3

I grew up in a big old rambling house on the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg. Often, after dinner, and particularly on Sunday nights, our family would gather in our cozy living room and watch Ed Sullivan, or MASH or the Carol Burnett Show. We would laugh and chat and tell stories and it was one of the highlights of my week. On one of those Sundays, my mum decided she would teach her three daughters the basics of knitting. With needles, wool and hope in hand, we began to “cast on” and “knit one, pearl one.” I am sorry to report that these lessons did not last long and not one of us three girls became knitters. My mum was a chain smoker and I think the knitting cramped her style because if she was knitting, how could she smoke??

So the years went by and not as much as a scarf was produced from anyone in our family. Fast forward a few decades and I am now standing in awe of the knitters in our midst. St.Andrew’s Wesley’s Stitching Circle, along with millions of people around the world, create magnificent clothing, accessories and more with beautiful wools and magic fingers. The Stitching Circle at STAW produces prayer shawls; tiny blankets for premature babies and “Izzy Dolls”, crafted and sent in medical kits to doctors and healthcare professionals in over 100 countries. These kits are packed with essential medicines and supplies for primary health care. The Izzy Dolls are given to the youngest patients. Sometimes the handmade little doll, also known as a Comfort Doll, is a child’s first toy.

The STAW knitters also create Purple Hats designed to remind parents of young infants about the dangers of shaking a baby and soon, the group will begin knitting pink Pussy Hats to support the #MeToo Movement and the Women’s March.

I am highlighting the actions of the Stitching Circle because they, like millions of groups and individuals around the world, quietly do these wonderful deeds causing rips and tears in the world to somehow be knit together by human kindness. Knitting is a silent act and it can be a very prayerful act. It is a form of meditation. It is a generous act. It seems most knitters I know, when asked the question, “What are you knitting?” will respond…”I’m knitting this sweater for my husband. Or I’m knitting this blanket for my friend.” Rarely is the answer, “I’m knitting myself a hat, or a scarf, or socks or……”

God is a knitter. “For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13). Inspired by the psalmist and the compassionate and generous-hearted knitters I have met over the years, perhaps I will soon attach myself to our stitching group at St. Andrew’s Wesley, find a yarn shop, dust off my needles, and begin to cast on, one more time.


Stitching Circle at St. Andrew’s-Wesley meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday from 1:30-3:30 in the Salons.

Lorraine Ashdown

Lorraine often refers to herself as a “Prairie Girl” even though she left her hometown of Winnipeg fifteen years ago. Lorraine graduated from Vancouver School of Theology with a Masters of Arts in Public and Pastoral Leadership and a diploma in Indigenous and Interreligious Studies. She is the Minister of Pastoral Care, Elders and Outreach with St. Andrew’s Wesley. Lorraine was Ordained on Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 at BC Conference in Penticton,B.C. Lorraine brings to St. Andrew’s Wesley an authentic love of the United Church and a desire to create community and a sense of belonging within the faith community of St. Andrew’s Wesley and beyond.

Comments (4)

  1. Ahhh Reverand Lorraine what a beautiful tribute to our knitters. Amazing people.

  2. Lorraine …what an inspiring tribute to our knitters! Believe it or not. I can knit. The last thing I knit was a cowichan motif pattern sweater for my first husband about 30 years ago. I knit it in secret and when I heard the car in the garage…I’d quickly stash it. Your post almost has me running out and buying some wool and needles.

  3. I love this writing, Lorraine… such a beautiful reflection on the knitters practise… So thankful you are part of our community.

  4. Through my life I have accumulated many memories of knitters and of the outcomes of their knitting. I am in utter awe of the knitter. A beautiful tribute to StAW’s knitters Rev. Lorraine that surely will inspire newcomers. My mother’s generation were knitters but early attempts to learn from them were short lived. I was too busy learning other things. I joined the StAW group last spring after several years of curiosity and encouragement from Winnie, to understand why people knit and perhaps this time the practice of knitting will stick. I am finding knitting is giving me permission to rest. Doing the preemie blanket with a basic knit one, purl one stitch is achievable (with many start overs at the beginning) and I am hopeful one day I will be able to advance to the purple baby hat and Izzy doll. Ask me if you also have curiosity and I can help you get started with a pair of needles and instruction for casting on. They were my first two hurdles.

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