Hello everybody! It’s been a very long time! How was your Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years??? Mine was very busy, and I didn’t have the time or the inclination to post anything. Things have been good, but stressful with family health issues, a decrease in the number of my students and therefore the decrease in my take-home pay, and the fairly unsuccessful launching of my Etsy shop (which you should totally go to and buy something, FYI.) The thing I’ve been obsessing over since Thanksgiving that has been helping me through the tough times is my crochet, and that got me thinking about how much I rely on my hobbies to help me manage my stress.
Crochet may be the thing that I do now to manage my stress and my snack cravings, but it wasn’t always. For years I would read Science Fiction and Fantasy novels to escape from my reality – and my reality isn’t a particularly difficult one, but was a place I didn’t like to be for a very long time. I even created my own world of magic and mutants where my alter-ego defeated bad guys and aliens – whatever book I was reading or show I was watching at the time – and she helped me become the stronger me that I needed to be. It wasn’t until a few years later when I tried to write her story that I realized that 1) the whole story was too big and I couldn’t write it all down and 2) I had flat-out stolen waaaaay too much from books, movies, and TV shows so if I wanted to make this story sellable, I would have to change pretty much everything.
Here are just a few of the influences in my alter-ego’s story (primarily the early influences):
I haven’t completely given up my alter-ego and she still helps me blow off steam on my bad days, but since I’m now in a place where I want to be, I don’t need her as much. However, I do still put my stress in my back, so I go and get a massage every month, I do yoga, and lately I’ve been getting back into crochet.
It all started back when I was in high school. I used to dance ballet back then, and while I was waiting for my class to start, a mom whose daughter was in the class before mine was crocheting a blanket. I asked her about it, and she showed me how to start a project and a stitch. I got myself some stuff – a hook and some yarn, not realizing that the sizes needed to match but lucking out anyway – and wound up making a blanket over the next seven years. I put my stuff away, but at Thanksgiving last year I decided to make everyone a gift, so I hopped on YouTube and made everyone a Trivette pair.
Lots of people liked them, so I decided to make a few more to sell. I also started looking up a bunch of other patterns so I could make Zig Zag Afghans, Coffee/Tea Cup Cozies, and Crochet Rose Pins. It was a lot of fun making these things, and I noticed that my back wasn’t hurting me nearly as much as it had been before (this was before I was able to get my regular massages). But, these weren’t the items I really wanted to make, and winter wasn’t going to last forever, so I decided that I wanted to make this:
It was a doily my grandmother made. I’ve never met my Grandma June because she died before I was born, and my mom gave this doily to my sister. I tried looking it up on YouTube, and boy oh boy…. I didn’t realize how many different doily patterns there were! I watched a video that explained crochet thread sizes and hooks, and then, after much learning and messing up, I made a Gothic Pineapple Doily, and then I made a matching Centerpiece (and yes, I am linking to all of the products that I have made and am selling in my Etsy shop, Phoenix Gate Crafts; I’m shameless that way). But, after a lot of trial and error, and never finding the right pattern, I made this first attempt at recreation:
It wasn’t quite right, so I practiced some more. I also couldn’t find quite the same thread, but I did find something much closer. So, this is the final product:
All of this learning I’ve been doing has been a lot of fun, and I like showing people my new crafts! Then I found this article about the science behind creative hobbies and how it helps with stress reduction and to help keep the mental faculties sharp. Its an interesting read and not very technical – in fact, I’m sure there are better articles out there that prove the same thing – but as a naturally tense person I can attest that doing something that isn’t work, yet still makes something definitely makes me feel better! And there’s nothing like the feeling of finishing something that somebody can use (and the even better feeling when a stranger sees the value in the thing you made and goes to your Etsy shop to buy something, hint, hint!)
So please, go visit my Etsy shop and have a look around. I would love to hear from you, so leave a comment about something you do in your spare time that helps you get through the stresses of life! Its time we all feel good about the things we make.