Healing Handcrafting

exploring process and healing through fiber arts and handcrafting


My Shop~ Jabo and Belles: Handmade is Open Again!

Several years ago, after the handcrafting bug bit me wicked hard in the heart, I opened up an Etsy shop called Jabo and Belles: Handmade. I named it that because at that time, when my son, Jacob, and daughter, Else, were wee ones, they went by many nicknames. They still do, but these two stuck. Jabo was what a friend of mine’s daughter called Jacob because, well, that’s how his name came out of her little self. Belles is what I call my daughter. Belles, Belly, Belly-boo, Elsebellsa… I picked Belles because it flows for me. People ask me how to pronounce Jabo all the time. It’s with a long a… ā. Jābo and Belles. And why Handmade after their names? Well, I’ve not done anything as creative, as handsy, as fully embodied as growing, birthing and raising my children. And, if not for them, I likely would not have re-engaged with knitting, learned how to crochet or begun spinning wool and doing all of the other fun things I do now.


Because of a series of decisions that my husband and I made together, I was afforded a mid-life chance to get to know myself again, in a different way, and I discovered a love for fiber art and handcrafting I didn’t even know was there. My immersion into the handcrafting scene, next to having my children, has influenced what is easily the most creative time in my life so far. It’s opened up new worlds to me, including in the context of my professional role as psychologist and therapist, and it’s allowed me to make friends with people I otherwise would never have met.

Getting involved in the handcrafting community has given me a chance to do things I was not terribly good at doing as a young adult~ following whims, experimenting with materials and found objects, showing up in places where I don’t know a soul and saying, “hi, can I see what you’re doing?” without embarrassment or self-consciousness. As a young adult, I felt so driven to know what I was going to do, to have a set plan, to have it all figured out so I wouldn’t mess anything up… those qualities can be good in many ways, but I do believe, as a result of an overcommitment to anxious planning, I ended up not noticing what moved me, what spoke to me and I certainly never saw myself as especially creative.

How all of this has changed. It’s remarkable. I feel so fortunate to get to make things, to get to sell things online and in craft shows, and to feel so deeply connected to people I don’t even know and might never meet who also love making things. I also love respectful stewards of land and animals~ their love of the animals they raise allows for many of us without fiber animals to enjoy the bounty, and to experience as much as we can of such natural processes as growing, tending, creating.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I’ve reopened my shop after taking a hiatus from making to sell. I just wasn’t keeping up and needed to get some focus back. I do tend to be all over the place.

I hope every week to be able to post pics of one new thing heading into the shop. Here’s a few pics of what’s in there now!

If you like what you see, feel free to pass it on to other folks who love fibery/handcrafty/madewithlove treats.



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Lessons, Confusions, Leaky Pipes and The Sweater that Ties It All Together

Well friends, my sweater is done. DONE. And I love it, but guess what? I totally messed something up again. Here’s the picture of the sweater on yours truly:


Here’s the picture that goes along with the pattern:


And by the way, the pattern is from this gorgeous book by Teva Durham:


Here’s what I think happened on the way to putting a sweater on I may never take off… The first time I started the sweater, it was too small. Way too small in every way, but especially around the arm holes. When I went back a second time to make it, I decided to use measurements that were too big for me, but that I thought would give me enough room around my arms to dance like no one is watching, just in case the mood struck. BUT, it turns out, when you pick a size too big for you, it’s actually too big. Those of you who are experts in the field of the making things that fit already know this, but for those like me, I realized I tend to interpret things that don’t need to be interpreted. This very issue came up recently as I was trying to communicate about things to do with state licensing requirements for psychologists; those rules don’t need to be interpreted. They need to be understood and executed. They are not grey, or blurry or sort-of guidelines. They are black and white rules. Just like measurements. I chose a bust size for my sweater that was six inches bigger than my actual bust size, yet I was flummoxed when I had this extra fabric on top, and the arm holes were still on the snug side!

So guess what else I learned? If the arm hole size is the problem, address that, not the bust measurements. Makes sense in retrospect, but it was only when I read another crocheter talk about adjusting the arm length for herself that I realized the subtlety of this lesson. Don’t fix what ain’t broke. But do fix what is.

The picture of me above was taken right after my husband told me we had an epic leak in our basement. There was water everywhere, and wow did that change my plans for the day. Before I went back down in the basement to shop-vac (thank GOD for those!), I asked him to please take a picture of me wearing my new sweater*, because even though it did not turn out as I had hoped (like how it looks in the picture), I like what I did to make it work for me. It’s kind of ruched now, and I added two buttons so that it can clasp higher up on the collar next to my shoulder, while the two original buttons can hold the shape. They fit perfectly through the spaces in the pattern. And while I haven’t had the chance to dance like no one is watching in my new sweater, I was able to shop-vac like a pro while wearing it. I know that wearing the brand new sweater I just an hour before completed while shop-vaccing was ridiculous, but I truly couldn’t bear to take it off. It is the first sweater I’ve made after several other attempts. I’m sorry Lisa, my dear cousin! You will get your sweater one day!

Sitting many mornings in a dark house but for the light shining on my crochet project, I did a lot of thinking about all kinds of things. I thought about how I want my daughter to have this sweater one day, and that it was her sweet little early-rising self that replaced the project in my lap many times. I thought about choices I’ve made in my life and how this life I’m living right now feels so rich in growth, reflection and opportunity for change. I’ve thought about how my approach to reading pattern directions mirrors so much of how I’ve approached other things in my life; some that could have used maybe a bit more commitment to simply understanding what was required and doing what needed to be done, while others could have used a bit more courage and freeform living. I can’t help but think now, with my modified sweater, how often in my life I over-compensated for the wrong problem, or for a problem that wasn’t mine to begin with. It’s all there, made physical in this beautiful sweater that on the first day of wearing, proved that it can stand up to hard work.

I came across this quote today while I was working on an article about regret before the leak episode:


Anyone who says you can’t make meaning of everything is wrong. Everything is connected and it’s all available for contemplation in every stitch we make.

* Can you imagine the look I got from my husband when mid-mega-leak I asked him to take a picture of me in the sweater I just finished?