Monthly Archives: May 2016

Hook to Heal: Wk 5 Reading/Wk 3 Check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 5 Reading/Wk 3 Check-in

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Our week 5 reading assignment is:

Week 5: 30th May – 5th June

  • Embrace a Sense of Adventure, pp. 94-115

For those reading on Kindle, that’s from the chapter heading “Embrace a Sense of Adventure” to the text box entitled “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Developing your Sense of Adventure.” The box contains 6 bullet points, and the last one begins “Make a bucket list,” and ends “… spark your creativity in new directions.”

This week the challenge is to build on these foundations of self-care and launch into new adventures, pushing against the walls of our comfort zones and learning new things, both about our craft and about ourselves.

Have fun!

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Personal check-in, week 3

  • Morning pages: 6/7
  • Artist’s Date: 1/1 – Knitting indulgence!
  • Exercises: 4/6

So, here I am, a full week behind! I have decided that this is OK. I am remembering what the author said in her introductiom about not using this book to beat ourselves up (after all, isn’t that what we’re trying to get away from?) I also want to demonstrate that it’s OK to not do something perfectly. It’s OK to carry on in my own way. It’s certainly better than just giving up.

It has been another exceptionally tough week (fortnight, actually). So letting go, releasing, relaxing are all very good things to be concentrating on and I also continued with the idea of mindfulness crochet. Real life comes along with a big dose of stress for our family at the moment, and I have been using repetitive craft exercises as a balm. This week the almost endless beaded cast-off on my current project, and carding much of my fleece supply have helped to keep my sanity in tact.

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The almost endless beaded cast-off. So long. So worth it. So meditative.

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Carding raw fleece: guaranteed to calm the mind and soothe the spirit.

Letting go, releasing and relaxing is very familiar teritory to me, mainly thanks to my study of the Alexander Technique. So many of the exercises were either things I have done before, or aimed at types of personal development that I’ve been studying for years.

Focussing on our successes, getting rid of the ‘shoulds’ that we all have, challenging the belief that we need to know or to control, working with processes rather than aimimg for a specific result, this is all well worn ground for me.

So I enjoyed being a beginner (exercise 2). I taught myself Bavarian crochet! It didn’t go that smoothly, the tutorials I picked skipped over some key information (which, as someone who occasionally writes tutorials, is a very useful lesson!) But I wasn’t too worried about the errors, I left them in (exercise 6), and because I was only interested in the process of learning, not the final product, I frogged the lot after reaching my goal (exercise 4). I have already joined a mystery crochet-a-long (exercise 3) and although I didn’t get a chance to sort my wips (exercise 5), I shall certainly be following this exercise as I pack to move house over the next few weeks.

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First steps in Bavarian Crochet

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That doesn’t look right!

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A few errors, but basically I understand this now.

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Continuing beyond the tutorial. I got this.

 

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Final product. Ripping out my work scandalised my daughter. But the process was the thing that mattered, and that learning can’t be frogged.

Week 3 was a week of consolidation for me, rather than new territory. It was great to take the general principles I’ve been learning for the last few years and apply them to my craft in order to further eradicate the menace of perfectionism. They are lessons I will need to remember as I move forward with this project.

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May Rolag Club: Oak Apple Day

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May Rolag Club: Oak Apple Day

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Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating Oak Apple Day on the 29th of May.

Oak Apple Day, also known as Royal Oak Day, celebrates the restoration of Charles II to the British throne. Its name derives from the story of his escape from the Roundheads after the battle of Worcester. In order to evade his pursuers, he hid in an oak tree and legend has it that whilst hiding in the tree, he had to be pinched by his companions in order to stay awake. This led to yet another name for the festival: Pinch-Bum Day!

Although Charles’ escape happened on the 4th of September, all these traditions and tales were rolled into the celebration of his restoration, which parliament declared as a day of national thanksgiving in 1660. Prior to the restoration, the ruling Puritans had forbidden many of the traditional spring-to-summer festivities, such as May Day, and the newly-revived customs also became part of Oak Apple Day. Morris dancing, flower-garlanded sticks to welcome in the summer, and the collection of hawthorn blossom all happened on Oak Apple Day, and beer and plum pudding were on the menu.

The Royalist badge is a sprig of Oak. Not only were oak leaves and oak apples pinned to lapels, but houses and public buildings were decorated with oak. A typical children’s game was to challenge one’s companion to show their royalist token, and if found not to be wearing one then there would be penalties, and the name Pinch-Bum Day suddenly becomes clear!

This month’s rolags are inspired by the hawthorn blossoms that were collected on Oak Apple Day, and by the apple and cherry blossom that abounds at this time of year. Setting the Twist has treated us to a handspun mini skein in “Oak Leaf”, and there are oak leaf stitch markers from me and a rather beautiful treat from Sour Cream and Chive.

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In contrast to the last month, May’s rolags were a subtle tribute to seasonal blossom trees.

In this box you should find:

  • The story of Oak Apple Day
  • 20g of rolags in “Hawthorn” – 60% Masham, 15% Tussah Silk, 15% Seacell, 10% Merino, with added pink and black angelina.
  • 10g of rolags in “Blossom” – 60% Merino, 30% Mulberry Silk, 10% Merino and some angelina.
  • A handspun mini skein in “Oak Leaf” by Setting The Twist
  • Tea in Wild Apple and Hawthorn blends
  • Oak leaf stitch markers
  • A recipe for plum duff
  • An acorn necklace from Sour Cream and Chive
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Mini skeins in “Oak Leaf” by Setting the Twist.

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Sarah plied the greens with gold thread, reminiscent of the golden oak-leaf brooches worn by royalists.

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Acorn necklace by Sour Cream and Chive.

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Necklace by Sour Cream and Chive. Stitch markers by Story Skeins.

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Close-up of the oak leaf stitch markers.

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Tea: Hawthorn and Wild Apple blends.

Recipe: Plum Duff

This is a traditional boiled pudding, wrapped in cloth and tied with string. It was also known as “Baby’s Bum” thanks to the mark left on the pudding from that string, which does seem an appropriate name given the festival.

Ingredients:

  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 100g plain flour, sifted
  • 100g grated suet
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g dried mixed fruit
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • Milk, to mix
  • Golden syrup and cream to serve.

Method:

  1. Toss the grated suet in 50g of the flour.
  2. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Add enough milk to make a stiff dough.
  3. Sprinkle a clean pudding cloth or tea towel with flour and shape the dough into a thick roll. Place the roll onto the cloth, leaving a pleat of material at either end. Roll up the cloth around the pudding. Tie with string at each end, and loosely around the centre. Place the pudding into a pan of boiling water and boul for 1.5 hours, topping up the boiling water as necessary.
  4. Lift the pudding out of the pan, cut the string, remove the cloth and turn out onto a warm dish. Pour over a little warmed golden syrup and serve with the cream.

Reference: Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, Dorling Kindersley 1987.

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Oak apples.

Hook to Heal: Wk 4 Reading

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Hook to Heal: Wk 4 Reading

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Our week 4 reading assignment it:

Week 4: 23rd-29th May

  • Self-Care and Self-Esteem Building, pp. 53-93

For the Kindle crowd, that’s from the chapter heading “Self-Care and Self-Esteem Building” to the box entitled “Yarn for thought: More Musings for Self-Love.” This box contains 6 bullet points, the final one being “What limits your ability to love yourself?”

This week we embark on the critically important work of self-care. We dig down to the roots of our negative thoughts about ourselves and work through processes of affirmations to turn the negative self-thoughts into positive ones. We look at how crochet can be used to support this process and build our self-esteem. This type of work can be intense in the feelings it exposes, so be extra careful with yourselves this week.

Have a healing week, everyone.

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

 

Hook to Heal: Wk 3 Reading/Wk 2 Check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 3 Reading/Wk 2 Check-in

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Our week 3 reading assignment is:

Week 3: 16th-22nd May

  • Letting Go, Releasing, Relaxing, pp. 32-52

For those on kindle, that’s from the chapter heading “Letting Go, Releasing, Relaxing” to the box entitled “Yarn for Thought: Musings on Letting Go, Releasing and Relaxing.” The last line says “What are your rituals for letting go?”

This week we bring into focus all the ways in which we are really too hard on ourselves. We particularly consider all of our “shoulds”, and the beliefs we have about ourselves and our creative work that drive those terribly unyielding “shoulds”. Importantly, we have the opportunity to start, or reinforce, the process of letting all of that go. This chapter does exactly what it says on the tin.

Have a great week!

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Personal check-in, week 2.

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  • Morning pages: 5/7
  • Artist’s Date: 0/1
  • Exercises: 4/8

Cards on the table: I have had a rough week. The hardest week I’ve had for some time, actually. I have had long, exhausting days. I have had incredibly stressful wonder-what-the-future-holds days, I have had days of battling my fatigue problems and all the associated symptoms, I have had amazing birthday celebrations with my children, I have had deep conversations with friends and family, I have had a wonderful day with my training colleagues and I have had a day where I felt so overwhelmed by the expectation of their concern for me that I couldn’t bare to be in the room with them. What can I say; it’s been quite a roller-coaster.

So, amongst all that, how did the mindfulness crochet go? Well, not great in all honesty. In my state of raised anxiety I neglected to protect that time to really heal myself. It’s a daft choice. It’s a trap I have fallen into before and will fall into again, just like everyone else. What matters to me at the moment is not to never make these mistakes. It is to not allow them to pass unnoticed. Not in order to beat myself up, but to use as a stepping-stone to improve.

Having such a bad week, especially so early in the process, has served to reaffirm my committment. If life is coming into a difficult phase for me, then I need to take more, not less, care of myself. So that committment I wrote last week, here it is again. And this time I am going to read and take in every single word, every breath of it:

I commit to the work of nurturing, expanding and celebrating my creativity.

I commit to protecting my own precious time and space to pursue my creativity.

I commit to being gentle and forgiving with myself and helping myself to heal.

I commit to exploring the idea of artistry with an open mind.

I commit to investing my time, energy and attention in myself, such that I may become stronger, more balanced, and a better conduit for the creative process.

I commit to making myself better, not only for me, but also in service to those with whom I share my life.

Having said that, the Mindfulness Crochet chapter did have a big impact on me. Although I did not use structured time to work on Hook to Heal, I did do an awful lot of crochet and knitting to help myself feel better. And it was a different experience. I noticed so much more. I noticed the feel of the work, the delicate, skillful movements of my hands, the way the plies in my yarn untwisted and retwisted as every stitch was made. And the colours! Oh! I was working at the beginning of the week with the perfect yarn, full of unexpected, exquisite pops of colour.

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Möbius cowl/poncho made from “OITNB” from The Captain and Lovely

Look closely. Can you see them? Flashes of purple, pink, magenta, lime, tangerine. Bliss

It wasn’t until the beginning of this week that I sat down to work through some exercises. I still feel very resistant to all this work. The stress I’m feeling currently drives me to work quickly, and at a superficial level. To overcome that and reap the benefits of deep, slow attention I have to not be put off by the fact that when I start this mindful process, it is actually the last thing I want to do. The feeling doesn’t last long at all. It is a minor barrier to starting, but having started I then want to continue.

I was pleasantly surprised by how long my chain was when I attempted the first exercise: Basic Practice. I made it into the 20s before my mind wandered. I suspect I will repeat this exercise often.

The increased breathing triangles (exercise 5) were so much smaller than I expected!

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I’ll keep going with this exercise and see if they get any bigger! I fancy collecting them all to make a mindfulness mobile.

I have chosen my mindfulness cues (exercise 7), and although I didn’t get around to mantra crochet (exercise 3), I have the perfect project waiting for this exercise.

These exercises are definitely tools I will be using again and again. They are not tasks to be ticked off and then forgotten about. They have a lot to give. And I have more to learn from them. Above all, what I got from week 2 was a reaffirmation of my committment to this project and to myself.

Hook to Heal: Wk 2 Reading/Wk 1 check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 2 Reading/Wk 1 check-in

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Our week 2 reading assignment is:

Week 2: 9th-15th May

  • Mindfulness Crochet, pp. 23-31

For those on kindle, that’s from the chapter heading “Mindfulness Crochet” to the box entitled “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Meditation and Mindfulness.”

This week we will take a closer look at the second of the three tools listed in the introduction: mindfulness. We will think about what mindfulness is, how to incorporate it into our lives, and how it might be difficult to do that. We will work on some or all of the 8 mindfulness crochet exercises listed in this chapter.

Have a great week!

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Personal check-in, Week 1

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

– Samuel Beckett

  • Morning pages: 4/5
  • Artist’s Date: Forgot! 😮

I set very small goals for week 1 of this project, and yet it was surprisingly tough to meet them. I wanted to re-establish my morning pages practice. That went pretty well, although it was surprising how resistant I felt to the process. I wanted to re-establish my weekly artist’s date. Failed. Failed because my Friday did not go as expected, and I was utterly exhausted. Never mind. Try again next week.

I wanted to carve out some time for this project. That was hard too, but it went ok. I have identified at least 3 spots in the week that I want to dedicate to this work. But, as with the morning pages, I felt very resistant to putting this time aside to work on myself. I think this is a reflection of how difficult I am finding things in terms of my energy levels, my health, and the way life generally is at the moment. When things are this hard, I’d rather keep my head down and trudge on than actively work to change it, despite the latter being a much better idea! I did manage to put those feelings aside and do the work I’d planned, and of course felt much better for doing so. Life’s still hard. But I’m less likely to make it harder than it is.

And finally, I wanted to work on my commitment. Vercillo has the template of a commitment in her pages. I decided to think carefully about what I wanted from this project, and how to reflect those goals in my commitment. Here is what I came up with.

I commit to the work of nurturing, expanding and celebrating my creativity. I commit to protecting my own precious time and space to pursue it. I commit to being gentle and forgiving with myself and helping myself to heal. I commit to exploring the idea of artistry with an open mind. I commit to investing my time, energy and attention in myself, such that I may become stronger, more balanced, and a better conduit for the creative process. I commit to making myself better, not only for me, but also in service to those with whom I share my life.

I also tried something new. I had many, many rolags to make this week. Often I will listen to music or radio or occasionally even have netflix playing as I  work. Why was I doing that? Well, I think that I was focusing on the wrong thing. I was seeing the process as a pile of work that I had to get through, so distracting myself with entertainment to help me ‘get through’.

It occurred to me that instead I could really focus on the process. I decided to work without other distractions. I decided to experience and enjoy the creating. It was completely transformative. I didn’t find the job long or tiring. I found it refreshing. I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t something I had to get to the end of. As I worked, so many ideas came for other things I could create, and for new perspectives to take on familiar situations. I thought about the way we’re praised in society for multitasking, and wondered whether it was better to pay shallow attention to many things, or deep attention to just one.

The experiment gave me a new way to work. I am so pleased I tried it.