I had a completely different topic in mind for this week’s post but having spent a lovely morning teaching 3 ladies with learning disabilities to crochet a chain and make a bracelet it occurred to me to explore the role of creativity in building a sense of hope.
I honestly believe that we all have a creative ability…. it might be handicrafts, art or even building a wall – it doesn’t matter what it is you like to create, the only thing that matters is that you put your heart into it and are pleased with what you have achieved. It actually doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of your finished work – they might love it, they might not but that’s not the point. The point I believe is in your personal achievement.
I’ve already shared bits of my own story – how I’ve rediscovered that I can be creative and the journey I’m taking into freeform work. However if it wasn’t for crafting I have no idea where I’d be now! 5 years ago I was pensioned off by the NHS following a massive flare up of the complex pain syndrome I have. I was pretty much bed / chair bound and came out of a discussion with a back to work provider feeling pretty fed up – I was told if I wanted to work I’d have to find a job to do laying down!! I sent my daughter off to the shops for a kids knitting kit and had ago and found I’d not lost the ability so started making things – I hunted down yarn and fabrics on Freecycle and in charity shops as I got a bit stronger – thanks to the pain clinic and their brilliant and very inspired physio – and eventually opened a Folksy shop. Things gradually grew from there, I gained an adult teaching qualification about 3 years ago. It was pretty scary going into the classroom in a wheelchair – I wasn’t sure what the group would think etc but it was great and I found I could still teach! Since then I’ve run workshops and classes with the help of friends and family and attended fairs etc. And met some equally amazing people along the way….
I’ve mentioned the Headway group before – currently they’re embarked on
knitting preemie clothes for Lisa’s Stars. The loom knitters are producing hats, one lady who hates knitting is making tiny blankets and another lady who has not been able to follow a pattern for 8 years is now churning out tiny hats, mitts and booties from simple patterns and has decided to attempt a tiny cardigan over Easter. I’ve rewritten the pattern so its a bit easier to follow and I’m sure she’ll do it as her confidence is really growing. Our next project is to make a wall hanging / quilt. Its going to take some inventiveness but our sewing star has promised me she’ll make sure I’m teaching things well so I’m sure it’ll be fine. When I first met the group I had no idea what would be possible but to see them grow and gain confidence through their achievements is amazing and no matter how bad a day I’m having I always come out feeling better. Its easy to look at the label and decide on people’s capabilities but its only when you give people a chance to do something creative and forget labels that you discover their potential.
I’ve recently started working with a group of ladies with mental health issues on a monthly basis. I support them in working on projects of their choice. Some can already knit or crochet and need a bit of confidence and others are beginners. The rule I work to is progress not perfection so until the person can confidently do something I don’t spend time on mistakes because it actually doesn’t matter. What matters to these ladies is that they are doing something and achieving something that they feel good about. One of the group has already joined the Friday Knit and Natter group and is making new social contacts too.
And talking of Knit and Natter, we’re a diverse group sometimes all female, sometimes with the odd man coming along. Some can knit or crochet well, others are complete beginners. We talk about all sorts, help and support each other and I think encourage each other to achieve. For some members the group is a break from a fairly isolated lifestyle, for others its a chance to learn something new or pass on existing skills. One girl had never tried knitting or crochet at the beginning and is now making toys and dolls clothes for her children.
And this morning was amazing – I worked individually with each lady and their helper. Ok the correct crochet grips etc went out the window but everyone was really proud of the chain bracelets they’d made. I was kept busy making flowers to add to them and everyone took one home to give to a friend or relative as an Easter gift. One lady has asked if I can come again as she eventually wants to make a blanket and I’m really looking forward to it.
So based on my experiences, I think hope for the future comes from feeling positive about yourself and one of the best ways of feeling positive is to have a sense of achievement. And creativity definitely has a role!