When I feel like things are particularly out of control and I am really agitated, what is most calming for me is to work with string. I had forgotten about this but I really think working with string is what got me through 7th grade (probably the hardest year of my life so far, with a bully who posed as my "best friend" and was both emotionally and occasionally physically abusive). In 7th grade, once I started making bracelets every night, spending hours tying knots, I soon was able to separate myself from this bully and asked to transfer schools for the next year.
I used colorful embroidery floss and started a little business that was perhaps surprisingly organized: 25c for a standard 3 string bracelet, 10c for every string after that - for custom orders it was 50c + the regular charges. I was a little entrepreneur. I made a lot of money in quarters that year, which partially went to buying more string (and eventually expanding to making beaded rings or including beads in the bracelets, also at extra cost). I'm still pretty proud of how organized it was. I used to display my inventory on my backpack (I hung the bracelets off of the back using safety pins) so people could see my wares as I walked the hallways. I did accept trades, as many girls were making elastic bracelets with big plastic beads - only a few years ago did I realize the colors of the beads on those bracelets apparently stood for various sexual acts the person wearing them was willing to perform. I just liked the colors.
My former bully was my biggest competitor in the market, but she priced her bracelets too high and her workmanship was shoddy. Everyone went to me, especially since I did custom orders, but especially because I wasn't an ass. So through the bracelet making I learned that nobody really liked this person who had isolated me and made me feel terrible about myself. I also had conversations with people who formerly hadn't spoken to me. I also spent a lot of time in a semi-meditative state, tying knots for hours at night, not thinking but allowing myself to relax. It didn't reverse the damage she had done to me, but it made me feel better in some way - is that wrong?
Anyway, I've tried crocheting at various points in my life and it is coming up again in grad school as an alternative medium for art therapy. However, I am sadly inept at crocheting. This is probably due to my inability to follow directions and keep track of what I'm doing.
Tonight I was feeling really agitated and angry (as you can read in my previous post about the craft fair). It wasn't only the craft fair that was making me angry, but I won't go into the rest here. I have a project due on Thursday where we are supposed to make an art piece about a problem or challenge at our internship. So instead of doing my standard watercolor painting, I dragged out the yarn and decided to crochet with no purpose and no design, letting whatever formed form, and not be disappointed in the results.
This is what happened:
I started with the circle, which was originally intended to be flat, but like I said I can't follow directions and now it is a mountain. The hand really grew organically, first I had a weird outgrowth of the circle, then a finger, then two fingers, then I realized it was a hand and finished the hand. I went back and reinforced the rest of the piece, including adding a handle, when I realized it looked a lot like a chamsa. I added the blue to the evil eye part to give it an extra protective element.
I think at first it was supposed to be about figuring out how to make all of the different elements work together. I started off with white, brown, and orange yarns, trying to use three pieces of yarn at a time. Then the orange ran out, so I added another yarn, which is kind of gray with multi-colored flecks in it. When I realized what was happening I was able to create a recognizable shape, but not just any shape, a protective shape.
I think one of the biggest challenges of my internship is figuring out how to be myself there. I feel so protective over people that I work with, but I think I don't take good enough care of myself. I have to see the bigger picture, and think of everyone involved and not just the particular client I am closest to at the moment.
I think the chamsa appeared as a wish to be more protected, because maybe I still feel very insecure there, even when I feel like I do a good job I don't feel secure.