Before it fades too far into memory, I want to share a project which belongs firmly to last year. Looking back, I still can’t quite wrap my head around 2017. How can a year in which I found the news so distressing and depressing that I more or less stopped paying attention to it be the same one in which I met several of my fiber arts heroes, learned a ton, made wonderful connections at John C Campbell Folk School, etc? Of course like so many things, it’s not either/or, it’s both, with many more things in there besides. (I started thinking about either vs. both while Bryan was working on this project, and it appeared again when I was reading The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer last summer. And again in this conversation with Brené Brown and Krista Tippett that I was just listening to. I think it may be important.)
A lot of the both/and of last year is in these little hats. At the beginning of the year I was both saddened by all the events that showed the need for the women’s march, and inspired by all the artists I saw “taking back” the color pink and making beautiful things. I thought a lot about two of my young nieces (then 6 and 8 years old), and what messages they were getting about the world. I wanted to make something for them that would act as some kind of balm, something that would represent what I wish for them; play and adventure and fun and the chance to express themselves as girls, to be wild and strong and free. And for myself, I wanted to make something different than I normally would, something that would be a place to put some of my feelings and transform them into something positive. I got out some pink wool, and started spinning, woolen-style.
It felt good. And by carving out a little creative time every day and using it to spin, I made enough yarn for two small hats in short order. I decided to also incorporate some springy soft purple handspun yarn that I had traded another local fiber artist for, and cast on the first hat as I traveled to our family craft retreat in late March. The nieces in question were coming to visit us right after the retreat, and I arrived home with both hats mostly knitted, and finished up the last little bits in the evenings after the girls were in bed. Near the end of their visit, I brought out the spinning wheel, showed them how it worked and let them try it, and then gave them the hats. They, and their mama, loved them, which made me feel really good about the whole thing. It doesn’t seem like my place to post pictures which would probably embarrass them later, so you’ll just have to trust me that they looked wonderful, grinning and wearing the hats with their pajamas.
Caption-sized knitting notes: the pattern in the body of these hats is Quaker rib (the same as this shawl which I thought looked great in handspun), and the tendrils at the top are made following the directions from Cat Bordhi’s Anemone Hat pattern.
I hesitated a little bit about posting this, as it brings up some churn-y feelings from last spring, and I’m happy to say that I feel much more solid in general now than I did then. But after typing it out, I’m so glad I did. It gave me some good perspective, and I think I can even put more of name to last year. I’m definitely saying it was a good year, although a hard one. (If you still feel like the world is ending, may I suggest you read this article, and then go make something?)
I have quite high hopes for 2018 too, and some exciting things in the works that I’ll post more about soon. It’s early enough in the year, I’m still happy to wish you all a peaceful and fulfilling trip around the sun. May it be a good one, and with any luck not too hard!
What a lovely and inspirational article.
My sweet little mother always taught me to be comfortable with ambiguity, and that most things are not black and white. So, I agree that it often feels like the world is ending under the vicious current administration. But we musn’t lose sight of beauty, hope and creativity, which are some of the weapons against evil and bad things in the world.
Good for your mother! Living with ambiguity and uncertainty are such important skills, and I feel like our society is not at all good at teaching them. I know the past year or so has been tough for many people, and I hope everyone can find some hope in creativity as you say. I know for myself, just sitting down and thinking “I am spinning my own yarn to make my own socks,” has been strangely hopeful and filled me with a sense of agency.
I love your commentary , as I felt the same way last year! I just thought of a quote in a book I have read, Buddhist Bootcamp, “The opposite of what you know to be true, is also true.” I felt the significant contrasts in 2017. I love that you have spun and dyed the yarn you used. The hats are lovely. ❤️
Thank you! I’ve started going to a Buddhist mindfulness meditation group here, and it seems to be a good fit for my growth as a human right now. I may check out that book—anything that explains the principles in everyday language seems helpful.
It’s a simple explanation of Buddhism. I found it to be a good springboard to the main themes. I liked it and it began my journey. 😊. All the best to you! Charmain