Behind the Design: Father Joseph

The story behind these gloves is a simple one. I was sitting around, I don’t remember if it was on a Tuesday night at Starbucks or just hanging out at work, but I was chatting with Barb about something or other. I really don’t remember how the subject came up – whether I was talking about my idea for a pattern series, or whether we were talking about the Orthodox faith – but for some reason, she told me the story of Father Joseph. It goes something like this:

Father Joseph’s pupil, Abba Lot, came to him and asked what more he could do in his spiritual life. “Then the old man stood up, stretched his hands toward heaven and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire, and he said to him, ‘If you will, you can become all flame.'” He held up his hands, and ten flames hovered above his fingertips. (This is a common oral history, but the quote in this case is from this podcast transcription.)

I was captivated by this story, and knew immediately I wanted to enshrine them in a pattern. This was one of those delicious occasions when a pattern dropped nearly full-formed into my mind, and only the details had to be worked out. Slipped stitches on a garter stitch background climb and split to form a lampstand, ending in a tiny flame on each fingertip.

For the curious and nerdy, the technical perks: A heavy-ish fingering weight means these work up surprisingly fast, but are light enough even in garter stitch to be very wearable as gloves. Garter stitch also provides extra insulation. The jog that usually comes from garter stitch in the round is cleverly hidden by the line of slip stitches that centers on the index finger. I used our Merino/Nylon Sock yarn in “Mumbai Blaze,” and this pattern is particularly well suited to all hand-dyed sock yarns, from wild multi-colored hanks to semi-solid skeins.

I grew up learning the lives of the saints, and in my return to the catholic faith through Anglicanism, my affection for them has returned. No matter how you feel about praying to saints (or, more accurately, asking the saints to pray for you), learning about their lives is a challenge and an encouragement. Like reverencing icons, it really only works if you let yourself get to know them well enough to love them. That’s when you can look through them, to with them fix your gaze on Christ.

Are there any saints (canonized or otherwise) that you feel particularly attached to? Icons that are meaningful to you? Biographies of Christians past that you return to for encouragement, to relate?

For Further Reading:I recently read through this little book about a side of the ancient eastern church that we don’t hear much about – The Forgotten Desert Mothers by Laura Swan. It was definitely devotional in character, and appropriately feminist without being too strained.

The Father Joseph gloves are now available on Ravelry.

2 thoughts on “Behind the Design: Father Joseph

  1. I just came across your website while looking for a way to dye wool with pokeberries & I love it.Thankyou, thankyou. I recently read a book called Shepherd in Combat Boots about a priest, Father Emil Kapaunic who died in a North Korean concentration camp during the Korean War.His complete & total selflessness and his total servanthood to Christ & his fellow prisoners was life changing for me. How inspiring are the lives of
    those who have gone before us who were totally sol d out to the Lord. Thank you again for your wonderful site.


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