In Praise of Fiber Arts

Knitting and crocheting and other fiber arts have made somewhat of a comeback in recent years, but they remain, in my estimation, underestimated.

Baby shoes I made for the youngest.

As a process, yarn crafting and fiber arts offer meditative stillness and gentle momentum. The repetition of pulling through a loop or threading a stitch is natural and ancestral. It bears the rhythm of the elements, the ebb and flow of water and the current of wind. Fiber art pieces develop slowly, appearing in completion like a morning glory after days or weeks of winding upward. Yarn crafting is therapeutic, reducing depression, anxiety, insomnia and dementia, along with having other health benefits.

Freehand toddler mitten. My son could never quite get his thumb in the right spot, though, so I never made the other side.

For some, now could be an ideal time to learn crocheting, knitting, cross-stitching or hand-sewing. While much thought can go into the colors and design, the bulk of the work is done in simple, repetitive steps. I sometimes tell myself that if I feed my brain good “food,” I won’t want to “snack” as much during the day with, say, endless social media scrolling. I consider crochet as part of the good food category, even though it isn’t as dense or chewy as some things.

Mood Mittens
Slip-stitch mittens

Lately I’ve mostly made a bit of progress on a sleeping mat I am making. This is a huge project I’ve already spent, I’d guess, over fifty hours on (including cutting up plastic bags into two-inch rings and looping them together to make plarn). This project is easier done in groups just because of the sheer size of the project, though I’ve also found it fulfilling to work on alone. When I’m done, we’ll bring it to our local homeless shelter. The mats are lightweight and easy to carry, easy to wash off, pretty durable, insulating, thick and cushy.

This is about half of what I’ve got. I still have about two feet left to go.

Happy social distancing. Stay safe and sane!