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Heart on my Sleeve : sadness, my inspiring mom, and a project to do good

November 10, 2016

Today is an interesting day. It is my Mom’s 65th birthday. My daughter is 6 months old, my son is 2. I am 35, and wondering if I count as ‘middle aged’ yet. Watching the US presidential election was a tough one. After Brexit I wasn’t surprised, but I am disappointed. My faith in the goodness of people is at a low. The things that have been said about minorities, immigrants, and women are abhorrent, and yet he still won. It’s going to take a while to take that in, and I’m not sure I’ll ever understand it.

In order to escape a bit from the news, I was listening to the ever-inspiring Kim Werker on the SweetGeorgia podcast (episode 30). One of Kim’s points in her talk, and in her book ‘Mighty Ugly’ is that she tries to do the things that scare her, and teach her son to do the same. This made me think of how much my Mom has inspired me over the years. She has always been an adventurer, and often put herself in situations which, to me, seemed intimidating, awkward, with a high potential for failure or discomfort. From sailing from Canada to Mexico, to cycling solo through the Rockies, volunteering in construction, and learning bike maintenance, Colleen has always adventured and practiced new skills. When I was younger, I didn’t get it. Now I recognize that one of the most valuable lessons she has taught me is to do things anyway, despite fears and anxieties, to pursue what you imagine could be great. So happy birthday Mom, thanks for inspiring me to adventure and teaching me to take risks.

My mom Colleen and my son Max

My mom Colleen and my son Max

wearing my heart on my sleeve

So what to do when you look at the world and feel sadness, and have that anxious fear in the pit of your stomach? I think the answer is to act, to do your best to create joy and beauty and try be helpful to others in a positive way. As knitters, I suspect many of you have the same reaction, to reach for your needles and yarn! It definitely calms me to work stitch after stitch, moving yarn through my hands and creating something.

Heart on my Sleeve Ebook

On that note, I’d like to share a little sneak preview of a collection that Alexa and I are creating, with help from our friends, to inspire giving and helping. Heart on my Sleeve is a charity ebook, featuring sweaters by some of our favourite designers: Joji Locatelli, Ysolda Teague, Bristol Ivy, Tanis Lavallee, Romi Hill, Jane Richmond, Shannon Cook, and Tin Can Knits too!

Each designer has generously donated a pattern, and 100% of proceeds will go to the Against Malaria Foundation, to purchase bed nets which prevent malaria. Malaria is a major killer of little kids (70% who die are under 5) and pregnant women (it’s the worlds single largest killer of pregnant women), and malaria is PREVENTABLE. A long-lasting insecticidal net costs $2.50 USD, so each ebook sold will protect multiple families. Your purchase will make a real difference to the life of another family – you could save a child, or a mother, all from the comfort of your favourite knitting chair. Learn more about Malaria and how a few dollars can really help, here.

Heart on my Sleeve Teaser

The Heart on my Sleeve collection will have a little bit of everything… lace, cables, and plenty of colourwork too!

Here are a few little teasers to give you an idea of what’s to come, and get your creative juices flowing!  The Heart on my Sleeve ebook will launch in early 2017, if you’d like to know when it’s available you can sign up for our email updates, or watch our blog, Instagram, or Facebook.

Does knitting lighten your heart?

Knitting is such a simple pleasure, but it helps many of us through difficult times, brings us together, and can be a positive focus and distraction. Share your story with us in the comments, or at your favourite social spot!

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2017 6:00 pm

    For God’s sake! is there anyplace left on earth where politics can be left at the door? I come to sites and blogs like this to try and avoid the constant barrage of hostility, but here we go again. Can we stop being democrats and republicans for 5 minutes and just knit together? Yes EVERYONE has a right to their own opinion but do we all have to share every opinion we have all of the time? I’m not actually interested in discussing politics on a craft blog. Is that so terrible? Look…I voted for Trump. I’m glad he won. I don’t hate anyone. Republicans knit too…can we please just KNIT???

  2. Olivia permalink
    January 23, 2017 5:44 am

    I disagree with one of your commenters. As the new President takes office, we will all see this is disaster for Not only the American people but the world, it’s a sad day but as the #WomanMarch shows, decency and opposition to tyranny will prevail. All over the world. Yes, knitting helps, as seen in the Pussy Project.

  3. Elizabeth permalink
    November 30, 2016 12:36 pm

    As a Trump supporter, I am shocked and saddened by your article and will no longer support Tin Can Knits.

    • Marie C permalink
      December 1, 2016 6:47 am

      Elizabeth, not to support Tin Can Knits is your prerogative. I for one salut their effort for making some good and helping others.

  4. Lulu permalink
    November 29, 2016 2:57 am

    You knit?

  5. Wendy Morris permalink
    November 26, 2016 3:43 am

    What a wonderful idea Emily . Look forward to purchasing it on it’s release.

  6. Cathy permalink
    November 26, 2016 1:16 am

    I was having a difficult time at work last year and I decided to start a charity project to give me something to look forward to as past of my day. My employer is a big supporter of charity work and has a good structure in place to support proposed projects. I always feel frustrated that I can’t contribute the way I want to but I found Woolly Hugs, a knitting/crocheting charity where people can contribute individual squares to large blankets that are constructed by various volunteers. 14 people joined the project. We made 52 blankets for the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow. Not only did I get the pleasure of working with my hands but it all went to sick children in hospital. My dreadful workday turned into something I felt good about. We raised over £2000 for this tiny charity in matching funds. Knitting keeps me sane and grounded.

  7. Sad to see all the intolerance growing permalink
    November 25, 2016 7:30 pm

    I sadly read the article and all of the comments. Before you read further, please know that I am a person who voted for Trump, even though I disagreed with a lot of things he has said and done in the past; even though I, too, have some concerns about what he may do in the next 4 years. If you care to actually know how someone could hear what the media chose to share, read the rest:

    To assume that those who voted with him are racist, hate women, etc., shows that you have not taken time to actually listen to anyone who does not agree with you. If a woman ran on a platform that I agreed with, I would certainly vote for her. I am not at all racist or xenophobic. (Disagreeing with a black person does not make you racist, btw.) In fact, the candidate of my choice was black. The bigoted assumptions made here are part of the reasons I voted for anyone except a democrat. Even Trump! The media has played a huge part in the fact that a whole group – nearly half of our nation – has felt unheard and dismissed. Our country is extremely polarized. I do not make the assumption that all those who voted for Clinton are blind and unhearing bigots, who think only their opinions matter, but I struggle sometimes to believe it. Especially when I read things like this.

    Yes – you have the right to say what you feel, but don’t believe for a minute that you understand how people made the difficult decision to vote for Trump. You do not know our minds – obviously. Voting for Trump was one of the hardest things I have ever done! But I believe I had no other reasonable choice.

    Yes, you have a right to state your opinion on your website, and I have a right to unsubscribe if I want to – but I don’t plan to because I believe that even someone who makes these gross stereotypical assumptions has the ability to learn that others are not hating just because they disagree, that people sometimes have good reasons for what they do even if you do not know or understand their reasons, and that by listening and talking together instead of jumping to conclusions, progress can be made.

    I won’t assume that you are just like those who are demonstrating, rioting and looting, and I would appreciate the same consideration.

  8. November 25, 2016 12:00 pm

    Knitting has been hugely helpful for me dealing with sad times. Three friends misscarried very much wanted babies in 3 days. By the third day and third sad announcement I was feeling pretty gutted. As an expression of believing in hope for overcoming loss I knit a baby sweater. A couple months later we lost a baby of our own in a miscarriage and knitting through a bunch of projects gave me the peaceful time I needed to start healing.

    It’s also a positive link to my passed Granny, who taught me to knit, and my auntie, who is a lifelong knitter. My auntie’s sock presents were a highlight of Christmas for many years.

  9. Lulu permalink
    November 21, 2016 11:44 am

    if you know any knit alongs for charity for 2017, please post..

  10. Darby Logan permalink
    November 15, 2016 10:58 am

    Oh My, Yes we have had a heartbreaking time here in the US. YIKES! It has all been so sad to see how this hateful man is now our President. I felt like someone has died. To counteract all this, I have returned to my knitting and being present to those in need, wherever they might be. Enjoy your Mom! My little ones, who are not little any more loved my mom. Time passes so quickly. Never miss a minute of loving on your family . Be well, Darby

  11. knittedblissjc permalink
    November 12, 2016 12:24 pm

    Dued, if you are middle aged than I’m right there with you! This pattern ebook project sounds AMAZING!! what a brilliant idea. And I hear you on the US election hangover…. ugh.

  12. Diane Cooper permalink
    November 12, 2016 3:46 am

    I read this yesterday as I sat in the hospital while my mom- also my inspiration, and my rock- had surgery for a new knee. I read this while I took a break from my knitting- what helps me when I am stressed or angst about something… It is definitely a mind soother.
    (as an aside, I just read Yarn Harlots words on her thoughts post election- a very fair and interesting view- that might help!!)

  13. November 11, 2016 10:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Emily. This week has been so horrible, but I now have your beautiful ebook to look forward to! I’m going to start saving up for it now :)

    Lots of love and wishes of peace from California <3

  14. anon permalink
    November 11, 2016 11:20 am

    Where to start?

    “It’s peculiar that when Obama won (twice), the Conservatives so villified by the media never rioted.”

    Maybe they didn’t “riot,” but they did protest with pictures of Obama photoshopped as a monkey, a gorilla, a communist, in a Hitler uniform. Are those the actions of calm, respectable, caring people?

    If you struggle to understand the urge to protest, I encourage you to read MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. It’s here:

    “While it’s unanimous that Trump is a ‘question mark’…”

    Trump is not a question mark. He has pledged mass deportations, national registry of Muslims, a Muslim ban, de-funding Planned Parenthood. That much is crystal clear. You can find more details on his plan here:

    “Make no mistake, it’s understood there is some instances where an abortion might be necessary – but it comes with a limit. Many use it as a form of birth control.”

    I’m glad you have some compassion and find that there may be some some instances where abortion is necessary. I had to terminate a non-viable pregnancy, a procedure that likely saved my life. I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone. It was incredibly difficult. As to your assertion that many use abortion as birth control, I hope you can see that this is because birth control is very difficult to obtain if you are poor or don’t have health insurance. Repealing the ACA (which Trump and Republicans plan to do) will make it even more difficult for women to get birth control, Luckily, you can still support the great work of Planned Parenthood, which helps millions of women get access to birth control and much more.

    ” If you’re sincerely trying to grow a business, be wary of alienating members of your audience.”

    I would say, if you’re sincerely trying to stand up for what you believe in, be wary of censoring yourself for fear of making others uncomfortable. Discomfort can lead to growth; alienation occurs when you dismiss others out of hand without listening to them first.

    Thanks for reading.

    • Brigit permalink
      November 25, 2016 7:33 am

      thank you for your response.

  15. Elizabeth permalink
    November 11, 2016 8:45 am

    Despite a sermon , your business will be fine!
    You have a right to A opinion and you have A voice!

  16. Elizabeth permalink
    November 11, 2016 8:37 am

    I hope your mom had a happy birthday!
    I’m also sad and devastated by the election.
    Hard to find peace right now, but knitting is soothing!

  17. Carolyn permalink
    November 11, 2016 5:46 am

    Amen Commenter At Large

    • TriciaAnn permalink
      November 20, 2016 5:57 pm

      I agree, so very well stated.

  18. Linda Quick permalink
    November 11, 2016 5:30 am

    He won because he appealed to those people who long for the “good ole days” which never existed because when the “good ole days” existed (in their minds) they were children and had few worries. He won because there IS gender bias in America. He won because Ms. Clinton underestimated the middle class white male who wants to go back to the status quo where husband goes to work, wife stays in two rooms of the house (kitchen and bedroom) and women have no say about any part of their lives. I’ll stop here; I’m getting sad again.

  19. Anya permalink
    November 10, 2016 8:52 pm

    I will never understand it, but at least I am lucky enough to live in a large “blue” state that stood against this narcissistic, racist, misogynistic sociopath. God bless California. God help America.

  20. Terry permalink
    November 10, 2016 6:24 pm

    Emily 35 year olds are NOT middle aged!!! Your mother is middle aged.

  21. November 10, 2016 2:35 pm

    One of the best things about the United States is that we have the freedom to express our opinion. It’s up to people to feel alienated or take it as an opportunity to engage in dialogue, much like you have above. I disagree with you but respect your right to interpret this post and express yourself the way you did.

  22. November 10, 2016 2:31 pm

    I reached for my needles the second I heard the news and I had a dear friend call me up and ask if she should get me yarn :) I love the soothing rhythm of my needles creating something positive even when the world seems it’s darkest.

    Thank you so much for your post. As a WPOC it helped me center a bit and remember the wonderful people in my life who continue to inspire me. I am happy to know I don’t stand alone and have allies who make wonderful things and have comforting words.

  23. November 10, 2016 2:23 pm

    Thank you for saying what I was thinking! I voted third party because I really couldn’t stomach either candidate, but the beauty of this country is that we work every four years to peacefully choose our government representatives ( I dislike using the term leader), and we have 3 branches of government to provide checks and balances. The awesome document known as the US Constitution ensures that we all have a voice, and many people work vigorously to uphold those founding principles. Be thankful!

    • November 25, 2016 8:37 am

      I posted this on a completely different ( but also yarn-related) blog. I’m not sure how it migrated to THIS blog, although it was a reply to the post above there as well. Very strange.

  24. Julie permalink
    November 10, 2016 1:57 pm

    This expression of sadness and lack of understanding was certainly not anything taken out of context. We all saw and heard the words and actions played out during the campaign over many months. Discussion of points of view is valid, and should be undertaken in openness and honesty, not a massive copy and paste under “commenter at large.”

  25. Laura permalink
    November 10, 2016 12:30 pm

    You’re not the only one who doesn’t understand it. I’m struggling with coming to terms that so many citizens put their faith and support in a person who has shown himself to be hateful and disrespectful in so many different circumstances.
    Thanks for sharing, your thoughts and stories of your Mom; I hope you find some peace in your knitting. Looking forward to the the e-book!

  26. karen permalink
    November 10, 2016 12:15 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I would love to help out your cause when the book comes out.

  27. November 10, 2016 11:59 am

    Feeling your pain, Emily. Total understanding here … We are not alone! Knitting definitely helps. Escape, but without any guilt.

  28. Linda permalink
    November 10, 2016 11:28 am

    Many of us here in the United States don’t understand it either. It’s a frightening time. I just try to remember that God is always in control. Thank you for your lovely blog. I get lots of inspiration from you :)

  29. Leslie permalink
    November 10, 2016 10:14 am

    Thanks for the inspiring story! It definitely has made a difference to the way I look at things today. You’re very fortunate to still have your Mom.

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