Sunday, 16 September 2012

Zen and the Art of Crochet

I've been reading a few things lately about zen and running, including this book and this blog. They have got me interested in the the whole concept of zen, and how it relates to crochet, and other crafts.
Clearly many people far more qualified than I can give you an explanation on what zen is, but for me zen is being in the moment, noticing, and appreciating that moment.

So how do crochet and zen connect?
For me, when I crochet, it's generally a time of relaxation, and focus.  It can be almost a meditative state at times when I crochet.
I don't use patterns when I crochet, I just kind of look at something and try and work out how to make it myself. 
I like not reading patterns, as it totally frees up my mind to the calming monotony of crochet. 
Not reading or following patterns also means I do lots and lots of frogging when something goes wrong!
And that I make lots of simple things like blankets, scarves, and these cushions, which were made from using one of those sharp hooks to crochet a tea towel into a cushion cover.

But one of the things I love about crochet, is how it makes me appreciate the moment I am in. I will often sit with my youngest whilst she plays in her room, and crochet and chat with her. She will often ask me to play a game with her, where she is the princess, and I am the queen who sits and crochets.  Makes game playing quite easy when that happens! It also makes me more amenable to spending more time one on one with her. (Not that I need assistance really for that, as she is so adorable and lovely I cherish most every minute with her.) I guess what i'm clumsily trying to say is that it's kind of multitasking, but where I am totally focused on both her and the crochet.

So this is quite a rambly post here, and i'm not quite sure what I'm trying to say. I think I started thinking about the zen component of crochet, when I recently had some extended sick leave from work. At the beginning of my leave, I was quite positive and focused that looking on the bright side of my extended leave would mean that I would be able to do lots of crochet, as I often feel I cant fit everything in. And I know I'm not Robinson Crusoe there either!

However the strange thing was, once I had all the time in the world, I just could not pick up a crochet hook. I made maybe three things in the whole four months I was off work!
It really made me think about why that was, which is how I came to write this post.
I think that when I had lots of time, was unwell, and a teensy bit stressed, I perhaps did not want so much to be "in the moment". I wanted more of an escape from where I was. And by sitting and crocheting, I would be forced to think and ruminate. Which I clearly did not want to do so much at that time.

So this post is not really earth shattering, but I just thought it was quite interesting to chart how for me, crochet is a really useful tool for me to be still, to think, and to appreciate.
And that maybe, for me, when I find I'm not in the mood to crochet, I should probably look a bit deeper as to why, and think about what I might be avoiding.
Or it might just mean I'm not in the mood. And that I think too much :-)
What does crochet/ knitting/whatever mean to you?


  1. I love that tumble of thoughts....I haven't picked up my hooks for a good while - for me crochet means a little extra time found, a treat! I need to get better so I can multitask with hooks in hand...fee x

  2. I loved this post darl. Really true. I didn't crochet at all on my hols. I couldn't be bothered!!! I just don't have the spare time at all.
    We move house tomorrow so I will go all quiet for a bit until we get sorted. We are finally buying our own home and I am very excited, although very tired. It's been all go but we are getting there.
    Take care my lovely and look forward to catching up with you soon.
    x x x x x x x x x x x

  3. I've discovered my knitting needles again....and some fabulous merino wool that knits like butter! I am the opposite of you, in that I NEED the discipline of a pattern to follow otherwise I'm all to Hell!
    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar - I think it was Freud who said that, or it could have been Dali!!Anyhoo, if you don't feel like crocheting, it's not the end of the world, it just means you don't feel like crocheting, or that you've found something far more interesting to be doing!For me, crocheting and knitting are done in the stolen moments of my time i.e. after a day's work with my feet up watching TV,as a means of relaxation and being (somewhat) creative and as Fee says, a 'treat'.
    I hope you're now on the road to recovery and it's always great to 'see' you around. x

  4. I have to admit to and failing at - planning loads of crochet and knitting whilst on holiday and after a frustrating start and lots of frogging, I laid my yarn and needles aside and went on to enjoy my break. But mostly I use my crafting as a form of escape - I can craft and think or craft and not think, depending on my needs.

  5. First, I am hoping you are feeling much, much better. As you know I am a crochet-knitting-aholic. But when I had cancer 12 years ago I could not pick up yarn, actually the thought of yarn made me ill. I would walk by my basket of yarn and would feel like getting ill. My sister came to stay with me and made me go to the yarn store, she thought it would help me. I bought the yarn then tucked it away, I wasn't ready. But after I started to get better, and my health reports got more positive I was able to pick up my needles and away I went. I don't know why it worked that way, maybe I was too tired, maybe I did not want to create one more thing if I wasn't going to be here, maybe it just took too much space in my overcrowded brain. Yarn is what keeps me sane, but during that illness it was that last thing I could do.
    Wishing you a wonderful day,

  6. Beautiful post. One of the key things I talk about in my new book (Crochet Saved My Life) is how crochet can bring us to a state of mindfulness and relaxation - or what you've called "zen" here. So powerful! Very well wishes ...

  7. I think this is a great post! I think your last paragraph demonstrates how well you know yourself. I think the more you know yourself, the better you know how to to be happy. I too find crochet very relaxing and meditative. I find it's a great creative outlet as well being able to play around with shapes and colors.

    Have a great week!
    Kate :}

  8. My grandma taught me how to crochet. When I crochet I think of and feel close to her. It is also a very relaxing and calming activity for me. One thing I have learned about myself and creative endeavors is that do what you feel like, when you feel like, and don't force creativity on yourself or you won't be pleased with the results. Creative outlets should be just that. An outlet, not a chore. If you're not feeling it, try something new. I recently started practicing embroidery.

  9. Sometimes when I'm sick I don't want to do anything at all - even reading, which is usually an escape for me. Perhaps it's a coping mechanism of some sort?

    Crochet can feel like work - if I'm trying to figure out a design and it's just not coming together. But it can also be a relaxing and refreshing break from the other kinds of work in my life. Just to sit down and pick up a hook and some yarn is such a treat. I usually sit in a rocker to crochet, and the rocking and stitching together are very soothing.

    What a thought-provoking post.

  10. I have spent a few days reflecting on this post I am very interested in the concept of Zen and the art of crochet, knitting, spinning...whatever it is. I have read about 'Gandhi's Spinning Wheel Movement' I find it fascinating. I love the concept of craft as a 'Peace Protest'. I had not touched 'Craft' for many years but it got me out of a pretty bad 'gloom'. My old dog passed away and it hit me really hard, he took up a lot of my time in his old age for a good few years. He was actually my soul mate. :) When he was gone I sat on my own for hours and did not speak or watch tv or anything for weeks, then I picked up my magic hook, from a therapeutic point of view it made everything seem better for me. They say 'Yarn is cheaper than therapy'. Ain't that the truth. Great post.

  11. I think of crochet as a time to unwind, and yet there are times when I am overwhelmed or stressed, and then crochet or being creative in any way is the last thing I think about. Sometimes just doing nothing is the zen that I need. :) Have a great day. Tammy

  12. I can completely relate. I've been in a funk recently and didn't want to do anything - knit, crochet, sew, write, photograph, blog - nada. I've taken a career break and though I thought I'd use the time for all the creative things I love to do, the panic of not earning soon set in and I've done nothing but look for my next job. Thankfully, coming out of that now. I'm knitting a baby cardigan and loving seeing it grow. I am finally tackling the garden in my new house, and blogging again. Now I wonder why on earth I stayed away so long. Hope youre feeling well and happy again. C.x

  13. That's exactly how I feel about crochet. It is like meditating to me. Repetition and concentration on what I am doing. It's also my creative outlet. ~Patti


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