Mar 24, 2010

The Story: Lorrie Jo

Lorrie jo 1 In an effort to recognize I am not alone in my desire to change the world one hand-knit at a time, I’m sharing the stories of fellow crafters who are using their knitting for good.

I’ve found that as I engage other knitters in conversation, it is rare that a knitter isn’t actively engaged in making the space around them kinder, more peaceful and happier using their yarn and needles. By sharing our stories, we are building a narrative of world-change.

In Her Own Words: I've lived in California most of my life. I spent some time in Australia, Indiana and Canada when I was young, but my home is northern California. I've always been a hands on person, and my mother and my daughter are the same way. We've always made gifts more often than buying. We all have ongoing projects some of them multi-generational, or at least over several decades. Knitting in particular is a multi-generational pastime in my family.

I don't remember a time when I didn't know how to knit, but my mother tells me I learned when I was about 5 years old. We were living in Australia then. A neighbor taught my mother how to knit. After watching her do it, I wanted to learn, so she taught me. In the beginning I knitted blocks that my mother would sew together into blankets or I'd knit larger blocks that I used as blankets for my dolls. Later when I was about 8, I graduated to scarves. Then in high school, I started making sweaters (one of which my husband still wears).

When I had my kids, I was all excited that I could sew and knit for them. But it's pretty hard to work and raise your kids while making their clothing on the side, so I had to settle for a few things here and there. As my daughter got older, I tried to teach her how to knit. She could do it, but it was slow and there really isn't any undo button in knitting, so she lost patience. She loved latch hook for a long time, but then when her 8th grade class was going to learn knitting, she tried again with renewed interest and turned out to be a natural.

Knitting has been an ongoing thread throughout my life. I like it because I can take it anywhere with me. My knitting goes with me on car or plan trips, to swim meets, in front of the TV, or pretty much anywhere I can take my knitting bag.

1. What’s one way you consistently use your knitting to change the world? My daughter and I have been knitting hats the last few years for disadvantaged children. Usually we get 20 or so done each year. I keep meaning to start earlier in the year, but never seem to get to it until September, hence only 20. This year I set myself a more ambitious goal . . . . 50.

2. Is there a quote, piece of advice, or nugget of truth you’ve carried with you on your knitting journey? There are really two principles I live by. They apply to knitting and everything else in life; 1) Don't wait from "someone" else to take action. If everyone's waiting, not much gets done; 2) Strive for balance. Like when the perfect pattern and yarn seem to call to you, make that sweater for yourself you deserve it, plus it keeps you motivated to do all those things for other people.

3.. What would be your knitting dream? I would love to get a group of people helping me knit hats. I want to be able to donate so many hats that it makes an amazing visual impression. Plus, it's always more rewarding when you do things together. I have my eye on some co-workers or possibly high school students (I think it would make a great senior project).

4. What are your favorite materials to work with? Yarn, all colors and weights! My favorites are variegated or textured yarns, but plain colors work to. That's the wonderful thing about knitting; you can create your own texture from something very simple just by changing your stitches or mixing colors.

5. Who are some of your knitting influences? My mom and my daughter are my biggest inspirations. My mother taught me how to knit. I watched her knit my entire life. She always did beautiful work, so she was my standard for knitting. But also because she came from a difficult background and still managed to be the sweet caring person who so generously knits for others. My mother knits hats for premies and scarves for elderly war veterans among her may charitable activities.

My daughter because she is so fearless. She taught herself how to cable over a weekend with my mother. She didn't pick a simple cable either; she picked what she thought looked pretty. She never once thought she couldn't do it. It was really my daughter who inspired me to knit for others. When her entire 8th grade learned to knit, she decided to make each of her friends a hat for Christmas. All together she knitted 11 hats between Thanksgiving and New Years (plus the scarf that was her school assignment). Seeing her knit all those hats in such a short time, got me to thinking.

6. What is the legacy you want to leave? When you think of a legacy, it sounds like it has to be something really big, but it doesn't. I have no illusions that my knitting will end homelessness or poverty, all those little things together, might just make a difference in one person's life.

As a girl, my mother remembers receiving food baskets and gifts from charities during the holidays. That generosity meant a lot to her and has motivated her to give of herself. I just hope that there is one person out there that I helped, who will find a way to a better life because I took time to make them a hat.

A friend once asked me what I would do if I saw someone wearing one of the hats we made. I would just smile to myself, knowing that I had accomplished more than just knitting a hat and hope that it's effect lasts far beyond it's useful life.

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If you are interested in sharing your story with the knitting community, shoot me an e-mail ( I’ll send you a copy of the questions along with a few instructions!

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Shout Out to Jordy of Omaha.Net who interviewed me last night for his amazing new online magazine! He even learned the knit stitch, adding his new-knitter awesomeness to Hat #56!

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