Healing Handcrafting

exploring process and healing through fiber arts and handcrafting


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This Week Happened~ Genealogy, Blue Sky, A Wicked Cold and Etsy

It’s Friday already. And the equinox. Another quarter done, a new one to start. Time keeps on a moving, and it’s sort of reminding me of that ride that was on playgrounds when I was kid. You know the one; the big round platform with metal handles all about it. A group of three or more kids would get that thing going around and around so fast our scrawny legs could barely keep up with the running. Then, we’d gauge it just right, jump on, and hold on for our lives. I remember the feeling so well, fighting against all of that centrifugal force wanting to do other things to my body. I freaking loved that playground ride. And I never got hurt on it. I remember seeing other kids bail so hard or get their feet tripped up as they jumped on or off. I would have a heart attack if I saw my kids on one of those now. OMG.

Anyway, in a week where about 1.5 of the 30 things I’d hoped to accomplish got done, I’m trying to figure out how to keep my adult self on the ride for longer stretches of time and with more focus. My response to centrifugal force is not what it once was. I sure do get knocked down by distractions and colds more than I used to. But, the distractions! Oh man. I’m very interested in genealogy. In particular my own family’s ancestral history, and I spent hours and hours sifting through microfilm at the library earlier this week. When I asked to use their microfilm viewing machine, the guy at the desk looked at me kind of funny and said sure, after he dusted it off! I was basically wedged between a big machine and a filing cabinet where I found the death certificate of my paternal 3rd great-grandfather, who emigrated from Ireland via Liverpool likely sometime around 1844. He had a rough end of his life and to see it all written out on this death certificate from 1874, well… it was powerful. It was like breathing life back into a story that I’ll bet was rarely, if ever, told. I think that’s why I love genealogy so much. When you find someone from way back, who is so long forgotten in the living family memory, it’s like you bring them new life. They aren’t forgotten anymore.

After a couple of days of work, I was hanging around outside after a run and saw a whole bunch of butterflies flittering by high up in the sky. I tried to get a picture but they were too quick! So, I just stared at the blue and thought about all of those folks that came before me. It was pretty fun.

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Then I got a wicked bad cold.

There is a new item up on Etsy. You may remember her if you are reader of this blog on a regular basis. Realta the Owl is available. With all of the owls I make, I need to be able to let them go, character and all. I do hope she goes with Sherman, though. They do love one another.

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I’ve also signed on to be a vendor at the Champlain Valley Union High School Craft Fair in November, which I am really excited about. I’ve got a lot of making to do, so here’s to staying on that ride!

Hope you have a great weekend, wherever you are.

 

 

 

 


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Monday Musings~ Idle Hands Don’t Make Things

My kids started back at school after a summer filled with friends, family, swimming, creating, sunbathing… yes, I know, sun-bathing is so not good for the skin and I’m sure I’ll pay for it later in life, but this year, after the spring I had, I wanted to lay in the sun and not garden and just feel energy get put back in my body. It was lovely. 

Now I’m back, along with my littles, to routine and discipline and work. This year, work includes for me my private practice as well as writing, crafting and at some point teaching handcrafting type things to kids. I’m in the getting my ducks in a row phase now. 

In the crafting department, the waning days of August and the moody days of early-September have been productive. So far I’ve:

Spun some more yarn,

With my buddy. 

I’ve started a new weaving project in an attempt to learn more stuff…

And I got more comfortable setting up my loom. 

I crafted a hat out of a woven piece from the above loom and crocheted the top. It’s weird and unique and fits beautifully. 

And I made some fingerless gloves to match. 


I’ve captured a picture of two bucks who visit our yard from time to time. One is missing an antler. The Jungian in me can’t help but ruminate on this image. 


And I’ve internalized summer, the heat and energy that keeps things going and the mythic waves that crash and flow, regardless of one’s presence or reverence. 


Hopes for this week:

Play every day outside with my kids, finish my shawl, start a new hat, write a second chapter…


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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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Is it too Hot to Crochet?

I love this post from Two Hands Healing and Creative Arts ! It inspired me to pick up a project I started last winter. It’s the Babette Blanket, designed by Kathy Merrick. Thank you for the inspiration, Andee! Perfect for today. It’s summery, warm and wonderful outside, but my daughter is not feeling well. I was able to crochet some granny squares while she snuggled on my lap, her hands gently resting on mine. Happy summer crocheting, everyone. What projects are you working on?

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Summer is truly here now. Even up on my mountain we are feeling the heat. Of course what seems “hot” to us is nothing compared to what friends and family all over the country are dealing with. This past week temperatures have been over 100F in lots of places. Making me very grateful for our easy days of 87-90F days at my house.

When I go down to town to do errands it can be significantly warmer. But at least in Colorado humidity isn’t the factor that it is for many others. I’m looking forward to seeing all my yarnie friends at the conference in a few weeks, but it will be in Charleston, South Carolina. I suspect that I may be melting in the heat and humidity that they are experiencing.

In heat like that how does one keep crocheting? My choice for travel and for hot weather crochet…

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Some Recent Fibery Work

Last weekend, I was able to be a part of a wonderful Open Studio day at Shelburne Pond Studios. I don’t have my own place there, but as part of their weekend, they invited local artists to show their wares. It was a good chance for me to finish up projects that had been drifting about, waiting for some attention amidst all of the things that can make a life so full. I was delighted to see how much I actually did make over the winter months. More than I realized! I think my obsession with circular weaving helped. It never felt like work, to pick up a little loom and let my gut tell me what color needed to come next, what texture, what material…

Below are some pictures of some things I had on hand.

 

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Skeins of yummy handspun yarn, all from locally sourced wool.

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Loads and loads of batts ready for spinning or felting!

This little circular weaving piece was made using a loom from this Etsy shop. I love the sizes of looms this shop owner offers. They are affordable and very, very fun.

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Circular weave wall hanging.

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A little tiny nest with a little tiny egg on a little tiny piece of wood from our big beautiful lake.

The wall hanging below was made in part with a Majacraft Circular Loom. I got mine here.

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Another Wall Hanging.

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This “doll” sort of appeared. I love her but she also gives me the willies.

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Wild hanging basket.

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Woven piece highlighting a lovely bit of driftwood that looks to me like a lady dancing.

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Hello from me.

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Mittens letting me know that for that moment, the fabric scrap basket was indeed HERS!


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Women, Circles and Crochet for Asylum Seekers~ A Must-Read Article I Wanted to Share With You

I wanted to share this incredible article about the healing power of joining, in a circle, with other women and crocheting, for asylum seekers who have been traumatized on their road to safety. I will truly never, ever understand the horrible unfairness in the world. I gaze upon my children, my husband and myself and marvel at the difference between a bad day for us versus a bad day for people who are literally fleeing their homes to save their families and themselves. It borders on absurd and is, inherently, excruciatingly upsetting.

Nothing can capture the title of my blog better than this article can.

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/03/09/469535216/they-were-silent-about-their-suffering-then-they-began-making-baskets

 


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Let Me Introduce Myself

Hello to you, and thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I have been hovering over the idea of writing about the healing effects of working with fibers for a long time, and often dissuaded myself from taking the leap into blog-land by telling myself things like:  there are so many blogs, why add another? or, can anything new be said about the soothing and healing nature of handwork?, and of course the ultimate killer of ideas and new projects, am I “expert” enough to write about fiber art, fiber craft handwork and psychology? Well, let me make my admissions and explanations here so I can get on with it!

I am a psychologist and have been working in the field in a variety of ways since 1999, although I took a few years off to be home with my children. I love the work, and I love thinking about being a person and all that goes with it, in the mind anyway. I have a particular interest in Jungian psychology, dreams, developmental stages and all of the archetypal power that is alive and working through us as we navigate the tumultuous waters of growth. Being a psychologist and therapist has become part of who I am. It is creative, dynamic and can lead a life and profession in myriad directions. I know that I will be studying for as long as I can.

I am also passionate about, and grateful for, my love of working with wool and other fibers. I crochet, knit, spin wool and other fibers into yarn, dye wool using natural and synthetic dyes, and dabble in macrame, weaving and needle felting. I am not an expert in these crafts and I am learning new things all of the time. When my two children were 3 years old and 6-months, I began taking them to a lovely Waldorf  style playgroup. It was there that I began knitting again, after many years of forgetting about my knitting needles in the back of my closet. I was delighted to learn that I could knit balls for my children to play with, and then stuffed animals from patterns. As I learned more, I decided to pick up crochet, which opened up a whole new world for me. For some reason, I felt more confident with crochet and found that I could easily improvise and make up my own patterns. Friends liked them and started buying them! One friend in particular encouraged me to open an Etsy shop, which I did. It is called Jabo and Belles: Handmade. Well, that was really fun! 

After a short time, I serendipitously met who has become a dear friend, Susi, who is The Felted Gnome Knows. I owe a lot to her, as she introduced me to a group of wonderful women who run Mountain Fiber Folk, a fiber and yarn cooperative in Montgomery, Vermont. I did not know about handspun yarn before walking into MFF. Not really. I didn’t know how incredibly textured yarn could be: curly locks, thick and thin, chunky and smooth, vibrant, filled with personality, scent and the essence of the very animal from whence it came! I really did not know until that day how earthy and grounding yarn could be. Some of the women who make up the cooperative have their own animals from whom they collect their fibers. Sheep, alpaca, llama, rabbit, goat… it’s all there and it thrilled me to the core. The women there also affected me deeply. They are creative and fun and extremely generous with what they know. After my third time visiting, I asked about how I might learn to spin wool and received a lesson right then and there on how to use a drop spindle. I worked with that for a while but knew a spinning wheel was in my future. My friend Susi (thank you, Susi!) told me about another friend of hers, Leslie, who has a farm, sheep, and spins their wool into beautiful yarn. She suggested I contact her to see if she would be willing to give me some lessons. Leslie was kind enough to do so, and again, I had the great blessing of meeting a woman who shared her knowledge, was patient and deeply passionate about her sheep, her yarn and her fiber art. She is a freaky-good knitter! And quilter. Whoa. 

For my 40th birthday, my mother gave me my spinning wheel, an Ashford Traveller. When it arrived in the mail, I could hardly contain my excitement.  I did not take the time to look at all of the paperwork it came with because I was so impatient to start (that is relevant for reasons you will see later). When I tried spinning the first many times, I could not believe how much I could not do it! This reality was maddening and frightening because I wanted to spin wool so much and had worked up a whole bunch of expectations around “getting it”. Finally, after many deep breaths and a lot of swearing, I got it. It wasn’t beautiful, but I got it. And I got it some more, and then some more. And soon, I was spinning wool every night and at times during the day when my children were napping or otherwise happily occupied (spinning wool with an unhappily occupied young person around is really very impossible). I soon realized that spinning wool in the evening was one of the most relaxing and meditative practices I had done in years. I felt noticeably more calm and at peace with whatever was transpiring in my life. I started learning more about various animal fibers and different spinning techniques. I also started seriously thinking about how much my life had changed since I began knitting again, and how therapeutic I was finding all of these crafts. The psychologist hat came on, and I began to wonder, “if these practices are helpful for me, is it possible that there are some inherent qualities in them that lead to healing? Is it possible to use these crafts when working with other people in therapy?”

Sometime after those thoughts began percolating, I was cleaning up some papers and periodicals on my desk. I started to thumb through one that came with my spinning wheel. I suddenly read the words, “Weave Away the Blues”, by Dr. Ann Futterman Collier. WHAT?! The first sentence of her piece reads, “About 10 years ago, I noticed something interesting in my textile-making: as I made handcrafts, I was transformed into a better “mental” place.” You can find her article in “the Wheel: Ashford’s Fibrecraft Magazine”; Issue 23, 2011. Well, I was transfixed! I laughed out loud, and I may have cried a little as I read her article. There it was, right in front of me and I knew then that I could learn so much more about this whole phenomenon. My two worlds met in the middle and did a high-five. Since then, I’ve read and re-read Dr. Collier’s wonderful book entitled, Using Textile Arts and Handcrafts in Therapy with Women: Weaving Lives Back Together. I’ve also started to move more into understanding what this is all about, why handwork and fiber art is such a powerful medium for healing and transformation, and how it can be used in working with others.

I hope this serves as a good-enough introduction to me and to the purpose of writing on this blog. Healing Handcrafting is not only for psychologists or therapists, or for fiber artists and handcrafters. I believe there is a powerful message and meaning in the fact that fiber arts and handcrafts are so popular right in the United States and around the world. I believe that in this culture of infinite busy-ness, many multiple ways of being contacted and contacting others through short sentences, “likes”, texts, emails, landlines, cell phones, etc, we are actually completely overstimulated and remarkably unconnected. I think that many people are longing for ways to calm down their lives, reconnect with themselves again, or for the first time, and engage with other people in real-time, with eye-contact and in ways that tend to the spirit and the soul. Working with fibers in all the ways one can grounds us, opens doors to our distant ancestors as well as possibly to our mothers, our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. There is something about fiberwork that is honest and eternal. It is from this vantage point that I hope to offer my thoughts. I’ll also share my own work and process and things I learn along the way.

 ~ Bradie