Friday, June 8, 2018

Knit a Tree House

Knit a tree house? Why not?
- rope from Lowe's (not thick or slick). I used four 100-foot packages.
-Two branches on your chosen tree that are 5-6' apart
-broom or piece of bamboo, or two if you prefer to use a broom to do the knitting
-people and children

Start with the rope:

 To start, you will need loops on your first branch. I "cast on" using the backwards loops method. First, I tied the end around the branch, loosely, and made several knots to secure this loop to the branch. Casting on is basically wrapping the cord around the tree once, then bringing the cord back through the loop you just made.

Keep doing that until you have as many stitches as you like. We had 17 stitches.

Casting on completed!

To start knitting, make a loop, then pull it through the first loop on the branch. Put this loop on your left arm. 

Continue to make loops, taking the cord from the roll, and putting them on your left arm.

Here you see the "live" stitches on the left arm of my daughter.
To change colors, simply tie on. I leave a long tail and tie several knots in place for extra security. I'm sure you could fuse the cord together with a woodburner but we were too far from the house.

 Once you have all the stitches on your left arm, then you use your right arm to loop the cord through and turn and go the other way. We divided stitches between my daughter and me and our neighbor and used all six arms to knit. Soon, they tired of this and so I was able to put them on my arm then transfer the stitches to a broom to finish solo. Last summer, I did this in my camp and assigned each person a stitch. This was great teamwork and cooperative play, for we all had to snuggle in very close, wait our turn, laugh and giggle, and help each other keep track of the loop. I hope to chronicle a treehouse knitting like that soon. It really is great fun.
After awhile, it was long enough! I then climbed the tree, too the end and tied cord through the loops on the broom, 4-5 at a time, to secure the end to the next branch. It wasn't rocket science, just tying it on tight enough and repeating it enough to be secure. 
And now time to use the treehouse!

 Davis tried not to smile and insisted on not smiling.

 But he sure did spend a lot of happy time in his new treehouse!

The treehouse is a place my kids go to often when they want to be alone, and also when they want to be social and climb a tree. They read books there, use it to climb higher, and sometimes just hang in peace. It's movable and versatile.

Knitting and the Triune Brain

There they are, knitting needles and yarn, materials that bear within their design a whole history of humanity. Who thought to create smooth sticks so that a choreography of yarn could be developed that produced items for survival? Who thought to twist plant or animal fibers into yarn and rope?
But today, although that history might be long past, the hands seek to move, to make, to connect. Perhaps in our digital world, it is even more important to consider the gifts of knitting and of using our hands.
We live in a world that limits our human impulses for motion, movement, and invention. We live in brains that respond accordingly. Looking at the triune brain model, we can see how knitting helps develop key areas of our humanity that might be missing in modern life.

Reptilian Brain:
Our reptilian brain processes are responsible for those things that keep us alive: breathing and our heart beating regularly. The name of the game is survival.
Picking up a pair of knitting needles relaxes you. There are no threats. Your breathing and heart rate soften and regulate. You are making perhaps a hat or a sweater to wear, to clothe your body, to care for yourself or someone else. This is survival at its most basic level. Knitting is a rhythmic activity that mirrors the rhythm of body processes.
Reptilian brain projects: simple hat, mittens, top-down sweater

Limbic System:
The limbic system is called to action by stress of some kind. This puts your system into fight, flight, or freeze. In a knee-jerk evaluation of danger, it expresses high emotion or immediate reaction to danger. If there has been trauma in the past, the limbic system will regard situations as dangerous that are not dangerous. These are called trauma triggers.
The limbic system houses our feelings of stress, fear, emotional pain, and anxiety.
Because the limbic system is so quick to respond and heightened, it can be used to great advantage. Anxiety in a person who's experienced trauma is an awakening. In the midst of the emotional response, a quick thinking also arises that uses intuition to solve problems.
Knitting inherently educates the limbic system because it is not dangerous, but it will cause stress. Learning a new stitch or following a pattern causes feelings of frustration, fear of not being able to "get" it, anger at yourself or the project. It might cause you to throw down your needles and tangle your yarn. It is the basis of what is known among knitters as "frogging", which is where you take out a project in which you may have invested scores of hours. The limbic system holds the details of the project and reacts when things don't go your way.
Outside of fight-or-flight, our emotions also guide us to activities that are pleasurable. We work through a knitting problem because knitting FEELS good. It feels good to settle into a project, to soothe ourselves, and to produce something creative. It feels good to give to people out of the love of our hearts, and to create our own style through knitting projects.
To use knitting to train your Limbic system, knit a February Baby Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman. Read all of her books, too. Your emotions will be completely regulated by the time you wave through that satisfying feather-and-fan pattern and read her engaging and humorous stories.
The neocortex holds the processes we thing of as higher: memory, invention, imagination, abstract thought. Part of the neocortex is the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of your brain that is deliberate and slow in its processing. It is like the wise old man that carefully considers all pieces of a problem before deciding on a course of action.
This is the part of the brain that is most nourished by knitting. Knitting requires you to hold in mind a goal; let's say, a sweater. There is a whole picture of a sweater you must continually imagine...calling on memory, limbic regulation, and abstract thought to hold on to that image. Then, stitch by deliberate stitch, you construct your sweater, bringing to life your image. This is the heart of creativity and invention, and flexing that muscle allows you to have the capacity to create new models elsewhere. It allows you to accept the teaching of others as well, for if your survival is taken care of, and your emotional state is not reacting to environmental threats, you are able to learn. Human development through the ages has rested on this ability to create and accept new models. From survival to emotional regulation to the advancement of humanity, knitting has it all.
For prefrontal cortex stitching, knit intarsia or better yet, lace. There is a complete trust one enters into when complicated imagining is called upon. If a mistake is made, you can correct it by taking it out and starting again. Patience and perseverance are required, for as each row varies, it starts to make sense as part of a beautiful whole.

Kind of like life.