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Grateful for the storm

Yesterday it was snowing again. It was the third day this week that the schools were closed due to the weather conditions. Monday and Tuesday I stayed home with my children and thoroughly enjoyed the storm. It was too cold and windy to spend lots of time outside but luckily there was snow on our balcony that needed to be removed.

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Most importantly, I have finished the blanket. It was a big project and took me more than three days. Some of the blanket squares — knitted and crocheted by the senior ladies at Shannex — were stitched together with the flat slip stitch join that created a neat decorative line. But, man, it takes time. The linked video shows how to attach two neatly crocheted squares, and I was trying to attach various (not so neat) edges and not all of them aligned perfectly. In order to save some time, I used my sewing machine for the crocheted squares, and I used the mattress stitch for the vertical garter stitch squares — both make the joining line invisible.

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It was Tuesday afternoon when we dropped off the blanket at the Phoenix Youth Shelter. I almost never see anyone there, except for the staff members who accept the donations. This time, there was a young guy entering the shelter as I was getting out of the car. He came in and a few moments later I stepped inside, too — it was too cold to talk through the open door. I handed in the blanket packaged into one of those duvet plastic bags with the zipper and explained to the young woman at the door “I have a donation, it’s a knitted blanket”. She thanked me and the next moment another, louder, “Thank you!” boomed from the shelter’s kitchen as she asked if I want to leave my information. “No, it’s OK” was all I said out loud.

As I was going down the stairs, I wished I could shout back to the person in the kitchen “From all the crafters who worked hard to make this blanket — you are welcome”. But I think he knows it anyway.

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Recently our local children’s hospital, the IWK, contacted me with an unusual request. The Family Newborn Unit was asking for a knitted breast to help demonstrate breastfeeding techniques to new moms. (Here is a printer-friendly Marianne Brophy’s Knitted Breast pattern.)

As a mother of two and a breastfeeding advocate, I loved this brilliant idea and was thrilled to get involved. Working on this project brought back the memories of challenges that I faced as a mother of a newborn.

Often breastfeeding comes naturally to a nursing couple, but not always. Sometimes new mothers need help. Because the stakes were high for me, I didn’t mind to learn the techniques using my own body that was looked at and touched by strangers of both genders. I  vividly remember the moment when I decided that I simply couldn’t be distracted by the uncomfortable feelings. My child’s needs came before my comfort. Also, I simply didn’t have a choice.

That’s why I want the families and the breastfeeding professionals to have a choice. They can use a realistic, pliable model to talk about the women’s anatomy and the breastfeeding process.  Both mothers and health professionals can feel and manipulate this knitted breast to make their learning experience most useful and comfortable.

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I have made a number of samples and brought them back to the hospital to test  (they passed). Please let me share some of the insights I gained while experimenting. First of all, you don’t have to use only pink yarn but skin tones are preferable. I made two different kinds to reflect differences in skin colours.

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The darker yarn was a bit thicker so I had to modify the pattern slightly. I cast on 60 instead of 66 stitches, and had 10 instead of 11 stitches in each decrease section.

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They turned out the same size but even if they were slightly bigger or smaller, it wouldn’t matter. Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. After stuffing the breasts with the filling material, I traced a yogurt lid to make a few cardboard circles for the flat bottom.

knitted-breast-bottom

If you follow the pattern exactly, you will notice that the top (the nipple part) is shaped like a hat. It provides a lot of flexibility. With the top pushed in, it can represent an inverted nipple that sometimes makes it more challenging for a baby to latch on. It can be used for demonstrating techniques of teasing the nipple out.

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If you knit more than one model, you could make a variety of shapes. Draw the yarn through stitches below the last ones (about three rounds down) to create a firm nipple or skip a few last stitches to create a flat nipple, like this one. You can also experiment with the different size areola by joining a contrast yarn sooner or later in the pattern.

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Dear knitters, let’s knit some breasts for the new mothers and their babies to help make their breastfeeding journey as smooth as possible.

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You can drop off your knitted breast models at:

IWK Volunteer Resources
5850/5980 University Avenue
Halifax, NS  B3K 6R8

or mail them to:

Volunteer Resources
IWK Health Centre
PO BOX 9700
Halifax, NS B3K 6R8

Thank you and happy knitting!

As a knitter, I am used to the magic of knitting. But every now and then I feel astonished by the results produced by two sticks and a string. This time, it’s about the size and determination. I am very happy to share with you the work of the members of Knitting for Charity group that meets every fourth Wednesday of the month at the Cole Harbour Public Library.

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These ladies started working on their squares last winter and knitted enough squares to make three blankets. Then a few brave souls took the squares home and turned them into these amazing creations.

Do you see the size of this thing? There are two grown-up women hiding behind it! This is a truly generous gift, nicknamed “Stained Glass Blanket”.

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The next one is called “Shades of Blue” and it is very elegant. I love how the ladies used both the texture and the colours to create a pattern.

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And if you like contrast colours, here is something to feast your eyes on. This blanket is my favourite!

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Knitting for Charity group voted to give their wonderful blankets to the youth, women, and men shelters — one for each.

Last week our local newspaper Metro published an article about knitting for charity. There are many knitters in our community who do this important work quietly, without any recognition or praise. However, I like it when people share their thoughts and talk about their projects. I believe that it inspires others and sends a clear message — when we care, we can achieve great things, one stitch at a time.

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