Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Gift Of Inspiration

To be inspired..... to create....... so then to inspire another. There's this joy in art, a feeling of life that's tangible. You can feel it when you see or touch something beautiful and even, if you are quiet and listen, can sense the heartbeat of the hands that made it. Art is love manifest to be shared from one to another.

My story with art and crafting is a long one so if you dare pull up a chair, get comfy and sit a while. Its been love-hate..... tumultuous times, joyful at others, but constant. I call it "consistently creating", this always and forever dabbling in every medium I can get my hands on. I cant, never could, seem to stick with one thing for long, and how could I? The whole wide world is a beautiful art buffet just waiting for one to dip there fingers in and get sticky with its sweetness. Knitting. Beading. Photography. Writing. Painting. Drawing. Sewing. Jewelry making. Candle making. Needle point. Baking. Cooking. Loving. Crocheting.

Back track 40 years.... I was born to some slightly unsavory questionable characters who although tried at times I'm sure to get it together never seemed to and I was adopted out at the age of three. Up until that time I was mostly with my mother (my father in and out of jail) who was a heroin addict and bouncing from here to there, no stable home to speak of except the times I spent with my aunt and uncle. At one point being homeless my mom and me were taken in at a commune where my aunt Joy was living and who by that time in the 70's had taken to the counter culture hippie style living. There was naked gardening, art, farming and no plumbing save for an out house and a type of solar shower. From what I've heard I loved it there. I loved my aunt Joy, they say more than my mother. But even free lovin' hippies have requirements and standards. One of the rules to live free walking in nothing more than your smile through the cabbages and carrots was absolutely no "hard" drugs. Only drugs that were seen by the community to open the mind to art and spirituality were acceptable. Drugs like LSD, Peyote and Marijuana were ok in their book, even encouraged for growth and mind expansion (lol, I know tisk, tisk but don't hate..... this was the flower child era after all) but drugs that hooked you, drug you down, changed your character for the worse were considered off limits. Not good for the group as a whole, so not tolerated for the individual. My mother being an addict tried and failed to stick by this one simple rule. They busted her banging up heroin in the outhouse and we were asked to leave. So ended my adventures with the free love movement and my young minds uninhibited artistic least for a while.

I was adopted by my aunt and uncle. They had two boys of their own and wanted a baby girl so very much. My father was a blue collar worker, Minneapolis fire fighter, and my mother a white collar corporate worker. I was raised in the country in (at that time) a very small wee lil town. My life had changed in a blink of an eye. Beautiful home, clothes, private school, toys..... and love. And still, I wasn't easy to deal with. I could say I regret all the pain I caused my new parents and it would be true, yet it would also be true and fair to say I honestly at that point couldn't help it. I had no channel for the confusion, dysfunction, abandonment, self condemnation, yearning, the anger. I spewed my emotional vomit it out all over them. I had gone from the daughter of a drug store robbing junkie to being the daughter of Ward and June Cleaver, complete with Wally and the Beaver.....where did I fit in?

My new mom was a completely great mixture of Martha Stewart and Mary Tyler More. She kept an impeccable home, she worked a full time job, she loved my father passionately. She was everything I wanted to be and rejected all at once. I was 38 years old before I would realize I just needed to love her and accept her and more importantly in doing this fully learn to love and accept myself.

I grew up watching her craft. She would sit nights after a day at the office curled up with yarn on the sofa giggling at shows like Moonlighting and Threes Company. Or on other nights I would hear the start and stop whirring of her Singer as she sewed me some new fantabulous outfit for school the next day. She set up a craft group with the local ladies in our area.... they would gather at our house and drink coffee, talk about their hubbys and make what ever thing my mom came up with as their project that month. Pine cone wreaths and yarn owls on driftwood. Miniature boxes to hang on the wall filled with wee tiny tea pots and cups, small miniature washboards and lil balls of yarn and knitting needles. We kids wanted in on the fun so she set one up for us too. Tri-chem paints were one of our favs. We made dolls (Herman and Paulina oh how I loved them) with yarn hair and brightly painted faces and we'd swipe our fathers white tee shirts to decorate as night shirts for ourselves. I had one with the very cool Great Grape Ape. She taught me crochet....I made a very lopsided pink scarf for my dog Muffin.

As I got into my teen years I pushed harder becoming more difficult to handle and dropped most of the arts and crafts. I got married young, had four kids soon after. I began to bake and try my darnedest to be June. My marriage ended badly and that's all I have to say bout that for now but during this time I again crafted (isnt that what wives do after all?) and became more serious about it. I started quilting and selling them. I even scored the whole back page of the local paper after they had seen one of my memory quilts with all the hand beading and embroidery. I picked up the hook again and began to crochet. My mother made jewelry and so too I began. I sewed my kids clothes and costumes. I wrote through it all..... the only thing I thought was truly mine were my words.

Finances became difficult and I started a baking company when it was me and my four kidlets in a nasty run down trailer house. I had to haul water by hand most times... bathe them in a giant Rubbermaid tote in the kitchen. Scrub clothes by hand and when the sewer line became clogged ad I couldn't afford to have it fixed, well I did that by hand too. Through it all I crafted. I picked up the hook again and began to crochet. Then my whole world was rocked by him........

I met my current hubby ( love, swoon, awwww and yum!) and he was my superman. Literally. He swooped in and saved me. We have since had three more children (now the Magnificent Seven). He was loving and patient with me the whole time while I was just going through the grind. At that time emotionally I seemed to have been slammed right back to that rejected lil girl so long ago and I was jaded. I, honestly was rotten and mean to him more often than not but he hung in there. He could see what I couldn't, or didn't want to see. He could see me. Not my anxiety disorder, not my self hate, not the BS I decorated myself with. He saw me when I didn't know who that even was.

When I was right around 38 I woke up and didn't know anything. I was surrounded by all this "stuff" I thought I was supposed to do or be but really I didn't know if any of it was me. I pulled inward, dug around asked some tough questions. Did I bake because I liked it? Or because I was supposed to? Did I sew because it gave me joy? Or because that's what my mother did? Did I knit or crochet for the beauty of it? Or did I do it to gain the love of others? And so the Purge began. I resolved to find me by stripping back myself to nothing, to a shell, and then picking and choosing that which I truly loved. Those things that were really me at my core, not bits and pieces I threw in to be what I thought others wanted me to be. Get ready, this is gonna sound harsh, crazy or maybe both......

The Purge: I burned all my fabric. I threw out hundreds of dollars in crochet hooks and knitting needles. Burned all my pattern books. Melted all my candle making goodies. My sewing machine went to the dump (in my own defense it was on its last legs). I burned all works in progress and those that were finished waiting for sale. I saved what only was of interest to my kids and passed those things on to them. And then I sat emotionally naked for a year, struggling to find myself. Until one day I woke up. I wanted to crochet. Off hubby drove me to the store and I struggled in the yarn isle looking at all that fiber for an hour. We left with nothing, and me weeping at my inability to make a decision. This happened twice more. And then I made a baby blanket.....and never stopped. :)

Today I've filled myself back up, but only with those things that deserve my internal space. My Loves firstly being my hubby and wee ones. I found that I love to crochet. I love to sew. I love to knit. I love to write. I adore photography. I'm not fond of jewelry making. I'm not hip on beading. I have to be in the mood to quilt or do needle work. Art and beauty have both played a major role in my life. I have made my living at it. I have  both crushed my spirit with it and built myself back up by crafting my own foundation. I have used art to treat my anxiety. It has opened hearts and sparked minds. I have built entire relationships with yarn as the glue. I have found money and lost myself in its pursuit only to finally find the truth in giving away my art in order to set myself free. The thing I learned is this: Im not my mom, either of them, and that's ok. I don't have to be one or the other....neither a tragic mess or perfectly perfect. Life isn't black or white. Its art. Its color. Its texture. It light and shadow. Its sound and silence. I finally just realized what my husband has seen and loved all along.... I just gotta be me. After all, we are our own life long master pieces....getting there one brush stroke, one stitch, one word, one song, one picture at a time.

Craft on............. <3

*****Go here, to Strings and Things and click ON THE GVEAWAY PHOTO to leave your inspirational crafting story in the comments for a chance to win the hat seen in the photo :) Cant wait to hear how you were inspired and are inspiring others with your craft!
Doesn't have to be just crochet....can be any art <3



  1. Hanna, your story is very touching and very similar to mine in many ways...and I completely understand what you said in the beginning, I too have always had tons of different interests...Photography, Art, Sketching, Painting, Sewing, Gardening, crocheting, Knitting...anything Creative I gravitate towards.

    I had a very hard childhood as well, and 2 bad abusive marriages and like you have now found my Prince, he and I have been married 9 years last month. I have 2 kids that I raised primarily alone, he came into our lives when my son was 19 and my daughter was 12...the day we were married he became a husband, father and Grandfather. Unfortunately like you I also treated him unkindly for the first few years of marriage...and he just continued to Love me unconditionally, he sees something in me that I still don't. I have a lot do issues...I've been diagnosed with Deep depression, Social Anxiety, Bi-Polar tendencies and PTSD. I started crocheting 7 months ago, because I can't seem to leave my Crocheting has been very Therapeutic for me and has helped me maintain my sanity. My so called mother taught me how to Chain and make Sc when I was about 13 or so, but like it said I didn't really learn to crochet til about 7-8 mos ago.

    After reading your story and seeing that you have discovered and learned to Love yourself is very Encouraging to me...I hope to be there one day as well ; )

    For most of my life I have allowed myself to be a human doormat, I yearned to Be and Feel Loved by my Mother my whole life and to no avail. That lack of Love and physical and emotional abuse from her has made me into such a people pleaser...and like you I need to discover Me the Authentic me, before she corrupted my mind about myself...Once again your Story gives me hope that One Day I Will learn to see what My Husband sees in me.

    I have to I have 2 Beautiful kids that are 29 & 22 and 2 Grand-Daughters that are 8 & 6 that Need me.

    Thank you for Sharing your Story,


    1. Hugs hugs hugs to uuuuuu..... I could so relate with everything u wrote.... please know if you ever need a shoulder or anything Im here.... I think one of the hardest things for ppl who have been abused or abandoned by mothers is to trust or be open to others.... either wanting to please or pushing everyone away..... Im slowly learning how to live. Its funny being 41 and saying I am finally breathing... finally being born.... finally living. Its been such an eye opening journey. Hard at times, joyful at others. Id be lying if I said the struggle was over but every day I can honestly say it gets easier and easier ..... and I feel freer and freer..... I am so blessed to have my fellow crochet/knot/crafty ppl in my life and didnt realize until just literally hours ago how great, caring, encouraging, supportive those relationships actually are. And oooooh how needed even tho sometimes scary. You are never alone.....never <3