Tag Archives: crafting

Creatively Fasting

Creatively Fasting

Me stuffing my face in Vietnam last year…yum…sigh!

Today was the first day of a 19 day Fast that Bahá’ís observe every March, from the 2nd to the 20th inclusive. We don’t eat or drink between sunrise and sunset (though only the able and healthy do this), and, yup, it’s a challenge…or  more accurately it’s a challenge for me!

I feel like everyone else breezes though it with glowing skin and tales of spiritual awakenings. I have to say that up until this point I have always found it a struggle and in struggling have always lost the thread of the real point of it.

The real point of the Fast is that the food part is just a symbol, it’s not the main event. It is a way of showing self-restraint, of shifting focus off worldly desires. This is meant to be a time of spiritual renewal, of re-centring on what is important to us, reaffirming our faith, and reigniting our passion for it.

So I’ve decided take a different tack this year. I’ve decided to get ‘creative’ with my fasting.

Where I would normally have lunch, I have some knitting instead. When I’d usually want that pick-me-up cup of coffee I’m reaching for this cross stitch pattern I’m addicted to. I’m finally investing time in patterns that I’ve wanted to write. I’ve been finding it hard to write for here, I think that takes a lot of mental energy but I’m sure that will come in time too.

I’m Creatively Fasting. I’ve incorporated my creative pursuits into my everyday, in the same way as food is part of our everyday, and it feels great. And in making time to do something I love and find meditative, I’m making room in my head for real contemplation and reflection. Who knows where it might lead me? Maybe I’ll have a giant spiritual epiphany…if I do I promise to share it.

Yet again my love of making beautiful things has come to my aid.

» UPDATE :: Jessica Powers, yoga instructor and craft fiend, sent me her musings on this topic that I am priviledged to share with you…

Creative Fasting….

First, I love that you capitolize Create.  My big ideals are Truth, Beauty, and Love – as you can see, I’m a capitolizer myself.

I think that it’s our ability to co-create with the world around us which is so unique and fantastic and special.  I don’t believe in a fatherly god sitting in the clouds, or a specific entity/energy that created the world as is.  Much more in my mind is the idea of collective consciousness accumulating through time – an original divine light spreading (which is why I’ve always liked your concept of ‘lighting little fires’!).

So for myself, yes I believe there is a divine source (just not fussed or attached to the form of it) and I believe we each possess a divine spark from that source.  And I believe that the ancient power of that source is more easily accessed and brought through us when we are working as clear, effective, mindful channels or conduits.

It’s not to hard to see how life can muddy and clog our through line of access to the Source – we’re busy, distracted, scattered, self-centered, and detached from Nature.  Our Nature, and the Nature of the world.  Fasting, in whatever form, is a method of clearing out and realigning our channel then, so that the creative energy can move more fully through us into the world.

I’ve been put on several protein fasts (ugh, proten powder is gross) because my doctor and I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason of a skin sensitivity.  While we never did solve the ‘what’ – the fasts always did prove effective, as if they were resetting my system.

When I moved countries for school I took the opportunity to fast Mondays after my menstrual cycle ended.  This meant physically drinking many, many pots of raw, fermented pu-er tea, reputed to be detoxifying and one of my favourites, and nothing else.  Usually I would lay out a soft blanket (my favourites for this now are ones I brought back from Ireland), get down on the floor and practice a very extended Yin Yoga session while reading for class or writing related to yoga or home to friends and family.  It was an energetic fast more than anything.  A time to enjoy my hobbit hole apartment and be with myself to explore what was there, was it all necessary, and what could I work out, work through, release, or relinquish.

~ How do you incorporate your creative endeavors into the humdrum of everyday life?

~ How have your creative pursuits kept you sane when things are challenging?

p.s. if you got a notification of a post yesterday that you couldn’t access it’s because my blog published something (really, I don’t know how it happened…a blogs cry for help?!) that was still in draft form and I removed it. When it’s ready for public consumption I’ll let you know. Sorry for the mix-up!


What Inspires You?

Handmade Spark recently canvassed on Twitter for answers to their February question ‘What inspires you?’

This was my offering –

Thanks to Handmade Spark for including my input in their article! You can read all the answers that were included here…they range from zany to heart-wrenching but all show a passion that drives their creative endeavors.

I would love to hear What Inspires You! And if you agree, disagree or feel totally non-plussed by my answer I’d love to hear that too…

Also want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who commented on Creating = Energy! The discussion started in the comments section is so interesting and bolstering, I can’t thank you all enough. If *you* have anything to add to what has been said so far please don’t hesitate to join in. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

Day 14! – Heartfelt and Handmade: An Apologia

Well peeps, this is it! The final day…*sad face*. I have enjoyed myself so much. Every time I do one of these blogfests I always end up with more incredible friends, more incredible patterns/recipes/projects and so much more appreciation for just what a wonderfully generous community the crafting one is!

In order to get through today I turned to baking. Baking fixes everything…and you get to eat it afterwards. Perfect! So I rustled up a batch of the Muesli Bars that were in yesterdays post. Yummy and very good with my iced latte that I made to Leethal’s great recipe.

And while watching the Wimbledon Men’s Final, I finished off my ‘Sweetie’ hat from Day 6, that I am now lovingly calling my ‘Crown of Leaves’ :) It is such a sweet project, fast and satisfying, and sits really nicely. I only did 5 rows of plain, between the end of the lace pattern and the start of the decreases for the top of the hat, to make it sit snugly on the back of my head. The perfect summer hat!

And so today I will leave you with one last thought, provided by Lilycobweb, the person who taught me how to knit and crochet. Thank you to everyone who was involved in this project…I’ll be doing proper thank you’s tomorrow (as well as telling you what really happened to the missing Day 11 :)

Heartfelt and Handmade – An Apologia

by Lilycobweb

AMDD is now drawing to a close. As an avid daily reader, I will miss the blog posts that bring together such fascinating elements from the minds of creative folk web-wide and world-wide. I have noticed a slender thread running through a number of the posts, from the Pilgrimage Cuffs to Susan Moloney’s amazing mixed-media pieces. This is the idea of Art or Craft as memoir or personal history.

This is not a new idea, but it’s certainly one worth revisiting. It requires an understanding of the value of anything handmade, not in terms of the quality of the materials, the time spent in its making, or the skill it takes to fashion it. Another leap of the imagination is required. You must imagine the flow of energy between the creator and the object, the music of an idea or design coming into being in a joyous, exciting way. That is what gives art and craft its magic.

It’s a personal crusade of mine to spread that message. Craft is widely misunderstood. I cavil slightly when people say (and they do!) ‘That must be very therapeutic for you’. I don’t do it solely to calm my shattered nerves. A course of high-dose Vitamin B would do that more effectively. I do it because it is how I give expression to an idea, a form, a function, a design, or a combination of colours. That is what makes the process calming and fulfilling-the fact that you are transforming your creative energy into something real.

An added dimension to that wonderful process of becoming is when it has a specific significance for the creator or the recipient, when found or significant objects are incorporated into the design and the making. Then, the value of the creation is so much more enriched, for the maker and the eventual recipient. American patchwork quilts are the obvious example, notably the AIDS quilts made in the ’80s as a way to commemorate the victims and console the survivors. It’s a perfect example of a community response to trauma through creativity and craft. There are lots of other examples, and I’d like to hear yours, if you’d care to comment. Otherwise, this may become a PhD thesis….

In pondering these worthy notions, I began to think about my personal history of the handmade. I have always had a huge fascination for things that are made by hand. It’s a family thing. My sister Brid and I go into transports of joy when we enter craft shops and art galleries, much to the dismay of our loved ones. They know it will be a whole-afternoon affair. Brid has gifted me so many lovely handmade things over the years….earrings from far-flung places are her specialty, and she had a rare talent for choosing the perfect ones for me. They are often translucent green (to match my eyes, I like to think) Thanks, Brid, and we have a date when you come home from Portugal!

I learned my craft of choice (crochet, for those of you who don’t know me) when I was a little girl and crocheted up a storm until my teens. Then, I abandoned it for cooler pursuits, like painting and life-drawing. (Well, at age 18, drawing the nude male form beat the double-treble or the bullion stitch hands down! ) In time, I abandoned those pursuits too, and just did nothing that filled that creativity space in a satisfying way.

That was when I got obsessed with other people’s work-buying it, hoarding it, hoping some of its magic would rub off on me. In 1980, when I was a young student, I remember buying the most amazing crocheted afghan in shades of red, grey and black in the Bloemenmarket in Amsterdam for 4 guilders. That’s probably about 3 euros. I kept it for years, then gifted it to a friend when she had her first baby. Shameful to admit, I sometimes wish I hadn’t, so much did I love that blanket!

I remember every handmade thing I ever bought, the joy of the purchase and sheer delight if it was a bargain. I could tell you many stories, but the point of it all is this. I was just flirting with my own creativity then, not realising the need for it to be liberated in some way, any way. How really didn’t matter. It just needed to be done. And it was.

I buy just as many handmade things these days, but for different reasons. I don’t need the vicarious thrill anymore. I create myself these days. No matter how it is perceived by anyone else, what is important is that I do it. It’s very important for me.

What follows is a list. A list of handmade things that resonate with meaning and history-some I’ve made myself, some were made by family and friends. Treasured and shared, they have brought a lot of joy. That’s the point of the whole thing. I invite you to add to the list and share your treasured handmade thing, something you made or were gifted. Just comment below. I’ll be fascinated. I always am. Thanks for listening.

  • Kelly Donovan’s crocheted wool scarf. A gift from her to me before we’d even met.
  • A ‘Labour of Love’ or a crocheted cot coverlet-. When I was pregnant with my son Keian, I started making a fine lace cot cover in very intricate Irish crochet stitches. (I was convinced I was having a girl!) I didn’t finish until he was 15 years old. Artist  and great friend, Marie-Claire Douglas of Seacrest Galleries, convinced me to frame it for an exhibition of textile art she curated in 2007. I’m proud I finished it in the end.
  • Flannel nightdresses that came from Iran. My mother-in-law is a seamstress. I didn’t meet her for 10 years after I married her son. When we had Parisa, and then Maryam, she would send us these amazing flannel nighties for them in her unique pattern complete with frilled yoke. I still have them all, and nothing evokes memories of their babyhoods more than the made-with-love nightwear sent by a woman I’d never met.
  • A Summer Garden. This wallhanging was made as a group project at Northern Ireland Baha’i Summer School in 2006, I think. Every group member made a flower or a leaf. (I can still remember who made what!). Zhenia Mahdi-Nau, friend and artist extraordinaire, helped me to join the motifs and mount it on a stretched canvas. It is now in the private collection of Tina Salter.
  • My daughter Soheila has sensory issues and hated to wear a hat when she was a child. I made her a beanie from the very softest chenille I could find. I was HONOURED that she wore it until it didn’t fit her anymore. She loved to wear it when I was hoovering-to block out the noise!
  • Queen of the Fairies- the most amazingly intricate cross-stitch artwork I have ever seen! This was a gift to me from my lovely cousin Angela Moriarty, when I visited her in Huddersfield in September last year. It looks like a painting, and I need to post a photo worthy of it.

Lilycobweb is a crochet designer and artist from Ireland, who has been crafting since she was little. She has passed her incredible skills on to many people, not least her daughter…me! You can contact her via her etsy store: lilycobweb.etsy.com