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.

11 comments:

Hilty Sprouts! said...

You are wonderful and so very right! I am so thankful that God led me to you and this blog this year. Learning to knit has been such a joy. It is helping me through the winter blues. I tend toward meloncholy this time of year and my thoughts and feelings prey on me.
Even my husband has noticed a difference. He told me the other night that I seem so relaxed and mellow lately and he attributed it to the knitting.


Jennifer

Mrs. Pivec said...

Thank you,Jennifer! I am so glad to find that you are enjoying your knitting as much as you are. How is your shoulder? I think I remember that it was bothering you. I'll have to hop over to your blog to see if you've mentioned it there. Have you signed up on Ravelry yet? Be sure to let me know when you to, so that I can "friend" you over there!

lamplighter777 said...

HOpped over here from ravelry. What a wonderful blog! I am with you regarding the use of crafting in therapy. My son had cancer (fine now, praise God!) and I got to know many, many children in the oncology wards and clinics. The use of crafts (knitting, scrapbooking, journalling, drawing) as an aid to recovery (or even as a way to cope with treatment) was totally amazing! I have been dealing with fibromyalgia for several years, but this past year was the PITS. That was when I taught myself to knit as a way to keep my mind off of the pain and start healing. I love my knitting! It's like I told my friend: if I can get my mind off of my pain for one minute, then I feel better for that minute. If I take that minute and use it to reflect on God's faithfulness, and all that He has done for me and desires for me, then that minute of relief often multiplies to minutes or days of relief! I asked Him for something to do to help keep my mind off of the pain, and I feel He gave me knitting. God is GOOD!

I live the afghan you are working on. Enjoy!

tonia said...

I love your goal of teaching. My girlfriend has been hired at a local hospital to help parents of terminally ill children scrapbook. She goes in once a week and sits with the families and helps them put together memories. She prays and shares the Lord and ministers in a deep way...all through craft.

Personally, as we go through some very scary times with my teenage son, I am finding the stitch by stitch process of knitting very calming and centering. I pray and watch the yarn one stitch at a time become something beautiful...a constant and powerful witness of God's work. I'm so thankful He led me to this work at this time of my life. (And thankful for your encouragement and example in nudging me along.)

On another note, I'm not a vegan - (yet! *grin*), and haven't thought much about using wool, etc. but you have piqued my interest about some of the alternatives out there.

Thanks!

kelli said...

Nicole...I love hearing your heart through your posts. Such rawness and beauty. I've been thinking through how I might be able to use my life and passions in a similar way.

Oh! I was at Michaels today and picked up a couple bamboo needles!
What are the different lengths used for? (Maybe you already put that in your knitting post...I'll go back and read.)

Yesterday, I got an email saying Kids Knitting is waiting for me at the library, so I'm hoping to start learning sometime this week!

Liz said...

Fun colors! Everywhere is white and grey in MN and bright fun colors are needed right now.

The Yarn Harlot was in MN for a book signing in April '08 and her talk was on neuroplasticity. I chronicled about it on my blog. I think the theory behind why a craft relaxes us is very compelling.
http://quicklyunravel.blogspot.com/2008/04/word-of-day-neuroplasticity.html

I hope the housing market turns soon.

Marie said...

Hi Nicole
I signed on to ravelry and found a pattern. I am making a scarf (crochet) for my daughter. I can never find wool anyway since the closest store that carries yarn is Wal mart and well, no wool there. But acrylic works like a charm and would survive a nuclear bomb unscathed!

Mrs. Pivec said...

Lamplighter777 - thank you for stopping by here! I am glad, too, that God has led you to knitting. Isn't that a funny thing to think about? Who would think that God would work through yarn? But He does, he really does! :)

tonia - yes, it is surprising all that handwork can teach us. I was watching a video with my girls for geography about two weeks ago on Ukraine. They were talking about the embroidery that some women were known for. This one woman worked for TEN YEARS on one piece!!I can't imagine that she worked only on it, but my goodness, that is a lesson in patience if there ever was one!! lol! :)

Kelli - Oh, I think you will really enjoy the book! Great, bright colors in there and some cute, simple patterns. Let me know what you think of it.

Liz - Thanks for the link. Awesome, really. I loved the bit about Einstein. :)

Marie - hooray! Be sure to share pictures of your scarf when you are done. You should teach your daughter to chain; Eve loves making chains that spread the length of the room - and back!

Karen said...

i, too, find that knitting is a great relief from anxiety that sometimes threatens to overwhelm me. before i know it, three hours have passed ... and i have beauty to show for what's elapsed! i find this with my yoga practice, too. but this truly quiets, because you're still. really, really still. (sometimes too still, and stiff! haha)

i am beyond excited about Obama. I've already proposed two toasts for him when i've been out in town! <3

Karen said...

by the way, since wool doesn't harm the sheep, why don't you use it? i've heard some vegans don't becuase sheep aren't treated very well in some countries, despite the fact that the wool is just a haircut. enlightenment on this topic would be nice ... perhaps a post, even?

also i'm not a huge fan of leather, but i do own leather cowboy boots. i feel that the native americans of yore weren't remiss with using the skins to protect themselves from the cold, etc. these boots will last longer, i'm sure, than any synthetic and will keep harmful chemicals and waste out of the environment/landfills. i'm talking, like, these boots may last me $25 years. i consider them a good investment because they are everyday boots. i don't know .... maybe that's skewed logic but just wanted to add my thoughts regardless. but the sheep ... i would like to hear your thoughts on that.

Mrs. Pivec said...

Karen,

I just read your comment today and will see what info I can find to share with all of you in a post soon in regard to your questions. Thanks for them too! I do appreciate it. :)

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