The simplicity of a granny square on a chaotic mind
I don't normally write overly personal blog posts, I like to attempt to keep my business life away from my personal life but there is one thing that binds them together, stitching. I've briefly glossed over before about living with chronic pain conditions but one thing that is harder to admit is that I have Bipolar Disorder. Several years ago when my daughter was a toddler, I went through a very difficult time with my mental health. My friend thrust a crochet hook in my hand and some squeaky acrylic and taught me how to crochet. He showed me how each stitch could be soothing, how it gave me an excuse to sit down and still be productive as I'm often very fidgety.
The meditative effects of crochet helped to calm my mind and I produced a large granny square blanket. Square is probably pushing it a bit, it's more of a quadrangle in it's beginners glory. I gave the blanket to my daughter and it has lived on her bed ever since, softening over time with each wash, collecting scents and little dog hairs from our beagle. She has loved that blanket and it gives me such joy to know that my friend passed on a skill that not only proved to be a vital therapy for my mental health, but led me to set up my own indie dyer business years later. I will always be very grateful to him for that.
A quick search on the internet shows that I am not alone in using knitting and crochet as a therapeutic tool to enhance wellness. The UK Hand Knitting Association has a wonderful page of stories of people who have benefited from the repetitive slow movements of stitching, often when their mental health has waned and/or their personal circumstances were being tested. Treehugger has a great list of the benefits of knitting. I particularly like number 4, "Knitting improves concentration and can provide an outlet for excessive energy" as I can identify with the hypermanic energy of Bipolar Disorder and generalised anxiety needing something to indulge in.
Stitchlinks is an organisation which aims to promote stitching and crafting as therapeutic and their website is full of interesting research. There's even information about the benefits of knitting and chronic pain conditions too.
One of the things that I have noticed from my Ravelry group is how many of us have our own private struggles with our health. We don't really talk about it all that much and in some ways that can be a good thing, not in a stoic way, but rather we try not to let our ill health dominate our conversations and our lives, we need an outlet and the community of knitters and crocheters on Ravelry has really brought people together through the common binds of yarn. But that's not to say talking about our health or ill health isn't welcome in the group, far from it.
In a fit of brutal honesty, I'm struggling a bit with my own health lately and have been for a while. To soothe my chaotic mind I have gone back to the soothing repetition of the granny square. Combining this with yarn that I have spun on my spinning wheel, I am going to slowly bring my mind back to health with the creation of a handspun blanket.
I need to slow down just a little bit and in just over a week's time I will be unplugging from technology and going to a retreat for a week. I've never done anything like this before and I'm a little bit nervous but I know that it will do the world of good. I should get myself spinning more and more yarn before I go so that I can crochet my squares when I am there (these ones actually have right angles).
One other thing is that I need to cut my working hours just for a short time so that I can catch up on some rest. I will update the shop with some repeatable colourways over this weekend but I won't be dyeing any repeatables in February. This way I can fully concentrate on dyeing the sock and fibre clubs and kick off The Odyssey Trail and it will be the same high standard as usual. The last thing that I want to do is spread myself too thin when I am not feeling my best.
Off the top of my head (I've left my list at the studio), there will be Frenzy, Break Me Down, This Ain't A Scene, Bad Girls Club, Radioactive Raspberry Jam and Hymn For My Soul. I know it isn't a large amount of colourways but I hope that it will do for now.