Monthly Archives: June 2016

June Rolag Club: St. John’s Eve

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June Rolag Club: St. John’s Eve

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Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating St. John’s Eve on the 23rd of June.

St. John’s Eve is closely associated with midsummer celebrations and is celebrated in many countries around the world with the lighting of bonfires. Although named for a christian martyr, many of the traditions that survive to this day are pre-Christian in origin. The lighting of fires (and sometimes, the leaping of fires) relates to the belief in the cleansing properties of fire. It was also a time for the gathering of herbs to ward off spirits, especially witches, and chief amongst these herbs was St. John’s Wort, the pungent yellow bloom still in use today for its medicinal properties. St. John’s Day, or midsummer, was fixed as the 24th of June, despite the variation in date of the summer solstice. The saint in question was John the Baptist, born roughly 6 months before Jesus and so his feast day was set 6 months before Christmas Eve, making it one of the few saints days to celebrate the martyr’s birth, rather than death. St. John’s Day became one of the English Quarter Days, the others being Michaelmas, Christmas and Lady Day.

This month’s rolags are bonfire-inspired. You will also find a mini-skein in “charcoal” from Setting the Twist, a bit of heat from your three ginger tea and the gingins chew, soothing bedtime tea containing valerian, which was also collected at this time of year, stitch markers and a notions pouch from Forest Valley Designs to celebrate the solstice and the traditional herb-gathering, a tealight to have your own mini fire, a poem, and a recipe for the celebratory dish called “Goody” which was associated with this festival.

Happy midsummer!

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The “Bonfire” rolags were created as a reversible gradient set.

In this box you should find:

  • The story of St. John’s Eve
  • 10g of rolags in “No Smoke Without” – 50% Grey Suffolk, 20% Yak, 15% Rose, 15% Tussah Silk.
  • 20g of reversible-gradient rolags in “Bonfire” – 49% Merino, 21% Tussah Silk, 15% Baby Camel, 15% Faux Angora
  • A handspun mini skein in “Charcoal” by Setting The Twist
  • Tea in Three Ginger and Bedtime blends
  • Stitch markers in “Sun” and “St. John’s Wort” by Forest Valley Designs
  • “The Joyful Feast of St. John”
  • A recipe for “Goody”
  • A tealight
  • Gingins ginger chew
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A sun worthy of midsummer, from Forest Valley Designs

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St. John’s Wort by Forest Valley Designs

“The Joyful Feast of St. John”

Then doth the joyful feast of St. John the Baptist take his turne,

When bonfires great with loftie flame, in every towne doe burne;

And yong men round with maides, doe daunce in every streete,

With garlands wrought of Motherwort, or else with Vervain sweete,

And many other flowre faire, with Violets in their handes,

Whereas they all do fondly thinke, that whosoever standes,

And thorow the flowres beholds the flame, his eyes shall feele no paine.

When thus till night they daunced have, they through the fire amaine

With striving mindes doe runne, and all their hearbes they cast therein,

And then, with wordes devout and prayers, they solemnly begin,

Desiring God that all their illies may there consumed bee

Whereby they thinke through all that yeare from Augues to be free …

 

From a 16th Century poem by Thomas Kirchmeyer

Ref: Families, Festivals and Food, p.51

Recipe: “Goody”

Ingredients (all quantities approximate)

  • 350 ml milk
  • 8 slices of slightly stale bread
  • 35g sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

  1. Heat the milk in a pan.
  2. Take the slightly stale bread and tear each slice into smaller pieces. Add the bread to the warm milk.
  3. Add 25g of the sugar and bring the mixture to the boil.
  4. Adjust the sugar to taste, and add more milk if needed during cooking.
  5. Pour the mixture into an oven-proof dish.
  6. Top with the remaining sugar, mixed with the cinnamon.
  7. Bake until browned and crispy on the top.
  8. Serve and enjoy.
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Hook to Heal: Wk 9 reading/Wk 8 check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 9 reading/Wk 8 check-in

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Our reading for week 9 is:

Week 9: 27th June – 3rd July

  • Giving Back, pp. 177-190
  • For the kindle folk that’s from the chapter heading “Giving Back” to the text box “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Giving Back Through Crochet”. This box has 5 bullet points and the final one begins “Where do you make most of your purchases?” and ends “… the community of people out there who are making things by hand?”

The focus is on helping others and thereby helping ourselves. There is a well-researched link between voluntary work and wellbeing. This week we will see, and maybe follow, Vercillo’s suggestions for giving back through the medium of crochet. This could be small-scale, such as making a gift for someone, it could mean starting a crochet group or getting involved in a charity. There is all manner of craftivism out there to inspire and build upon.

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 8

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  • Morning pages: Where’s the wagon?
  • Artists date: Me and my hook. 💕
  • Exercises: 4/8

Before I talk about this hook to heal week, I wanted to address the issue of perfectionism. Before I started this hook to heal journey, I had no idea it would coincide with some of the most difficult times I’ve had in recent years (and if you know me, you’ll know that’s bad.) It has made it very hard to stick with this, to protect that time, and to do the work. But that’s ok. Life happens. In my previous incarnation as a dyed-in-the-wool perfectionist, this would be cause to abandon the project entirely. But no longer. Running this read along means doing my part of the journey in public, and the fact it’s been a rough ride for me means I get to model the process of accepting and working with the difficulties; of hitting bumps in the road, but getting up again each time.

So this week my morning pages went awol and my artist’s date was necessarily very modest. But I am feeling a whole lot better today and came back to my pages with renewed enthusiasm! And although I am missing a couple of weeks, working with the week 8 exercises fit well, so I taught my husband a new craft (though it was lucet rather than crochet … the principle holds!)(exercise 1), I crafted in parallel with my children, to lay the foundations of family craft hour (exercise 2), I didn’t get around to the exercise about recreating a favourite memory, but I did find the pieces already in my collection of fibre art that has been inspired in this way. My favourite is this woven scene:

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It probably won’t mean anything to you, but it means so much to me. For me, this scene is summer school, friends and family, freedom, love, laughter and learning. And baseball! I have also crocheted gifts with intention (exercise 5), joined local crafting groups (exercise 6), and does this read along count as a crochet book club (exercise 7)? Probably not, but I’m glad I did it.

So onwards to week 9. I still have an awful lot of healing to do, but now I feel ready to face the challenge again.

Hook to Heal: Wk 8 reading

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Hook to Heal: Wk 8 reading

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Our reading for this week is:

Week 8: 20th-26th June

  • Relationships and Connecting, pp. 161-176

For the Kindle folks, that’s from the chapter heading “Relationships and Connecting” to the text box “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Crafting in Relationships”. The last text box contains 8 bullet points and the final one begins “Do you need to have a serious or difficult conversation … ” and ends “… so that they don’t think that you’re not paying attention!”

This week, week 8 of 12 already!, we remember that no one is an island. We are working on personal growth, healing and change, and this will inevitably affect all of our relationships, but especially the relationships we have with those closest to us. Not forgetting, of course, that one of the most fundamental relationships is that which we have with ourselves.

Spend some time nurturing yourself, your significant other, your family and friends. Share the craft love and the healing process.

Have a wonderful week. x

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

Hook to Heal: Wk 7 reading

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Hook to Heal: Wk 7 reading

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Our week 7 reading assignment is:

Week 7: 13th-19th June

  • Create Abundance, pp. 139-160

For those on kindle that’s from the chapter heading “Create Abundance” to the text box entitled “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Abundance”, and containing 7 bullet points. The last one begins “In what ways … ” and ends “… change your mindset from competing to collaborating?”

Over half way now! The weeks are whizzing by. This week Vercillo follows the chapter on Facing Fears by considering two common fears: the fear of scarcity and the fear of abundance. She starts by challenging our beliefs about abundance. Is it a good thing? Is it greedy? Too materialistic, maybe? But then she reframes our ideas: we will consider lifting self-imposed limitations and making the best use of our resources, both for the sake of our own happiness and to contribute to the world around us. Above all, the words that sprang to mind when reading this chapter were carpe diem: seize the day. Stop saving things for best, for that eternal ‘someday’, and use and enjoy them now.

As for me, I’ve spent my week reviewing and practising many of the mindfulness crochet and positive affirmation exercises, so you’ll need to wait a little bit for my report on week 5. Let’s call it … an abundance of anticipation. 😀

Have a week brimming with abundance. Enjoy!

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

Hook to Heal: Wk 6 reading/Wk 4 check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 6 reading/Wk 4 check-in

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Our week 6 reading assignment is:

Week 6: 6th-12th June

  • Facing Fears, pp. 116-138

For those on Kindle that’s from the chapter heading “Facing Fears” to the text box “Yarn for Thought: More Musing on Fear.” This box has 6 bullet points and the last one begins “Make a list of all the things that make you unique,” and ends ” – celebrate that!”

Vercillo pulls no punches in the opening to this chapter: “The things that you are afraid of are holding you back.” I cannot overemphasise the truth of these words. It is a lesson I have learnt time and time again from working on these kinds of projects and on personal improvement. Every single time I have felt ‘stuck’ with creative work, or with wanting to go in a new direction or improve a situation in my life, I have traced the cause back to fear. Basically, I’m not making progress because I am scared to make progress. The specific fears may vary between individuals. Mine tend to be very consistent. I’m scared to fail. And at the same time I’m scared to succeed. But there are ways into dealing with and overcoming these fears, and chapter 6 of Hook to Heal is a great way to start. But let me ask you a question. Are you someone who’s been following this read along, hoping or trying to participate? Is something holding you back from really engaging with the process? Could that barrier be a fear?

Have a great week. Slay some dragons. 🐲

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

Personal check-in, week 4

  • Morning pages: 5/7
  • Artist’s date: kinda. Great days out, but it’s hard to do that alone in half-term!
  • Exercises: Of 14, I completed 4, prepared the ground for another 3, am intending to do 3 more in the future, and decided the remaining 4 are not right for me just now.

I have to say, I’ve had a great Hook to Heal week, which is the first time I can really claim that. Maybe it’s no coincidence that this breakthrough came in week 4: Self-Care and Self-Esteem Building. After all, I started this whole process after I recognised a lack of self-care and decided to do something positive to address that.

This week there was a heavy focus on affirmations, another valuable technique I first came across in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. I got so much out of this process. I will show you the fisrt and last steps of my working of exercises 1-3. Here we examined the negative things we say to ourselves about our craft. We dig down to the roots of these ideas – where do they come from? – and analyse their validity. Then we flip them into positive affirmations and use them to start an upward a spiral of self-esteem building.

First I identified the negative things I tell myself about my work. One of the suggestions was to ask a friend about the negative statements they’ve heard from you. This was the response I got to that experiment:

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It is true that I’m generally a positive person and very forgiving of mistakes in myself and others. However I did come up with six pieces of negative craft-related self-talk with which to work:

  1. I should be working/tidying/etc.
  2. I should work on my commissioned piece.
  3. I spend too much money on this.
  4. I have too many unfinished WIPS.
  5. I am not organised enough with my projects.
  6. I can’t charge more for my work.

After examining each of these self-criticisms, and identifying how much I really believe them, if at all, I followed Vercillo’s steps for turning them into positive affirmations.

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  1. I am working on my mental health, and that is important.
  2. The amount of time I spend on paid work is exactly right.
  3. The money I invest in myself, my health, and my happiness is money well-spent.
  4. My unfinished WIPs are not a problem and I can return to each project whenever I like.
  5. My organisation is good enough.
  6. I can ask extra-special prices for extra-special yarn.

These affirmations, and more, provide the basis of many of the exercises in this chapter. The exercises are too good to be confined to a mere week of my time and, like many of the exercises I have discovered from Hook to Heal, will become regular, maybe daily, features of my craft work.