48 Survivor – Thrivers from Ribbons of Life Stitched together FOREVER
Here is our beautiful finished knitted quilt displayed at the Ventura County Faire 2012. 48 Handmade Prayers TOGETHER.
Here is how it started……balls of yarn in all arrays of pink……and knitting needles……
Nobody knew how to knit, but all were willing to give it a go for the greater good……and to learn a new tool to aid in their own healing.
Soon we were helping each other……
Grandmothers teach Granddaughters……
It gets really fun and funny……
Comic relief from knitting with newly acquired wigs we all had to try on……
And incorporating knitting into our lives, bringing it everywhere we go……ROL’s President Lisa Barreto says “Knitting is helping me relax and be productive at the same time. That includes in my doctors waiting room before being called to have my bandages removed. Thank you for helping me knit in recovery”……”After a while those doctor’s office magazines start to look the same. Why not pick up a ball of yarn, a couple of sticks and get stitching. If surgeons can stitch, why can’t I?”
And suddenly we had 48 CareSquares……ready to put together!
48 squares knitted by different hands, who had different battles to conquer, each unique to themselves, each stitch different……yet somehow it all comes together beautifully……
because we did it TOGETHER……we are a community……and we enjoyed the JOURNEY of it all!
Now we embroider the names of all the Survivor – Thrivers
Ready to show it off…. at the monthly BreastFest!
Please contact Ribbons of Life for more information on their program. They are such an asset for our community in all that they do for those afflicted with breast cancer and their families.
And…… go get your annual mammogram
My good friend Singer/Songwriter Lisa Barbee, who is also a part of our Tuesday Women’s Knitting in Recovery Group, was inspired to write about What we do, Why we do it and How it works……symbiotically for everyone:-)
Here we are as little elves performing at the Variety Show at the Ojai Valley Alano Club!
“One Stitch at a Time”
The Knitting Song, by Lisa Barbee October 2012
1. “One Stitch at a Time”, With each Purl you Knit your Life, Creating for you Peace of Mind, Hands reveal Pictures and Lines
Control is an elusive Dream, Powerless to Hold, Try to Balance on the Seam, Release your Grip to Flow
2. Letting Go can set you Free, Your Will to Leave Behind, Living Service is the Key, The Promises to Find
3. When your Needles find the Skein, Beginning something New, Your Eyes will start to See the Change, With Hands you’ll Follow Through
4. Focusing on Others now, Providing Basic Needs, We get to Show each other How, Examples Help to Plant the Seeds
Here are some of the FABULOUS women belonging to the Tuesday Night “One Stitch at a Time” group at the Ojai Valley Alano Club. We’re all wearing some of the items we have knit for our annual donation to the homeless in our community. It’s a FUN bunch, and how lucky are we to have a place to go to, to belong to. A place we can safely continue our own recovery and healing. A place we can come together and knit, share, laugh……for ourselves, for others and for a higher purpose.
This year is our third annual donation to The Turning Point Foundation serving the growing homeless population in Ventura County and who creates
Positive places of recovery for people disabled by mental illness
We’re also so happy to have knit hats for the cancer patients at Ventura County Hospital – Hematology and Oncology Center. Thank You to the amazing nurses for their endless compassionate work. They surely keep their patients hearts warm, and we can help keep their heads warm:-)
I want to also bring attention to the AMAZING girls at Prototypes Women’s Center in Oxnard where I teach knitting and crocheting every week. They all got together and surprised me with countless knitted and crocheted CareSquares for the blankets and scarves we donate to Turning Point Foundation. Their lives are so full working on getting back on track and back into society in a healthy way again, and yet they feel the need to already give back and be of service to someone even less fortunate than they are. Given the chance and opportunity I think we all innately feel the need to be of service to another, I think it is part of our essence.
To all the women at the Ojai Valley Alano Club and Prototypes Women’s Center
THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU DO
THE WORLD IS A LITTLE WARMER BECAUSE OF YOU
Ojai – Thanksgiving 2012
It has been a great year for our “ONE STITCH AT A TIME – KNITTING IN RECOVERY” program, and you have all been such an important part of our success and outreach. Each and every contribution, from yarn, knitting needles, and crochet hooks to your time and encouraging wisdom has helped us and motivated us in far more ways than you can imagine. We love this work that not only aids in our clients healing, it also lifts us up in our continuous efforts to be of service and heal our own selves.
This year the women at PROTOTYPES Recovery Home have gone to another dimension in their knitting and crocheting……the feel of the house has even changed, there is more calm. Not only are they knitting blankets galore for their children, family and friends, they are also being of service to those even less fortunate than they are, and knitting squares for blankets to donate to the homeless.
We have our big donation coming up in December to the TURNING POINT FOUNDATION in Ventura and the homeless will be receiving for the third year in a row blankets, hats, scarves, sweaters, vests all knitted by women in recovery at the OJAI VALLEY ALANO CLUB and the women at PROTOTYPES.
This year we have been fortunate enough to expand our teachings and services to women recovering from breast cancer. With RIBBONS OF LIFE in Ventura we knit a beautiful blanket with all the names of the women afflicted by cancer embroidered on different squares, and continue our work knitting hats and lap blankets for the women going through chemo. We also helped raise money for the AVON WALK with our knitted washcloths, big success!
We are so grateful we can help each other, one woman to another woman, be it a breast cancer survivor helping another woman just diagnosed……or a woman recovering from alcoholism or substance abuse helping another woman struggling with the same disease. There is immense strength, courage and compassion in these women.
I thank you for your grace!
One Stitch at a Time – Knitting in Recovery
I have had the privilege of watching my dear friend Gillian walk through breast cancer with such dignity and grace. Her forever shining optimism in the midst of all the fear and all the pain was beautiful to watch up close. She taught me so much about courage and attitude. It’s all about your own thoughts and how you can direct them towards acceptance and healing. She did what needed to be done, one step at a time, and I am proud to say she is doing marvelously. This weekend she, Lisa, Chris and Nancy (not in photo) will be walking for breast cancer awareness……39 miles.
Our Tuesday Knitting Group Women in Recovery – Knitting for Recovery, “One Stitch at a Time” decided we wanted to do a fundraiser for the girls walking. We finished over 100 knitted washcloths and set up a booth at the annual Meiners Oaks Festival.
We had knitted washcloths and rubber duckies swimming around to the delight of everyone in our little community. It’s all the rage now:-) People were buying for gifts and for themselves. I think everyone owns one, even the men…… and they own them proudly……
Thank You to all the knitters who with joy knitted their little hearts out to help a friend.
Happy Walking Girls……”One Step at a Time”
After a short break of not teaching knitting to the girls at Prototypes over the summer, I was finally back. Back to some familiar faces, a lot of new faces, missing some of the old faces……but most of all back to this wonderful energy that envelopes the room as our hands start moving again, together, and our fingers start dancing around knitting needles, crochet hooks and yarn. And I remember. I remember why I love this so much, why I do this, how I do this.
We have 7 Chakras and 5 of are directly connected to our senses. The Hands are the Motor Organ to one of our senses, Touch, which is an extension of our Heart Chakra.
The holiness of any handwork aids in the opening of the heart chakra. Knitting happens to be one of very few things that is best learned one-on-one in person. I interweave my hands with one girl at a time, guide her into a timeless motion that is to be repeated hundreds, thousands, hopefully millions of times into the future. I literally hold her hand through the struggle and fight of “getting it right” as we so repeatedly do in life.
So used to priding ourselves on our self-sufficiency, we normally cut ourselves off from this shared source of abundant wisdom and help that others are willing to give us. Here, the communal circle allows us to do our own heart work, the work of healing our selves and each other. This state of openness transcends our own ego boundaries as it allows us to stay out of our judging minds, even for a little while as we create something that is our own.
I knit to meditate, to quiet myself, to reach transcendence, to create art, to play, to touch, to heal.
From My Hands to Your Heart
These last few months with the women at Prototypes have been so much about creating a calm environment for ourselves, and together… even if it is for only a wee hour. A CALM hour, or as I like to call it Chill After Life Management”.
Our days are filled with so much hustle and bustle, schedules are filled to the max, with all very necessary duties, classes and having to learn a lot of life management. This one hour of knitting and being together has now become a very soothing time for us all. We have time to share more stories with each other, stories that this calm somehow brings up in us, that otherwise wouldn’t have surfaced. There are women who utilize this time and space to just be quiet…for themselves, and with themselves. All you can hear is the quiet clicking sound of the knitting needles moving in a constant and repetitive motion. There you have a deep and beautiful meditation.
We have one woman reading and one woman writing that just want to be in the same room as us……for the calm. The Director took 10 minutes off and just sat with us……for the calm. The counselors deeply thanked us for bringing this “quiet hour” to the house.
The journey to get to this point however has taken time. You should have seen us in the very beginnings. No one knew what was going to happen, how it was going to happen, and aren’t pointy knitting needles dangerous to have around? Needles(s )to say, it was quite rowdy in the start, very loud, very busy…it was hard getting them to even sit down for an hour. Oh, and they would saunter in a little late, and try to saunter off a little early. Somehow along the way, it came to a point where they were sitting and waiting for me…EARLY:-)
And now there is a calm in the room, even before I get there. The women automatically create it themselves, waiting with knitting needles in hand.
With this calm a good dose of serenity emerges, and peace is right there with them.
I have been teaching knitting to the women of Prototypes for a couple of years now, and my supplies are starting to run way low. Being resourceful and always finding ways to use what I have, doesn’t really work when you are trying to teach a certain skill. Sometimes I do need specific needles for specific yarns.
My friends and local community have been so helpful donating their “way in the back of the closet bags of yarn”, but now it was time to broaden my horizon write an ad in search of yarn and knitting supplies for non-profits. It has always been very hard for me to ask for anything to help myself or any of my endeavors, but now is the time to learn, for this is a cause worthy.
I posted my ad on Craigslist stating that the donation goes towards helping women recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, and very quickly got a response. I met up with Dorisa before I was to teach at Prototypes. She very humbly came outside to meet me and gave me bags and bags of yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks……all things from her late mother who had passed away 5 years earlier almost to the day. It had taken her all this time to get ready to let go of this very big part of her mom, and it was a very emotional moment. She was however very curious about the work we were doing, who was being helped and how. After talking for awhile, hearing part of her story and sharing ours, a light started shining in her eyes. She invited us in. Something new. Very proud and very happy to contribute and be a part of doing what she can in helping other women she knows all too well. Healing through giving to others and healing by letting her mom’s knitting legacy live on.
This is how it works….
I needed help, you helped me, both of us eternally uplifted in ways we cannot
possibly even imagine, and the grace continues to spread out further and reach more and more people.
I learned a valuable lesson! It’s good to ask for help, it allows for miracles to happen.
And the women at Prototypes were so HAPPY to see new colors…..all the different shades of red, pink and green gets boring after week 12……now we have blues, purples and browns to add to our collection:-)
All of us forever touched by Dorisa.
Our group Women in Recovery meet once a week here in Ojai and are so lucky to have the great privilege of knitting for the homeless. We have started a wonderful relationship with the Turning Point Foundation who tend to the homeless in Ventura County. They have numerous successful programs in helping and helping solve our ever growing homeless population. In these uncertain times we should all ask ourselves “Who are the Homeless?”, we probably don’t have to go far or look far to find some answers.
Some of us women who are in recovery have been there ourselves, and know all too well what it takes to help heal our lives back together. So we do what we can do……knit CareSquares……96 Care Squares to be exact.
This became our first beautiful blanket consisting of knitted and crocheted squares in all shapes and sizes……(yes, all shapes and sizes:-)) and this time in an array of shades of blue. All the squares are crocheted together and finished with a beautiful crocheted trim around the whole blanket.
There is a lot of love in each of these squares, along with the courage it takes for these women to conquer something new, the peace and healing that follows when they fall into a rhythm with their hands and their hearts. The joy and laughter and shared stories that arise when we are in this room together for this one single hour. All this transcends into the square, and then connecting them all together… all the different women, all the different yarns, all the different colors, all the different shapes and sizes……into one…..blanket.
Little Handmade Prayers all together for someone to lay under and feel safe and warm.♥