Winter Pilgrimage

In the wee hours of the Friday morning, we’ll be leaving for Ireland on a journey that is part business, part pleasure, and part spiritual pilgrimage. For three days we’ll visit labyrinths and sacred sites that have been calling out to our pilgrim hearts. In some ways, I have to laugh at the ridiculousness of our timing. At the time of year when most of the British populace is dreaming of heading to warmer climes, we are trading our grey skies for the blustery winds and leaden skies of Ireland where we’ll undoubtedly shiver despite wearing our warmest woollies. But we don’t mind braving the January darkness and wintry weather if it means we have the space to wander and experience without being crowded by hordes of camera-clinking tourists.

One of my greatest joys is choosing and preparing the knitting project that will accompany me as we travel. I’m a knitterly pilgrim, so what I carry with me matters both practically and symbolically; I would no more dream of leaving home without my knitting than without a journal. And I don’t take just any knitting… I carefully listen to the quiet voice of my intuition as it whispers guidance for the trip ahead,then choose patterns, colours, and project that will support my journey. I don’t always knit much when I’m away, but I keep my knitting close at hand, always, using it as a touchstone and a companion.  By the time I return home, the familiarity of the yarn and my needles remind me instantly of my pre-trip dreams, the planning process, and the events of the journey itself. It may take months before I actually complete the knitting, but even that delay often speaks to the time that it takes me to fully integrate my experiences.

This week I’ll be travelling with a beautiful skein of hand-dyed blue-green wool that I received as a birthday present last year. Before we leave, I’ll cast 72 stitches onto a beautiful pair of wooden circular needles to start a cabled sock. Both the colour and the pattern seem as though they’ll fit with the Irish countryside through which we’ll be travelling. I wonder if sock-making appeals to me so deeply because of the importance of one’s feet when walking labyrinths?


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