24 April, 2013

Creative projects help

A few years ago I wrote about how I started cross stitching as a result of a psychologist "prescribing" something that would help me "stop a while".

I've been doing little cross-stitch projects recently, actually for many months, but they aren't as satisfying as a large project. In recent weeks I've begun a larger project and I'm so happy about it! It will probably take me many months, but I'm so happy to have this to look forward to in the evenings.

A long time ago a friend gave me a book called, "Affliction" by Edith Schaeffer. It is a book you should definitely not read while in the midst of affliction! I actually found it quite difficult to get through (she rambles around quite a bit), but there are some great gems in there that have helped form my own "theology of suffering". One of the more unusual pieces of advice she gives is having a creative project always on the go.
"(Write a) list for things that are not absolutely necessary to be done that day, but that are creative projects. . . Painting? Dressmaking? Knitting? Gardening? Writing? Exercising carefully for your back, or to get two inches off your waistline? Always have some projects in progress, even if you have to neglect them. It is quite a different thing to feel that you have neglected cutting out your new dress, or the leather animal you are designing or the wooden tray you are decorating with an electric needle, than to have nothing concrete to have 'neglected.' It is psychologically very different." p237-8

She says, of those who are too tired after the essentials of life are done,
"...energy also diminishes when there is not enough incentive, and beginning a creative work, some sort of project you can watch take shape, can often carry with it a fresh supply of energy. I have had a short two-month period of being hemmed in by two rooms, caring for Grandmother Schaeffer after her stroke . . . I didn't leave the two rooms except to run—and I do mean run—to the corner store and back. . . (she longed to be back with her husband and children at L'Abri) Then I suddenly realized that I was begin given time to do some of the things I could never do any other time without feeling guilty. So I set out to make doll clothes." p239
I agree with her. While I'm not currently in the midst of "affliction", this idea of having a project on the go is a sound one. It certainly helps me keep a good balance in my life. Other things that help me in this way are books and our more recent hobby of camping. Having these to look forward to really helps. I particularly noticed that back in 2011, after I had suffered some serious "affliction" in conflict on top of watching disasters in both Australia and Japan. Planning camping trips was therapeutic at that time.

When I wrote about this back in 2010, Ken added an interesting comment to my post:
"Everyone needs a hobby to balance out their life. It should be something which has no consequences attached to it. Except perhaps something decorative or useful at odd times. It should also be a hobby which is not co-optable. There is a great pressure today to force everything into some kind of useful cost/benefit mould.

I discovered making latchhook rugs after the kids left home and we were restoring order in the pantry. I wondered about the little tool and all the balls of thick yarn. I also had a book of Roman tile floor designs at the time. So I put the two together and began work on a rug using the leftover bits. Nothing to do with work, nothing to do with satisfying demands of other people, nothing to do with justifying my existence in the world. About 8 months later I had a large rug, which I then gave away. I mght start another one or I might not. Not many activities in our live today give us that kind of freedom."
Do you have a hobby that helps you get through those tough days? What do you look forward to?


Anonymous said...

Hello Wendy,
I can identify with what you are saying. I am not a "good" craft person but love hand sewing.(I do verylittle of this) My mother didn't do much except the necessities and always said it was a waste of time. A sentiment my mother in law adheres to as well. So cutting up big pieces of material to make small ones and sew them together for a patchwork quilt was a HUGE waste of time. Now I have passed the age of 50, I think I may as well enjoy my time so I have started. It is such fun to sit quietly sewing whilst my husband watches his sport on tv. IT is very theraputic. So what if it looks messy? Or is never used (or finished properly). God gave us our hands and hearts to use and I intend to use mine. And then of course, there is the connection to other women who sew. Always have a conversation starter there... Thanks Wendy for the reminder. Now to find that knitting I started a year or so ago. Maree

Wendy said...

I'm glad this resonated with you Maree! It appears to have done so for others too. And certainly craft isn't the only way to go about this, God didn't create us all the same.

Ken Rolph said...

Rugs. Since that comment I have made 5 more. I made two small mats (essentially change mats) for my grandsons. Each has their own name in it. They are just various colour patterns. Then I got to the point of having to actually buy wool and mesh. Then I did 3 more small mats of cartoon characters for young persons in the family.

All except one mat have been given away. It is a Roman tile pattern and sits in Jan's study with all the ancient history books. I hope they feel at home there. Now I'm contemplating some original projects based on Australian bush and birds. I think I understand the potential and limitations of the craft now.

I never work for a long time in any one session, but I do spread it out around other activities. It satisfies all sort of creative urges. There is coming up with the original rough design. Then transferring it with coloured markers to some graph paper. Then the patience linking of individual knots. Even the feel of the wool on my fingers is satisfying.

Beats emptying the dishwasher any day.