Saturday 29 January 2011

The Wonderful World of Craft

With 2011 the ‘Year of Craft,’ I would like to share with you some musings on two great passions of mine: wool craft and wisdom.

The wonderful wisdom of craft is alive and well and blossoming in this information age. The Stitch ‘n’ Bitch movement has helped make craft trendy. The discovery of mathematician and crochet lover, Dr. Daina Taimina, that models of the complex hyperbolic plane of geometry could be made using crochet was a wonderful inspiration to crafters, and has slowly seeped into crochet patterns of all sorts. This also led to the fantastic hyperbolic crochet coral reef project, which has been exhibited all over the world. Crochet and knitting are starting to make it into the galleries of high art and be recognised as art mediums in themselves.

Online opportunities to sell hand crafted items like, where anyone can set up an online shop and offer their craft for sale to a worldwide market are a great boon to those of us wanting to make a loving living from our skills. Online communities such as weavolution, and the wonderful ravelry offer places to chat and share ideas and projects with like-minded people, check out some of the amazing work being done, and get inspired.
On a local level too there are gatherings of women who come together to knit, crochet, mend, inspire and motivate each other in craft. Skills are swapped and shared between young and old. Projects are discussed and admired and encouragement meted out. I have attended three such ‘craft circles’ in the last three years. I learned to turn a heel, to weave on a peg- loom, and marvelled at the amazing ‘backwards’ knitting of the Europeans! I taught a few crochet stitches and shared in the passion of the participants for all things wool. These gatherings are not difficult to organise, a poster in your local craft shop and library will bring the nimble-fingered out. One of those I attended was in a library, one in a craft shop and one in the homes of the members. All were wonderful, full of stories, skills and wisdom. Many are acts of generosity, where women produce items for charities, such as blankets for homeless shelters, or knitted egg-covers for sale at Easter to raise funds.

Women’s wisdom, their creativity and their loving kindness towards their family is made manifest in the items of clothing they lovingly create. One of my own cherished possessions is an Aran Geansai my mother knit for my father when they were courting 35 years ago. Both of them have sadly passed on but this symbol of their love remains and, fashioned from pure wool as it is, is still in great condition despite being worn regularly by me for the last 15 years!

Anyone who has been gifted with or made for themselves a hand-knitted jumper, scarf or hat knows the special quality inherent in such an item, a quality increasingly rare in our age of mass production. I refer here to an energetic quality as well as the physical quality arising out of attention to minute detail; literally every stitch is carefully knit with loving intention for the eventual recipient. The work is repetitive, meditative, and meaningful. How many of us know an Irish mother or grandmother who selflessly makes socks, hats and jumpers for all around her, but never for herself? She enjoys the abundant generosity of her work.

A great inspiration to me in my own path has been the work of the women of a remote Amazon rainforest people called the Shipibo. As the women weave they bring to each piece their healing songs. The energy of the song is imbued into the fabric, the songs become manifest in the geometric designs, which are then used as aids to healing. Their fabrics are prayers of good wishes and intentions for their community. Weaving and needlework is sacred work, in every action is sacred process.

Perhaps you are one of the mothers who gave up knitting when the kids got bigger, and haven’t touched a needle in years. If so I would like to encourage you, in this year of craft, to rediscover your craft, channel your creativity into it and maybe find or even start up a craft circle in your area. Perhaps enroll in the felting workshop planned for this years Wise Woman Weekend. I promise you that the rewards will be wonderful, many and wise!


1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post. You might be interested in my world record attempt? I'm organising it for April this year as part of the Rosocmmon Lamb Festival . We're looking for 1000 knitters to form the largest knitting group. Check out -