Tag Archives: Creativity

Hook to Heal: Wk 10 reading/Wk 9 check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 10 reading/Wk 9 check-in

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Our week 10 reading is:

Week 10: 4th-10th July

  • Balance, pp. 191-210

For the kindle readers, that’s from the chapter heading “Balance” to the text box “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Balance.” This box contains 6 bullet points, and the last one starts “Make a list of your 10 favourite things to do,” and ends “How can you adjust that?”

This week we deal with that essential feature of a rounded life: balance. Balance is one of those things I seem to be always in search of, never achieving. We will have opportunities for crochet exercises that face the often contradictory needs we have. We will challenge our perceptions of the “right” way to do a task by doing it several different ways. We will look at symmetry, harmony, discord and tension. We will see how our crochet lessons translate into broader aspects of life.

This is our penultimate topic, so have fun with this one. x

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

Personal check-in, week 9

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  • Morning pages: 4/7
  • Artist’s Date: Designing and working on squares for Woolly Hugs’ Jo Cox memorial blanket.
  • Exercises: 4/7

Week 9 was all about giving back, something that has always been important to me and is reflected not only in charitable donations, but also in the voluntary work that I do. It was a real treat to give back via the medium of crochet and fibre art.

The crochet that I worked on for this week’s artist’s date is destined for the woolly hugs charity (exercise 1), and I have made plans to teach a new student to crochet (exercise 2). I have been gradually reducing my yarn stash over time and had another ruthless sort out, the results of which will be donated to charity (exercise 3), but the real excitement for me this week was exercise 6: Slow Yarn.

I love the idea of slow making, and slow yarn is really what I’m all about. Slow as in taking time to appreciate the process, to make the most of the experience, and capture some of that care and attention in what is being created.

This exercise encouraged me to find out more about the slow yarn movement. I rather liked this post, and had a good mooch around slowyarn.com, but overall there was very little web presence for the idea of slow yarn. Which makes me more determined to carry on with this work and keep making, and writing about making, my slow, story-infused, unique yarn for crafters.

I feel the process that I have carved out for myself is one that gives back with abundance. It gives back to me, using mindful creativity to restore myself. It gives back to the craft community, with the offer of something unique and meaningful, and it gives back to the world: a little bit of a creative soul, shared freely. Make of it what you will.

x

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.

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.

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.

 

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.