Why I Knit by Rebecca Houser


For the last few months, Lionbrand have been sharing personal stories of healing from those involved with Project Knitwell, an organization dedicated to bringing comfort and therapy to people facing stressful situations through the joy of knitting. Lionbrand asked you to share your stories and this month they’re featuring one submitted by Rebecca Houser.

I’ve been a knitter for about 40 years now, and have always enjoyed it, but I never needed it more than in the summer of 2010.

My dad called to ask me to come take care of him for a week – my dad, the guy who never asks me for anything. He had taken a bad fall, and at 84, was not able to care for himself. Although the call came while I was working in the garden and totally grimy, I was on a plane within two hours, flying from my home near Tulsa to Las Vegas, where he lived.

I expected to be gone just a week, so I only took a few small, partially completed projects. What a blessing my WIP pile was at that moment, when I couldn’t think about much of anything except getting to my dad.

When I got to his house, I loaded him and my knitting into the car and took him to the ER. He was dehydrated, recovering from a kidney infection, and had broken his tailbone in the fall.

I expected to be able to take him home the next morning, but overnight, his aortic valve collapsed, and he died 3 1/2 weeks later. I was devastated. My husband was stationed in Iraq at the time, so he was not able to be the help and support that I so desperately needed, and I would end up being stuck in my dad’s house for another 2 1/2 months as I settled his estate and packed up the contents of his house. I had never been more distressed.

About a week after everyone had left for home following my dad’s memorial service, I was sitting at the kitchen table one evening feeling totally empty, and I suddenly realized what I needed.

I had finished up all my knitting projects while my dad was in the hospital, so I was without anything to work on. I visited the local yarn store and spent about an hour there just feeling the different yarns and playing with the different colors. I finally made a decision and purchased a pair of knitting needles and some wool/cashmere blend in very soft desert colors (tan, peach, light blue, and grey) that would remind me of the desert my dad had lived in, and found a lace scarf pattern online.

I will never forget the feeling of peace that came over me as I was casting on that scarf. Finally, there was something right with my world, something normal and familiar, and so comforting.

It told me that I would be all right, and that my world would eventually get back to normal. I had never knit lace before, and found that the concentration it initially required helped to take my mind off of the emptiness of the house and the loneliness of being totally on my own. I did a lot of ripping out at the beginning, but eventually found the rhythm and pattern, and the scarf took shape.

I had it nearly finished when the time came to finally return to my own home, and I had it complete by the time my husband returned home 10 days later.

It is my favorite winter scarf, so warm and soft, and so full of memories. Knitting couldn’t bring my dad back, but it did bring my world back to normal, and helped me to process the loss and heal.

– Rebecca Houser