What will you make this summer?
For many of us, this summer has held so much hope! After a long, tough winter, we looked forward to once again hugging our loved ones safely, gathering for barbecues, and sharing a cup of coffee with friends.
And perhaps summer has been all you could have asked for: dreamy, warm, and wonderful. But perhaps summer has also brought you unexpected challenges: unprecedented heat waves, worries about your kids or family, or a general exhaustion from all the work and grief of 2020, the year that just wouldn't leave us.
Has making been a help to you in the midst of all these adjustments?
The picture above is a raglan tee I knit last summer, in Green Mountain Spinnery's Cotton Comfort (it's one of my favorite yarns for summertime knits). I knit it mostly alone, just my family around me, and its simple pattern kept me company on many quiet days. I wore it all that summer, and (in layers) through winter, too. Last year taught me about being ok with my own company in ways I never had before. I wasn't always comfortable with that. Sometimes my mind wandered, and I've been surprised to discover that it is often still hard to focus. The rhythmic, simple stitches of this pattern helped. This tee has been a favorite wardrobe staple ever since - a true comfort.
But sometimes, knitting does not help me focus, and my mind will wander away after only a row or two of stitches. In other words, the craft that once brought me ultimate stress relief and relaxation . . . doesn't always work the way it used to. I've had to get comfortable accepting that, too. I still believe that fiber crafts are great for focus and de-stress, but I've come to realize my brain, at least, needs a lot more of a mental re-set these days; I've found it helpful to change up my old routines and creative paths, and to be gentle with myself. We've all gone through a lot this past year. It doesn't seem surprising that the old coping routines we used to use might need a bit of a tweak here or there!
If you normally knit or crochet, and lose your joy or focus in that for a time, don't lose heart. Take a break and learn a bit of embroidery! If you're a stitcher, give tapestry weaving a try. I'm a year-round knitter myself, but even I would be the first to admit that there are just some days that are too hot to lay a pile of wool in your lap. When that happens, it's great to have another option. The mental restart via another craft can help restore joy in our old favorites, and give us new hobbies to recharge our focus, creativity, and ability to rest.
Whatever you do this summer, I wish you wellness and wholeness. May you pursue love and justice in your home and your community, for all persons. And may you love well, both yourself and others.
Happy summer, friends!