Thursday, January 20, 2011

Practicing Patience Through Fiber Art

I love to crochet, and it's a skill I'm very proud of. I taught myself how to crochet from crochet patterns and how-to books (with a few pointers from my mother). My first project was making scarves for some friends and family members for Christmas a few years ago (I made at least eight that first year). My second project was a full-size afghan that took me over a year to complete.

I've grown to really enjoy the crocheting process: I decide on a project, then go out to choose the perfect yarn for the item I'm making. I wind the yarn into a ball so it's easier to work with, and then I can start crocheting. Each tiny stitch gets me a little bit closer to the end product, but it's the whole journey—not just the end result—that's so much fun.

I like the idea that when I crochet a gift for someone, a small piece of me goes into the gift. I spend my time on it, I give my energy to it, I touch every little bit of it, and I think about the person while I'm creating something for them. It's a very calming, meditative activity for me. It's also a beautiful exercise in patience.

I'm not naturally a very patient person. I get easily frustrated when tasks are taking longer to complete than I had anticipated. I also have trouble finishing (or even starting) large tasks, particularly when the end result is not clearly visible. For some reason, I have patience for crochet projects.

When I started crocheting the afghan, I made a conscious decision to not think about how long it would take to finish. I worked at it when I wanted to, and I took breaks when I wanted. (I made an error that I discovered several rows after the fact, and I took a break for a few months to decide whether to leave the error or pull it out and fix it.) When I made those last stitches after working on the afghan for so long, I was amazed that I had created something so large out of so many tiny stitches. I realized that large projects can be completed with small, intentional, regular effort.

There's also the joy of giving away a project I've been working on for someone else. I especially love it when the recipient says something like, "That's my favorite color!" when I didn't know her favorite color before choosing the yarn for her gift. It's almost as if the yarn jumped off the shelf into my hands and said to me, "I belong to that person. Make me into something lovely for her!"

Crocheting challenges my patience, and it's important for me to practice patience. With every stitch, I'm improving my ability to appreciate each small moment, while understanding that that moment is part of a much bigger picture. I'm actively providing counter-balance to the impatient parts of myself, telling myself, It's alright to take your time. It's best to just keep going. You don't have to be able to see the end to know it will come eventually. Enjoy the effort. Enjoy the journey.

"Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some."
Robert Fulghum

This post is part of my series on balance, inspired by the October Carnival of Natural Parenting. Without balance, we feel burned out, we lose perspective...we fall down. How do you find balance in your life? What does it mean to you to be in balance? Does it come easily to you or do you have to be more intentional about it?

I'd love to host your guest post for my series on balance! Contact me at anktangle (at) gmail (dot) com if you're interested in participating.


  1. I love crocheting too, though all I've made so far are scarves and baby legwarmers.

    Is that your sis with a scarf you made? Lovely!

  2. What a lovely scarf! You've inspired me to dig out my yarn and crochet hooks. Maybe I'll even crack open the how-to book I have to try and figure out how to crochet something other than a flat rectangle or square. ;)

    I'm a new follower! :)

  3. @Rachel: Yes, that is my sister with her Christmas gift. Thanks for the compliment!

    @Joella: Thank you! I'm glad I inspired you to do a little crocheting. Thanks for following. =)

  4. That scarf is gorgeous! Do you have a pattern to link to?

    I am working at knitting a circle scarf and, as you say, it demands patience. Sometimes I have it to give to the project, and sometimes I don't. :)

  5. @Lauren: Thank you! Yes, I totally forgot to link to the free pattern, thanks for reminding me:

    I'd love to see your scarf when you finish it...whenever that is. =)

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