Donor Spotlight: Terri Nigro

At Knitting in Recovery, all of our gracious donors mean the world to us.  They make what we do possible, so we wanted to take the time to highlight them and share our deepest gratitude.

Today we are spotlighting Terri Nigro.  Terri has given generous yarn donations that we have spotlighted in the past.  Not only that, but she has gotten other friends involved in donating to Knitting in Recovery as well.  We asked Terri to share a little bit about herself, her passion for knitting, and how she got involved with Knitting in Recovery.  Thank you, Terri, for helping our program succeed in helping other women in our community:

I first learned to knit at a class at Sears when I was 10 years old.  Our project was a sweater (yikes!) that I made for my mother (who, bless her heart, wore it underneath her winter coat on a few occasions).  After that, I didn’t knit again until I was in my forties.  I had, however, cross-stitched for many years and enjoyed it very much.
One day, my cross-stitch friends went on a trip to a yarn store, and I went along.  I saw so many pretty samples and beautiful yarns, and I caught the fever.  I bought some fancy eyelash yarn that was all the rage and brought it home.  I looked up knitting on the Internet, and re-taught myself to knit.  I garter-stitched a scarf, and I was on my way with two new hobbies: knitting and collecting yarn.  After 30 scarves, I started to branch out to other items and stitches.  I’ve learned to do socks and sweaters and everything in between.
I’m even better at that second hobby: stash-building.  So when Lois at Anacapa Fine Yarns told me about Knitting in Recovery, I was pleased to be able to share a goodly sum of yarn to the project.  I also let those knitting friends know, and Marsha Blanton, Janet Mailhot, Lou Webster, and JoAnn Zullo added to the bags as well.
I’m grateful for all the good work happening at Knitting in Recovery, and that they are able to share this fun and creative hobby with those who find it brings them peace and a smile.
-Terri
Thank you, Terri and friends!
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Knitting in Recovery teachers bringing Terri’s donation to class.

Donor Spotlight: Brenda

At Knitting in Recovery, all of our gracious donors mean the world to us.  They make what we do possible, so we wanted to take the time to highlight them and share our deepest gratitude.

Today we are spotlighting Brenda.  We asked her to share a little bit about herself, her passion for knitting, and how she got involved with Knitting in Recovery.  What she wrote was honest, powerful, and touching.  Thank you, Brenda, for helping our program succeed in helping other women in recovery:

Hi,

I am so flattered that you are interested in writing a blog post about me.  But as I sit down to write about myself, I find it very difficult.  But I’ll give it a shot.

I was born in a lovely small town on the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan.  My mother married my father when she was 18 and he was 21.  Due to infertility problems, I didn’t come along until 12 years later, which probably was for the best.  Back then, women didn’t have much access to birth control and it wasn’t unusual to have 4 or more children closely spaced.  Although that’s what my mother thought she wanted, she came to realize that my father was an emotionally and verbally abusive man, who also was a moderately-functioning alcoholic.  Once I was born, she decided that we would be better without him and filed for divorce: a very brave thing to do in 1961.  My father moved about 30 miles away, and although he continued to see me sporadically for the next couple of years, by the time I was three, he had a new family and stopped seeing me altogether.  I received a few letters from him over the years with invitations to meet, but he never followed through.  The last time I saw him was in a funeral home after he passed.

Although my mother’s family lived about 20 miles away, it was like another world, and one to which she did not want to return.  Life was very tough in those early years, but the two of us made a nice little family.  She always emphasized education, and I loved school. I was always very independent and felt that a good education was the means to a better life.  For a while, life continued on a fairly normal path, and eventually I went to college in Chicago, a city that I love.

Aside from some pot smoking, I stuck to alcohol for partying.  And honestly, I was a very moderate drinker with no signs of an addiction problem.  In fact, I was the girl who stayed sober enough to watch out for drunk girlfriends or be the designated driver.  But when I was 30, I broke up with a long-term boyfriend.  I was completely devastated.  It hurt so badly that I spent hours curled up in a ball crying.  But worst of all, I couldn’t sleep.  That’s when I bought my first bottle of scotch to “help” me sleep.

But it got bad very fast.  I refer to the next seven years as “crawling into a bottle, and then trying to crawl out, often unsuccessfully.”  I lost my job and my apartment and had to move back home.  Like most recovery paths, there were several starts and stops.  I did one inpatient rehab and several outpatient.  After one stint, I was able to stay sober for 6 months.  But I became arrogant and stopped going to meetings.  I was finally called into Human Resources at my new job because someone smelled alcohol on my breath.  I was given the opportunity to keep my job if I attended outpatient treatment.  I accepted, but also made the decision at that moment to stay sober.

That was March 17, 1997.  This time, I was successful because I truly embraced the first three steps for the first time in my recovery journey.

Life didn’t become perfect overnight, and in fact, I feel like I am still rebuilding from things I lost during those seven years.  One thing that had continued to allude me was a career that I liked.  Surprisingly to me and others (it’s a long story for another time), I obtained my Masters of Science in Accounting.  I now work on a freelance basis, since my health keeps me from working full-time, or meeting the demands of a conventional accounting firm (more about that coming).

My knitting history is not uncommon.  My mother learned to knit from one grandmother and to crochet from the other.  She taught me to knit when I was young, and I knit a couple of scarves and quit.  When I first began recovery, I spent a lot of time alone (aside from meetings and work), and I needed to keep my mind busy.  I read a lot and also decided to try knitting again.  This was the period when fun-fur scarves were popular.  I discovered that I enjoyed it and wanted to branch out.  This was when knitters were venturing into the internet (although a few years before Ravelry, a knitter’s dream website).  I am not artistic, but love color.  So many indie dyers were popping up with beautiful yarns, and I taught myself to knit socks.

It seems that the addictive part of my brain kicked in, although this time, it was yarn, especially sock yarn, that had replaced alcohol.  I joined yarn clubs and felt an adrenalin rush when the boxes showed up in my mailbox.  If I knit from now until eternity, I would never get through the stash I amassed.

In 2016, I was working furiously to finish a baby sweater for an upcoming family baby shower (Elizabeth Zimmerman’s baby surprise jacket which never disappoints), and I noticed my right hand becoming sore.  At my age, I expect to have a little arthritis, so I wasn’t alarmed.  But one morning, I woke up to find that my right hand was essentially frozen in one position.  This scared me enough to go to the doctor.  The diagnosis: rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  If you aren’t familiar with RA, it’s actually not arthritis in the conventional sense, but instead, a chronic, incurable auto-immune disease in which one’s immune system attacks joints and organs.  This was life-changing news, to say the least.  And once again, I revisited Step #1: I am powerless over this disease, and if I don’t work a recovery program of some kind, my life will become unmanageable.

It’s been 18 months since my RA diagnosis, and although my hand is much better, I am still working hard to accept many of the physical limitations to my mind and body caused by the disease and medications.  Luckily, I haven’t needed narcotics for pain, but I am aware that my addictive-prone brain may be all too happy to have access to mood-altering substances again in the future.

As I wrote, acceptance has been especially difficult for me.  One day, I was looking at my yarn stash and finding myself drowning in self-pity for all the beautiful yarn that I would never use.  But we in recovery know that self-pity is a dangerous emotion.  At some point, several years ago, I had read about a woman who was teaching women in recovery to knit as part of their program.  A few Google searches later, I found Knitting in Recovery.  I was immediately heartened as I looked through your Facebook page and found photos, not only of women who were knitting and crocheting for themselves, but also for those who are less fortunate.  As they say, deciding what to do with a great deal of my stash became a no-brainer.  And before I knew it, my dear husband was lugging several boxes of yarn to the post office.  I feel as though this was an appropriate way to work the 12th step.

It turns out that I am not yet finished with yarn.  After several months, my hand became more flexible, and I have gone back to knitting, albeit, not as fast or as prolific.  I’m more careful about choosing projects, and find that socks are too hard on my hands.  Instead, I make fingerless mitts, which I wear almost constantly these days to keep my hands warm and more flexible.  Plus, more people see the lovely yarns I’m using: win-win, right?

I continue to work my recovery, although I have found Al-Anon to be more helpful as I revisit step #4.  It also helps me to understand, that, while my father was absent during my life, his alcoholism was still in the background, working its devious behavior on both my mother and me.

In closing, I will say that, while I can’t really say that I am happy that I became an alcoholic, I am nevertheless grateful to have become acquainted with the 12 steps.  I think they are brilliant tools for living a good life.  I also want to stress that I understand that I have not begun to face the hurdles that so many others in recovery have or continue to face.  I meet people around the tables that remind me of this with every visit.  I wish I could hug everyone and make it better.  But perhaps you’re ladies will find a least a little happiness as you pick up knitting needles or a crochet hook, and create a lovely hat, scarf, or shawl that will give you a sense of accomplishment.  Because we women are strong, and we deserve all the happiness life has to share.

Fondly,

Brenda

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Thank you, Brenda!

Gratitude Month Donor Spotlight: Basha Kooler and Kooler Design Studio

At Knitting in Recovery, all of our gracious donors mean the world to us.  They make what we do possible, so we wanted to take the time this holiday season to highlight them and share our deepest gratitude.

Today we are spotlighting Basha Kooler and Kooler Design Studio.
Kooler Loft
Kooler Design Studio loft space
For over 30 years, Kooler Design Studio has designed and licensed classic and perennial artwork for the needlework, craft, and giftware industries.  They are experts in creating needlework designs, charts, patterns and stitch guides for any application.  Kooler Design Studio’s team has produced hundreds of books and leaflets for craft publishers.  As a service to crafters around the world, the Kooler Design online store carries many of their kits, books, charts and related products gathered from their various clients and publishers, including over 400 needlework patterns available online as PDF direct downloads at www.koolerdesign.com.
cross stitch sachet samples
Kooler Design Studio cross stitch patterns sampled on sachets
Basha has been the president of Kooler Design Studio since 2010, and continues its great traditions today: To bring quality needle art and craft design to the creative community worldwide.
Basha at Best of Kooler book signing
Basha Kooler at Best of Kooler book signing
Basha was first connected to our founder, Lise Solvang, and Knitting in Recovery through Ruthie Marks, a dear friend and talented crochet designer who designed projects for many of Kooler Design Studio’s books for over a decade.
Donations to Knitting in Recovery come from Kooler Design Studio inventory.
Our sincerest thanks to Basha and Kooler Design Studios for helping Knitting in Recovery continue to serve our community.
If you would like to make a donation to Knitting in Recovery, please follow our “Donate” link on the lefthand side of the page.

#Giving Tuesday

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

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Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

There are many worthy organizations, but one of the best ways to make the most impact is in your own community.  Like choosing to shop locally, giving locally helps small non-profits directly serve the needs of your community members.

This Giving Tuesday, please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to Knitting in Recovery.  Donations will go toward purchasing yarn, knitting needles, and crochet hooks for our clients, paying our teachers to continue administering kind instruction to our clients, and providing employment for a client at our storefront in the Pacific View Mall.

Donations can also be made in someone’s honor and given as a gift.

Gift in your honor card

If you would like to donate, click here or follow the “Donate” link on the left-hand side of the blog.  If you are making a donation in someone else’s name and would like the “A gift has been made in your honor” card seen above, please email emily@knittinginrecovery.com.

Knitting in Recovery at Focus on the Masters Gift Shop

Knitting in Recovery is currently at the Focus on the Masters Holiday Gift Shop.

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Local friends, come stop by!

The event is open this weekend only:

83 S Palm St, Ventura, CA

Saturday: 10 am-5pm

Sunday 12 pm-4 pm

Our clients have been working hard crafting lovely, cozy things to sell at this event.  They are thrilled to be represented alongside such talented local artists.

The event features 23 local Ventura County artists selling paintings, jewelry, ceramics, artisan soap, quilts, silk scarves, holiday cards, and more.

A portion of the profits go toward Focus on the Masters (FOTM), a Ventura-based non-profit art appreciation organization that documents, preserves and presents the works and lives of accomplished contemporary artists, emphasizing the importance of the arts to a healthy society.  FOTM is going into their 23rd year of programming.  Find out more about the organization here.

 

Knitting in Recovery Featured in Ojai Valley News

Knitting in Recovery is featured in today’s Ojai Valley News!  Our fabulous founder, Lise Solvang was interviewed by journalist, Andra Belknap.  A snipet of the story can be read below, but we would love it if someone could snag a copy of the paper for us and send us a picture of the article.

Thanks, Ojai Valley News:

Woman finds a purl of an idea to help those in recovery help others

Andra Belknap, Ojai Valley News reporter
Meiners Oaks resident Lise Solvang believes knitting saved her life.
She found in the early days of her sobriety that knitting provided “a meditative tool and a healing tool. It kept me busy.”
Now she’s working to share knitting as a healing practice across Ventura County through her non-profit organization Knitting in Recovery.

Find these Scarves!

Okay Ojai friends, this one is a two-fer!  Find these scarves!  We hid them somewhere around town.  Once you find them, take a picture of yourself knitting the scarf and post it to Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #knittinginrecovery .  Be sure to follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram @knittinginrecovery to be automatically entered into a raffle for a yarn basket of your own.

Hint: You can get a double-shot of espresso and knitting at this location!

Once the scarf is finished, it will be donated to a local charity for our less fortunate community members.

Happy hunting!