Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Crafting for Mental Health

Phew!  Am back now in jolly ol' Blighty, all prepared to adjust back to Welsh temperatures, only to find myself in the middle of a heatwave!  Good timing or what?!

Even better, upon my return to the UK I also moved house (we'll ignore the house-move-on-top-of-travel-tiredness-equals-exhausted-Kim and skip straight to the good bits eh?).  Just LOOK at my new views:

I LIVE NEXT DOOR TO A LOAD OF SHEEP!!  Oh happy happy days :D  I'm so blessed to be able to call Anglesey my home.

It's so strange to compare my life now to where I was this time a year ago.  Last September I had a pretty severe flare up of anxiety disorder which left me more or less unable to function, even at a very basic level.  It's taken a lot of hard work but I'm so much happier now, so much more settled and at peace with myself.  A lot has changed for me, and I think things will continue to change (I hope these changes will all be for the better!)  For now I am embracing my life and celebrating my achievements, however small they may seem.

...Which brings me neatly to the more on-topic reason for this post.  As creative people, do you ever notice how often your creativity is a reflection of your health (mental or physical)?  I realised this week that my 'road to recovery' has been documented in the projects I take on.  A year ago for example - when I was at my worst - I lost my ability to knit (or rather my tired brain couldn't cope with the task).  It was a frightening time.  But slowly, I managed to get back into it, until it became my therapy - a time to think.  I delved into BIG projects - blankets and afghans - which ate away the time I would otherwise spend anxious.

As the anxiety gave way to depression, and I started to look inwards, my creativity focussed more on the small.  I was seeing the world in the tiniest of details...

But then my confidence started to grow, and I began to design patterns for myself.  Making something completely from scratch helped me to relearn how to trust my decisions, how to solve my own problems, how to express myself.  It gave me back my voice.

And now, I'm well on the way to recovery.  A year ago I could not cope with the 'stress' of knitting.  Today, I have 6 WIPs (that I can remember!); I can knit, sew, crochet, spin, or draw until my heart's content (and here are a couple of previews to prove it!)

Looking back over this post, I'm quite taken aback at how much beauty there is - how much colour and light.  It certainly didn't seem that way at the time.  But I can now see the steps I've taken, reflected in these photos, and I'm proud of each and every one - even the tiny ones!


This post has sort of turned into something a little deeper than I imagined it.  Perhaps in a couple of days I'll be back to edit it, but for now I'm happy to see my progress collected together, and to be able to share that progress with others.  I've got a fair few ideas buzzing around at the moment - and I'll be back over the next few days to share what's on the hook and needles with you properly.  Until then, keep well and enjoy this fabulous weather!

Kim x

Friday, 2 September 2011

Willow [Free Pattern]

Good morning, folks!  I don't know about where you are, but it's absolutely tipping it down in Central Portugal. Not that I'm complaining - I've always said that rain makes the best soundtrack for creativity!  ;)


Do you remember the handspun I got from Scott and Lynn at willowvalept?  It was by pottering around with this yarn that I came up with this potholder/coaster pattern.  For a first attempt at working with handspun, I'm pretty pleased with the results :)


For this pattern I used a 5.5mm hook.  The yarn was comparable to a chunky weight, and the finished project measured approx 13.5cm across.

The pattern is written using American notations throughout.

Before I start with the pattern proper, I'd just like to take you through the cluster stitches used in round 6.  To be honest, I'm not even sure if they are cluster stitches (beyond SCs and DCs, terminology really isn’t something I’ve grasped), but to make things easier I’m going to keep calling them that, rather than cluttering up the pattern instructions with too much jargon…

Start by making a dc (in the first cluster stitch of round 6, the first ch2 counts as the dc) [see pic 1]
Next, YO and insert hook into stitch.  YO again and bring to the front.  YO and pull through 2 loops.  You have 2 loops on the hook [see pic 2]
Now YO and insert hook into next stitch.  YO and bring to the front.  YO and pull through 2 loops.  You have 3 loops on the hook [see pic 3]
Finally, YO and insert hook into same stitch.  YO and bring to the front.  YO and pull through 2 loops.  You have 4 loops on the hook [see pic 4]
To finish the stitch, YO and pull through all 4 loops [pic 5], then ch1 and sl st into the base of the cluster.
(This is all a lot simpler than it sounds, promise!)

For the pattern proper:

Round 1: Ch4, join to make a circle
Round 2: 8sc into the centre of the circle.  Join with sl st (8) [see pic 1]
Round 3: 2sc in each st.  Join with sl st (16) [see pic 2]
Round 4: Ch2 (counts as first dc), 1dc in same sp [see pic 3], *ch1, skip a stitch, 2dc in next st*.  Repeat between * 6 more times.  Join with a sl st to top of initial ch2.  (8 petals) [see pic 4]
Round 5: Ch2, 1dc in the space to the right of this ch [see pic 5].  *Sc in the second dc sp from the previous round, 2dc in the gap*.  Repeat between * 6 more times.  Join with a sl st to the top of the initial ch2 (8 petals) [see pic 6]
Round 6: Ch2 (counts as the first dc) and complete the cluster [see above], ch2.  *In the next dc space from the previous round, Cluster as directed above, then ch2* [see pic 7].  Repeat between * 6 more times.  Join with a sl st to the top of the cluster.
Round 7: *5dc into the next gap [see pic 8], and sl st into the top of the clusters*.  Repeat between * 8 times total.  Join with a sl st into the top of the first dc of the round.

And there you have it!

To finish, darn in your ends, block and enjoy!