Letters to the Editor:
From Mark Christensen

I just wanted to tell you how I 'bonded' with knitting. I am one of the small but growing group of men who have taken up knitting as a hobby. Even though both my mother and grandmother both knitted, I basicaly taught myself to knit. I bought one of the teach-yourself-to-knit books, a pair of needles, a skien of yarn, and had at it.

I did this when I gave up smoking. Having been an R.N. for many years, I know that when you overcome one addiction, it is usualy replaced by another. I no longer spend money on cigarettes that just went up in smoke, I now spend it on yarn and other knitting supplies.

I usually buy yarn with a project in mind, but when I can find it on sale, I'll buy it knowing that I will use it for something. Many of the large discount stores like WalMart will mark discontinued yarns to next to nothing, and that's when I stock up.

I have been diagnosed with a form of bone cancer which required sugery (I still have pins in my leg), chemo three times a week, and spending a lot of time sitting with my leg up. (Do you know anyone who would like to buy a pair of in-line skates cheap?)

Having a lot of time on my hands, or should I say off my feet, I finished the sweater I was working on and started another one. But I soon found myself getting very bored doing the same stitch, so I had a friend get my stash of leftovers out of the closet. I got out my books on stitches and patterns, and had at it.

Every child needs a 'security' blanket, so I started making afghans scaled down to toddler size. These will go to a shelter for abused mothers and chrildren. So far I've finished about 30 of them.

I get to master a new stitch or pattern and my leftover yarn is going to good use. If I have to tie in another color to finish the blanket, I just reach into the bag and grab whatever's on top. It seems that toddlers don't care about color combinations, they just need something that's theirs and that no one will take away.

My chemo treatments last about six hours from beginning to end, and they aren't the most pleasant experience. So I started taking my knitting along with my personal CD player, and I'd knit while I was getting the chemo and during the waiting period befor they would let me go home.

The knitting and the music made things go a lot easier. At first I was getting funny looks when I pulled out my knitting, especially from the men. But within two weeks I noticed that many other patients were bringing some type of needlecraft to help pass the time. And yes, even the men were doing it.

At the hospital where I go for my chemo, the schedule is such that it's pretty much the same group of people every time, all going through pretty much the same thing. You bond with eachother very quickly. It wasn't much longer before I left the CD player at home, because everyone was teaching someone a new project.

There is one woman who finished up her chemo three weeks ago, but she still comes to join us at least twice a week because someone was teaching her how to do tattting.

Having been through this and with much more to come down the road, knitting is now more to me then just making a sweater. Knitting is now a place in my mind where I can go to and get lost in a project when the pain gets to be too much or the chemo makes me so queasy that I can't keep anything down.

Mark L. Christensen

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