The Body, Mind, Heart, and Spirit of Crocheting

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"A Girl Crocheting by Renoir: Fiber Art Reflections

A Girl Crocheting, painted by Renoir in 1875

I love this painting by Renoir that he titled “A Girl Crocheting”.  I imagine the warmth of the sunlight coming through the window, the quiet uninterrupted reverie, and the joy of lace developing in one’s hands.

Fiber art crochet engages body, mind, heart, and spirit. In her biography, A House With Four Rooms, Rumer Godden wrote the following:

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A House With Four Rooms by Rumer Godden

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“There is an Indian proverb that says that everyone is a house with four rooms – a physical, a mental, and emotional, and a spiritual.   Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.”


Rumer Godden (1907 -1998) was an English novelist and she grew up in India.  I love how she captured the idea of attending to one’s whole self.  Sometimes when I am in the middle of creating some fiber art, the walls separating these rooms come down and I am in all four at once. Or perhaps moving continuously and seamlessly through all four.

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Maybe this is like electrons that are no where in particular and everywhere at once.  Tim Folger says, “About 80 years ago, scientists discovered that it is possible to be in two locations at the same time—at least for an atom or a subatomic particle, such as an electron. For such tiny objects, the world is governed by a madhouse set of physical laws known as quantum mechanics. At that size range, every bit of matter and energy exists in a state of blurry flux, allowing it to occupy not just two locations but an infinite number of them simultaneously.” Discover Magazine, June 2005.

Perhaps these moments of full integration of body, mind, heart, and spirit are what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi means by the concept of being in “Flow“. His research shows that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow – a state of being so engaged in a creative activity that time is transcended.

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THE FOUR ROOMS:

PHYSICAL

Fiber art crochet involves manipulating the thread or yarn with hook and hands. It’s the feeling of the fiber; the sight of emerging patterns and of colors at play; the repetitive rhythmic movements of practiced hands. A kinesthetic outlet on long plane rides and while sitting in waiting rooms.

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MENTAL

Fiber art crochet exercises mental skills through interpreting pattern instructions, creating new patterns, making decisions as-you-go in freeform projects.  At times it involves math through keeping count, through developing new patterns, and in creating hyperbolic geometry models. In 1997 a math professor at Cornell University, Dr. Daina Taimina, discovered that it was possible to create a physical model of a hyperbolic plane using the art of crochet. Many mathematicians thought a physical model was impossible to create. 

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EMOTIONAL

Fiber art crochet touches on our emotional life.  There is a feeling of joy in response to an emerging piece – the act of creation in progress.  In making a gift and thinking of the intended receiver, a wave of love washes over.  Daily stresses fall away by living in the simplicity of the moment.  In her book, Contemplative Crochet, Cindy Crandall-Frazier says, “I like to think of art as a short word nestled inside the word heart.  When we choose the “right” hook — the one that fits our hand, slips smoothly through our yarn, and makes a beautiful fabric — we are stitching heart into our fabric.  When we use a yarn that feels good to the touch delights us with its color, and looks good in our stitch pattern, “art” and “heart” are both more evident.  When we choose materials that are a joy to work with, the work gives back measure for measure.”

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SPIRITUAL

Fiber art crochet, along with other handcrafts, can be a meditative practice.  Susan Gordon Lydon writes in her book, The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice that,  “The purpose of mediation is to quiet the mind so that it can sink down into contemplation of its true nature.  You cannot stop your mind by an act of will any more than you can stop the beating of your own heart.  Some cultures describe mind as a drunken monkey, reeling from place to place with o rhyme or reason.  Like meditation, knitting calms the monkey down.. I believe that in the quiet, repetitive, hypnotic rhythms of creating craft, the inner being may emerge in all its quiet beauty.”

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My Current Crochet Project in Progress

A friend and I are working on some pottery and lace pieces. At the moment I’m making a crocheted lace mat that will be used to make impressions in clay before being fired in the kiln.  This is done with a rolling pin.  Stay tuned for future posts on that topic. In the meantime, here is the lace I’m working on:

Crochet lace project

Crochet Lace: Fiber Art Reflections

“Garance” from issue number 11 of Mailles

Mailles number 11: Fiber Art Reflections

Mailles, Issue Number 11, October/November 2009

Back issues of Mailles (a French crochet magazine) can be obtained at http://www.edisaxe.com or by searching on eBay, Amazon, ArtFire, Etsy, or AbeBooks.

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size 20 thread with number 12 steel crochet hook: Fiber Art Reflections

Size 20 thread (Lizbeth Cordonnet) and a size 12 steel crochet hook

Close up of lace crochet project: Fiber Art Reflections

Crochet Lace Project in Progress

And now with crochet hook and thread in hand, I’m off to the land of “Flow” …

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2 responses »

  1. Hello!
    I love your blog! I love this post particularly – especially the part about the four rooms, and the idea of flow. Your crochet is astoundingly beautiful. I’m so impressed you can do that! I could never wrap my brain around all of that string. Long ago my grandmother crocheted doilies, and I was too naive to really appreciate the skill and artistry. And look at all these links! I bow to you, Oh, Research Queen! ~ Kate 🙂

    • Hi, Kate! Thanks for stopping by – so good to see you, my friend! 🙂 You work magic with origami and I can’t get my brain around how you make paper do that. You are welcome to write a guest post here anytime. LOL – you know me and research! It’s a sickness. :mrgreen:

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