Body Of Work - Just the Text

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A Letter from Jen and Bess
Clothing Myself in Joy
For Embodiment
A Pathway to Your Knitterly Soul
a Tarot Spread for Creatives
My Body
How Knitting Saved My Life
in Your Words
a Seam

a letter from Jen and Bess

Dear Reader,

Before we tell you what Body of Work means to us, pause.

What does it mean to you? As a maker? As an embodied person? How do those definitions collide?

In the pages that follow, you’ll find powerful stories from makers just like you. We’ll explore what it means to have a body that physically works, or that doesn’t. A body that’s an unreliable narrator, or uncomfortably honest. A making process that brings us back, a storyline, a holloway to our own selves in the wilds of cultural expectations, unsteady circumstances, and the tidal pull of generational legacy.

To be human is to have this physical form and to grapple with it over time. Am I a body? Is it something I own? Are we friends? Does it perform the act of making to soothe me, or do I make as an act of healing it?

We are both knitters, both with complicated relationships with our bodies and minds. What we see reflected in our community is this: yoked, ourselves to our selves, making is an act of putting the person back into the flesh and of quieting a wound. What starts out as a form of pleasure and hobby becomes a lifeline and a path.

The Body of Work collection – the knitwear patterns and this publication – is our way of standing next to you as you walk that path. Of seeing you – all of you – the craft, the grapple, the yoke. These are garments that will hold you, fit you, and reflect who you are. These are pieces that ply our shared story a little broader, a little stronger.

Thank you for coming on this journey with us. 

Elizabeth and Jen

clothing myself in joy

Christina Socorro Yovovich

I am fat, bipolar, Latinx, a woman of almost 50. I write. And for years, writing and its close relative, reading, made up the entirety of my creative life. I clothed myself as an afterthought, feeling unsatisfied with much of my wardrobe. The options available to someone my size are limited and expensive.

When the pandemic lockdown came, I found myself in an open-plan house with my son doing 3rd grade over Google Meet in the den every day. The words of 3rd grade washed over me, and I found I could not write nor read. I started to seek something to do that wasn't woven from words. I discarded latch hooking as an option, despite the article I read touting it as the perfect pandemic hobby. It was too tedious and the results ugly. Instead, I dove deep into folk embroidery and cross stitch, following the patterns and tutorials of designer Krista West of Avlea Folk Embroidery. I found slipping the needle in and out of the cotton or linen cloth deeply meditative, and the beautiful results brought me joy. It was such a relief: creating something lovely using a medium other than words.

Eventually I found myself hand stitching a cross-stitched pillow cover. It took me over four hours, and stitching the straight seams went all the way from meditative, to dull. It occurred to me that if I had a sewing machine, the task would have taken ten minutes. Weeks later, I brought home a 1941 Featherweight sewing machine. Its metal body enthralled me, the fact something so old and so beautiful could still be of use. I hadn't sewn with a machine since my middle school home economics class, and so I spent the first few weeks making wobbly seams on little drawstring bags.

I had intended the sewing machine simply to be used for finishing embroidery, but once it was in my house, I started daydreaming about what else it could do. Quilting I quickly discarded for the simple reason that the idea didn't sing - I didn't care enough about quilts to spend hours making them. I started researching garment sewing. I didn't let myself think much about why.

My frustration at the ready-made clothes available to me at over 300 pounds had led to me ignoring my closet for years, choosing to put my energy elsewhere. I didn't care much about clothing, I had told myself. But as I allowed myself to research sewing garments, I felt a small singing inside, though I didn't understand its cause or know its name. I learned that, like ready-made clothes, most patterns weren't for someone my size either. I have 65-inch hips, and even many of the "extended" patterns topped out around 58-60 inches. But I eventually found an independent pattern company, Muna and Broad, run by Leila and Jess, with taste that paralleled my own, and a size range that included me. I loved that their clothes didn't make fat bodies look smaller, weren't necessarily "flattering," but instead celebrated size with their often oversized, yet perfectly fit, lines. I jumped in with both feet.

I bought a pattern and some fabric, joined the Muna and Broad Patreon, and watched their video tutorials. I joined one of their Zoom sewing circles, stitching on my embroidery while everyone else made clothes. Eventually, I got up the nerve to ask a question, my voice shaking, and I received a patient, informative answer. 

The next week, I made myself a simple box top. I followed the pattern exactly, other than adding length to make it a tunic. I found sewing was hard and not meditative at all. Instead, it required such concentration that after a couple hours I'd have to stop because my brain was full and I'd make stupid mistakes. But the results!

When I finished that first top and put it on, a whole different world opened up. My body was clothed - in natural fibers, in a color I liked, with a length and cut I liked too. I had done that. I had made something. Something I found beautiful, and I had covered my body with this beautiful thing. I was smitten. I made another box top, this one in a colorful hemp print. I made a purple linen dress. I spent over a month making a hot pink linen jacket finished with Hong Kong bound seams using purple and pink printed bias tape I cut out myself. Sewing didn't get any easier, but it made me feel like I could do anything. And wearing the things I sewed made me feel beautiful in a way my store-bought clothes had never done, even when my body was smaller. When I was smaller, I dressed for other people. Now, wearing the things I made, I dressed for myself.

And I found myself daydreaming about knitting. My stepmother had taught me how to knit rectangles as a child. I never knew how to cast on, increase, or decrease, but I could knit and I could purl. I hadn't done either in literal decades. I wasn't sure why I wanted to knit, other than a sense I had that it would be meditative, more like embroidery than like sewing. I poked around and discovered that YouTube was a treasure trove of knitting tutorials. In January of 2023, I visited a small local yarn shop where I bought two skeins of baby alpaca yarn, the very softest skeins in the whole store, and some circular needles. I took them home and learned how to cast on a scarf. My son claimed the scarf. I made him a hat to go with it from the same skeins. Then I made myself a hat, and when I didn't like the look of a tight beanie, I made myself a second slouchy hat. I made myself a pair of fingerless mitts because it was February, and my hands were aching from the cold as I drove my son to school. I started to tire of finishing things so quickly, and daydreamed of making something I could sink into, something I could eventually wrap my body in.

I found a pattern for a simple tunic length cardigan. Just looking at its schematics, I knew it wouldn't fit right. It was a series of unshaped rectangles, with no room for my neck. But I didn't care. I was pretty sure I could pull it off with my limited skills. I was pretty sure I could make this thing. I invested in a sweater's quantity of yarn, gasping at the price. It takes a lot of skeins of yarn to cover 65-inch hips in a tunic length cardigan. Spending that much felt shocking, but also like I was giving my body a gift. A sweater made from such yarn at such a price would be clothing myself in something sacred, a statement that my body was sacred. I bought the yarn, and I cast on the project, and I knit. And knit. And knit.

I started the cardigan project in February, finished it in early May. It wasn't the only thing I made in those months. I also knitted some socks. I sewed myself a magnificent denim robe for swanning about the house in the mornings. I finished an embroidered pillow. I learned to spin yarn. First on drop spindles, and then on the wheel a friend loaned me. I started to make plans to acquire a local sheep's fleece and scour and process it myself. I jumped down the knitting rabbit hole and its associated rabbit holes so enthusiastically, and I burrowed so deeply. It was the most fun I'd had in years and more importantly, the best source of joy I'd found in as long as I could remember. I made and I made and I made. Not everything I made was a garment or was for me. But I spent a lot of time making garments for myself. I'd realized by then that I was clothing my fat body in joy.

Joy has often been difficult for me to access. My bipolar presents in long stretches of depression, and occasional dangerous spikes of mania that twice in my 20s landed me in locked psychiatric wards. I found the wards frightening. I learned to avoid mania as much as I could. By seeing doctors and taking my medication. And maybe by avoiding joy. I wrote, even went to graduate school in my 30s for writing, and writing sometimes brought me joy, but it was a complicated joy, one laced with pain as I wrote about my most difficult moments with as much beauty as I could muster.

In January of 2023, I gave myself permission to chase my joy in whatever form I found it, no matter how silly it might seem to those around me. And I found my joy, my uncomplicated joy, free of pain, in the fiber arts. And I used my joy to clothe my fat body in natural, colorful fibers that made me feel entirely like myself, with a little invincibility knitted in.

I've started writing again. And not just about joy. I've spent the summer working on an essay about some of my most painful moments. It too is a part of my year of chasing joy, though I can't clearly explain how. I just know that my time meditating over fiber as I knit on my Classic LBD tee this summer has given me the strength to approach the page and dig into those moments I spent years trying not to remember. Allowing myself to be creative in mediums other than words has allowed me again to become creative with my words.

I visited my hometown this summer for the first time in 5 years. I retrieved some boxes from my mother's basement that included documents from my childhood - old journals, pictures, essays, and report cards all jumbled together. One report card from the 8th grade included a comment from my art teacher. "Should consider a career in the arts", it said. I'd never done any such thing. Being a writer was as close as I could get for many years. But now, I am surrounding my writing with the fiber arts, because it gives me and the writing strength. Because it brings me joy. And I spend much of my energy in the fiber arts creating and shaping large swaths of cloth to cover my fat body. Because it makes me happy. Because it shows the world what I think of its message to feel shame for my size. I feel no shame. I wear my oversized pink linen jacket. I wear my denim robe with its Baba Yaga patch sewn on the back. I choose garments because I love wearing them, not because I think they make me look smaller. I dream of wearing my dark teal knitted tee once it is done. I'm close, currently binding off at the neck. I am unabashedly myself, with all the joy that entails.

Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Christina Socorro Yovovich has lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 1998. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Blue Mesa Review, River Styx, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Hunger, Cagibi, MUTHA Magazine, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. She can be found at

for embodiment

Elizabeth Margaret

A ritual is a breath we take, a moment imbued with meaning. When we add rituals to our making practice, we set the intention for that practice.

We’ve prepared this ritual loosely so that you can make it your own. Consider inserting it between projects to transform a liminal pause into something special, or use it to dedicate a fresh cast-off.

For embodiment, perform any or all of the actions below with intention:
  • Cleanse yourself with a shower or luxurious bath.
  • Drink a glass of water.
  • Go outside, preferably barefoot.
  • Put your feet on your favorite type of ground.
  • Anoint yourself or your space with your favorite scent.
  • Spend at least five minutes enjoying your favorite sensory input.

Everyday intention

As we transition into autumn, we're entering a period of gathering, gratitude, and turning inward towards ourselves and our homes and families.

To bring seasonal intention into your practice, adopt any of the following:

  • Before crafting, express gratitude for your hands, eyes, and other parts of your body that make your craft possible.
  • Ornament your crafting space with seasonal elements or symbols of abundance.
  • Choose projects that require you to slow down.
  • Cast on with special yarn you've been saving as a treasure

a pathway to your knitterly soul

how to approach new techniques that feel hard

Karel Chan

Id been knitting for six years before I knit my first sweater.

And it was a seamless, top-down, in-the-round, short-sleeved sweater. So, you know. Nothing scary. 

Until that point, I had already knit plenty of things (hats, shawls, cowls, mitts, a couple socks, though never a pair... I 100% have Second Sock Burnout Syndrome), with different techniques: stranded colorwork, lacework, shaping, intarsia, entrelac... Id even made a few baby sweaters. 

So actually, I knew how to make a sweater. But I had a mental block around making a grown-person-sized sweater. It felt too hard to even approach for the longest time. 

Does this happen to you?

Is there (at least) one knitting technique or concept that just dismantles your
brain functioning when you think about it?

Maybe you insist, NO. Im NEVER going to knit anything with [insert terrifying technique]. I just cant do it.

Or maybe you keep finding yourself really drawn to patterns with this verboten technique, and you really want to learn how to do it...

And then you just dont do it, while jealously scrolling through WIPs and FOs on social media, wishing you were a better knitterso you, too, could make that latest intarsia
or 3-color stranded colorwork sweater or epic Stephen West shawl.

I get it. I see you. That was me for six years, seeing all the handknit sweaters on Ravelry and in LYSes, thinking, How the heck do these people do it? What will it take for me to get that good?

Let me tell you something.

However good or better you think you need to be to learn that new technique... youre already that good. Its in your knitterly soul. I promise you.

Any sort of skill acquisition consists of three components: 1. Intention,
2. Attention, and 3. Execution.

At some point, you learned to knit, purl, cast on, bind off, and probably increase or decrease stitches – those are the very basics of most complete knitted projects. In learning those basic skills, you had:

1. The intention to learn. Obviously, if you wanted to learn to knit, and these are basic knitting skills, then you had the intention to learn these skills.

2. Attention to the steps. Wherever you were learning from, whether it was another person, a book, or a video tutorial, you gave enough attention to absorb the instructions.

3. Repeated execution of the steps. After paying attention to the instructions, you then executed each step over and over. With that repetition, you mastered the skill. 

So you know that you can learn new skills because youve done it before. Whats getting in the way of you learning this scary hard technique?

Well, its not 1. Intention, because you do want to learn it. Otherwise, you wouldnt have any interest in it and there would be no jealous scrolling of other peoples projects.

And it’s not 3. Execution, because as you’ve proven to yourself with all of the techniques that you do currently have in your toolkit, when you absorb the steps, you can execute.

Which leaves us with 2. Attention.

And the number one barrier to our attention? F-E-E-L-I-N-G-S.

You have feelings about your ability to learn something new, or maybe to learn this particular new thing that just feels (<- see?) too hard. Maybe you have feelings about struggling to master something. You definitely have feelings about failure (because everybody does!).

And all of these feelings rush in every time you think about this technique and they whisper, “Don’t even try. If you don’t even try, then you can’t fail. And then you can be safe and comfy in what you already know how to do with knitting.”

And then your attention is focused on fear, nervousness, and avoiding failure, rather than the steps you need to follow in order to execute and master the technique. These are unpleasant, negative, and contracting feelings, which make you want to stop thinking about it ASAP.

No wonder it feels hard to learn this new thing!

The good news is that, as I mentioned earlier, you’re already good enough of a knitter to learn the technique. If you can knit stitches, then you have the capacity to do all the knitting techniques.

The bad news is that you won’t have solid proof of it until you actually do all the knitting techniques.

The good news (again) is that you don’t actually have to do all the knit-ting techniques! You can just do the ones you want to.

When you really want to learn a new technique that feels hard, here’s how to approach it:

1. Imagine that your knitterly soul al-ready knows how to do it. It’s already in your mind and your bones, waiting to be accessed.

Mantra: “I can do this. I already have the skills inside of me.”

2. Remember that every technique that you know now started as some-thing you didn’t know.

Mantra: “I’m capable of learning.”

3. Find at least 3 resources that fit how you learn best: a class, a video, a blog post or book, etc. It can help to understand a new concept better if you have several different angles.

Mantra: “There are many different ways to do this. I’ll find what works best for me.”

4. Repeat after me: “It’s okay to fail.” Say that to yourself as many times as you need to.

Mantra: “It’s okay to fail.”

5. This might be the hardest part, but: plan to learn on a swatch, NOT a working project! This takes a huge amount of pressure off needing to master the execution in a certain amount of time, which reduces the negative feelings that come up to distract from your attention.

Mantra: “This is practice, not perfection.”

Remember, to learn a new knitting technique, you need:

1. Intention
2. Attention
3. Execution

And to remind yourself:
I can do this.
I’m capable of learning.
I’ll find what works best for me.
It’s okay to fail.
This is practice, not perfection.

With these tips and mantras, you’re well on your way to adding another technique to your repertoire and expanding your knitting world that much more. Good luck!

Karel Chan (KC Knitting Co) is a knit-wear designer, therapist, and self-love and relationship coach based in the Portland, Oregon metro area. She deeply values the connection be-tween making and mindfulness and believes in nurturing a heartful rela-tionship with all parts of yourself in your crafting journey, honoring crea-tivity, growth, and mastery. She can be found at

a tarot spread for creatives

Elizabeth Margaret

A spread is a way of laying out Tarot cards during a reading. Each individual card and its placement will have its own significance in a reading and so will any patterns or themes that you see in the overall reading. I designed this particular spread as a way for artists and creatives to gain insight, find suggested action, and open the doors for inspiration.

There are three groups of cards in this spread.

Group 1
The first group is three cards that represent the current state or blocks in your heart, mind, and body. Take notice of the elements present in these cards. Also take note of any elements that are not present. Tarot readings are as much about what is shown as what is not shown. When elements are missing from your reading it implies an imbalance in your current state.

Group 2
The second group to be laid out is another set of three cards that offer ways to balance your heart, mind, and body. Patterns in these cards indicate a strong place to start. For example, if many of the cards include the Earth element, this suggests you spend time in nature, practice grounding movement or meditation, slow down, and take pleasure from your senses. Each individual Tarot card in this spread offers its own suggestion for finding harmony, which is the state where creative energy most flows.

Group 3
The last “group” is a single card drawn and placed between the first two groups. This card is advice for your creative direction. Meditate on its meaning to seek inspiration and examine what you find within yourself. If you are starting a new artwork, how might this card influence your process? 
Tarot readings are not prescriptive. They are more of a snapshot into this moment and its potential. A new day will have new potential and no two readings will be exactly alike; however, reading your cards regularly will show you patterns in your own perspective and help you shift into new ways of thinking.

A collective reading
I drew a group reading for our Fiber Arts community using the Spread for Creatives. Here is my interpretation of the results. Please note, the messages I find in the cards are derived from their traditional meanings and the relationships I see between them.

Card 1, Present Heart
The Queen of Cups. This card is one of the most feminine in the deck; it’s also associated with artistry, nurturing, and emotion. If your heart is in a Queen of Cups state, it is a tender moment for you. There are deep emotions within you now, and the strongest emotions of the heart are love and sadness. These emotions are two sides of the same coin, and it makes us feel vulnerable to give in to either. If you’re in a place of deep love or deep sadness, you are demonstrating great strength through great surrender.

Card 2, Present Mind
The Eight of Swords. Swords are the suit of the mind, they represent logic, analysis, conflict, and sharp ac- tion. The Eight in particular represents a type of thought paralysis, being trapped or bound by your own perspective. When this card appears in a reading it is a reminder that you are freer than you realize and that it may be time to look for a way out of your current mindset.

Card 3, Present Body
The Ace of Wands. This is the card that most represents Fire in the entire Tarot and is also one of the most masculine energies in the deck. The essence of fire is to move and burn, it is a neutral force used both to nourish and destroy. Feeling the Ace of Wands energy in your body could look like passion, restlessness, or anger. You may be in a period of aggressive movement, or aggressive physical discomfort. Fire is temporary, this state is not sustainable, but it may transform you when the fire burns out.

Card 4, Heart Advice
Strength. In some Tarot decks, this card is called Lust. It calls for you to balance your animal nature with intention. You are the Beast and the Maid, in a dance of instinct and order. Make peace with the swirling emotions within you. You are not these emotions, and while you may not feel in control of them, they do not define you.

Card 5, Mind Advice
The Lovers, reversed. In reverse, this card means separation and conflict. The lack of choice is a choice. To put The Lovers right side up, you need to make a decision and let go of the anxieties that are causing inaction. The Lovers reversed mind has a bit of Peter Pan Syndrome - commitment is scary if you only think of what you’re giving up. True commitment to one direction actually allows you to make gains.

Card 6, Body Advice
Page of Wands, reversed. Slow down. You can still be playful, have fun and move in the ways you love, but ground some of your fire by easing off the gas. This card does symbolize a particularly good time to do something new. Explore a new park or part of town you haven’t been to, try new foods, indulge in simple ways that feel exciting. The warning of this placement is that those who play with fire get burned, or in this case, burn out.

Card 7, Your Creative Path
Hierophant, reversed. If this card were right side up it would recommend that you find order or join a large organization. In reverse, this card wants you to go your own way. Let go of trends, stop thinking about what other people want, and follow what most excites you. Try a new technique, embrace the chaos of growth, be a beautiful mess and see what happens.

Altogether, this reading advises you to move boldly in the direction of your goals. Be mindful that you’re moving from your true heart and not a fleeting emotion. Take time to process your feelings before committing, but don’t avoid commitment right now. Spend time listening quietly to your own inner voice, and don’t be afraid to go where it leads you.

You can use this spread to give yourself a more personal reading. Follow the placements as described and see what patterns arise for you. If you are new to Tarot reading, the best way to learn is practice! The cards have individual meanings that you can look up. Use these meanings to look for patterns and divine your own interpretation.

Elizabeth is a lifelong artist and maker who began her design career three years ago. At the time she was living alone in Brooklyn; now she finds herself a full-time stepmom in Florida. One thing that's been certain for her is that wherever life takes her, knitting will be there. Find out more about her at

If you are interested in learning more about reading Tarot or in receiving a personal reading, Elizabeth offers one-on-one Tarot sessions for both purposes. For more information, please inquire with

my body

a brief history

Elizabeth Margaret


Winter, 2019.

My biggest problem is that I’m lovesick. I climb into bed around midnight on a Wednesday. I’ve just returned from a Turkish bath house in Lower Manhattan. I board the subway with Wall Street hustlers proving clout by working 18-hour days in towering skyscrapers. Buildings that are proving something, too. The entry level Wall Street hustlers disappeared somewhere around my transfer to the JMZ, they already make too much money to live in my neighborhood.

Now, after the dry sauna and the steam room and the cold beer followed by the filthy subway ride, after the shower in my tiny studio apartment’s bathroom, I liquefy. I am relaxed in a way I’m not sure I remember being relaxed. The type of relaxation normally reserved for extremely drunk people. The type of relaxed that feels dangerous; except this time, it doesn’t.

For almost twenty years my body of work was to be a body at work. A body that worked. A body with its own hustle. A body with clout to prove. Movement is therapy for me, but I also spend my twenties and most of my thirties terrified of what it would mean if my body could not work. It’s hard to separate these fears from the real fact that I have never had paid holidays, vacations, or sick days. It’s hard to separate from work.

Jill Bolte-Taylor is a neuroscientist who had a stroke of the left brain, studied herself and wrote a book after her healing. She experienced herself through her right brain only and reported back a world of expansive color and connection. The right brain doesn’t experience separation. She was literally unable to differentiate between her own body and the space around her. I sit in my 450-square-foot apartment and figuratively experience the same thing.

My earliest memories are of making art. It’s always there. My emotions pour out of me as paintings, photographs, pornographic embroideries, sketches and poems, and leather-bound journals full of handwritten love letters and lost puppy tears, written with a dip pen and ink. I live with other artists in a building full of studio apartments where we pretend not to hear each other crying through the thin walls at night and we share joints sometimes on the front stoop.

People tell me that I’m lucky to have “made it.” Creative work, doing something rooted in what you love. People tell me that I’m lucky, people who have paid holidays and sick days, people who take vacations. Making art with my hands and my body both soothes and feeds my anxiety. I live alone in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Everything rests on my shoulders. It doesn’t feel like I’m proving anything to anyone.


Summer, 2021.

My biggest problem is that I am lovesick, again. I’m walking home to my new duplex apartment. I’ve just finished decorating and the living room wall has paintings hung all over it. They are mostly paintings done by family and friends, and one piece of Japanese calligraphy that says “Beautiful” and “Cookie,” framed. It is a gift from the cause of all the lovesickness. Right now, I’m not speaking to him.

I go on dates with people who turn out to be less interesting and less funny in real life than they were on the internet. I wonder if I am, too. I knit myself silk and linen clothes. When I wear them the wealthy people that I work for compliment me. Sometimes, I even feel like I fit in here.

Yoga studios reopen in New York City. After 14 months stuck inside with half of my income, it feels good to make money again. I walk for miles, I practice yoga every day, I spend my free time knitting and designing. I’m a tense combination of hopeful and lonely. I imagine someone is out there for me and I wonder who they are. I daydream about leaving the city, it feels like there’s nothing left for me here. I make plans to be a bridesmaid at a wedding in Chicago. I don’t know yet that I will meet Candace there.

I’m walking home from teaching relaxation. There’s a hurricane here in Brooklyn. My classes were not canceled so I walk through the pouring rain and watch the streets filling up with runoff. An hour later I’m getting ready for a call with Jen when half of my apartment fills up with flood water and sewage. Bins of yarn fill up with water and shit. My college portfolio floats past the staircase. Nothing can be saved.

I realize there’s no reason to stay here. I have nothing left to prove.


Summer, 2022.

My biggest problem is that my partner has just been diagnosed with incurable cancer. It’s a new kind of lovesick and it settles into my body. We find out six weeks after moving in together.

I decide not to teach yoga publicly anymore. I lead Candace through private sessions, I draw her baths with healing herbs and oils. I play my Tibetan singing bowls for her - it’s the only thing that stops her pain.

I cast spells for her healing and pay with my own pounds of flesh. I stop making art. I accept that I will live a half-life until we are done with chemotherapy. I start knitting a tank top which ends up having no space between the waist and the armpits. Candace has a port installed opposite her old mastectomy scar. I learn to hold back so that I won’t hurt her. She still ends up with a broken rib.
I don’t talk about any of it, except sometimes with Jen.

I buy a new journal with gold embossed flowers on the cover. It’s empty.
I take care of my stepchildren, whom I just met. At night, after Candace falls asleep, I cry. I’m not sure if I am crying over losing her or myself. Whichever it is, she still hears me.

I hang paintings from family and friends on my wall. And one Japanese calligraphy that says “Beautiful” and “Cookie.” I play video games with my ex sometimes. I talk to him, too. He remembers all of the many times I’ve said “My worst fear is that my partner will die.” I don’t say it now, I don’t have to. I tell him it feels good to be his friend, I mean it.

Somewhere towards the end of the fall Candace starts to feel better and I am able to start making art again. It’s slow and painful but we are crawling towards healing. We start trying to build the life we had planned to have almost a year earlier. Candace asks me what I need to feel like myself again. I don’t know the answer.


Fall, 2023.

My biggest problem is that I’ve been waiting for two years to feel like myself again. Fine lines deepen into creases in the corners of my eyes. I do the things that are supposed to bring “me” back. I practice yoga, I make art, I knit and knit, I take daily walks, I run, I swim laps in the pool of a really lovely complex.

Candace and I laugh, we plan special days together, and with the girls. People tell us what a beautiful family we are. I bring my younger daughter to get (decaf) Pumpkin Spice Lattes when she finishes her chores. She walks through Starbucks with all of the appreciation and confidence I never had at her age. I tell her and her sister that they don’t need to prove one thing. I tell them I already love them exactly like they are. I draw them diagrams to illustrate what having boundaries means. I give them all of the pieces of myself that I had to earn on my own.

Sometimes, Candace asks me again what I need to feel like myself. I still don’t know the answer.

New artwork accumulates around me. I write in slow cursive in the gold embossed journal. I sketch, I draw, I get likes when I share my newest design on Instagram. The tattoos that used to be large patches now form a network of crossed lines, intersections of overlapping pieces from the last twenty years.
They feel like pieces of my past creating new layers of my identity - less like Russian Nesting Dolls and more like a child’s drawing of a person. Squiggly lines extending out in all directions, layered attempts at forming a recognizable thing. I imagine how good it would feel to be a recognizable thing. A thing that someone could point at and label. I have trouble answering when people ask me questions about myself, there are no neat labels that fit.

I come to understand that there is something rare about me; maybe it has to do with all of the times I’ve felt lovesick. I learn to use it as a beacon. I call for outliers and I start to find them. I attend my first knitting conference and realize I have friends again. I feel less lonely, and sometimes less foreign. No one asks me to explain myself. I feel grateful.

My left brain longs for an easy way to end this story, my right brain sees no ending and no beginning. Today it is quiet and I’m able to write. I leave the questions without answers. I step back from the screen so that the story remains unfinished. I won’t force a neat ending just to meet a deadline. There never was a thing to prove.


a framework for knitting for YOUR body

Jennifer Parroccini

I’m rigid, there feels like a right and a wrong way. There isn’t, but the brain says what the brain says.

Making the kinds of things I want to wear isn’t always “easy.” No knit stitch is hard, no purl. And yet, here we are. Miles of fingering weight yarn, seams, lots of shaping. Room for me, room for my curves, the prettiest line I can pull, pulled in ssk and kt2tog, seamed. I just spent two weeks ribbing through the back loop. Is persistence what makes knitting feel hard?

My personal practice for getting the best fit - while not ruining the pleasure of the knitting experience - follows. This is my personal list of best practices. Throw out any part of this that isn’t for you.

Evaluate the pattern

Design rules for fit
I start with the pattern’s fundamental design. Is it for human bodies?
There are some rules that make a pattern fit well. They can be broken under some circumstances but in general, these are standards for garments that consider fit.

First I confirm that there is room for my front neck. A crew neck is around three inches (7.5 cm) deep, anything shallower than that will feel tight.

Look for some depth under the arm – about half to one inch (1 to 2.5 cm). The garment should have shoulder shaping, rising about an inch and a half (4 cm) from the outer shoulder to the inner neck. Look for at least an inch (2.5 cm) of back neck depth, since our necks are round and take up space.

Finally, the garment should include bind-offs for the underarm. Our underarms are flat, then our arms are round. If you don’t have underarm shaping, there is a diagonal line that wants to cut through the arm and is bunched to the side. Shaping should match our body shape.

That’s what’s standard, but I also look to see how a pattern will work for me and the quirks of my own body.

Are bust darts included? If not, can I add them?

My shoulders are narrow (the surgeon called them "delicate") – can I narrow the garment to match? My hips are wide – where will I put them? Is the fabric going to lie on my body the way I like, or will it slather me, make me hot, blunt my angles? Is this a silhouette I like on my body, or am I just infatuated with the model, the aesthetic, aspiring to her shape?

Looking for problems

Consistency across sizes
My size is rarely the modeled size, so I use the schematic to see if I’ll get the same fit the model has. In this step I’m looking for consistency in grading. I want to know that the pattern will create the same size for all garments, so I can trust that even though I’m seeing a size 2, my size 6 will create the same garment.
Looking across the size range, if the armhole gets more than five inches (12.5 cm) deeper from smallest to largest, I pass. If the neckline gets more than three inches (7.5 cm) wider, I pass. If the arm gets longer from the underarm to the cuff, I pass.

Too good to be true
Is it clipped? Look for waist shaping on the model that doesn’t exist in the construction notes or the schematic.

Can the model lift her arm? Look for photos where her arms are up, in motion. What’s going on under there? Will the garment stay put?
Is it strategically pinned? Look for a hand holding the hip, gently anchoring the sweater in place. Beware of garments where the ease in the picture changes from shot to shot.

Is the upper arm reasonable? A bicep adjustment is easy – as long as we’re starting from something reasonable. If it’s slicktight on the model and she already has slender arms though? That’s a lot of adjustment to make. For good movement, we need a little fullness there.

Choose your size
Patterns will suggest you choose a size based on your full bust, but we all know cup size varies. We take off our bra at the end of the day and our full bust circumference changes, but that doesn’t mean we changed sizes.

If you have a big cup size for your torso size, size down from the pattern recommendation. If you have a smaller cup, size up. It’s unintuitive. Do it anyway.
We fit from the top down, so we need the right size in the shoulder girdle, then we deal with things that happen in the lower torso, beneath the arms. Breasts are down there, so we deal with them second.

We don’t need to accommodate the breasts completely with width. Put a sweater on, see how snug it is. Take it off. Pin the sides at the breast, taking out an inch (2.5 cm) on each side. Put it back on. I bet it fits the same widthwise. Try again until you have, technically, zero ease. We are only our breastiest measurement for a very brief space. Building a whole sweater around that measurement isn’t necessary. Most knitters find that even an inch (2.5 cm) of negative ease does not impact the sweater fit or make it feel tight.

But do add the bust darts if you have breasts. Almost everyone who has breasts can benefit from at least a row or two, some of us need quite a bit more. Start with a pattern that already has them to get familiar, then just start sticking them in yourself.

Every sweater is an experiment, we’re never done learning. So if it all feels very academic and mathy and like it’s sucking the fun out of knitting, treat it like an experiment. Over time, you’ll get a feel for how to get your best fit without doing much extra work at all, and sometimes just by casting on a different size than the pattern recommends.

Success on the needles

The gauge swatch matters
Make it big enough that you can measure at least five inches (12.5 cm) wide and tall without measuring the edge. Don’t do that garter stitch border you were taught to do. Wet block it, leave it for a few days on a counter. Skip the pins. Measure as many whole stitches and rows as you can, then do the math to see how many were in four inches (10 cm).

Be fussier
It’s nice to knit to length, except that usually gauge changes with blocking. So count your rows to be sure. Pick up the collar and knit it on at the end. Block carefully, using the schematic, before seaming or finishing. Go with the nicest bind-off you can execute.

But also, play more
Use that color you keep stashing. Get so much pleasure from the knitting that even if you never wear it, you’re still glad you made it. Then wear it anyway.

Tackle that scary construction. Try brioche. Make a mod – or two, or four. Go slow. One new thing at a time. But do, in fact, go. It’s just knitting. Knit a kid’s sweater to get over it. Stash it for a gift, kids are always getting born and needing clothes. Get excited about a cast on, get bored, frog it. You don’t owe your hobby anything. Make it your own. Change the stitch pattern. Riff endlessly.

You’re the artist here, so get the final product you’ve been dreaming of. Technically, you can do anything.

Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jen is a product of Maryland’s tidewater region. Her roots are in the shallow inland bays, rows of corn and soy and fields of grass bent by the wind of flat horizons, and towering thunderheads piled high above sandy, hollow pine forests. Her work is informed by her journey with chronic illness and disordered eating. Learn more about Jen at


how knitting saved my life

Kiersten Darling

At first glance, what do you see when you look at me? Do you see the color of my hair? The clothes that I chose to wear? The things I have made? Do you put me into little boxes of what you think I am? Do you read into anything? Did you even read the caption?

Does my Instagram filter work?

If you look really close, you can catch a little glimpse of what I try to filter out. It’s in my eyes. The pain. I used to be more like the girl in the pictures and those snapshots of a happy, fun, adventurous life full of possibility. I took advantage of every opportunity, jumped into the deep end without hesitation, soaked up every experience I could. I lived, and I lived hard, and I even really do have the scars to prove it. But I was naïve. I saw my body as just something along for the ride, a means to an end, a vessel to use, always replenishable.

And then one day I woke up.

I woke up to what would turn into a living nightmare. I was benched. I had to sit idle and watch adventure, opportunity, and experience slip through my fingers, then pass me by entirely.

My body said no. No more wild adventures, no more late nights, and even no more trips to the grocery store. Instead, there is pain. There is so, so much pain. Pain that is deep and crushing, like concrete scraping and crumbling in on itself, trying to build enough pressure to form itself into a diamond, not believing it's impossible. My body began to wage war with itself, with me, there was seemingly nothing I could do. My body just wouldn't work.

So what do you do when your body revolts?

I knit.

I knit to distract myself from the deep, grinding headache pain that has been my constant companion for years now.

I knit through the nausea, the fatigue, the barrage of hypersensitivities and strange symptoms. I knit to endure the never-ending expanse of time confined to the couch. Yarn has become a lifeline. Each stitch keeps me hanging onto reality, holding me back from losing myself to the dark, vast oblivion that chronic pain creates. Each row is like a breath of fresh air, lightening the room; and as I knit on, this craft infuses me with a warm energy, a feeling of relief, and joy.
That energy becomes a flame inside me that refuses to surrender, that keeps asking this body to fight, one that waits patiently, stubbornly, and knits, as the medications, the tests, the procedures from hell, the doctors’ appointments, and the ER visits all wear on.

The things I make are a testament to my hard work, not only in the object itself, but in the sheer grit it takes to exist in a body that doesn’t work. Each hat I knit is like an award won for willpower and patience. Each shawl, a trophy that soothes my aches with a great big hug of wool. Each sweater is an Olympic medal that stretches around new curves as my body changes with this ever-unpredictable illness.

Over the years, I’ve come to notice that chronic illness and knitting often seem to go hand-in-hand. There are so many knitters & crocheters in our community that fight silent wars with their bodies alongside me. Maybe it's because both require you to slow down, and to take things one row at a time, one day at a time. Or maybe it’s how the stitches become rhythmic and meditative, like little massages for our overworked brains. Or how projects that engage mind, body, and soul can be incredibly healing.

Or maybe because it gives us back some semblance of control when we find we are suddenly lost, having been catapulted down a path in life that we never expected to see. A path that leaves so many of us feeling voiceless, helpless, and hopeless. A knitting project is so full of choice and proves time and again to be the most reliable of companions. The yarn is always there, no matter how many days I spend in bed or how long it’s been since I could hold myself up long enough to shower. I may only be able to physically knit three rows today, but each row will gradually become something bigger.

Each and every stitch I make is a little act of rebellion. I rebel against this broken body by refusing to submit. I rebel against the fast fashion industry that fails to meet my needs and tries to force me into uncomfortable clothes when I am already desperately uncomfortable. I rebel against this ableist, capitalist society that devalues and dehumanizes my disabled body by showing up proudly, beautifully, in clothes that I made with my own disabled hands.

I will take up space, I will have a voice, and I will knit some pretty cool shit. Slow fashion is just my speed. As I fill my wardrobe with bespoke garments, I fill my cup too. I’m curating a body of work for this body that doesn’t work. I may have a body that hates me, but I’m grateful for what these hands can make me – they make me feel whole.

Kiersten Darling is a neuro-divergent spoonie who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband and beloved pitbull, Darlin. She’s been knitting since 2011 and also enjoys crochet, sewing and spinning yarn. Kiersten has a formal fine arts education and a social work background. The Knit Shit got its name from a tattoo on her leg and became an Etsy shop to share her finished fiber arts and bring laughter to the world. Kiersten also runs a finishing service called Weave In My Ends. She can be found at and


in your words

We are profoundly grateful to share a knitting community with you. Recently, we asked you what Body of Work means to you. Here are some of your responses.

"I finished my first 4ply/fingering weight cardigan this year and I've been knitting garments for myself for over 40 years. Why did it take me so long to make a fine-gauge garment for myself? It certainly wasn't a lack of means or opportunity. It was the idea that the value of my time and skills could be used for myself.
I only made this cardigan as it was a test knit but this test showed me that I deserve properly fitted garments that flatter my figure not hide it behind bulky fabric."

- FIONA (@craftycroc)

"For me, knitting my own clothes is freedom of expression.
I never felt like I could have a style or an aesthetic, because none of the aesthetics I'm attracted to honor bodies like mine and people like me. But now that I knit, I can make sure that my makes can honor me and my body in a way that I want them to; I no longer have to subscribe to an aesthetic that devalues who I am, and I can make my own way. I now know what I like (which, for someone with PTSD, is a challenge in itself). I know me better, and my community knows me better, and we are all blessed with this reciprocity of knowing and gentleness!"

- SOOMIN (@dalbodreh)

"My body of work is the thing that I contribute to pretty much every single day - the websites I develop, the recipes I invent, the words I write, the paintings I make, and of course the knitting that comes off my needles.

I spent most of my life trying to avoid addressing and thinking too much about my physical body - doing so was a painful reminder of where I was falling short. Nowadays I give myself grace, and I'm at peace with my physical body knowing that the other body - the body of work - is where my focus should rightly be, since that's the best part of me. I used to joke that my body is just the thing that carries my brain around - and like most humor - there's real truth in that"

- LISA (@thelisahutchins)

"…As a late-diagnosed person, I’ve spent a lot of my life struggling with the fact that my brain functions outside the “norm” and trying to figure out how to integrate myself; this process is exhausting, confusing, and often defeating. Knitting has been (and continues to be) a lifeline for me because I never have to question it. I know what’s expected of me, I know how to move forward or look something up or try something new. I know how to fix things that go wrong… I guess the predictability is the part of knitting that keeps my brain in a place where it can rest, recover, and BE. I genuinely don’t know how I could do what I need to on a daily basis if I didn’t have knitting. It’s ingrained in my DNA at this point and I wouldn’t have it any other way."

- MIKAELA (@fraying_at_the_edges)

a seam

Jennifer Parroccini


A weed.
A hip, a crest, an edge
a rise and fall and rise again, forget headfirst
heartlong but leading instead with those
   lowest ribs
invisible, ornamental, a hot Front out ahead of some
   yet-unnamed storm.
Feet in the safety of the bay but wings
beating in the slashes made by the moon on the
ocean’s rolling, crashing, slab of a surface.
Riding too fast in too-loud cars slick with humidity
chasing haunted churches, chasing things
teenagers chase, unwilling to let the sun set. I take off
   my glasses so some asshole boy can make some
Other girl jealous
all tube tops and christina jeans, a peasant dress sewn
   from walmart glitter cotton.
The severity of life’s black and white
utterly unbearable.


My father’s mother made me trousers.
Houndstooth, slider clasps, wool
that thing that trousers do that turn a ten-year-old’s
   firm lizard torso into a crumpled napkin.
Change into your play clothes
when you get home from school.
My skin crawling, guilt, my nose full of her mothballs
and cigarettes, her gifts
carefully forgotten at the back of the bureau.
I made my first quilt at her dining table
a rotary phone and a plastic tablecloth.
Hands stained black walnut and sticky with the jellied
   sap of a diseased cherry tree
the folds of all those irises
too much to bear.


It changed beneath my hands.
The rapids of first independence turning out to be,
   instead, a heavy well I fell bluntly into
not a hip, no edge, a dull thud.
Coinstar and phone cards and paying
cash at the pump a buck at a time
scarcity eating all the way into the skin
I scraped all the way away.
Nothing fits when you’re poor
even the furnace of showroom eyes dim in this fog
the contradictions of not enough food and too much
flesh compounding under the flickering bulb
   of life as a husk.


My mother’s sewing room had a box of old coins and
   her shelves strained with fabric
each cut an act of abundance, a waiting possibility
plucked from the thin air of impossibility.
You try taking an eight year old through the discipline
   of measuring the grain line from the
selvedge, see how that goes.
My first garment a circle cape
tassel tucked into the seam of the peak of the hood
a spell, enchantment when I twirled, an initiation into
of sewing a life more fragrant, more fair, more poetic
shakespeare’s england with indoor plumbing.

Her hands are deft and careful,
skilled - they just plunge in
hands that have tried many tries and know that it will
turn out, or it won’t,
but don’t hesitate.
She has always given me the gift of imagining things
   into being. 


A needle ran through it yet
embellishment the only gift I could give to a shape this
   world wouldn’t offer a real silhouette.
Embroidery is time, the gift we give to ourselves when
that’s all we have to spend
sixty hours of tiny stitches on my soft flank
a pink simplicity skirt in velveteen
desperately trying to find a future in some boxed
old-lady bra from a backass town department store in
   a mall that died
before I was born.

I slept in the dressing room before we opened
used her cutting table after hours. I bled on her floor
picked up the shattered pieces of my old last name in
   her payroll, patched together
in the quiet murmur of npr and the bustle of other peo-
ple’s clothes and the machines that did the steady
   labor of serging, seeing, seaming.



My mother’s mother wanted me to finish things.
Sew the button on. Hem the cuffs.
Her little machine turned out little pleats and we
   placed our stitches on the ridges, each
   generation stitched loosely
to the last here, and to the next, there.
Strawberries and duckies, lace and soft shirting
from her to her to her
to clothe their babies.
You need a good job. Even if you have a husband
   he can die.
Her cookie tin had better buttons than all the rest and
   my threads sit on her rack now and my
   daughter has her name.
She handed me a sweater, each of these hearts?
They say “I love Jennybird.”
I finish my things, now. Better than anyone else.


I flew to california with nothing but crumbs and flew
back with a blade to cut even those.
The sideways light of the sun when the sweet potatoes
ripen undoing me completely.
Fresh paint on old walls, my vision
blurred with the kind of thoughts
they make you go away for, a treadmill full of tears
clearing it.
My shoulders, blades.

Someone in this state, someone in that.
A phone full of the sort of selfies you take
when you’re at war with your very existence.
A hip. A bone. A blade. Hardened leather - waxed;
gunstraps and buckles
I sew the kind of top you make when you plan to let
   your decisions make you and slip
my shoulders into it, unhinging my torso, a snake’s jaw.


A calf, my own, floating beside my mass at night
I am a whale she shelters by. A billion tiny gifts
into which I knit all my clambering unquiet.
My brain bangs around inside my ribs
a romper, four hats. My torso is the cheese on pizza
cut too soon from the oven, puddling sideways when I
   lay in my bed. Things take the time they take
a warm primate, soft paws on my neck and cheek.

They say that having a child is like your heart walking
   around outside of your body. But the moon was
made in a terrific impact, both bodies a fiery cloud
coalescing into two separate bodies
one spinning inexorably away, 1.49 inches per year
my regard for the stuff she’s made of healing even my
   deepest canyons.
She shakes the fullness of my belly, and I don’t flinch
my gift to her the nakedness of joy in sharing
her moments.
Her little needle is haphazard and colorful, impatient,
flashing bright.


Teenagers have no context. A tossed pebble
sinks straight down
to the marrow, true - but the surface doesn’t ripple.
A black dog photographed in the sun
overexposed and raw.
The Work is to shade the gray
the pebble goes in the pond, not the bone.

A mote, a crumpled mountain range
a quilt from 1931
my grandmother’s mother’s chalkboard races
backwards in the Valley’s yellow-haloed
soaking light.
We stand in my mother’s house, we three
it is the moment before a thrown ball begins to return
   to the ground. Even our dna
is backstitched one into the other
a tide extending both directions in time and laterally
across my own dimpled surface
you cannot unpick a seam that has been stitched over.

Body of work

Two hips, two hills, I stand
with equal weight on both feet
it is a thing we have negotiated
all the bones, too loose but roughly
where they ought to be, between my brain and
   this floor
I pretend not to hear it sometimes, it’s best to be
   a little bit deaf in relationships
we are a dogeared pair of slippers.
I don’t jut, I’m slung
not a bone, not a blade. A root, a tide, a yoke.
I make the tailor’s gift - a dart, a forward
   shoulder, let out the waist
a pin, a tape, a spool, a skein.
A needle, flashing bright.