28 January 2012

Crochet as Spiritual Practice: What is it? & Getting Started

Having moved recently, my partner and I decided we'd check out a new spiritual/religious community. Upon visiting our chosen new fellowship, I learned that they had a set of free classes coming up. While a number of them were interesting, I was immediately drawn to 'Hooking the Spirit, Knitting Community'. It's about using crochet and knitting as part of a spiritual practice.

A spiritual practice is anything you do regularly (even when not feeling like it) that helps to quiet the busyness of the mind and for a short time takes you out of the regular flow of life, either into your inner space or connecting outward with the larger universe. Meditation, attending church, going for walks, writing poetry, and reading a specific book are all examples. Meditation brings you to your inner self, allowing you to reflect on life or to just find a moment of silence. Going for walks lets you experience the world around you and get in touch with something outside of yourself.

The class which I'm attending incorporates creating a blanket for charity. Each person works on at least one 7"x9" afghan block (usually in coordinating colors of donated yarn). Once we've got 49 blocks, we decide how to lay them out, pin them in place, and sew them together. Somebody crochets on an edging, and then the blanket is donated. Knowing that what you're making is for some one else, some one you will never meet, adds a special dimension to the spiritual practice of it.

When starting out with crocheting as spiritual practice, you'll want to pick out a pattern that's just difficult enough you won't get distracted. Be in a quiet place and do nothing but crochet for 10-15 minutes, preferably daily. Do your best to focus only on the pattern and yarn at hand. It may not be easy, but it's called 'practice' for a reason.

Try that out for a week and see how you do. Leave me a comment if you're struggling, enjoying yourself, or curious about how I'm doing in my practice.

26 January 2012

Why do we crochet?

Some people love being creative and find fun ways to express themselves through stitches. Others find it saves money around the house. Many appreciate the workmanship, time, and love that goes into something homemade. Everyone has a story of how they got started, whether it was from a person, a book, or youtube videos.

For my part, it started out as something to keep myself distracted during a long road trip. Reading makes me carsick, but working with yarn does not! My aunt taught me, and it started with basic granny squares and shell stitches. I made a few blankets, made either from one very large granny square or a few largish granny squares put together. For a while, I thought that's all there was to crochet (I wasn't using the internet for more than talking to friends, at the time). I didn't even learn about single crochet stitches until a few years later.

Over the years, I've had pauses and spurts of crochet in my daily life. School and general busy-ness often pushed me out of it, as all of my creative juices and energy were being put into more academic pursuits. I started up again this past year in order to make Christmas gifts. In fact, I made gifts for 20 people this year. I even created a couple patterns (and this blog with which to share them). We saved a good bit of money and everyone got something personalized and full of love. My partner's mom even called on Christmas to gush at how pleased and impressed she was with the gifts. I was happy to make them, but it's really special when somebody demonstrates that they recognize and feel the love in the work.

Since the holidays have ended, I've at least started working on a couple things for myself, the house, the dog, and my partner. I joined a couple Crochet Along (CAL) groups on Ravelry, and I'm meeting with a group of ladies once a week where we crochet & knit items for charity.

Crochet is craft, art, and gift.

What inspired you to pick up the hook and yarn?
Do you remember when and how you learned to crochet?
Is it part of your daily life or does it happen in spurts?
Do you remember a time when someone showed you how much your gift of crochet meant to them?