Credit: Cozmeena.com

Credit: Cozmeena.com

Right before my marriage fell apart – I mean, pieces of that relationship were crumbling off in bits and chunks long before the official end – but around the time I nodded my head when my then-husband asked me if I wanted a divorce, I took up knitting.

I actually didn’t have much of a choice. I was folded into a circle of newbie knitters by a woman I had met at a tiny exercise studio we both went to most mornings during the week and bonded in the dark, sweating during spin class. We were a part of a group of maybe 10 or so regulars – all women – who showed up a few days a week for years to pant up imaginary hills and then coast down, pedals flying, while discussing everything from marriage to children to labia. Yes, I said that. We often joked, “What happened in the spin room stayed in the spin room.”

There were mornings I wept silently in the dark as my fellow cyclists discussed the importance of respect in a marriage, and other classes when we all commiserated over the most recent caper pulled off by somebody’s wily teenager (sometimes my own).

So when a few of us indicated that we wanted to learn how to knit, our ringleader – a woman about a dozen years my senior who is really the older sister I’d always dreamed of having – invited us to her home where she distributed wooden knitting needles and skeins of cotton yarn to the handful of us sitting around her kitchen table, and began to teach us how to knit. We learned how to cast on, purl and count our stitches over coffee in somebody’s kitchen most Wednesday mornings. There was always yogurt and granola, there was always the sound of clicking needles and there were always plenty of laughs.

Most of us graduated from knitting potholders to making bunnies to give as baby gifts and I even completed a throw to give my oldest daughter for her 18th birthday. I then was so inspired with my handiwork that I began to knit a sweater for myself, which I dubbed my “divorce sweater.” I worked on it constantly – watching TV on those dark nights at the height of my separation when I needed to keep my brain busy doing something, anything, other than thinking about my life. Eventually though – as is so often the case with me – I just couldn’t see that project through and its odds and ends, some sleeves and a front and back panel, lay in a big plastic bag somewhere in my basement. By then I’d started working full-time and it was all I could do to keep track of doctor’s appointments and college applications, much less knitting patterns.

“I’m just bringing my personality,” I joked to the other knitters when I showed up to knitting sans knitting, but I never considered just not going. Knitting had become about so much more than, well, knitting. It was a pocket in my week I knew for an hour or two I’d be guaranteed good company and the camaraderie of nurturing women that fed my soul.

But I’d forgotten just how good it felt to actually knit.

A couple of weeks ago a few of us sat around a kitchen table when that same bossy ringleader pushed a ball of yarn and a pair of wooden needles in front of me and gave me a look.

“Nooooo,” I whined, “I’m too lazy. I don’t remember how.”

“Just knit,” she instructed, pressing the needles – onto which she’d cast about a dozen or so stitches – into my hands.

She quickly reminded me how to position the yarn and move the needles and in no time, I was mindlessly talking and knitting. It felt so good, the tips of the wooden needles sliding against each other as I looped the yarn over and carefully lifted a stitch from one needle onto the other, creating an easy rhythm as we chatted about kids and gun control and paint colors.

One of the other topics of conversation that morning was a local woman I’ve known of for years, Lisa Luckett, and her Cozmeena shawls. I came to know Lisa through mutual friends and shared yoga classes and occasionally when passing each other on the dirt trails while walking through a local park. But I mostly knew who Lisa was because she is famously one of the women around here whose husband was killed on 9/11. We live in a part of New Jersey that’s an easy ferry ride to lower Manhattan and many Wall Streeters took the boat into the city that morning 13 years ago and never returned.

Since that terrible day, Lisa’s stayed busy raising three children (her youngest was just a baby at the time), finding love again, undergoing treatment for breast cancer and sorting everything out through lots and lots of therapy. She also did a lot of knitting.

Lisa Luckett, left, and pal rocking shawls that are at the heart of Cozmeena Enlighened Living! Credit: Cozmeena.com

Lisa Luckett, left, and pal rocking shawls that are at the heart of Cozmeena Enlighened Living! Credit: Cozmeena.com

Our own knitting ringleader explained how Lisa had founded something called Cozmeena, which is a lot of things – a lifestyle brand, a resource for caring for someone with cancer, a place to read Lisa’s stories of finding grace and growth through tragedy. But at the heart of Cozmeena are the big, cozy shawls you can purchase to knit for yourself and others.

“I just want everyone to feel like this,” Lisa told me when we spoke on the phone last week. “I want everyone to find peacefulness and gratitude and happiness.”

And I knew just what she meant. It’s how you feel when you do the hard work while going through some traumatic, life-changing event and then come out the other side even better than you were before. It’s like that Will Rogers quote I love: “The worst thing that happens to you may be the best thing for you if you don’t let it get the best of you.”

The first step in the process is taking care of yourself, said Lisa, explaining that’s where the shawl — which the Cozmeena website describes as a “warm, enduring hug” — comes in.

So it makes sense that the first person you knit the shawl for when you buy the $125 kit – which comes with five skeins of yarn (available in about 30 rich, yummy colors like apricot and lemongrass), knitting needles and a crochet hook – is yourself.

"The Cozmeena Shawl™ is where coziness meets glamour.  When you wear it you’ll feel the embrace of a warm and comforting hug.   You’ll be stunningly beautiful while feeling the genuine care of a mother’s hug every time you wear it." Credit: Cozmeena.com

“The Cozmeena Shawl™ is where coziness meets glamour. When you wear it you’ll feel the embrace of a warm and comforting hug. You’ll be stunningly beautiful while feeling the genuine care of a mother’s hug every time you wear it.” Credit: Cozmeena.com

“Women lose themselves from giving so much to others,” Lisa explained. “We need to do a better job taking care of ourselves so that we can take better care of others.”

Knitting the shawl can be “addicting” and Lisa suggested you then make one to share with a friend. “I actually think they’re kind of magic,” she told me, “because you’re infusing your love into what you’re creating.”

And really, it’s all about the process. “When you knit, you are using your hands and tapping into the tactile sensory system that is one of the five human senses of taste, touch, sight, smell and sound,” Lisa explained.  The work naturally calms your central nervous system, lowers your heart rate and slows your breathing.

The Cozmeena site has a number of video tutorials to use as knitting guides and Lisa also holds open knitting hours in her home twice a week to help beginning knitters with their shawls. “Ninety percent of my people never held a set of knitting needles before,” she said, adding that the pattern is pretty much straightforward knitting with little counting required and takes about 12-15 hours to complete.

Lisa said she hopes that encouraging women to take that first step – caring for themselves – will be the start of a much larger Cozmeena mission to pretty much create a better world through more enlightened living.

“It’s a convoluted explanation of something that should be really simple,” she admitted. I suggest you go spend some time on her website to better appreciate all the lovely facets of Cozmeena.

So if you find yourself feeling a little adrift this holiday season, like you need a big, fat hug, maybe all you really need is a little Cozmeena.

And a table full of friends.

"Experienced knitters love to make Cozmeena Shawls™ because of the simplicity and purpose. They know that working with your hands is calming, soothing and relaxing. Knitting a Cozmeena Shawl™ simply makes you feel better." Credit: Cozmeena.com

“Experienced knitters love to make Cozmeena Shawls™ because of the simplicity and purpose. They know that working with your hands is calming, soothing and relaxing. Knitting a Cozmeena Shawl™ simply makes you feel better.” Credit: Cozmeena.com

Give yourself the gift of Amy. Don’t worry, I’m not jumping out of a box Christmas morning. But you can sign up to get all my posts sent directly to your inbox. Just plug your email into the “receive new post in your inbox.” 

You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter since none of my kids will let me follow them.

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Knit Your Way to a Better Life This Holiday Season

  1. Pingback: A My Name Is Amy blog | Cozmeena

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