December 11, 2006
Felicity (Kata) Scarf
"There are people who call themselves religious-minded, trying to show this by dressing in a peculiar manner, maintaining a peculiar way of life, and isolating themselves from the rest of society. That is wrong. A scripture of mind-purification (mind-training) says, "Transform your inner viewpoint, but leave your external appearance as it is." This is important. Because the very purpose of practicing the Great Vehicle is service for others, you should not isolate yourselves from society. In order to serve, in order to help, you must remain in society." His Holiness the Dalai Lama1
Knitting As Meditation
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Much has been written about the benefits of meditation. Meditation: Once Over Lightly The documented benefits of meditation are impressive. It lowers the respiratory rate, oxygen consumption, and many, but not all, blood pressures. It has been found to reduce anxiety with individuals reporting strong feelings of well-being.
In Healing Buddha Meditation, a simple healing meditation practice which generates a self-healing energy.
Why not think of knitting (or other handcrafts) as meditating. When knitting one is creating warmth, caring and love for oneself and/or others. Why not allow knitting to become a quiet reflective meditation? Create a Kata (Felicity) Scarf/Shawl for yourself or others. I invented the following knitting pattern/stitch to help bring meditation into my daily life. I made a prototype scarf. The yarn I chose was Karabella Aurora 100% Extra Fine Merino Wool. Use needle size #7-8 - 4.5-5 stitches per inch.I used alternating stitches of three - 3 knits, 3 purls. A brief meaning of these 3 repeating stitches in Taoism: "Tao begets One, One begets Two, Two begets Three and Three begets all things." Three is birth, life, death; beginning, middle and end; past, present, future; thought, word and deed; three persons of the trinity; mother, father, child; and the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.
Sample Knitting Pattern
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Cast on loosely. I used a size #10 needle to cast on the beginning stitches. The knitting yarn I chose suggested using size #7-8 needles. For my sample scarf I used 27 stitches putting in markers every 9 stitches. This is important because if you make a mistake you can find it readily. Using the example of knitting in a pattern of 3's, there are two ways of creating the pattern.
- If using an odd number of stitches divisible by 3 such as 45(15,3), 63 (21 x 3), then you can start each row with knit 3.
- The pattern I used was knit 3, purl 3, knit 3 repeated to the end of the row.
Thus each row began with knit 3 and ended with knit 3.
First row is Knit 3, purl 3, knit 3, purl 3 to the end
Second row is Knit 3, purl 3, knit 3, purl 3 to the end Repeat until you reach the desired length of the scarf/shawl.
KKK PPP KKK PPP KKK PPP ending the row with KKK
- If you choose an even number divisible by 3 such as 24, 36, 108, then the pattern changes to
- First row is knit 3, purl 3 to the end of the first row. Second row is purl 3, knit 3 to the end of the second row - or as the famous saying goes - knit the purls and purl the knits. Each row alternates the ending stitches. Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until desired length of the scarf/shawl is achieved.
First row KKK PPP KKK PPP KKK PPP ending the 1st row with PPP Second row PPP KKK PPP KKK PPP KKK ending the 2nd row with KKK
- Once you have finished knitting the length wanted for your scarf/shawl, bind the stitches off. Once again it is a good idea to use a larger needle to bind off than what was used to knit the scarf/shawl. Here I used a #10 needle.
You may want to add something more to your special scarf/shawl.
- To add a band of contrasting (or same) color all the way around the center part of the scarf/shawl.
Between each stitch there is a little bar |__|.
Using a crochet hook, make a stitch by pulling the yarn through this bar using the contrasting color.
I think you should add 5 extra stitches to each corner to avoid puckering.
I used a 60 inch #9 circular needle to hold all of the stitches.
Place a marker between the first stitch and the last stitch of the row.
Then knit one row, purl one row (if you are using circular needles keep on knitting over and over again to get the same effect.).
- If you want to add a ruffle instead of a flat band: On the third row double the stitches by knitting into the front and back of each stitch. Another way to accomplish this would be to do yarn overs between each stitch.
If you want to have garter stitch ruffle band using circular needles, you need to knit one row, purl one row.
- When the outside band is as wide as desired, bind these stitches off.
Again use a larger needle. In this case I used a #11.
A too tight bind off will pucker the knitted work.
Other finishing suggestions are to add a fringe, add a stripe, embroider designs, add nothing.
Block the scarf/shawl.
- Make this knitting meditation your very own. This special shawl/scarf is a gift to yourself or another. Before beginning this knitting project, think about the following.
Felicity Scarf Directions
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- First, you need to make a sample swatch using your chosen yarn, needles and number pattern. From your swatch, determine the number of stitches and rows per inch you should knit. The standard swatch is usually 4"x4".
- Plan how wide you want your Buddhist shawl/scarf to be.
Count the stitches in your swatch and then use this formula.
Shawl/scarf desired width x stitches per inch = number of stitches required.
If this is not a whole number or the number is not divisible by the number of pattern stitches - in my example I was using the pattern of threes - then round up the number of stitches to achieve your goal.
- Choosing a Yarn
- Choose the very best quality yarn possible for this gift to another or yourself. This pattern makes for a very dense fabric so you may want to use a thinner yarn. Where do you live? If the temperature is hot and in the 100's, you obviously do not want to use a heavy wool suitable for below zero weather. Do you want a yarn that can be washed? What texture of yarn do you like? How will it feel against your skin? Think of allergies. Many are allergic to wools, mohair, etc. This problem becomes accentuated when one is sick or elderly.
- Choosing a Color
- Choose a color that brings you joy. The traditional five colors used in the Tibetan WindHorse prayer flags represent the five Buddha families and the five elements. Blue represents Akshobhya Buddha and space; white represents Ratna Sambhava Buddha and water; red represents Amitabha Buddha and fire; green represents Amoghasiddhi Buddha, air and wind; and yellow represents Vairocana Buddha and earth.2
Another idea is to make your scarf/shawl using all 5 colors in alternating patterns.
- Choosing the Number/Stitch Pattern
What is the focus and purpose of this knitting project? The following are a few Buddhist numbers and meanings:
One - Dharma, perfect in the beginning, the middle and the end!
- Choose the number of stitches desired.
Row 1- knit 1, purl 1 knit 1, to end of row.
Row 2- purl 1, knit 1, purl 1 to end of row.
- Two - Pair: yab-yum, mother-father in union; or the 2 stages of tantra: generation and completion.
- Choose the number of stitches divisible by 2 such as 36, 72, 108
Row 1 -knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, to end of row.
Row 2 - purl 2, knit 2, purl 2 to end of row.
- Three - Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha
- Choose the number of stitches divisible by 3 - 24, 33, 108
Row 1 - knit 3, purl 3 knit 3, to end of row.
Row 2 - purl 3, knit 3, purl 3 to end of row.
If using stitch count where the number is odd and the stitch units can be evenly divided by 3 ending in an odd number such as:45 (15x3), 63 (21x3), 99(33x3), then the pattern stitch is simply knit 3, purl 3 knit 3, repeated over and over again row by row until the scarf/shawl is desired length.
- Four - Noble Truths: Life means suffering; The origin of suffering is attachment; the cesssation of suffering is attainable; and the path cessation of suffering
- Choose the number of stitches divisible by 4 such as 36, 72, 108
Row 1 - knit 4, purl 4 knit 4, to end of row.
Row 2 - purl 4, knit 4, purl 4 to end of row.
- Five - Buddhas and their Consorts
- Choose the number of stitches divisible by 5 such as 25, 35, 100
Row 1 - knit 5, purl 5 knit 5, to end of row.
Row 2 - purl 5, knit 5, purl 5 to end of row.
If using stitch count where the number is odd; the stitch units can be evenly divided by 5 but have an odd number such as:45 (15(3x5)x3), 125(25x5), then the pattern stitch is simply knit 5, purl 5 knit 5, repeated over and over again row by row until the scarf/shawl is desired length.
- Six - Virtues: generosity, self-discipline, patience, effort or energy/determination, concentration or insight/mindfulness, and compassion.
- Choose the number of stitches divisible by 6 such as 36, 72, 108
Row 1 - knit 6, purl 6 knit 6, to end of row.
Row 2 - purl 6, knit 6,, purl 6 to end of row.
- Seven - Chakras in the body of light
- Choose the number of stitches divisible by 7 such as 28, 49, 84
Row 1 - knit 7, purl 7 knit 7, to end of row.
Row 2 - purl 7, knit 7, purl 7 to end of row.
If using stitch count where the number is odd; the stitch units can be evenly divided by 7 but have an odd number such as: 63 (21(7x3)x3), 105(35(7x5)x3), then the pattern stitch is simply knit 7, purl 7, knit 7, repeated over and over again row by row until the scarf/shawl is desired length.
- Eight - The Eightfold path: Right view; Right intention; Right Speech; Right Action; Right Livelihood; Right effort; Right Mindfulness; Right concentration. The Eight Medicine Buddhas and the corresponding Healing Goddesses; The Eight forms of Tara the mother of liberation.
- Choose the number of stitches divisible by 8 such as 32, 72, 96 Row 1 - knit 8, purl 8 knit 8 to end of row.
Row 2 - purl 8, knit 8, purl 8 to end of row.
- While knitting you may want to focus on meditation prayers/mantra/poems such as:
- Mantra of Compassion
Om Mani Padme Hum
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth;
The glory of action;
The splendor of achievement;
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!
- 1.A Policy of Kindness Sidney Piburn Snow Lion Publications; 2nd edition (April 25, 1990)
2. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_prayer_flag
- Acknowledgements - Knitting help and advice:
- YARN DIVAS Women's Cancer Resource Center of Oakland, CA
Instruction by Article Pract