Happy September! One of the best months of the year (IMHO) and it’s bringing lots of reorganization and preparation for yours truly 😉
I’m here today to bring you a vlog that talks a little bit about how I run my business and make money publishing crochet patterns online. This overview introduces two new platforms for Morale Fiber, Patreon and Ko-Fi, which will allow me to take subscriptions from the kind followers who want to support what I do!
Patreon and Ko-Fi are social media channels designed to help artists get paid for their work. If you like to see my work and want to make a huge difference in my ability to produce content, please subscribe, donate or follow me on either of these platforms! 🙂 If those channels are too much commitment, you can drop a safe, one-time payment in my Tip Jar on this page (or read more there about how I manage MF and provide free content).
In my YouTube Channel video I go over why I am opening these new revenue options, what I do in the day to day running of Morale Fiber, and how I juggle all the tasks of a one-woman independent art business.
There’s also some sneak peeks of upcoming designs currently in development and examples of some of the great FREE content I offer 🙂 All projects mentioned in the video are linked below 😀
One more thing – I apologize for the choppiness of this video! I mentioned recently that I was having issues with my laptop (main computer) being really slow 🙃 and shortly after I filmed this video on my phone, my computer crashed and is now totally dead. So I had to video edit on my phone. One more great reason to subscribe, donate and tip if you like my art! Mama needs a new laptop 😉
Hi fiber fans! This blog post is just a quick one featuring my newest YouTube video, which is a long and ramble-y unboxing of my latest yarn order from one of my absolute favorite supply companies, Lion Brand. As usual, the opinions and products featured in this review are 100% my own – I didn’t receive any money, affiliations, or products in return for this feature, I just really like their yarn 🙂
With this review I’ve continued my search for soft, comfortable #4 weight cotton yarn for use in my halter top and bikini top patterns and I finally find my coveted substitute for I Love This Cotton…
I also re-supply myself on Ferris Wheel, an excellent colorful acrylic cake yarn with a lightweight one-ply structure. This yarn is somewhat melancholy as I’m using it to finish the Sundogs Throw blanket my friend was making right before she passed away.
So here’s the video – come hang with me as I laugh, cry, and ogle totes in my little woodland corner (and check below the video for links to all the patterns I mention)…
Lion Brand Unboxing & Yarn Review
Thanks for joining me! Here are the links to the patterns I mention in the video:
This summer is flying by, fueled by the need to commune and see my loved ones after the isolation and uncertainty of 2020. I keep in mind I’m lucky enough to have access to the vaccine, as there are many places that struggled to get their populations vaccinated and still so many people in danger of getting Covid 19 or the variant strains. As usual, gratitude is the name of the game.
So it’s been a busy season, and in addition to the full dance card I’ve managed a number of new designs and projects. This will be one of my “wrap-up and reflect” posts sharing my latest patterns, some new spins on old designs, and anything else that comes to mind 🙂
Faux Fur Hats
Having stashed plenty of the Lion Brand Go for Faux Thick & Quick yarn last winter, I decided to make some room on my yarn shelf by busting out two new Ushanka hats from my totally free Ushanka Hat & Muff pattern. I’ve been getting ideas from the interestingly styled images on my vintage fashion & mori kei Pinterest board, in which mountain girls sport colorful accessorized layers paired with fur hats and boots. It was a bit hot out for that sort of thing, but I did get creative with my styling and layers in order to show off these two new Ushankas!
The first is a traditional Ushanka, with the earflaps attaching to the sides of the hat with buttons instead of ties on top as with the original one I made. The big Jumbo yarn and the huge hook make these hats doable in just a fraction of a day!
The second faux fur hat I made, I modified the original crochet pattern just a little by adding an extra round of stitches on top (following the formula of increases to continue with the flat circle). I wanted a slightly bigger profile on this one, and a more rigid “turn” from the top of the hat to the sides. To accomplish this sharp top edge, I worked the first non-increase round in Back Post Double Crochet instead of regular double crochet, which helped the stitches turn inward more sharply.
I also left the earflaps off of this one to give it a more “military” and less of a “trapper” look.
As you can see with the Ramblers’ Mitts above, I’ve really been enjoying the variety of “velvet” or chenille type yarns this year, and I knew I had to make the Basic Bralette design in that ultra-cushy soft texture too. It came out as luxe as I imagined in Bernat Baby Velvet, the smaller (#4 weight) yarn version of their popular #5 weight yarn.
I got some more of the same Baby Velvet to make another! I also used the regular Bernat Velvet in black to make a super special Basic Bralette – I wanted to test the capacity of the Basic Bralette (and it’s modifier, the Curvey Bralette) design to go up to bigger cup sizes and it worked out beautifully! My friend wears an H cup size bra and with some modifications (which have now been added into the written portion of the main pattern) it was no problem to make the design fit.
Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned busy-ness, I haven’t gotten to take pictures of her in it yet. Hopefully those are coming soon. I am so pleased with how it looks, especially since I get questions about making the Basic Bralette in larger sizes a lot and now I can answer them more thoroughly, having done it myself 🙂
Cottagecore Girlfriend Dress
I’ve loved taking short breaks with bits of sewing, particularly when it means I get to clean out some leftovers and fabric-stash bust a little. I made this light, floaty and sweet patchwork dress using my favorite patchwork skirt pattern, melded with a bodice that I freehanded. A criss-cross back tie and adjustable waistband made this really comfortable, and I also added eyelet lace cotton trim in gathered ruffles on the hem and a vintage embroidered tea towel pocket!
I called it my “Cottagecore Girlfriend” dress 🙂 I learned a lot making it and hopefully will be able to recreate the bodice part for later versions – meanwhile this one has been added to my costume closet and already made an appearance in my “Moth Wizard” photoshoot for the Wizard Hat crochet pattern, which was just released!
Elf Coat Updates
On of the most major projects I concluded this summer was getting the Elf Coat pattern expanded and updated. I created a major update for the regular sizes Small-Large which included some rewriting and some additional extras like belt and pockets, but the long awaited Plus Sizes option didn’t get released until recently in June! Good timing for that, as it gives people plenty of time to get started on their coats so that they can wear them this winter 🙂
You can find the directory to all the sizes and options for the Elf Coat through the page linked in the paragraph above – right now this includes sizes Small-2XL/3XL, corset back lacing, belt tie, and THREE types of pockets, all for FREE here on my blog (but you can also buy the full written patterns in my Etsy shop 😉 and there might be a sale if you read a little further! )
New Growth & Designs
Pictured here is as much as I’m willing to reveal about the new pattern I have in the works! I try not to give too much away usually, as I just like to keep things a surprise and also because I’m terrible at committing 😀 But after 4 total reworks to this piece, I’m confident to say it’s mostly finalized and so I’m moving into the fine-tuning stage of development.
As you can see, this next one will be based on my Tree of Life motif, which has proved to be a great little free design – I have just enjoyed it SO MUCH, seeing people’s little happy trees pop up on my Instagram feed! You can get the free pattern for the Tree of Life Mandala wall hanging by following the link above. This motif also appears in my Embla Vest, a premium pattern in sizes XS-XL ❤
Last but not least, my Etsy shop is ALMOST to 10,000 sales! Holy wow, I can’t believe it! We’ve got a few more to go though, so to incentivize I’ve created my “10K or Bust” sale which is running now through the end of next month – get ANY crochet pattern from my Etsy Shop 20% off, no coupon code needed!
I’m really excited to see that number roll over – I can still remember 10K sales on Etsy being some crazy, far-away dream of mine 😉 The sale is schedule to last until August 28, 2021 – although I may extend it depending on how close to 10K we get!
As always, thank you for all your likes, comments, purchases, reviews, and encouragement!
Over the ten years that I’ve been developing Morale Fiber as a brand and as a business, the internet has changed a lot. Even a digital native like myself can find the ever-quickening pace of online options astounding! Social platforms have exploded in variety, and the media formats available on these apps have come a looooong way, baby.
That’s all wonderful news for people who love to share and socialize on their phones, but for someone who wants to get their art out there for a wide audience to see, it can be a lot to keep up with. Especially since so many of these new platforms now offer or feature video formats, and let me just tell you, I have had a LIFELONG aversion to being videotaped.
Just like when it’s weird to first hear your own voice on a recording, it can be hard for some people to see themselves on video! But with the help of my YouTube channel, I’ve been facing my fears of recording myself – first with my all-hands crochet tutorial videos, then conquering showing my face on camera talking without a script. My latest addition to the video repertoire is something I’ve never tried before – an unboxing video and yarn review 🙂
And you know what? I was shocked (SHOCKED I TELL YOU) to find that I really did enjoy it! Despite my self-consciously sassy tagline, I really hoped people would enjoy the video and like to see my input and my creative voice in a more natural setting. In fact it really didn’t take long for me to try to do it again – this time with an impromptu tutorial on the skirt & waistband sizing on my Elf Coat pattern.
I’ve been experimenting with methods of video recording and with topics of videos, including switching to recording with my phone rather than with my DSLR camera which at this point, is too old to even compete with the video capacity of my phone camera. Recording with my phone also helps make the transfer to social video apps smoother, and I’m working on adding more video content to my Facebook/Instagram pages and even recently started practicing my TikToks! Hooray, this Elder Millenial can stop stressing about not being hip.
Okay, that’s not true. I’ll always be a HuGe DoRk.
At any rate, I hope you’ll check out these new offerings and follow/subscribe to Morale Fiber while I build my skills and as always, continue to crochet until morale improves 🙂
To see all my social media platforms linked in one place, check out my LinkTree!
Speaking of Video Games, have you seen my written tutorial for the Video Game Guy? He’s 100% free and 100% friend shaped 🙂
From here you can navigate to all my offerings for Morale Fiber – independent fiber artist and crochet pattern designer 🙂 (For more on who I am, see my About Page!) I created this post to make finding what you’re looking for easier. Let’s start with everyone’s favorite:
The Free Patterns page is a running list of all the free crochet patterns, and they are all available published here for easy viewing- No extra downloads, sign-ups, or anything 😉 I also have a page for my Crochet Tutorials!
Some of my most popular free patterns right now are the Novella Shawl (pictured top/left), the Basic Bralette (bottom/left), the Lotus Mandala Duster, and the Elf Coat (pictured below left and below right).
As a self-publishing artist I make most of my income from sales of my PDF crochet patterns through Ravelry and Etsy. If you really want to support what I do, check out my running list of crochet designs available as downloadable, printable, ad-free PDFs!
If you have questions about any of the patterns I offer, I respond to messages regularly and would love to help! You can contact me here easily by leaving a comment on the page linked below, or contact me directly via any of my social media channels.
One of my favorite sayings goes “The only constant is change.”
It reminds me that the live happily in life, you always need to acknowledge the shifting nature of it. If you go along expecting everything to be the same, always resisting when forced to take paths that you didn’t intend, life and it’s transformative progress will seem to be a battle.
One of my other favorite sayings goes “Man plans, god laughs” 😉
I’ll be reflecting in this post about what I’ve been doing with Morale Fiber over the past year – it’s more of a diary entry really, collecting my thoughts and tipping you off for what’s on the horizon for my designs!
2020 – Plague Year
It’s obviously been a weird one. In addition to switching my business from part-time to full-time in 2020, just a few months into the year Corona Virus struck and my proximity to at-risk loved ones made self-employment more imperative than usual. Still luckily things are going well, and I created & maintained my schedule for the year which included 6 written patterns, 4 tutorials, 2 brand new free hat patterns, 3 remodeled patterns, and lots more crochet morale boosting!
I’ve got a couple projects/designs in the works to finish off the year’s production list, and I’m now into my normal “holidays” phase of the year, despite the lack of holiday events upcoming (stupid plague).
YouTube Channel (& SALE!!)
One of the biggest efforts I made this year was reaching my goal of monetizing my YouTube Channel, which I’ve been developing as quickly as my creaky, video-hating old bones can manage. But I did make that goal also, thanks to all the watchers & subscribers, so I’m holding a special pattern sale as a thank-you!
All PDF versions of the full-length patterns available on my YouTube Channel (and a few that are all written PDF but have video component tutorials) are ON SALE for 50% off now through November 15 on Ravelry ❤ ❤ Here’s a list of the patterns on sale, linked to Ravelry – use the code “YOUTUBE” at checkout to get the discount!
Monetizing my YouTube channel will help me continue to bring out free content available to everyone while also giving me the financial support to keep publishing great quality, full-scale written PDF crochet patterns. Another great way to support my art: The Tip Jar!
20th Pixie Belt: Lotus
I realized at some point that the next Pixie Pocket Belt I made would be my 20th, and so I determined to make a really special one. I have been making these unique crocheted utility belts freehand, doing them completely different each time, for a few years now.
After that, I got out my special hand-dyed upcycled fabric given to me by my friend Kate, who had it left over from a studio art project – and it happened to match so well! What I ended up with is a watery, soft, draping train of prismatic lace and tatters, topped with a shimmery white lotus flower circular pocket and soft drawstring bag and toadstool pouch accents.
I put it over another hand-dyed upcycled project of mine, an in-progress rag gown, fit for a water sprite dredged from the bottom of a flowery pond. No mud, no lotus ❤
Elf Coat Expansion
Pretty much as soon as I put down the last touches on the Elf Coat design, I knew I was going to have to pick it up again eventually! One part of the sleeve design always nagged at me, and I did intend to give it pockets eventually – and lo, the flood of requests for Plus Sizes ❤ ❤
As much as I wanted to fulfill these fixes, I needed a break from the Elf Coat, so I took a couple years off to think about things 😉 And now I’m back, tackling the first part of the Elf Coat redesign and expansion! The first task is to fix the sleeve bit and to get a pocket option figured out, then update those changes to the already-existing sizes (S-M-L).
Afterward, I design & test the plus sizes! This is exciting and if you’d like to be a part of any of the testing for the new updates, join the Morale Fiber Facebook Group – The MFCA – and keep an eye out for the testing call!
Other Projects & Updates
I’ve got a number of bigger new designs on the horizon, which I’m also going to need help testing 😉 None are solid enough yet to list here, but I’ve got a hoard of updatable old patterns and things to occupy myself until things coalesce, of course.
I’m also thinking that this website, moralefiber.blog, really needs a few changes – it’s remained virtually the exact same since I opened it five years ago. Which makes sense, because I’m much more concerned with producing crochet content than updating the way the site looks – but eventually one must try to stay efficient. Hopefully I don’t wreck the way it works in the process!
Until Morale Improves, the Crocheting Will Continue ❤
I loooooooove faux fur (and real fur when I can get it thrifted) so I happily bought a lot of Lion Brand’s new Go For Faux yarn when it hit my local hobby store shelves, and have already used it in some of my new fall designs.
The Thick ‘n’ Quick version is so bulky that just one row of it makes a beautiful trim on garments and accessories…. But I mean, I bought lots. So doing a few all-fur pieces was in order. And the best part is, this yarn is JUMBO so you can make this a two-piece set in about half a day!
Here is a totally free pattern for one of my favorite hat styles: the Ushanka. Literally translating to “earflap hat” the ushanka is a classic garment in Russia and other cold northern regions of the globe – because it’s sooooo warm to wear! Additionally I designed a vintage-style muff out of the same faux fur yarn, because who doesn’t love a big fluffy arm sock?
In another recent costume hat pattern, I designed the photo shoot as my favorite witch from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld fantasy books, just for fun. At that point I’d already designed this free pattern too, and wanted to make it a set – two of my favorite Disc heroines for two crochet patterns. The ushanka was, after all, so appropriate for Sergeant (later Captain) Delphine Angua von Uberwald.
Angua’s family’s propensity for cruelty and violence drove her out of her home in Uberwald (the cold northern Disc country run by noble Vampire and Werewolf families), so she migrated to the biggest city and was hired into the city watch; her ability to transform into a natural hunting machine made her a formidable detective. She’s a bit haunted by her past, and her character is a vessel for the struggle between nature and nurture, and the balance of laws and chaos – as many of the best Pratchett characters are.
I gave her the warm fuzzy hat but also a look of wariness and mistrust, a vintage military-style buttoned coat, and a pouch around her neck with her essentials (the only thing that stays on when she transforms).If you’ve never read the Discworld books, but like sci-fi or fantasy – I highly recommend them 🙂 Obviously! Ok, now for the pattern 😉
Lion Brand Go For Faux Thick and Quick (#7, 120 g / 24 yd, 100% polyester) – 4 skeins (3 for the Ushanka, 1 for the muff). There are several types of Go For Faux – be sure you are getting the Thick and Quick! 11.5 mm crochet hook – or size needed to obtain gauge Length of ribbon (2 yards) Scissors, yarn needle (large eyed, for the jumbo yarn)
Gauge: 3 sts and 3 rows = 2″ in dc
Finished Measurements (approximate): Ushanka Hat: 22″ brim, 7″ tall from brim to crown, 6″ long earflaps Arm Muff: 7″ x 11″ for the finished tube
The hat is crocheted in the round, the first 2 chain stitches do not count as the first st. Earflaps are added on after.
With 11.5 mm hook and main yarn, make magic ring.
Leave the tail of the ring long, longer than the normal 6″ for weaving in. Since this yarn is jumbo, we need to leave a bit more so that it’s easier to weave.
Round 1: Ch 2 (does not count as first dc), 12 dc into the ring. Join with a sl st in the first dc of the round. – 12 dc
Rnd 2: Ch 2 (does not count as first dc), 2 dc in the same st. 2 dc in ea of the next 11 sts. Join with a sl st in the first dc of the rnd. – 24 dc
Rnd 3: Ch 2 (does not count), 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 23 sts. Join with a sl st in the first dc of the rnd. – 24 dc
Rnds 4-6: Rpt Rnd 3.
For and more stiff and structured hat, I like to slip stitch around the entire brim after Rnd 6.
Cut yarn and tie off, leaving long tail.
Join yarn at the side of the hat, leaving long tail. I like to try on the hat and use stitch markers to mark off a 6-stitch long section on each side where they should go over my ears before startingthis portion of the pattern.
Row 1: Ch 2 (does not count as first dc). 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 5 sts. – 6 dc
Row 2: Ch 2 (does not count), turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 5 sts. – 6 dc
Row 3: Ch 2, turn. 1 dc in the same st. (Dc2tog in the next pair of stitches) twice. 1 dc in the last st. – 4 dc
Row 4: Ch 2, turn. 1 dc in the same st. Dc2tog in the next pair of stitches. 1 dc in the last st. – 3 dc
Cut yarn and tie off, leaving long tail for weaving in.
Repeat Earflaps instructions on the other side, making sure to align placement properly for your ears.
See “Finishing” under the Muff section for further instructions.
The muff is constructed by crocheting a flat rectangle, then folding over and seaming down the open edge to form a tube.
With 11.5 mm hook and main yarn, chain 17 sts.
Row 1: In the 3rd ch from the hook, work 1 dc (first 2 chains do not count as first st). 1 dc in ea of the next 14 chain stitches.
Row 2: Ch 2 (does not count as first dc), turn. 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 14 sts.
Rows 3-5: Rpt Row 2.
Cut yarn and tie off, leaving an extra long tail for sewing.
Fold the piece in half width-wise (so that the halves are fatter, not skinner). Using the large eyed yarn needle, thread the long tail and seam the sides of the piece together so that it forms a tube.
If you prefer a larger/wider muff you can always add more rows on to the rectangle, or make extra rounds on the ends.
With large eyed yarn needle, thread all remaining ends and weave in. The Jumbo yarn is a little tricky to weave in, just stick to going through the bottoms of the stitches and make sure to turn a few times when weaving . I have found this yarn loves to pop out because it’s so thick so you may have to test the finished piece by stretching, and trim a little if your ends start peeking out!
Now for the ribbon: You’ll need three ribbon lengths. I used a lightweight specialty ribbon yarn (the ruffling kind) but any soft ribbon will work – cut the lengths long, about 21-24 inches, as they will be doubled up (and you can then trim to preference).
Take two lengths and double them up, looping one through the center bottom of each earflap (working through a space between stitches) to tie on.
This decorates the hat and enables you to tie the earflaps up on top of the head in true ushanka fashion.
Next, take the third length of ribbon and cut in half. String each half in and out of the spaces between stitches on the edges of the muff, leaving the ribbon tails poking out in the same space like a drawstring. Tie & bow the ribbons – now you can adjust the openings of the muff to make sure your paws hands are toasty!
That’s it! Now you’re ready to face any chilly northern winds that may blow your way this winter ❤ Or maybe you’re ready to see Captain Carrot 😉
Happy Monday! I hope everyone out there is feeling well and healthy – I am, if just a touch stir crazy. But the weather is beautiful and I’ve been blessed with a lot of opportunities to hike out in the isolated woods recently 🙂
It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post, so I thought I’d write up a little summary of what’s on my schedule right now – a couple new projects and previews, plus giveaways! I’m lucky to have already been working from home when the stay-at-home order was put in my place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in my state, so I have plenty in the works and more on the horizon for as long as my yarn stash holds out (even then, the emergency reserves are flush...)
So, cheers! Be sure to subscribe to my blog, and like & follow my Facebook Page for more fun crochet stuff!
Star & Moon Twirling Gown:
Another project made from the very well-appreciated Wendy Kay’s No-Sew Gypsy Skirt pattern, which I purchased from Etsy years ago and have used a LOT. I think this is my eighth skirt from that pattern.
Modeled by the lovely Sarina Newbold, this celestial piece is 100% cotton fabric donated by a friend, and I used the long-wedge version of the pattern to create a gown-length mega-skirt that adjusts from XS up to XXL at the waistband.
As you can see, it is just KILLER for twirling in. I am patiently building my sewing skills, because I have some really neat ideas for more crochet/fabric fusion clothing ❤ in the future!
I plan to go over the pattern once more, then turn this popular design into a downloadable, ad-free PDF! I’m looking to expand my PDF offerings to include more available free patterns, for those that like to the portability and convenience – if there’s one you’d like to see, let me know 🙂
Fundraisers & Giveaways
I’ve recently began offering some of my premium, normally paid-only crochet patterns for FREE as special deals to help people stay safe & sane during this period of self-isolation (which I have begun to call Free Range Captivity). In return, I ask those who can do so to consider making a small donation to a worthy cause.
The first Free Pattern Fundraiser offered the Valkyrie Top gratis in support of The Trevor Project. The offer is ended now, thank you to everyone who supported this important service! Keep reading for the current free offering 🙂
The Valkyrie Top was also part of a recent Instagram Giveaway I participated in, hosted by the incredible Starlily Creations featuring some of my personal favorite crochet artists and heroes. Congratulations to Viv, winner of the deluxe halter top pattern pack!
As I sometimes like to do in these rambling wrap-up posts, I have a couple sneak peeks on something that’s coming up soon! This design has been on my mind for years, though I lacked the persistence to do it until recently.
Mysterious, eh? Well, not really. It’s just crochet pineapples, that ubiquitous motif. Or is it?
Good morning! I’m mostly recovered from my whirlwind trip to The Farm for their annual Farm School Holiday Bazaar ❤ I had an amazing time vending and sharing my love of all things fiber art with the other vendors and shoppers, plus some bonus friend fun with my darling hosts ❤
This little blog blurb is mostly an update on what’s occupying my design radar at the moment. Having finished up the Tree of Life and Embla designs, I’m ready to work on the handful of half-finished new projects I have lying around. And maybe hack away at some of the ones that have been on the back burner for like, um, years.
It’s a hard life, creating every day! Just kidding, it’s awesome 😉
The next big thing on the map is completing the video tutorial for the Lotus Mandala Duster. Parts 1 and 2 were released a month or two ago, so I’d like to get the rest finished up as soon as possible since many people have asked for the next installment! With the holidays approaching, it might be slow going, but it’s on my list for sure 🙂
I’m also in the midst of working on a design that is inspired by the popularity of the Krampus Hat free crochet pattern. The unique and over-the-top nature of that hat really captured people’s imaginations and I’d love to create something else that’s similarly “out there”, using techniques that I developed working on a custom hat in 2018.
That bespoke piece was made to mimic the client’s custom-designed video game character, and it was quite a journey to develop and I really loved pushing myself to get it as accurate as possible. It gave me SO many new ideas 😉 You can find the project page for this custom hat on Ravelry.
The new crazy hat design looks nothing like the custom made one pictured above, but I will still be using the Krampus Hat format for the base of the new Creature ❤ Here’s a very unhelpful sneak peek:
And speaking of Ravelry, I’ve been doing some major updating on my Projects page, uploading lost projects from years of crocheting. My goal was to thoroughly update everything in my portfolios from 2015-2018 before 2019 ended, and I’m just about done. Check out my Ravelry Projects page for 130+ creations by yours truly ❤
I guess this counts as my end-of-the-year wrap up post, so I’ll go ahead and say this:
Fiber art is my passion, and teaching it and talking about it is my dream job. To everyone who has liked, commented, shared, bought, supported, or even just smiled because of what I do, I thank you. My gratitude is without limit.
The following is a bit of an emotional reflection, sans any crochet instruction – I don’t usually share in this very personal way but I had some thoughts I needed to get down. So if you’re interested, read on ❤
A month ago, I was staying at my parents’ place to dog-sit while they were gallivanting around the Grand Canyon. I had all the materials to complete the patterns I was working on – the Tree of Life dreamcatcher mandala and the Embla Vest – and a bunch of free time to do it in. Until the call came in.
I’d lost another friend. One I’d just seen not a week ago. He died overnight of asthma-related breathing complications, three weeks from his birthday.
Grief seems to have been my companion this summer. In June, a friend from high school had passed away of suicide – a friend that I hadn’t seen in years, but nonetheless occupied my memory as my closest adolescent bestie, the girl I spent countless hours laughing and crying with. The distance of time between us was no real distance at all, and I grieved for Michelle.
Later in the summer, my hometown was rocked by controversy at the weekly community Farmer’s Market. An Anti-Fascist action group released leaks from an internet hate forum called Identity Evropa, which revealed with certainty that one of the farmer’s market stalls in Bloomington was operated by Neo-Nazis. The community was in uproar and the market was shut down because the protests became too dangerous. I walked the aisles of the market myself and saw the armed skinheads waiting to pick a fight.
When the market temporarily closed, the fear was brought to my front door. My then-workplace, the local co-op grocery store, decided to host an alternative market for the two weeks the official market was shut down because of safety concerns. The turmoil in town was at its peak, and during this time several public shootings occurred across the country. Customers even pointed out to me, a produce clerk, that I should have an escape plan.
I began to fear for my safety and then something very real hit me – the notion that all over the country, other people feel like this all of the time and I, with my unasked for privilege, was only now getting a taste. I was sick with anxiety at the time and I now realize that what I was feeling was in fact grief. Grief for the death of my worldview in which my town (despite its problems) was a good, safe, open-minded place to be. Grief because I’d read the leaks from the forum, and the poisonous hate speech was unbearable. Grief because I’d never had to feel this unsafe before and yet some people grow up with this danger in their bones.
Things settled, for a while, after the markets resumed (there are still yet protests happening there) and I left that job, and life went on, and I decided to focus more on my business. That dog-sitting gig was the perfect opportunity to hammer out my new pattern, and get some pretty shots of it against the background of my parents’ deciduous autumn landscape.
Until the call came in. On a Monday morning, I found out I’d lost another friend and grief was to stay by my side. And here it’s been – for a month – saturating everything. At first I pushed through, mechanically figuring the pattern numbers as if it was the only thing in the world, the only the I wanted to do was force it to make sense. Make everything make sense.
As I wrestled with it, I was frustrated and blocked up and felt at times like I was drowning in emotions from the trauma, other times I felt nothing. I latched onto other projects, creating visions in which “everything was beautiful and nothing hurt”.
Grief is a funny thing. It’s slippery, and sometimes insidious and it latched onto old wounds, causing them to bubble up from below and before I could really grasp why, I was stricken with sadness from past abuses, guilt from ancient misdeeds, and doubt that I could ever emerge.
It’s been and continues to be difficult. But the grief I’ve been experiencing has also given me positive perspectives. My friend group, who all knew Isaac, have pulled together for each other in their strength. I’m incredibly, unbelievably lucky to be here on Earth for the time that I am, and to know those shining souls that I know, and to have this platform to spill my thoughts, to people who I’ve never met but whom I can only hope feel lucky too.
The Embla Vest was so named months before my friend died, but the name is a nugget of hope. Embla was the first woman in Viking mythology, her life begun with breath on an old, fallen tree. From the dead, twisted driftwood she emerged to start humanity. The old Norse notion of time is not linear, or even circular – it’s a spiral. So all things come to an end, as they naturally should, and all things begin once more, to spiral out as they will.
It’s a really pretty philosophy. It’s a neat little metaphor, wrapped in a hopeful package. Right now, it seems too cute to deal with the messy and unfathomable world of death and grief. Embla, emerges from the trees? And starts life over again, like your favorite track on an album?
I wish it were that easy. But then again, if you’ve ever actually been lost in trees, you may know that emergence isn’t easy at all. You trip on unseen undergrowth. You get smacked in the face by branches. Sometimes, you wander into a thicket with no way through and have to turn back. But when the world is ending, you have no choice. Driven like clockwork, Embla must emerge because emergence is what she does. Time drives the motion of the spiral and Embla emerges until the end comes for her, too.
And at the end of the world (Ragnorak), the sun gives birth to a daughter, and Ask and Embla’s children (humanity) survive, and the world starts over again like your favorite track on an album, and new humans emerge, and time spirals outward.
P.S – If you are interested in Norse mythology, I can’t recommend this book enough – it’s a copy of the myths I’ve had since I was 13. They are well researched and beautifully told in narrative format. “The Norse Myths” by Kevin Crossley-Holland