Healing with Knitting: An Interview with Louise

Learning is hard when it’s new, but what about when you have to learn it all over again? That becomes not only physically hard, but mentally, too. You’ve learned all of it before, and now you have to start over again. How do you do that? Here’s Louise’s story about how she is surviving and healing with knitting.

Louise didn’t start in the fibre arts in her youth. Rather, she came to it suddenly and recently; eight years ago! Louise was born with Type 1 Diabetes, but didn’t become aware of it until the age of eight, after moving from Calgary, Alberta to Montreal, Quebec.

Horses were her life! Fast forward (a few years) to 2015, and Louise began losing her ability to ride horses due to eye issues related to her diabetes. It was a very sad time, losing a pastime that had been ingrained in her since she was a little girl. Little did she know that while one door was closing, another was opening.

Louise woke up one morning in 2015, called her mom, and asked her to go to the craft store to buy yarn. “So, with my aunt [her aunt, Joan, was blind in both eyes, and a great knitter] looking over me, and my mother, who taught me how to knit and purl, I unknowingly started my fibre journey,” she explains. She began healing with knitting.

Louise Dufour stands against a wall and talks about how she's healed with knitting

The Learning Years

From 2015 onward Louise caught the fibre bug bad 🙂 She knit for herself, friends, took classes, and created a nice stash of yarn. She went on trips across the pond and found herself looking for… you guessed it: more yarn. During all this making and finding her local yarn store, she came across the Twist Fibre Festival in Quebec, Canada. “Entering the first arena, my jaw dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe my eyes. All those booths… with all the hand-dyed fibre you could imagine. Along with that was spinning wheels, looms, [my] first yarn dyeing instructor. I don’t know why or how, but for some reason, what she did struck home with me, and | wanted to know more. So, in the fall of 2017, I started down the path of dyeing my own yarn.”

The following year, Louise signed up for a dying class at Twist, and then made her way to The School of SweetGeorgia, where she took Dyeing Complex Colour and Dyeing Intentional Colour.

Louise Dufour knit these blue socks from her own hand-dyed yarn
After dyeing her own yarn, she used it to knit herself some cozy socks.

The Year It Stopped

Louise had built up her stash and was knitting quickly, quietly, enjoying her fibre at home in 2020. Until she wasn’t able to create anymore.

In 2021, Louise began experiencing problems with her cognitive health. She lost her memory, concentration, her ability to speak, and forgot how to make with fibre. “The anguish and frustration I felt was too much. All the years of classes and all the stitch techniques I had learned and accomplished were disappearing,” she explains.

In the summer of 2022, after getting medical help, Louise participated in the Acid Dye Study Group. She needed extra support with the math, but then she was off and dying up a storm. Louise was so excited! “My husband made me my dye workshop. I was determined to finish the course with my colour wheel consisting of twenty-four different colours. I was so proud to show Felicia at the final Zoom meeting what I had done, and what SOS had done for me!”

Louise Dufour healing with knitting. Green shawl with lace

The Healing Years

Louise is now retired and while it should be easy for her to craft all day, it isn’t. She takes it one day at a time, knowing that each day will be different based on what she needs to relax and find her calm space. Ideally, it is a few hours of learning (or re-learning) in the morning, followed by knitting and housework. Splitting up the day works nicely in smaller pieces rather than larger ones.

“Crafting, for me, is always a new beginning. A fresh start in my cycle of life. Each new project filled my being with excitement. Made me feel capable and whole. Gave me freedom to fly… follow my curiosity and discover new challenges and master them.”

The School of SweetGeorgia is helping Louise to learn her fibre crafts again, at her own pace, in her own time. She doesn’t have to drive anywhere to attend a Crafternoon if she can’t find the energy to. She just switches on her tablet and joins in and talks as much or as little as she wants.

Louise Dufour knit the Nilas cowl a few months ago; Red yarn
Louise participated in the SweetGeorgia Make-Along, challenging herself to try a new technique.

“The world of crafting is so uplifting. It leads you down a path filled with fantasy, imagination, endless creative thoughts, excitement, and sleepless nights! You are consumed and overwhelmed by all you see and feel! For all of us that live in this world with disabilities, or not, life is grand!”–Louise Dufour

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