Solitude, Needlework, Crafts, and Crazy

29 Oct

I do a lot of sh*t. And most of it is executed in solitude.

I write. It doesn’t matter if my writing is read. It matters that I express the mind sludge. There’s lots of mind sludge. It crawls around my brain on its sludgy way to who knows where. It appears there is an attention problem that runs through my family. My son caught it. My daughter was fortunate. So the very act of writing, keeping lists, expressing the sludge is cathartic and in some small way allows me to maintain a very tiny amount of focus.

I build things, occasionally out of necessity. But I love to use my tools. And I love buying tools to use.  I built my kitchen island out of an old cabinet base, a bookcase my father built, and some scraps from our new floor. I had to buy the casters and I’m ready to re-paint it, but I’m rather proud that I re-used items I had and managed to keep my father’ bookcase.

I built my craft desk from the front door we replaced and created shelves from old bookcases of my mom’s. I love the desk. It’s always cluttered with some project or another. Sometimes the mail gets stacked on it until I find the time to recycle. I don’t worry about scratches or spilled paint. It just adds character.

I knit and crochet. I’ve designed a few things over the past 20 years. That’s always an exercise. The last published project (available here) was completed on four weekend trips to St Louis with my daughter. She was taking a Play Therapy course. I went with her so I could lock myself in her hotel room with no other distractions, just me and the knitting.  Unfocused personality meets nothing else to do.

The next knit project will be available on Ravelry soon. As soon as I get around to it.

I make wreaths, create flower arrangements, decorate, redecorate, and sew. I’ve dabbled in cross-stitch, quilting, woodworking, tatting, collage, scrapbooking, and other paper crafts. I’ve even (gasp) done some plastic canvas. At university,  I was a theatre major And now I’m obsessed with acquiring an embroidery machine for play time.

Seeing a pattern here?  Thought so.

The majority of these endeavors are solitary.

Yet on the completion of any given project, I am compelled to share it with someone. My husband and kids usually have the honors. My far-away friends are subjected to pictures. The locals are tortured with in-person flagrant requests for compliments.

I see this compulsion to share in my crafty friends as well. I believe in the sharing we find community. In the sharing we relinquish our solitude and reach out, we teach, we inspire.

The women I know are extroverted, intelligent people who engage with others effortlessly, then retreat to a corner to learn something new, practice a stitch, or hone a technique.

It’s almost schizophrenic! I’m not accusing anyone of mental illness although I have wondered about myself and a few others over the years. But’s it’s freaky. I’ve made excuses to stay home alone and work on some weird little project that captured my attention for five whole minutes.

WTF? Really?? Is there soon to be a new listing in the mental health diagnostic reference guide? CraftAHolic? Not intended as encouragement to counterfeit holy relics.  Knit Junkie? Needle reference is intended. Crochet Crazy? Oops. Crazy is not PC. A new virus? Woodworking Worm? No wood worm harm sustained during the composition of this speculation.

I can see it now. Psych wards will be overrun. Doctors and hospitals will make more gazillions.

But wait. Perhaps we are actually maintaining our mental health by engaging in our favorite hobbies.  A cure for what ails us?  I know I’m a big fan of Zen knitting. Stockinette stitch all the way, baby!

The real silliness is our great- and great-great grandmothers did this sh*t out of…dare I speak the word… necessity. Unless you were wealthy and could hire a seamstress, there weren’t many choices. Nudity was frowned upon. Learn to knit or crochet or seam up a quilt and your family stayed a little warmer in the winter. Spinning and weaving thread and yarn supplemented the family income and allowed the purchase or barter of other necessities. These skills were highly regarded. I know, I know. I’m simplifying the whole thing.

That may be the point.

If you have followed this weird conversation on the perils and pitfalls of hobby-ing, you too may be afflicted by obsessive-manic-compulsive hobby disorder.

There is no known cure. Enjoy the ride.

4 Responses to “Solitude, Needlework, Crafts, and Crazy”

  1. sagedcrone October 29, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    Reading through some blogs while I work on my current project – and this had me laughing! I will say that my favorite company is when a friend or my sister comes over and we each sit with our projects and visit or put PBS Masterpiece theater on the t.v.
    Even tonight, I sit in bed while Dh is on his game. My idea of a nice quiet evening home 🙂

    • thepolkadotskirt October 29, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

      My favorite as well! That or game night with my best bud and her hubby. But, she’s in South Carolina now. M’other best bud is a knitter extraordinaire. She does the fancy stuff! Tonight…well I was crocheting itty snowman hats for one of this week’s projects. I really need a life!

      • sagedcrone October 30, 2012 at 4:55 am #

        I know how you feel – my big last minute “Storm Prep” for Hurricane Sandy was to write out the instructions of the afghan I’m working on were written out in case the the power went out and we lost the internet.

  2. Sarah Green October 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    You know you have a problem when the cops walk up and tell you “Just drop the knitting needles, lady, and no one has to get hurt here.”

    Me, I just drop the needles and the hook at the chance of reading a good book. Right now, the entrelac scarf and hat are stuffed away while I am engrossed in a book called “Lifeless.” And I just finished the fascinating book titled “A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping Case that Haunted a Nation.”

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