Starting this year I now author a regular column for print magazine Interweave Crochet called Everyday Crochet. For this column, I get the chance to interview regular every day people who crochet and find out what makes them unique and amazing. For the Spring 2013 issue I interviewed a pair of Austarlian neighbors who craft together. Later one of them, Jodie, shared some additional information with me about her experience crafting to heal, something that readers of my book Crochet Saved My Life know is dear to my heart.
Briefly About Jodie
In my interview for the magazine I learned that Jodie learned to crochet in 2005 because she wanted to create one-of-a-kind home items and wearables. She loves to modify crochet patterns to her own liking and works on a variety of different types of projects. Late last year Jodie started blogging about her crochet work and experiences at LupeyLoops. You can also find her on Ravelry.
Sharing More of the Story
Jodie shared: “This well worn and well-loved comfortable chair is in a sunny corner of my home. The tablecloth on the side table is actually a baby shawl crocheted by an aunt for my firstborn. The square motif of the middle of the shawl fits the tabletop exactly. Lift the tablecloth to reveal a shelf where I store hooks and other equipment in decorative tins when not in use.” Fun Fact: Jodie couldn’t find the Tunisian crochet hooks she wanted locally so she made the ones in the basket by hand for herself.
In order to do my interview about her work with neighbor Adrienne I asked Jodie a lot of different questions. After the interview was over, she contacted me again to let me know that she’d hesitated to tell me some things about how crochet relates to her health. After reading some of my blog, especially Debbie’s Story, she decided that she didn’t want to hide her experiences with chronic illness anymore. She wants to be open about them and indeed has shared some of her story on her own blog. I was touched that Jodie was inspired to share her story with me and the larger world.
One of the most beneficial things that has come out of publishing Crochet Saved My Life is that it has given so many people the impetus to open up about the physical and mental health conditions that they have been afraid or shy or hesitant to talk about. I believe that there is so much value in sharing the truths of our own personal stories. I believe that by exposing what others may first see as weaknesses but showing the true human experience of how we’ve dealt with those things helps open up a conversation that we should all be having about self-care, health, human compassion and human strength. I give Jodie credit for sharing her story for those reasons. Here is more of Jodie’s story.
Crocheting Through Chronic Fatigue
Jodie loves to craft outside when the weather is nice. She says, “If you look carefully in the background on the left you can see a bird in the birdbath!”
“Debbie’s Story about chronic fatigue articulates everything I would say about crochet, especially about crochet being a tool to keep one awake. Chronic fatigue is something I know all about because I suffer from autoimmune disease. I have mobility aids including a “wheelie walker” and wheelchair and am frequently bedridden. I work very hard; that work is managing a family, a household, a hectic schedule and also managing my health which involves regular appointments, therapy sessions, and workers employed to help me with daily living activities Along with all that is the necessary extra daytime sleep (“resistance is useless”) which robs one of so much time. It is a full-time job just maintaining one’s health and many times I wished I had a secretary to help! Many people, friends and family included, have the false idea that because I am not in paid employment and cannot do a lot of physical tasks, that I have plenty of leisure time. On the contrary, it is the complete opposite and I have less time than ever to do things.”
Jodie doesn’t play the victim. She doesn’t focus on her condition. When she talks about her crochet, she emphasizes that it’s really about the craft and not about the illness that helped bring her to the craft. But the truth is that crochet helps her as she copes with her health issues, including the chronic fatigue of her autoimmune conditions. She says that crochet saved her sanity and reiterates that it is a form of therapy. She believes fully in the health benefits of crochet that I myself have talked so much about on this blog and in my book.
Like all of us, Jodie has to balance her goals with her limitiations whether those be of time or energy or both. She mentioned in a blog post a few months back that she was struggling with disappointment in herself because she had set some crochet and blogging deadlines that she was then unable to meet because her illness had caused such fatigue. The fatigue isn’t just tiring but also creates a brain fog that can lead to errors in crafting that need to be fixed. Frustrating for sure. I think we all understand this to some degree – this way that we push ourselves even when what we most need to do is be gentle with ourselves. Crafting is an area where we can learn, slowly but surely, to cut ourselves some slack. Celebrate each stitch as an achievement; eventually it will be a complete project!
Images from Jodie’s Life
She says, “My yarn stash is sorted by fibre and then by weight. Some of it is stashed in baskets and boxes on top of the wardrobe. Each basket or box has a large tag so I can know the contents without having to pull it down unnecessarily.” Don’t you love her craft organization?!
Jodie shares, “The yarn stash is gradually taking over my wardrobe! It is kept in all sorts of plastic drawers and baskets. I like the plastic drawers because I can see the contents easily. The plastic bags that come with linen purchases make good storage bags because they have a built-in slip pocket where I can put labels or pattern notes.”
SmokeyBunny also inhabits the garden where Jodie crocheters on sunny days. She says, “his fur is so soft. I hope to learn how to spin it one day.” Only another yarncrafter could appreciate this urge to turn animals into fiber!
Jodie shared, “The wall hanging is a miniature quilt made by a friend who makes art quilts. It says “Tea for me, I like tea” – very appropriate for the space where I love to settle with a cuppa. The wrought iron decorative hanger was a birthday present from Adrienne.”
And Some of Jodie’s Beautiful Crochet Work
Here are some of the things Jodie’s crocheted:
Jodie says, “This 2007 patchwork throw and cushion was one of my first throws. This photo shows it draped on my couch where it still lives to this day and where I will often sit to crochet.”
Jodie shared, “This is the doily I made for my grandmother. I was still a beginner at taking photographs.” I totally understand that!
Jodie says, “This is an Irish Rose jug cover. Jug covers are so useful and one of the reasons I wanted to crochet.”
Jodie explained, “The Bunny Bib uses intarsia with surface embroidery”.
Jodie said, “ShansTexturedEarflap hat is my own design inspired by a pattern drawn by my daughter and various earflap hat patterns.”
And Jodie shared, “I designed the motifs for the musical notation, inspired by the series on Irish Lace. The articles described the use of a packing cord. I used this technique to make the treble clef and notes.”
Although crochet health is an important part of everything I do in regards to crochet writing, my Interweave Crochet column isn’t specifically about this topic. It’s really about the regular people who crochet and what makes each of these regular people unique and special and at the same time makes them relatable and easy to understand. Crafting brings together so many of us from so many different walks of life and that’s one of the things I love about crochet! Pick up a copy of the Spring 2013 and/ or Summer 2013 issues of Interweave Crochet to read my column and help me celebrate these great everyday crocheters.