Yesterday I shared the inspiring story of nurse and 5th generation fiber artist Paula White. In addition to weaving with yarn and thread, she also weaves with words. She has degrees in writing and a unique way of telling her story. Like many writers, she is also an avid reader. I wanted to share today some of her thoughts about writing and crafting along with some terrific book recommendations she has shared for people who are interested in the health benefits of crafting.
Writers Can Use Crafting
One of the things that Paula mentioned to me that I totally agree with is that writers often use crafts to help them get unstuck in their writing. I definitely use crochet as what seems like a distraction but is actually a way to allow the mind to drift and daydream and work the writing out. Paula says:
“Plot lines smooth themselves out while doing your crafts. Just ask Alice Walker, Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni … not to mention the new wave of textile artists who are writers including Ann Hood, Kate Jacobs, Emilie Richards and Debbie MacComber.”
One of the books that White mentioned to me was Quilting Lessons: Notes from the Scrap Bag of a Writer and Quilter by Janet Catherine Berlo. Amazon describes it: “In the middle of a successful academic career, art historian Janet Catherine Berlo found herself literally at a loss for words. A severe case of writer’s block forced her to abandon a book manuscript midstream; she found herself quilting instead. Scorning the logic, planning, and order of scholarship and writing, she immersed herself in freewheeling patterns and vivid colors. For eighteen months she spent all day, every day, quilting. This book penetrates to the very heart of women’s lives, focusing on their relationships to family and friends, to work, to daily tasks. It is a search for meaning at midlife, a search for an integration of career and creativity.”
Paula shared with me the following book list for people who are interested in a variety of different stories about how crafting of all kinds can be healing. Many of these are specifically for quilters but crafters of all kinds can appreciate them, of course. And if you’re interested specifically in how crochet heals you might want to check out my own book, Crochet Saved My Life: The Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Crochet.
A Feather For My Wing: A Life Lost, A Life Regained by Marilyn Carpenter. Amazon’s description: “This is an incredible true story of healing and rehabilitation after a devastating stroke. Marilyn Carpenter was an active, vivacious person and successful professional educator until she had a stroke. She tells the story of her recovery in her own ineffable way, explaining her journey back to mental and physical health and describing in detail the emotional roller coaster that brought her back to living as a whole, functional, fulfilled person again.”
A Life in Stitches: Knitting My Way through Love, Loss, and Laughter by Rachael Herron. From Amazon: “In these 20 heartfelt essays, Rachael Herron celebrated romance novelist by day, 911 dispatcher by night, and founder of the hugely popular blog Yarnagogo.com shows how when life unravels there’s always a way to knit it back together again, many times into something even better.”
Art Against the Odds: From Slave Quilts to Prison Paintings by Susan Goldman Rubin. Amazon says: “Children and adults alike find comfort in making things, but never has the act of creating been so poignant as when it is done during times of duress, such as in concentration camps and prisons, during extreme drought and poverty, or while battling mental illness. In this fascinating collection, Susan Goldman Rubin has captured the essence of creating as a way to momentarily escape horrible circumstances.”
Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation by Sandra Ingerman. “The art of the shamanic journey–a time-tested meditative method for experiencing important piritual lessons and truths.”
Black Threads by Kyra E. Hicks. “One million African Americans spend approximately $118 million annually on quilting. Some believe that recent studies of oral histories telling of the role quilting played in the Underground Railroad have inspired African Americans to take up their fabric and needles, but whatever the reason, quilters like Faith Ringgold, Clementine Hunter, Winnie McQueen, and many others are keeping the African American traditions of quilting alive.”
Cheaper Than Therapy: Joy, healing and life lessons in fiber by Annie Modesitt. “28 Essayists discuss the positive impact that knitting, crochet, spinning & all fiber in general have had on their lives. Funny, touching, moving and inspirational, this collection reaches into the soul.”
A Communion of the Spirits: African-American Quilters, Preservers, and Their Stories by Roland L. Freeman. “A Communion of the Spirits represents the first national survey of African-American quiltmakers. It is also a personal record of how Roland L. Freeman’s life has intertwined with the world of quiltmaking for almost sixty years–”as an African-American male; as a child who was deeply influenced by the cultural traditions and magical powers of quilts; and, for more than three decades, as a photographer and folklorist.”"
Crafted Lives: Stories and Studies of African American Quilters by Patricia A. Turne and Kyra E. Hicks. “Turner profiles quilters who exemplify the range of black women and men dedicated to the making of quilts, and she shows how their craftwork establishes order and meaning in their lives.”
Crafts and Creative Media in Therapy by Carol Tubbs and Margaret Drake. “Engagement in crafts and other creative activities is making a comeback as an established method in the occupational therapy rehabilitation process. With the profession promoting a return to purposeful activity and “occupation” as key components of treatment, the Fourth Edition of Crafts and Creative Media in Therapy will continue to be a leading resource.”
Creating Eden: The Garden As A Healing Space by Marilyn Barrett. “Creating Eden is Marilyn Barrett’s evocative meditation on gardening as a tool for self-exploration and natural healing. Here the principles of psychology and ecological gardening are combined to create a helpful guide to achieving serenity and balance.”
Horticulture as Therapy: Principles and Practice by Sharon Simson and Martha Straus. “Did you know that plants and plant products can be used to improve people’s cognitive, physical, psychological, and social functioning? Well, they can, and Horticulture as Therapy is the book to show you how!”
Local Color by William Ferris. Google Books description: “Interviews with Mississippi folk artists describe why and how they work at painting, sculpting, needlework, quilting, and making fifes, baskets, and other items.”
Open Your Heart with Quilting: Mastering Life through Love of the Patches by Kelly Smith. “Open Your Heart with Quilting will also assist readers in understanding that quilting allows them to connect with family and community, carry on traditions of the past, help them heal from illness or grief, help them celebrate milestones in their life, explore their creativity, deepen their spiritual connection to the universe, and leave a legacy for generations to come.”
Sew Wild: Creating With Stitch and Mixed Media by Alisa Burke. “Sew Wild liberates you! Enjoy unlimited freedom to color, pattern, and customize your own fabric with fun, spectacular results.”
Stitching a Revolution: The Making of an Activist by Cleave Jones and Jeff Dawson. “From the frontlines of one of the greatest human struggles of our time comes this powerful and moving tale. Both an important cultural history of the AIDS crisis and an intimate personal memoir, Stitching a Revolution is the story of a man who, besieged by discrimination, death, and despair, found the courage and strength of spirit to conceive and create a unique healing vision-the AIDS Memorial Quilt.”
Using Textile Arts and Handcrafts in Therapy with Women: Weaving Lives Back Together by Ann Futterman Collier. “Art-making with fabrics and fibres is a natural and creative method of self-expression and can enrich the healing process. This book is a complete guide to using textiles in therapy with female clients.”
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. “Within every woman there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women.”
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing by Dr. Christiane Northrup. A classic women’s health and wellbeing text.
Zen And The Art Of Knitting: Exploring the Links Between Knitting, Spirituality, and Creativity by Bernadette Murphy and also Zen And the Art of Needlecraft by Sandra Detrixhe
Note that the book links in this post are Amazon affiliate links.
I’m compiling a more comprehenisve list of books that discuss various ways to heal through craft and art. If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them! Share in the comments or use the contact tab above to let me know.