A common reaction to my arts and crafts is: “I wouldn’t have the patience”
I don’t. I am not a patient person.
I am a scattered mind with so many ideas and thoughts that teaching myself organizational skills has been essential to get anything done. When I am not hyper-focused I am easily distracted and have a hard time prioritizing tasks. When I am hyper-focused on something I need to do…great…but that is rarely the case.
I have anxiety and depression which creates powerful emotions that can derail my life if left unchecked. I require grounding on a regular basis.
Let’s look at what this has to do with craft. I’ll be using doll hair here but the same is true of sewing, knitting, beading, stitching individual sequins and more.
This is an EAH doll I’m turning into Teen Titans Go Raven.
This is a traditional reroot. I’ve hand mixed three colors of hair, cut them to length, and started the process. For each hole I’m wrapping about 10 strands of hair around a two pronged needle, holding them in place along the needle’s shaft with a finger, and plunging them into the head from the outside. Then I release the finger holding strands,twist the needle slightly, and remove the needle.
Later I will apply glue to the inside of the head to keep the plugs in place.
Let’s check out a yarn re-root.
Using acrylic yarn threaded through a wide-eyed and long needle, this process also starts outside the head. I push the needle into the head but then, unlike the previous re-rooting, push the needle until it emerges from the neck hole.
Pulling the needle out through the neck usually takes the use of a Leatherman or similar gripping/pulling tool.
Please excuse my fingers, these are the cuticles of my anxiety.
Once the yarn is in through the hair hole and out the neck hole and the hair is the general length I need, I knot it. I cut the yarn below the knot and pull the knot into the head by pulling on the hair above the hair hole. No need to glue later.
Once it’s all threaded and knotted and pulled it’s time for the pet brush, unless you’re using yarn to replicate locks or twists and want the yarn to remain as is.
You brush and brush and brush that yarn until it separates into fluffy strands (you’ll loose a LOT of fiber and some length, that’s ok). Below shows before and after brushing. If you were replicating locks/twists you’d fill fewer hair-holes (after doing the edges) to control the amount of hair mass.
Now what does this have to do with anxiety and my lack of patience?
For most of my lifetime this (and dance) was as close as I could get to a meditative state of mind clarity.
The repetition of movement, the precision needed, and the concentration used helps clear my head. It’s not that I don’t think while doing this, I do, but it’s a quieter thinking. I don’t have the time to chase strong emotions or berate myself. With my hands busy a strong emotion may easily be noted and pass and I won’t be tempted to chase down its cause right then and there.
Anxiety and Depression cause feelings/emotions that are real. Your body reacts. You can feel your heart rate change. There’s a buzzing. There can be anger flares and tears. You can feel your chest deflate and your shoulder slump forward and the heaviness of everything. It’s not in your mind, it is your mind and body.
These emotions are Real.
They aren’t necessarily TRUE.
Without having ways to ground myself, these emotions take me to terrible places. If I feel worthless, I’ll internally dig into myself find a list reasons why I should feel worthless. I’ll justify that feeling and label it real. If I feel the buzzing of anxiety and search externally, I’ll find a million things to believe are the cause and set to “fixing them” as if that will lift the surging panic: I’ll rehash settled issues with friends and loved ones, hurting them and bringing no peace to any of us. I’ll spend 2 days thinking that I need to re-order my kitchen and it’ll bring me calm. I’ll fixate on the past. I’ll ignore boundaries. I’ll lash out, believing my rage is justified. I’ll be all reaction and no calm, rational, reflection.
I’ll spend my nights awake in self-torturing thought loops chasing each emotion until it is dawn.
When I’m doing detail work I’ll be able to do what I’m supposed to do in meditation.
- Note emotions, memories, thoughts and let them pass without action.
- Calm myself.
- Give myself permission to do one thing at a time.
- Give myself permission to be quiet.
I am not patient. I am a complex emotional woman whose lack of patience and desire to do things RIGHT NOW when my emotions flare up who has found ways to calm herself and create in the process.
You don’t need to be patient to do these things. You just have to enjoy the process and what it brings you. If you don’t enjoy knitting, or sequins, or beads, or plunging needles into dolls heads (but enjoy the results when others do it)…it’s not because of any failing in your patience, it’s just it isn’t a process that suits you. That’s ok.
And to all my crafting friends…who, like me, know that crafting does have emotional highs and lows but who love it for what it brings you. I’m glad you have craft and it brings me joy when you share it.