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.

 

Hook to Heal: Week 1 Reading

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Hook to Heal: Week 1 Reading

Welcome to Story Skeins’ first group Read Along!

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Hook to Heal by Kathryn Vercillo

Our reading assignment for week 1 is as follows:

Week 1: 2nd-8th May

  • Introductory material, pp. 1-22

When planning our schedule I considered combining the introductory parts of the book with the next chapter. In the end I decided to separate them because, even though they are both quite short, I believe it is worth taking the time to lay these firm foundations.

So, in these pages the author sets the scene for us. In the introduction Vercillo lays out her personal beliefs about this topic, about creativity and the idea of being an artist, and about how crafting can help us personally and help our community as a whole. You may agree with her, you may not (discussion is welcome!), but there is no doubt as to her passion for this subject.

With regard to practicalities, there are links to crochet tutorials for complete beginners, a section on how to use her book, and descriptions of the three tools that will help us to work through the course.

I shall be spending the week laying my own foundations of daily morning pages, a weekly artist’s date, and carving out some protected time in my week to work on the Hook to Heal material. Give me a shout if you’re new to crochet and would like some help to get going.

Have a great week!

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

Story Skeins Read ALong: Hook to Heal

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I love Sarah’s idea about taking a solo voyage all together. I think a lot of us will get a lot out of this journey. x

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So as the title suggests I am taking part in Story Skeins read along of Hook to Heal! by Kathryn Vercillo.

Now everybody who is taking part in this are doing it for their own reasons, I personally need something to center my mind. I’ve been having a chaotic time recently and my body is suffering under the stress of it all.

I’m going to use this as a chance to let it all go and relax. My biggest need is to learn how to channel the stress in a healthy way.

Now the read along starts on the 2nd of May and will run for 12 weeks. I’m not ambitious enough to think I’ll do all the exercises within the book but I am going to dedicate a couple of hours of ‘Me’ time a week to read the pages and do a couple of the exercises.

So in preparation I’ve…

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Tutorial: Hand-winding a Centre-pull Ball

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Tutorial: Hand-winding a Centre-pull Ball

With all the fancy yarn winders available these days, why would you want to wind a centre-pull yarn ball by hand?

Well, the simple answer is that in my experience hand-wound balls work much better. I don’t mind working from a cake of yarn made with a winder if I’m working from the outside-in. But I find that working from the centre of a yarn cake is ok until enough of the centre has gone for the cake to lose its structural integrity, and collapse in a heap of unruly yarn.

When I make socks, I make them two-at-a-time from one ball of yarn. I work one sock from the centre of the yarn ball, and one from the outside. The yarn starts as a rugby ball shape, and as the centre yarn is removed it becomes a discus shape, retaining its integrity and function right to the last inch.

The tool used for this is called a nostepinne. There are many beautiful, hand-turned wooden nostepinnes available. But it really is the simplest of tools and any smooth cylinder with a diameter of 2-3 cm will work. My favourite ‘nostepinne’ is an old vanilla pod tube. I like it because I can secure the centre-pull end of the yarn underneath the screwtop whilst I’m winding:

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Secure the yarn around the centre of the cylinder with a few turns. Once secure, start wrapping the yarn such that it goes from one edge of the nosteppine, diagonally across the ball that is being wound, down to the opposite edge of the nosteppine, like this:

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Turn the nostepinne regularly so that the diagonal stripes created by wrapping in this way are distributed around the ball evenly.

You will end up with a beautiful, olive-shaped ball:

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Slide the yarn ball off the nostepinne. Release the centre-pull yarn-end first, if necessary. You will have a cylindrical hole through the cente of the ball:

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To increase the stability of the ball, and ensure it doesn’t collapse when it’s used, gently squash the ball evenly in all directions to close up that hole:

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Ta dah! A hand-wound, perfectly functioning centre-pull ball.

Edit: 28th April

Here’s what happened to my rugby-ball shaped yarn after I had used two thirds of it (half of the yarn taken from the outside and half from the inside). It has flattened to a discus and is still well wound and doing its job of keeping my yarn in order:

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April Rolag Club: All Fools’ Day

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April Rolag Club: All Fools’ Day

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Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating All Fools’ Day on the 1st April.

Now more commonly known as April Fools Day, the origin of All Fools’ Day and how it came to be celebrated by so many cultures remains a mystery.

One story dates the tradition to 16th century France. In 1582 France changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, meaning the new year was celebrated on the 1st of January. Those who persisted in celebrating the new year towards the end of march, up to April the first became the butt of jokes, including having a paper fish stuck to their backs and being called “poisson d’Avril” because the young, easily caught fish was a symbol of gullibility.

Other ideas tie this widely-celebrated festival to the start of spring, when nature frequently fools us with unpredictable weather. There may be links to the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria, celebrated at the end of March, which involved dressing up in disguises.

This month is a double celebration because it’s Story Skeins’ birthday! Story Skeins officially launched on the first of April last year. It’s been an amazing year of unexpected surprises and exciting projects, including this rolag club. Thank you all for being a part of it!

This month’s rolags are inspired by the traditional costume of the fool. We have bright and bold primary and secondary colours, and equally colourful accessories. The bells are also inspired by the fool’s costume and in addition to your stitch markers you have 6 extra bells to add into your yarn, or use for your own creative project. There’s a selection of April fool’s pranks, tea and a handspun mini skein from our guest maker, Sarah at Setting The Twist.

Have all the fun!

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Self-striping “Fool” rolags in a merino/silk/corn fibre blend.

In this box you should find:

  • The story of All Fools Day
  • 30g of rolags in “Fool” – 60% Merino, 20% Silk, 20% Corn
  • A handspun mini skein in “Harlequin” by Setting The Twist
  • Tea in blends of “Three Tulsi” and “Heart-warming”
  • Stitch markers and split rings for you to store your stitch marker collection
  • 6 bell charms
  • A “poisson d’Avril” – use at your own discretion!
  • And you can find your final treat at tinyurl.com/RolagRevellers
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Bright, bold colours were the theme for this month, inspired by the fool’s, or jester’s, costume.

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These are self-sriping rolags with ordered colours provided by stripes of merino, while the uniqueness and interest comes from a randomly arranged layer of silk colours.

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This month’s mini skeins in “Harlequin” were spun by Sarah at Setting The Twist

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Fitting with the jester theme, the stitch markers were a pair of colouful bells and I included a split ring to help club members store their increasing stitch marker collection. Six extra bells were included. Maybe some will even make it into people’s yarn!

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A “poisson d’Avril”, ready to be coloured and deployed at the owner’s discretion!

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Every rolag made this month was unique.

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And here are my rolags, spun as irregular worsted-weight singles.

All For One!!!

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The fibre community in action, eloquently described here by Sarah. x

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The Beginning

So I started to spin a few years back now. I plodded along with YouTube as my best friend spinning on a basic wooden drop spindle. All the pretty fibre came from the USA, it seemed and I had no other spinning connections.

This was a sad fact for me, as I have a strong love of hand dyed yarn. I love the effort WAHM’s put  into their products, I love the way they can take an idea and run with it and make something that far passes all expectations.

So last May I asked for a spinning wheel for my birthday, which is exactly what I got. A little Kiwi 2, called Betsy. I bought it from wingham wools and got a gift voucher for fibre. So I was off, spinning away on my beautiful wheel.

It was at this point I started to meet new people who…

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First Blogaversary

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First Blogaversary

A year ago today I published my first post on Story Skeins. It seems like a good time to reflect on some favourite posts.

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One of the things I did before going public with this adventure was to put a few posts on my brand new blog explaining who I am, what I’m doing and why. But there was something I forgot to mention when I posted about the birth of story skeins. I forgot to mention how much I resisted doing any of this! I don’t feel like it’s something I tried to create. Story skeins was an idea that came into my mind fully formed and refused to go away. I did have dreams of making yarn for people. But I really didn’t want to be seen or known. Given how much of myself I put into each creation, as I mulled over in “The Story So Far …“, it felt like too much of a risk. But the more I tried to ignore it, the more insistent this idea became.

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One of the things I definitely wasn’t going to do was to run a monthly club. It seems ironic, then, that my monthly Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club has been one of the most successful aspects of Story Skeins’ first year, both creatively and financially. It was another of those ideas that arrived complete and refused to be ignored. It has been very satisfying to mark the passing of the year, to create my own memento of my first rolag club, and to work with so many talented creators.

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Many more opportunities to interact with amazing creators have come via skill swapping. It has just occurred to me that I could add their contributions to my yarn blogs, but for now here are my contributions to an amazing year of swaps.

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And, of course, I have loved making every skein. I have loved playing with new and unusual fibres, as in Kiss From A Rose, and the super-luxury blends used in  The Walk to Weyland’s and Arctic Equinox. My favourite textured skein was spun for a non-spinning friend who won a beautiful set of rolags: Oh! The Places You’ll Go. I’ve made flower yarn and beaded yarn and yarn kits. I’ve seen my children inspired to take up the blending board and create: Singularly Cheerful and One Sky, Many Stories. And I have enjoyed writing the mini stories. Despite this being the aspect about which I have the least confidence, I really cherish the part the word-images play in practising mindful creativity: Abstract ExpressionNebula.

However, if I had to identify one high point of the year, I couldn’t do better than those times people have been inspired to create something out-of-the-ordinary as a result of engaging with the kind of process that I promote through my own work. They’ve earned their own tag, called art inspires art. I hope to see lots more of this as we embark on the second year together.