I don’t think there are enough adjectives that can describe how bad 2020 was. It was a year of upheaval, turmoil, and unease.
Among all of this, I was living out my maternity leave after giving birth to my first child in the fall of 2019. I had begun work on a book about grief and self-care that year, work that is slowly coming to a conclusion now. As I thought about my business plan in the bereavement field, I realized that I could not exclude crafting. As much as 2020 was about coping with restrictions amid an international health crisis, it was also an opportunity for me to consider how I can serve as a crafter.
Crafting offers comfort at a basic, physical level. Needle-worked items make us warm and keep us dry. But they also offer something to the spirit. The gift of a handmade item tells the recipient that they are loved and considered. Whether making an item or giving a purchased handmade item, the message is the same: you are special.
I established the idea of a “craftolution” several years ago as a way to focus my craft projects. While the name sounds light and perhaps fluffy, it is my way of committing to a program of crafting for the upcoming year. This year I have changed the focus of my blog and my crafting as I solidify my move into life as author dedicated to grief and bereavement.
For my inaugural year as a condolence crafter, I have decided to focus on crocheting two categories of items: prayer shawls for adults and comfort blankets for children. Both items are simple in their pattern work. I have used a traditional granny square motif, a stitch style that is recognizable, reliable, and comfortable. The goal behind this initial simple design is to develop foundational items for my contemplative crafting ministry.
While comfort and warmth are signatures I would like to infuse in my pieces, these items are intended for prayer (not necessarily of the religious kind). Being Catholic and a scholar of religious studies, I have thought about items many religions use as part of prayer rituals. Many use beads, or some other handheld device of sorts, to accompany prayer, holding each bead while reciting a specific prayer. Catholics use rosary beads in prayer, and pray the rosary in times of strain or crisis. (That being said, prayer need not be an exclusively religious event. Many people ask for mercy, forgiveness, help, peace, etc. in their own way. Furthermore, one need not be involved in organized religion to use or give a prayer shawl.)
In contemplating a foundational design for prayer shawls and children’s blankets, I wanted to recreate the idea of individual beads for prayer. Each granny stitch is a cluster of stitches that can be held separately as a wearer prays or meditates. While children may not be aware of the intricacies of prayer beads, they tend to hold items tightly, and when worried or afraid, may ask for relief and safety in their own way as they hold fast to their favorite lovie (blanket or stuffed animal). These clusters of stitches can provide a calming effect for adults and children alike.
I will share the products or WIPs (works in progress) of my Craftolution with you as I go.