I hope you want to join me in bringing awareness about the number one killer of women in the United States. No, it's not breast cancer. It's actually heart disease. Annually 795,000 Americans have a stroke. These don't just happen to the elderly. I'm not yet 50 and I had a stroke last year. I've met children who've had strokes as well as young adults. It's scary! Strokes are the leading cause of Adult Disability. Do you know the signs of a stroke? If not, please review them and commit them to memory. It could mean the difference in saving the life of a family member or friend. Basically 1 in 4 Americans die from heart disease when you combine strokes with heart attacks.
So what can you do? My idea is simple. We need to collectively bring a ton of awareness to heart disease if we are going to turn around the numbers in this country. Just as we have with Breast Cancer awareness. As a result, more women are having mammograms and cancers are being caught earlier, in time to cure many of them. I want to see that happen with heart disease. I really don't want anyone to experience what I did.
I've been crocheting mandalas to represent the 1,600 stroke patients last year at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Ideally I want to collect 795,000 - one for every American whose had a stroke. By making them and sharing what you learn about heart disease, you can share information that may save another person. Just as crochet and knitting is a process in which each loop is dependent on the other for a stable fabric, I believe in applying that metaphor to our society. Our general good health means supporting each other and sharing vital info. While to date, the mandalas have been crocheted, they could also be knit. Think of the top of Fair Isle tams for inspiration. Here are some links to get you started.
You may of course decide to just knit concentric circles of color!
If you wish to join in, I will be posting each person's contribution and their name if they so wish along with the name of anyone they wish to contribute a mandala in the name of. These are great stash busters!
Why a Mandala? Mandalas are a spiritual symbol representing the universe. You see them across cultures. In various religious traditions they are used to focus meditation and prayer. They have become a symbol for healing and wholeness when one feels their body and life has been fractured by illness. The act of making these little treasures I find very soothing. I wear a Fitbit heart monitor and find that my heart beats less rapidly when I make one. It's not a scientifically proven fact, just a personal observation.
Answers to basic Questions:
How big should they be? Any size is fine.
Should I use specific colors? This is about your creativity. I would like that very center point be red for the sake of consistency, otherwise choice of color, yarn, and texture are up to you.
Where should I send my contribution? Leave a comment requesting my address and I will email it to you.
What happens to them? I am attaching them to a turquoise blue background (the yarn Vanna's Choice was graciously donated by Lion Brand Yarns. These crocheted panels are 5 feet by 5 feet each and being made my friend, Kathleen Hull. The panels make it easy and quick to install the mandalas in a wide variety of settings. I will initally be showing them at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in January. Afterward I'd like to see the panels travel around the country. Imagine walking into a room filled with 795,000 mandalas! It's just crazy enough that we may make an impact. I say we as I do need your help. My wrists can only handle so much and it will be more meaningful if more participate.
The first contribution is from Yvonne of St. Louis. Thank you Yvonne!!!!!!
In getting this project started I have many people and organizations I wish to thank:
Dr. Amar Dhand - my neurologist who first gave me the opportunity to work in his lab and which then went on to inspire this work. Please take a look at his research into Social Networks and Stroke Recovery.
The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis for their initial grant. You gave me the seed money to get started!
Sarah Colby - Arts and Healthcare coordinator at Barnes-Jewish who has allowed me to take up residence in her art room. And to all the amazing patients who routinely come by to see the progress and cheer me on!
Mixalakis Tsiaklides and Selena Lee, fellow lab members, who share their good humor and encouragement. They went as far learning to crochet!
Julia Riew - a local high school student who has composed beautiful music to correspond with the initial exhibition.
Kathleen Hull for assisting me in crocheting the huge blue backdrops.
The Knitting Ministry at the Church of St. Michael and St. George in St. Louis for encouraging and inspiring me to think big.
Lion Brand Yarn for supporting me with their generous yarn donation!
And of course all who stopped by to see my work at Vogue Knitting Live! Your feedback proved invaluable.