UPDATE 6.11.2014: Congratulations to winner Evie! Evie, please check your email for your pattern! --------------------
Breast cancer is scary. Let me rephrase that… All cancers are scary, but one that has its lazer-like focus on mostly women (yes, men can get breast cancer, too) and being a woman myself, it adds in an extra scariness factor.
I was approached by a student and friend, Eileen Mitchard earlier this year about doing a design for the cause. I assumed she meant a design that would call attention to the disease, but it turned into so much more than that.
Breast in Show is a live stage musical written by Lisa Hayes with music and lyrics by Joan Cushing. The show was conceived of by Eileen and is based on interviews conducted with patients, medical personnel and family members by Ms. Mitchard, Ms. Hayes and Ms. Cushing over a period of two years. Show synopsis: Welcome to the “Chemo Café,” where strangers become friends sharing an unforgettable journey of laughter and tears on the road to healing. Join these warriors on a life-affirming rollercoaster of emotions in this original stage musical.
I immediately knew my answer would be "yes." I'm a huge fan of women helping women, but the thing that's so frightening about this particular type of cancer, is that we're all connected to it somehow. We all have known someone who is currently fighting the battle against breast cancer, has fought it in the past, is getting ready to fight it, has sadly lost their battle, knows a friend of a friend going through it, an aunt, a sister, a mother, a grandmother… This disease is everywhere and we've all been touched by it in some way. Eileen herself is a fighter, having fought her own medical battle regarding her heart and winning.
I lost a friend in January to cancer. While it wasn't breast cancer (it was cervical cancer), she was one of the three women instrumental in teaching me to knit. I knew her almost my entire life and when I read about chemo and how it often makes the recipient cold, I immediately put all of my knitting aside and knit a cozy shawl for her. She told me how much she loved it and how she wrapped it around her neck while receiving treatment. She came to mind when Eileen and I were throwing around ideas for what to knit for the show and I knew a shawl would be the perfect design.
There's something special about shawls. They wrap the wearer in warmth, yes, but each stitch is so much more than just one stitch. As I knit the shawl for my friend who lost her battle, I thought of her with every single stitch that flew across my needles. The art of packing a shawl with good intentions, thoughts and good vibes is called knitting a "prayer shawl," and the Warrior Shawl is coming from the same vein. The shape is reminiscent of wings, while the "spine" going down the middle reminds us to stand strong and fight our battles. The border is made of hearts and it would be easy to add a bit of sparkle and throw some beads on there.
In Breast in Show, the survivors become "warriors," so what better way to honor these women than to call this design the Warrior Shawl? Knit in Dragonfly Fiber's stunning handdyed superwash, Traveller DK, this shawl can be knit for yourself, a friend, a survivor, someone undergoing their battle currently or a prayer handed over to someone who simply needs one. Eileen is encouraging everyone to knit their shawl and wear it to the show, which will be playing at the 2014 Capital Fringe festival in DC July 10 -27, 2014.
More information on the show can be found here.
What I'm most proud of in this shawl is that 100% of the pattern proceeds are going towards funding the show. As I knit it, I thought of my friend, now gone but certainly never forgotten. She would have loved this shawl and I would have loved knitting one for her.
You can also join the Warrior Shawl KAL (knit-a-long) hosted by Fibre Space in Alexandria, VA on Ravelry. Anyone can knit-a-long, it's virtual so you don't have to be local. Join us!
Pattern available for download here.
One lucky winner will win a copy of the Warrior Shawl pattern. Leave a comment on this post about how breast cancer has touched your life. A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday.