Healing Handcrafting

exploring process and healing through fiber arts and handcrafting


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Two- Cents Tuesday~ Look at This Blog and Website Called “The Woven Road”! 

This is short because I have a sick wee-one here at home with the dreaded stomach crud. Bummin’. But I had to share this with you. A friend posted this on our Peace Pod~ Shelburne Facebook page (we make things to donate to Knitting4Peace):


I loved it. I decided to look up “the woven road” because this quote sums up the heart and soul of what I think about in relation to fiber art and craft. In doing so, I found this beautiful website and blog! It’s about a year old and it’s gorgeous. Here’s the link:

http://www.thewovenroad.com/blog/

Enjoy! I’m making progress on my sweater. Almost done with the first sleeve. 


Ok. Back to everything else. I’ve got a pot of chicken broth cooling in the snow, five more rows on this sleeve I’m hoping to finish while my littlest is in a nausea lull, and my cat snuggling behind me. 


Hope you’re well. 

~ Bradie 


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Monday’s Musings~ A Small Piece on Death

I’ve been sitting here, writing, deleting, writing again and rewording for a while this morning. Composing a small piece, one that can be tidily managed and articulated compactly about the death of my grandmother is none-too-easy. What finally worked for me was imagining diving into the ocean, confidently and with the purpose of going under water for a bit, and not immediately scrambling to the surface as if in some sort of panic.

My maternal grandmother died last week. Her name is Lottie and she was 94. At that age, this was certainly not a surprise, and truly, she had been struggling for a long time, especially since breaking her hip almost one year ago. But… shit man… this still hurts and in a way I did not anticipate. For several days now, I’ve been aware of what feels like a ball of sorrow in the pit of my stomach. It’s tender and ever-present and for some reason, its presence is surprising me because I guess in my mind I thought that if I was expecting it, the death of someone I love wouldn’t feel as sad. Timely death is different than untimely death. But it’s still death. I guess it’s all about that. Death. I’m so pissed off about this thing all living things have to do. I’ve tried writing letters to management complaining about it, but they’ve all been returned with the stamp: Death is Part of Life. Okay. Still shitty.

I think the thing that hurts me, too, (and it has with all of those I have loved who have died), is that I can’t ask them how it went. Here is this big thing that we all have to do. Death is such a huge rite of passage, the final developmental stage we traverse (or maybe not?), it’s scary to many and there are so many rituals around it, but I can’t ask my Mema how it went. I can’t ask her if she was scared and what it was like and did she see anything? Were there any surprises? Is she all in one compact soul place or is she part of everything now and can she see me? Does she know I love her?

Here are some things about Mema~ she was beautiful and took great pride in her appearance; she was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States when she was three; Mema made the best creamed spinach in the world, and was well-known for baking wonderful treats for Christmas~ she loved her baked goods and I definitely inherited that from her; she loved to travel and be with friends and family and wasn’t inclined to sit around; she shot a hole-in-one playing golf a long time ago and she and my grandfather played a bunch of golf throughout their lives; she tended orchids and loved her plants; she was a master knitter (see this post here where I talk a little about that); she wanted things to be nice, even when they weren’t; Mema played the organ and was part of the Red Hat Society for a while;  she had a wicked sense of humor and often surprised me with what she thought was funny, which was awesome; she was sentimental and she really missed her husband, my grandfather.

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To deal with the pit in my stomach, I have consciously gone to knitting. It’s actually the first time I’ve done that, gone to knitting for the purpose of soothing. Usually the benefits of knitting and other handwork have been a noticed side effect of the work for me, but to approach it with the hope of comfort has been amazing. I feel closer to Mema when I’m knitting, and I asked her for help as I re-attempted to learn how to use double-pointed needles. I tried to use these about four years ago and wanted to huck them into the lake I got so jumbled and pissed-off. Not this time. With the help of this video and a few shout-outs to Mema, I got it and I feel proud and like one day I may be able to make things as beautiful and intricate as she did.

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So, I guess this is it, my musings for the day. Musings on death and life and my Mema. I really love her and will knit memories of her into this sweater. Stitch by stitch.

 


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Meet Realta~ An Awakened Owl

Occasionally, Healing Handcrafting will host other bloggers, human and otherwise to share thoughts, queries and reactions to life. 

Realta was born two days ago during a snow storm. She’s been busy ever since. 

Greetings. I’m Realta. There’s some shit going on here that I was blissfully unaware of when I was but a mere collection of yarn, wool and feathers. Now that I’m awake, I’m like, WTF is  going on, people? 

Here’s me. I can’t seem to wipe this worried look off my face. 


I know my dear Sherman needed a companion, but that can’t be the only reason I’m here. That’d be some crazy crap. 

Sweet Sherman did show me a good time on Valentines Day. 



He’s a doll. But seriously, we have to get serious! WTF is this?


And sweet cheeks and me, we’re going to do some handshake training, am I right? With Justin Trudeau. 

Here’s my people. Sherman and I, we’re on board. Our training starts yesterday and we’re all in. 


Now I understand this crazy-assed dream I had about being at a protest. 


I’m not sure how I feel about being here, but since I am, I’ll do what I can to make things better. What the hell else is there to do? 


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Two-Cents Tuesdays~ Don’t Kill Time

I think a lot, about all kinds of things. Like many folks, I think about thinking, what I’m thinking about, how what I’m thinking about affects me and those around me and how what I’m thinking about either serves to provide energy and steam to my day or instead drains energy, creativity and perspective. It’s a loop, friends. An infinity spiral, uroboric maelstrom at times, and I’ve realized something with all of this thinking. How we handle downtime, those ten, fifteen, twenty minutes here and there, really freakin’ matters. These small oases in the midst of busy lives could support moments of reflection, meditation, throwing a few rows or rounds onto a knitting project or chances to see something interesting.

More and more, I am choosing not to reach for my phone just to check email that I cannot respond to in the moment because I don’t have time (and then forget about responding to  later because it’s not highlighted anymore), read the news that is consistently maddening and not much different from when I read it that same morning or afternoon, or from what it will be in the evening after my kids go to bed. I am choosing to try harder to tend to those things right in front of me and allow for a little space to remember to just be.

The other day, I had about twenty minutes in between engagements and I opted to step in to an antique store I’ve passed many times to take a gander and just have fun. Look what I saw!

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yarn winder

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old, old spinning wheel

 

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another sweet wheel

 

And, I did get myself a treat…

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old sewing bag

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with thread and doilies made from it!

 

I still read the news that day. I stayed up-to-speed with my responsibilities and tasks. Got all the things done… but in the midst of it all, I found a little bit of time to look at beautiful things and breathe and relax. It felt like a tiny vacation, stolen in the midst of a work day. A reprieve and a joy. Even if it is simply looking up at the sky while waiting for a meeting instead of looking at the phone, consider it a moment lived, not killed. A moment that gave, rather than one to recover from. A moment spent with yourself, ultimately your most precious person.

Little steps…


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Monday’s Musings

On the way to the store yesterday, my children and I saw a fox running down the middle of the road. It was early in the morning, so the much travelled but domestic road was not busy. We pulled up close to it, and saw that it was in rough shape. Its eyes were squinted nearly shut, its tail bet and injured. It took every amount of self control I had not to scoop it up and put it in the car. I kind of used our car to serve as a sheepherding dog, angling it towards an open field, at least to get it out of the middle of the road. Once it obliged, I pulled off and called the police. The police! I apologized, saying I didn’t know exactly who to call but here’s the deal… and the officer listened, got clarifying information, and said he’d call the Fish and Game Department to check it out. Note to Self: get that number in my phone!

We drove on, wishing the fox luck and feeling mighty sad. I think we all felt the weight of our impact on the world in that moment, in our heavy car on our road surrounded by houses and fast moving life. For the rest of the day, I thought about all the stuff I waste so regularly, even when I make big sweeping decisions not to. I thought about the fact that I don’t know what rabies looks like, or what the technical rules are about picking up hurt animals. It started to snow later, a great big dumping beautiful snow that we’ve been waiting all winter for, and I hoped that the officer really did call the right people, and that the little hurt fox was found and treated with respect. Ironic, given that this last weekend was also the time set aside for the annual coyote killing contest. People are encouraged to kill as many as they can, no restrictions. Prizes are available for all sorts of categories and as you might imagine, there is a lot of debate about such a gluttonous hunt.

We’re a complicated lot, us humans.

About to go on my hook: a beautiful, yummy bit of yarn spun by my friend Carol from Mountain Fiber Folk. This wool and bunny blend will soon be a new friend for Sherman, who needs a bit of companionship as he navigates this world of contrasts.

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Still on my needles:

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Here is the pattern. It’s on Ravelry, as well as in the beautiful and inspiring Issue 16 of Taproot.

A properly earned snow-day is the BEST! We. Will. Play.

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(Monday’s Musings is a new addition to Healing Handcrafting. It may or may not have something to do with handwork and fiber art, but it will always have a little something to do with life.)


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Farm to Frame Felting Fun with First Grade Friends

I am so very lucky to have standing dates on Fridays when I teach kids how to do things with wool and with yarn. These Fridays are now known as “Fiber Fridays”, and have become a part of my life I am extremely grateful for and proud of. I think about it a lot, why I want to do this stuff with kids. First of all, I have two kids of my own and I relish any chance I get to participate in things in their classrooms. I get to meet their friends, know their teachers and just be part of their school world for a small time, which is amazing. I never leave without internally bowing to teachers, para-professionals, one-on-one specialists, reading specialists, special educators. They make the world go round, in my book. Their love and dedication to the field, and the skills they have, just blows me away.

Okay, so yes, I love being in my kids’ classes. I also love going into other classes and meeting even more kids and answering questions and getting excited about new stuff. It’s just fun and a beautiful complement to my work as a psychologist. I’m not being a psychologist in any formal sense of the word when I am in with children on Fiber Fridays. However, I am sharing something that I truly believe is deeply healing to the human spirit, and is a restorative practice. Handwork/fiber craft tie humans together in a most fundamentally ancient and organic way, and exposing kids to as many ways as I know how to work with fiber has become a prized part of my career.

In one of my first grade classes (the one my daughter is in), we’ve been exploring wool. We started with real free flowing exploration. I brought in big wool batts, smaller mounds of wool in a variety of colors, some fabric, some yarn, and a needle felting tool for just me to use, just in case some quick stick-togetherness was needed. I showed the class first different ways we can play with wool. I pulled it apart, I twisted it, I formed it into shapes and wrapped them in fabric and tied yarn around it. I encouraged them to just play and sculpt and imagine, and I let them know that there were no specific things they had to make at the end. Each table got its own basket of a big assortment of wool and then, it was off to the races! I was actually amazed, and I learned so much that day of free wool play. Children made babies, cradles, nests, birds, balls, clouds, old ladies, and animals. They played and laughed and shared. For some reason I was really worried that they’d be confused or adrift without a specific goal in mind, but I was wrong! They were happy to just go for it! I was lucky to have plenty of help from the teachers and a parent volunteer with cutting fabric, wrapping, needle felting and tying. It was peaceful and joyful. I do believe working with wool is magical.

Two weeks later in the same class, I referred back to our previous experience, and said, “this time, we are going to experiment with wool mixed with soap and water!”. Our project was to make felted balls. Before we began, I first showed them balls I made at home. I also showed them my “oops” items… a disc that was supposed to be a ball… a nest that was supposed to be a ball… a weird creasy ball that was supposed to be smooth. You know, it’s kind of hard, at least for me, to get a wad of wool to felt into a perfectly smooth felted ball with just warm, soapy water and your hands. I don’t know how Martha Stewart does it!

I then quickly showed them this book:

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And we talked about having one idea in your head when you go to make something and how sometimes it doesn’t turn out like that. I told the kids that we are learning, experimenting, having fun and seeing what comes out of our efforts.

On the floor I had set up a drop cloth with towels covering it. On that were six plastic mixing bowls, two with soapy water and four with clear water that had to keep being replaced as kids dipped their creations into them to rinse the soap.

Water + Wool + Soap + Being Okay with Oops = Felting

Balls were made. Some were smooth. Some were crinkly and seamy. We got a mushroom, some discs and some wild looking blobby alien life form planets, or maybe coral? I saw a bunch of children totally okay with experimenting and just seeing what happened and I think that right there is a major piece of wisdom gleaned from mindful handwork.

Freedom to experiment and see what happens, within one’s own heart and spirit, is such a beautiful thing, and it’s something that I think we all should tend to as often as we can. I am often guilty of hanging on so tightly to what my plan is that I forget to see what’s actually happening right in front of me. I forget to loosen my belly and breathe and just let things be as they are. It’s so easy to forget that.

You know what else blows kids’ minds about wool and felting? With some simple ingredients and some agitation, soft and fluffy wool is transformed into felt and it is impossible to return it to its original form. I can’t explain why something so obvious is so mystical and amazing to kids, but it is, and I need to meditate on the symbol.

Stay tuned. I’ll be sharing more projects and ideas and insights from this cool gig I have.


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Showing Up With Love and Presence, and Fiber

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Dear Readers,

Have I let too much time go by in between posts? My longing to write about the moments, the textures, the projects and the beauty around me has been dulled, stolen really, by my broken heart, fear and unyielding anger at what is this new administration in the county in which I live, the United States. I am finding it hard to write about lovely things that I get to enjoy when executive orders put out by the president-I-cannot-name and his lackeys are, in my estimation, severely screwing shit up. People, beautiful, innocent, loving people are being traumatized and retraumatized by having plans and dreams wrestled from their hands, literally, in airports. People, lovely, hardworking, courageous, resilient and prayerful people are trapped now, either within US borders or outside of them, regardless of having the right paperwork in many cases. We have here a president who is saying that all is fine, all is great, things are working well in airports… have you seen the images of people grasping at one another after being detained for many hours because of the country they flew in from? Have you seen images of the protests all over the country? All over the world? Sorry. Things are not fine. Things are not great.

The Dakota Access Pipeline…

The Wall between the US border and Mexico…

Healthcare…

Here’s what is bringing me hope, making the blood move in my veins with energy, combatting my desire to go to sleep for four years (or two~ here’s to the mid-term elections people, let’s make some shit happen): the protesters all over the world showing the powers that be that actually, not everyone shares the same ideas about huge groups of people; an overwhelming amount of people are aligned with world citizenship and have compassion and love flowing from their core; lawyers are freaking BRINGING IT to serve people, pro-bono, to help them deal with the cluster that is this Executive Order on Immigration. You guys, and the ACLU, you are amazing.

I’m just a regular person trying to keep up, trying to make sure that I’m reading accurate news and taking right action. I’m seeing in my corner of the world that all signs point to a major crossroads in this country. We’ve been tumbling in this direction for a long time. The highways, roads, rivers and tributaries leading towards the Moment of Choice, where we determine how we view ourselves in relation to the world have been covered over , polluted and at times unclear. Not any more. Not for anyone. Those who have always been fighting the fight for equality, justice and freedom have not succumbed to complacency or obtuseness the way many of us have, as I have. Not any more.

I am not a political writer. This place that I have secured to write about the healing effects of fiber art, handcraft and creativity, it will remain that and I love that, but occasionally I may have to refer to what’s going on here and around the world from my little vantage point. All I do is housed in the reality we all share, and compartmentalization has never worked very well for me.

Some Recent Things:

Ice:

My Sweet Littlest Harvesting Icicles Like It’s Her Job:

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Our Resident Owl:

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Teaching Weaving to Children Is One of My Greatest Joys:

Paper Making Attempt:

I read a cool thing the other day, maybe a friend’s Facebook post? I don’t remember, but the gist of it was that in order to handle all that our world, our spirit, our heart asks of us, we must also attend to our places of love and hope, health and strength. I wish for all of us to reside in these places, and meet with what comes our way from a place of integrity, wisdom and power. The other day, I showed a group of 6- and 7-year olds images of people weaving from all over the world. All different colors of skin, all different kinds of attire, all different kind of settings. I told them them that when weaving, we are engaging in a practice that humans have been participating for at least 10, ooo, but more likely closer to 25, 000 years. We are all bound by a need for clothing, housing, containers, and beauty. These fibers, they connect us to each other and to our ancient ancestors. It felt good to talk about that on Friday, having no idea what was about to transpire.

I’ll keep talking to kids about things like that, for as long as they’ll listen.

Be well,

Bradie