Saturday, January 17, 2009

Smitten

I've been feeling a little down lately. Perhaps I've mentioned that? It comes and goes, but it is linked with the economy and the fact that we will not be able to put our house on the market as soon as I'd like to get back to the place I call home. Most of the time I'm fine with this, but over the past couple of weeks it has gotten to me. I know I will be fine, but sometimes you just go through these times in your life. And the fact that I know I will be fine doesn't mean it's any fun.

That said, I am always surprised at the power that yarn can have over my mood! lol! :) This time it is crochet. My knitting is coming along nicely, but I am working two projects in very similar shades of dark taupe. Obviously I needed a punch of color! After a day of feeling quite low, I went ahead and began the granny-squares blanket that I have been waiting to start and my mood instantly began to improve. I am absolutely smitten with this project!

I would just like to give a shout-out here to Vanna's Choice yarn. I have some wool yarns from left-over projects and from some that were given to me, but I have been trying to stay clear from purchasing wool, since I've returned to my vegan diet. I have to say that I absolutely love this yarn! I love the colors and the soft, smooshy-ness of it. I know that there are those who would look down their noses at almost any acrylic yarn, but for $3.99 a ball - and it is often on sale for 2/$5.00, which is when I bought mine - it is a great deal with 170 yards a ball. I realize that Caron has yarns that offer more yardage and I like those for certain projects, but to me, Vanna's mimics wool quite well without being scratchy and that is what I was looking for for this project.

These are the first color combinations I'm using and there will be many more to come. I took this one here with a flash, so that you could see a more accurate color. I actually like this combination so much, I could do a whole blanket of it, but I'm excited to see the color variations as the squares progress.

I wonder what it is about knitting and crochet that cheers me so? I know that it is something real and that it works on me. I feel it as a physical sensation sometimes and that is a wonder to me.

Years ago, I worked at a non-profit organization that served the women of the Native American community in Minnesota. This was an organization that worked to address, specifically, needs of the women struggling with chemical dependency, which afflicts a large proportion of the Native American community. The center offered counseling and treatment among other things. One thing that I found quite interesting was the practice of using craft in many settings. My supervisor explained to me one day that unlike white American women who seem to respond well to traditional group therapy settings, the Indian women were not the same.

I will not presume to speak for all Indian tribes, because they vary greatly as independent nations. But the tribes with whom I worked were, as a whole, quite quiet. I had to learn that they did not wear their emotions on their sleeves as much as I did and while their humor and warmth became more evident over time as I grew to know them better, they did not spill themselves out readily.

Talk-therapy, therefore, was not the easiest, most healing method of meeting their needs. But, to bring quilting or beading into the picture - well, now you might begin to see progress. These crafts were part of their tradition and allowing them to work with their hands and focus their minds elsewhere, and they freed them to talk about things they otherwise might hold onto longer inside.

I am not suggesting that this is something that would work for all Native American women. What I am saying is that we saw the value of craft in healing in our workplace. Now, I find, I have felt that same healing happen in myself time and time again. I don't know that it works for all people, but I do know that it works for me and some other women in my life. Like music is to some people who pursue it with a passion and it "takes them places," craft, specifically fiber arts, does this for me over and over.

Over the past few years, I have given more time to crafting and art of a number of types: visual journaling, painting, embroidery, collage, working with clay, and more. I enjoy all of these and can see that they make my life richer. I know I will return to them again and again as joyful excursions from my daily walk. However, I know now that knitting (perpetually!) and crocheting (occasionally), will remain constant companions in my life. I love that something so small can make me smile - on the inside and out - so very much.

I have thought that some day I would like to volunteer to teach knitting and crochet in some places where women are struggling. I think about organizations that serve single mothers or something like that. Part of the power of crafting something useful is that you can make something beautiful not only for yourself, but you can also give your work away. And we all know the healing power that giving has for us. Particularly when we are suffering ourselves, I think still being able to reach out and help another reminds us that we have value - even when we are low.

So, smitten with this project and yes, in love with these fiber arts. You wouldn't think that a ball of yarn could take you places so deep and wide, but I believe it can.
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