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Reasons to Knit Mittens

It is cold out here in Iowa City, Iowa. There is snow on the ground and we have a wind that is so fierce it makes you wonder how the prairie ever got settled. It is the time of year when knitters can really contribute to the greater good of their community and family by knitting hats and mittens and scarves. Don't worry if you live somewhere warm, you poor souls, knitted goods travel well. Box them up and send them to the colder communities. We'll put them to good use.

Think about mittens. Good hand-knit mittens. Mittens with a little time honored design on the cuff or palm, a snowflake for the lucky ones or maybe a furry cuff for glamour. Mittens are on my minds a lot these days since I took a vow last year on my fiftieth birthday (January 25th for all those who would like to know) to knit a hundred pairs of mittens for cold and needy hands. I thought the whole venture might get my troubled mind off my own petty problems and ultimately change my karma.

In case there are any knitters or crocheters out there contemplating a karma change and a hundred-mitten commitment and are wondering how long it takes to make a hundred pairs of mittens, the answer is a very long time. I have just finished my 67th pair and new math or old math, no matter how you equate or divide it, I have 33 more pairs of mittens left to go. And I will have to get back to you about the karma part.

Of course, those of you who never thought about knitting one hundred pairs of mittens might be wise enough to ask, why? Surely there are other ways to change one's karma or contribute to the greater, warmer good of your community. Why would anyone make one hundred pairs of mittens? It's a good question. A fair question, I guess.

You knit a hundred pairs of mittens for the same reason that you knit one pair of mittens: to keep a pair of cold hands warm. There is a certain feeling one gets in knowing that what just came off the needle is going right into use. All doubts of the quality of your mothering will vanish when you see your sweet petunia equipped to brave the elements with your hand knit heirlooms. And there is a sense, a tiny glimmer, of what in Judaism is called Tikkun Olam -- repairing the world -- when you send a pair of mittens you lovingly knit, embellished and designed as you would do for your very own near and dear out into winter to find its place on the weather-beaten hands of a stranger. I can't assure you this will change your karma or affect world peace, but I will be willing to bet you won't be able to just make one pair.

Get your needles out and hurry up. It is already freezing outside. Make a tottering tower of warm, winter mittens, plain or fancy: stitched in patterns to show off from the yarn that you Kool-aid dyed or cuffed with fuzzy fur, and handsomely cabled. Give away many but be sure to knit enough extra woolies to store in a wicker basket by your front door for your family and friends to wear and for all to admire what you created from that simple craft of poking and pulling with two sticks and some string.

Share the warmth and knit on!

Authored by

Michelle Edwards is the author/illustrator of A KNITTER'S HOME COMPANION and many award-winning children's books including CHICKEN MAN and STINKY STERN FOREVER. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about books in schools throughout the US and beyond. Her newest book, Room for the Baby, will be available from Random House in Fall 2012. Visit Michelle Edwards at her website or on Facebook.
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