Healing Handcrafting

exploring process and healing through fiber arts and handcrafting


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What Happened and Loose Ends

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Dear Readers, it has been a while. Too long since I’ve written. I’ve just in the last couple of days emerged from a rather difficult period of time, and I hope this recurrence of relative peace can stick around for a while. You know, I know that people are walking around with stresses and pressures and shoulds and regrets and dreams and longings. I am no different. What made navigating life with all of those things a bit more difficult of late was what my doctor called, “a sensitivity” to the antibiotic I was on for close to one month. I seem to be one of a small percentage of people who has a strong negative reaction to a certain class of antibiotics that I’ve been prescribed to treat Lyme Disease. Well, this last round (and I’m assuming final round) of antibiotics brought on what can only be described as manic and depressive symptoms; powerful, scary, and really very distracting. It is true that I painted my kitchen in a pretty damn short period of time, but it is also true that I lost my footing somewhere and can only describe the resulting feeling as… adrift. Nowhere in my psyche could I find the calm and composure to work on any fiber projects, to be sure, and that was very disconcerting. I’m now off the antibiotics and awaiting test results telling me whether or not Lyme has been eradicated. I trust that it has, but that blasted little worried part of me is definitely wringing its hands.

The loose ends are many, after such a spell as I’ve awakened from. Letters to be written, home tasks that need doing (I never did finish the trim in the kitchen), professional responsibilities and volunteering that require and deserve proper attention. And my projects; my ideas made real with fiber and wood, yarn and wire. I feel like they, my forgotten and neglected handwork projects, are looking at me, wondering when I’ll get back to them. Part of me is loudly wondering when I’ll get back to the me that finds so much energy and joy from touching and working with yarn. I see a tablecloth doily, waiting to be completed and given to the recently married. I see five hats. FIVE! It’s getting cold now, and there are little heads that need warming. And some of these heads demand several horns on them! I see a beautiful shawl that is waiting for its fringe; it is all made from yarn I spun myself, the colors of autumn-kissed hydrangea and winter grey. Whose shoulders will it wrap itself around on a cold winter night? I see a turtle shell. An owl with only eyes. A little house with a handle that desperately needs blocking, a door and little door mouse.

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Over the summer, I met a woman who was looking for a skilled knitter to complete an afghan that her elderly aunt had been working on before she died. If I had great knitting skills, I would have taken on the task, happily. I was so moved by the idea that this woman honored her aunt, and loved her enough, to want to see her knitting project through. You know, hands and heart work together to create every stitch, and so often there is an intention behind those many stitches that eventually make a thing, be it functional or artistic. It is an ultimate gift, I think, to someone who has died, to help them finish up completing their loose ends, if they could not get to it themselves. There’s something quite soothing about that idea.

Good news is though, I’m not dead. I get to look at my baskets of unfinished projects and decide what to do. When I do look and see all that’s there, I cannot help but see a theme reflected back to me, to do with unfinished work and being distracted from a goal, or a vision. As I move out of the “sensitivity” affliction in response to ass-kicking antibiotics, and out of the anxiety after-effects of Lyme, I think I will steadily complete projects before I start new ones, however much new ideas take up real-estate in my mind. I will finish that little owl and make that door mouse and give the doily tablecloth to its rightful owners. Five little ones will have a new hat and someone’s shoulders will be warmer than they might have been on a cold winter’s night. My sense is that this will, in its own right, be a practice and discipline that will lead to insight and clarity. Or, at the very least, empty project baskets! I won’t kid myself into thinking that I can always stay on top of loose ends and have everything tucked in just so at all times. But really, finishing what one starts seems an important ideal, if one is lucky enough to have the chance.

What do you make of projects that go unfinished? Do you start many projects at the same time, or do you work on one thing at a time and then move on?

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