Saturday, September 16, 2017

Therapeutic Craft - Stitching Together Trust


When you think of "Emotional Trauma" what do you imagine? Someone who has lost a close friend or family member? A victim of poor circumstances? Abuse? 

I want to delve into crochet and similar art forms to understand how they help people cope and recover from events or occurrences that have caused seemingly irreparable emotional or physical damage. Recover and coping are often thought to come from a counselor and a prescription bottle. But it can also come from the creation of new things, and the pride in that creation. 



For me, "Emotional Trauma" says "Patchwork of abuse and self-hatred". It also says "Ignored" and "Distrusted" and even "Pathological Liar". It screams "Denial". 

My emotional trauma, like with so many others, begins in my childhood. Memories I'd suppressed for years came bubbling to the surface when I was in my late teens. Memories I'd been called a liar over, memories of actions taken by people I trusted that forever changed my perspective of love and family. 



When I reported the abuse, my parents were in denial that "no one who loved a person could do that" and later that "He is Old, so he doesn't always know what he's doing.".....because that made it better, more excusable. 

When I was 5 or maybe 6, it all blends together.... my great grandma taught me basics to crochet. She said it kept me busy and out from under her feet. As an adult, I learned that it kept me entertained while she drank her alcoholic beverage of choice for every meal and snack through the day. She'd sit not so patiently and coax me through the basics, and then send me out to the porch or the guest bedroom to practice for hours. 

When I was 7, I'd gotten fairly good at making cat toys and washcloths. Grandma still worked away at granny squares or Granny Stripe blankets even though her sight was dwindling. I fell asleep on the couch one afternoon after crocheting for the morning. Grandma went to the grocery store. 

I was awoken, shocked by the sensation of pressure on my chest and my sweatpants being pulled down. When I opened my eyes after realizing it wasn't a nightmare I was having to see-and feel- my great grandpas face in my crotch. He was licking my "private parts". I should have shouted out. I should have thrashed away and got up, but I couldn't find my voice. I couldn't move a muscle. When he'd finished what he was doing, he pulled the blanket down over me, released the pressure from my chest, and went down to his basement-workshop space to stoke the fire. 

When I was able to move again, I wrapped tight in my Gran's blanket and picked up my hook. When Gran got home, I didn't know how to tell her, so I just stayed very quiet until my parents got there. On the way home, I told my mom what had happened, and she told me to "stop telling lies, they can get people into trouble."

A few months later, I was spending the afternoon with my grandparents again. It was getting colder, it rained a lot where they lived. Grandpa asked me to bring another batch of newspaper and matches down tot he workshop so he could start a fire (wood stove was in the basement). I took it down, set it on his workbench and turned around to see that he'd pulled his penis out of the sipper in his deep blue overalls and was waving it at me. Stroking it. And I was backed into a corner. I had nowhere to go. 

I heard Grandma coming through the door with a load of laundry, and I used that moment of distraction to run past him, up the stairs in and into the guest bedroom. I picked up my hook and started chaining, endlessly. I didn't care what I was making, but the repetition of stitch after stitch after stitch helped me to breath through the trauma, and slow down my heart. Tears began to pour, and Grandma came in. I told her what had happened, she scoffed, rollers her eyes and told me to stop telling horrible tales, and being facetious. I didn't know what facetious meant, but her tone said that I was in the wrong. I didn't eat or say another word until my parents came to pick me up.

When I told my mom, she was quiet for a few minutes. "Sometimes when people get old, they don't realize what they're doing. I'm sure he didn't mean to." That was the end of the matter, there would be no further discussion. 



I didn't want to to go their home anymore, I knew that I wasn't safe and further, that no one would take me seriously. I'd beg to go with my parents when they went to their car auctions for work, I'd sit in the car all day listening to books on tape and crocheting. I'd rather do anything than spend another unsupervised day with grandpa. 

I turned 8 in the summer of 1998, grandma moved on to a nursing home at the end of the summer - the stairs became too much- grandpa fell ill, and passed away that fall. After his passing, grandma told her daughter about the things that grandpa had allegedly done to the neighbor girl, and my sister (16 years older than me) told me about the things he'd done to her. I realized I'd never seen her go to his house, not even for family holiday gatherings. 

My mom was in such strong denial that her dad couldn't possibly do anything wrong that she sat back and ignored that two of her children were sexually abused by him, and who knows how many neighborhood girls. While I am upset, it's been 20 years. I've learned that while I don't excuse my grandma's willingness to ignore the flagrant crimes happening, I realize that in her generation the man has all the say, and if something happens you stay silent. I wonder if this may be why she drank. 

I continued to learn to crochet, first from family friends, then from teachers at school, until I got so good people were asking me to make things for them to buy. I sold my first crochet item in 7th grade. I was 12. Just after 9/11, a classmate bought a crochet bunny to give to her baby brother. 

As I moved into high school, I didn't crochet much. I simply didn't have time between classes and theater. Around Christmas time, I'd sell a few hats, and headbands to classmates, even the occasional teacher would request a commission for their kids. I wasn't making a ton, but enough to pay for gas and insurance on my car. I got a job, moved up to assistant manager, and moved in with my then boyfriend. I was 17. It wasn't until the lease was signed, and my mom had filled my bedroom space with storage and it was too late that I realized he was abusive. 

He'd come home from school or work, drink something, smoke a bowl, and come to bed. I was typically watching movies or doing homework, and he'd force himself on me. He'd start with foreplay, which was fine until he started ignoring when I said no. I had no one to talk to. I thought maybe that how it was supposed to be because that's what I'd seen in my childhood. I lost my job and started focusing more on my crochet and my college classes. I was advancing in school and taking some classes through the college. The sooner I could move on to college full time, the sooner I could afford to live on my own. I put up with that treatment regularly, started drinking and smoking before he got home so that I could numb everything. He told me repeatedly that if I wasn't bringing in my portion of rent, I'd need to pay him somehow else, he was just extracting his payment. 

***

My little sister called me one night and told me that she had some bad news. Our baby sister had been lethargic, and unable to speak for a few days. Her face had started to swell, so they took her to the hospital. She was diagnosed with severe brain cancer, but that at the time, they had no idea what stage, or if they could do anything with it. She was 11.

To Google I went. What can I do or make to ease the discomfort for her, now and throughout her treatments? What were her treatments going to look like? 

I picked up my hook, and tears streaming down my cheeks, I started crocheting her a blanket. I got a text shortly after saying that the specialist wanted to start her on immediate chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Google to the rescue again, I researched the effects of Chemo, and started making hats, and continuing on her blanket. 

She was a trooper, and through her treatments, she never complained. Despite the treatments, she would pass away 3 years later. 



***

Shortly before my sister passed, I found out my other little sister was pregnant at 15. Finally something happy to crochet about! Her pregnancy tore apart her side of the family. Her boyfriend was kind on the surface, and she only saw that side of him. She was blind to his flaws. We could see that he was duplicitous and unfaithful. But she refused to see it. Until the day she gave birth, she never saw a single flaw. On her daughter's delivery day, he was nowhere to be found. His best friend was by her side instead. He was off with his 2nd girlfriend, who he ended up getting pregnant while my sister was in delivery. My niece has a half-sister, less than 10 months younger than her.

I've spent years and years, nearly a decade, crocheting and doting on my niece, and the children that have come after her. I now have 3 nieces, and 4 great nieces by my oldest sister's children.


***

When I got married in 2009, I made all the decor, stationery, and even my own cake. We were on a very strict budget, with very little contribution from our parents. I was able to sell some of my crochet stuffed teddy bears around Valentine's day to pay for some of the supplies, our marriage license, and associated costs. Once again my craft had pulled me out of a bad spot. We never got our honeymoon, my crochet didn't earn us enough cash, but we got married, and we were able to move into a nice place, with a few roommates, and start living our life together. 


That fall I started college, again, after having to drop out when my sister's health declined. I found it hard to focus, and I struggled to keep up with conversations in class. I was distracted, and thinking about a million things at once. One of my classmates in a basic business class would doodle in a sketchbook,, and always seems to be able to contribute to the conversation, and remember details about lectures. I asked her about it, and she told me that since she was a kid, she had to be doing something with her hands to focus on things like lectures. I figured it was worth a shot, so I brought my crochet to the next lecture, sat in the back to avoid distraction,  and felt so much more engaged. I could recall lecture points and even managed to take better more understandable notes. Art and craft once again helped me to be a better person, a better student. 

***

Two years passed, I was in a pretty bad car wreck. I couldn't drive to school and had to drop classes. I wasn't able to return until the following term had started, but my student loans that I depended on for rent had been delayed because of the previous term's academic performance. I used the holiday season to bolster sales, and crocheted hats and other winter accessories to pay for my rent. It got us out of a tight spot again. 

***

I went back to school and finished out the school year. I was in my 2nd year of school. Fall term, when I discovered that I was pregnant. Between morning sickness, acid reflux, and insomnia, I started to fall behind in classes again. I'd bring my crochet, but I'd doze off regularly. I barely scraped by that term, finishing with C's across the board. 


The next term, I was in my 2nd trimester of pregnancy, and the morning sickness had passed. I was back on top of my school work and feeling like I could do well this term. I took part-time classes because I was still struggling with insomnia, but I felt good about this term. 

Feb 28, I was rear-ended at high speeds in traffic, and due to the injuries and my physical therapy, I failed 2 of my 3 classes. When classes started back up in the spring, I was too large to fit into the desks, and I took the next 2 terms off. I started doing crochet and set up at Saturday market selling my crochet wares. I'd easily bring in $500-600 in sales just from the markets each month. My husband worked and went to school, and his job paid well. The major downfall was that he worked graveyard shifts 6 days a week at the local hospital. He was not home at night and was sleeping during the day. It certainly made it difficult to spend time with him before baby.


The night that my first child was born was his first night on shift after training. Baby wouldn't latch. I'd been in labor for 21 hours. And I was tired and frustrated. I'd thought that I'd be okay, mostly sleeping and feeding and eating, so I told him to go to shift. He'd be in the hospital, so if I needed him, I could call him. Baby wouldn't settle, baby wouldn't latch. And I was losing it. After we finally got him some expressed milk, he settled down to sleep, and I was too upset to pass out. Not even a mother for 3 hours and I was already failing. I turned the TV to the Olympics and watched the speed skaters on mute. I crocheted a little baby hat and dozed off until the next feeding. It was the crochet that calmed me down enough to catch a few winks. 

***

Time and time again, any major stressor, anytime I can't quite make ends meet, I turn to my hook. 

At this point, I have people seeking me out and ordering huge amounts of gifts every year. I have a large consignment contract with a toy store from my hometown, and I have a post-apocalyptic trade still. My adventures into parenthood have included a 2nd child, a broken foot during pregnancy, moving over 200 miles away, and returning to school to finish my degree 11 years after I started it. 

The only consistent thing in all of it has been Crochet. 

***

I know that it's a lot of information, and most of it isn't happy. But I really appreciate your readership. I'll be publishing other similar stories from other people around the world in the upcoming weeks. 

I want to explore how art can help people cope with what life throws at them. 

Thank you. 


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Anxiety - Breaking Taboo

I write. Professionally I write blog posts, and product descriptions, and website content. I get paid for it. But I struggle to create original content for my own blog. Sometimes, it's a time management thing, sometimes it's that I'm expelling my creativity in other avenues. But most of the time it's anxiety. Not over anything in particular, just general-creativity crushing- motivation zapping anxiety.

And people don't generally talk about mental illness. But when you suffer from it, and those around you suffer because of your illness, and your work suffers from your illness, it's hard to keep quiet.

Sometimes, you begin to feel like Anxiety is what defines you. The way that people say someone IS diabetic, rather than they have diabetes.

Image result for anxiety



Other times, you feel like you're forgotten in a world that just keeps churning one without you. Like you can't get a grip on anything around you. You're floating away, sinking out of sight, and no one seems concerned.


Image result for anxiety drowning



But for too long our society has put a taboo on the concept of Anxiety and Mental illness as a person who is "crazy" or "less than" those without anxiety.



Image result for stress


It's time to take back ourselves and put anxiety in its place. Anxiety is an affliction, it is not a personality identifier. It is a scary thing to deal with on our own, but the last thing someone suffering through a period of anxiety needs if for those who love them to push on them "advice" about doing something that makes you happy or finding a reason to move on. Or Smiling more because it'll help it pass. These don't help, and sometimes they even compound the feelings of "being less".

The best way to help someone you love who is suffering from anxiety is to ask them what they need. Sometimes they won't be able to identify it, but just knowing you're there to help is helping.

I'm personally a fan of visiting nature, like a quiet walk, alone. Or a trip to the beach to listen to the ocean. I like to meditate to the sound of the waves washing over the short.


Image result for ocean meditation   Image result for forest meditation


Others need a quiet space, to deprive their senses and spend some time in their own head, detangling the mess of thoughts.

Image result for anxiety

I'm a fan of wrapping up in a blanket (when I can't get to nature) and listening to a recording of the rain. Or reading a book that makes me happy. Regardless of what I choose to do to help my anxiety, sometimes I just can't cope and function in the "real world" until the anxiety attack passes. Sometimes it's not as simple as taking some time. Sometimes I'm out of commission for a couple of days. But with the support of my friends and family, I'm surviving, even if I'm not yet thriving.

Image result for anxiety



(Note: images were pulled at random off google image search. If they belong to you and you'd like credit, please email me at echo.mayernik@gmail.com | I do not own these images.)


Monday, July 31, 2017

Basic Fingerless Gloves - Pattern

Every year, just before school starts, people start gearing up for back to school, and the upcoming crisp autumn weather. And year after year, my fingerless gloves are a hit.

I've been asked for a couple of years to write out my pattern, and I have.....in a since lost notebook.

I've decided to re-write it, and publish it for you to use! Enjoy!



You'll want to make 2 of these, this is a base, and you can switch colors as you see fit. I've used Red Heart With Love and a J (6mm) hook for these. They fit a teen or adult hand. You can adjust fit by adding or subtracting 2 stitches from the start chain. All other directions will remain the same.

You'll need to know how to chain, HDC, and HDC2Tog.

I'd say that this pattern is good for a confident beginner.

And here we go!

Chain 30, careful not to twist chain, sl st to the 1st chain.

Row 1) Ch 1 HDC in first 3 ch, HDC2Tog, HDC to end, sl st in first ch st.
Row 2-10) Repeat row 1.
Row 11-12) Ch 1, HDC in each HDC around, sl st to 1st Ch 1.
Row 13) Ch1, HDC in first 3 st. 2HDC in next 3 st, HDC to end, sl st in first ch.
Row 14) Ch 1, HDC in first 3, increase (2HDC) in each increase from row before, HDC in each regular stitch, HDC to end, sl st to first ch.
Row 15-16) Repeat row 14.
Row 17) Ch1, HDC in each stitch around.
Row 18) ch 1, HDC in first 3 st. Now you'll be doing a spread HDC2Tog. You'll do the first step in the next stitch, skip 9 stitches, putting the 2nd half of the HDC2Tog in the 10th. This creates the thumb hole. HDC to end. St st in first ch.
Row 19-23) Ch 1, HDC in each stitch. Finish off, and weave in ends.

Embellish with buttons, beads, stripes, and novelty yarns as you see fit.


You may sell the items you create from this pattern, but if you sell online, please link back to this pattern. Give credit where credit is due. And NEVER sell the pattern, or share it as your own. This pattern is my property and I've spent several years perfecting it. 

Thank you. Let me know how you like it, and share your creations with me by tagging me on instagram! (@lilylaneeclectic)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cacti



There's been a lot going on lately. What with my employment causing issues with my health, and the negativity of the community toward "feminine" boys, and such. But, I wanted to share with you my most recent creations.



I'll have them available on my Etsy just as soon as I figure out the best way to ship them.

Until then, if you're local you can buy them from my facebook page, or get them in person at one of my festivals and markets. I'll post here when I have an event to go to.

Much Love!

Oh, and let me know if you're interested in a tutorial or pattern for these lovelies.






Monday, July 10, 2017

Dream Catcher Frames - Willow Wreaths

I'm a member of several crochet groups, and I've been sharing some of my latest projects. They are crochet doily dream catchers.



 But as much interest and admiration as these are getting, it's the frame method I'm using that seems to attract the most attention. I've had dozens of requests for a tutorial, so....here it is.

I found a local lady who was getting ready to trim her Dad's weeping willow. I asked if I could gather some from the tree before they burn the excess. She let me take whatever I wanted.

I stripped the leaves and sorted out to find the ones I could use the easiest. If they were supple and at least 15 inches, I kept them.

The longer they are, the larger you can make, but small ones are just as much fun.



Then I took a thicker one, and wrapped it in a circle shape, wrapping the thinner end around the thicker like a loose knot.



Then I lay another branch along the ring formed, and start wrapping it too. After I have a good stable base, I'll start wrapping branches in in the opposite direction. This helps the final wreath dry stronger and more stable. 



 

I would continue this process until the wreaths felt even and about 3/4 of an inch thick all around. Some of them I left the ends poking out, others I trimmed once they were tightly formed into wreaths.

Then I stacked them onto an old cookie sheet I use for crafting. And put them in a COLD oven.





Some of the thicker pieces I tied into U shapes, and similar so they'd dry in that shape. I used 100% cotton so they wouldn't melt. 

Put the pans in the oven, and turn on the temp to 200* F (93*ish C)

Set a time for 45-60min depending on how many wreaths you have. When the timer goes off, DO NOT REMOVE THEM. Just turn off the heat and let them sit in the hot oven for another hour. This is a good time to work on your doily.


If you need inspiration for your net crochet dreamcatcher, check out my curated dreamcatcher Pinterest Board.




Sunday, July 9, 2017

You should be ASHAMED!

Dear Mom-in-Fred-Meyers today.

This is an open letter to you, and all moms (and dads) who think it's okay to teach your kids hate and judgment at a young age. Those who teach bullying, and discrimination because of looks. This is to you and your hateful, spiteful selves. You should be ASHAMED! You're the cause of most of the pain in the world.

When I took my boys into the ladies bathroom to go potty before they went to Playland, and my 5-year-old complimented your daughter's teddy bear and she sneered at him. Not even a thank you. But that wasn't the worst of it.

The worst of it came when my boys were trying to wash their hands and your 3-4 yr old son pushed my 5-year-old aside, and in perfect Toddler-esque English told my son, "You can't be a real boy if you wear that on your hands. Boys don't do that."



Excuse the FUCK outta me?

Did I seriously just hear gender shaming from a 4 yr old? You know damn well that didn't come of his own volition, that is learned behavior. That is something *You've* taught him.

I had to sit my child and his little brother down and explain that there was nothing wrong with his nails. That Mommy and Daddy love him, no matter what. And that some people just hold a lot of anger and they don't know where to put it to avoid hurting others.

My son can wear whatever in the hell he wants to wear (within reason), and be whoever he wants to be! He's done his makeup and worn my shoes before, and I didn't bat an eye, other than to ask him not to use my spendy makeup.

The only thing you should be teaching your kids when it comes to others is acceptance, compassion, and manners.

Fuck your gender stereotypes, fuck your judgemental attitude, and fuck you and your parenting. I'm not perfect, but I refuse to raise hateful humans!


My apologies for the harsh verbiage, but the softer language just didn't cover the level of my fury.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Flexi Friday!

Disclaimer: Affiliated Links Below.

In May, I started on a new adventure. I wasn't looking for a business, I wasn't even looking for new hair products, and yet.......... I found them. In March, I hosted an online Lilla Rose Boutique with my Mother-in-Law. I earned several free Flexi Clips and some half price products.

Over the next 2 months, not a day went by that I wore my Flexi clips and DIDN'T get asked where to buy them. I thought, "These are selling themselves.....I love my Mom in Law, but why am I not the one making these sales?"

Suddenly, I found myself with over 20 flexis in my stash, and no way to store them between events!

Below, I'll outline my 2 new at home display options... and give a quick tutorial on how I made one of them!

This is the easiest option! Just hang a scarf on some command hooks, and clip your Flexis (Or other clips) on.

A more involved option, but in my opinion, a prettier one is to use a photo frame or in my case a canvas frame (like you'd use to paint) and stretch some black (or white) lace across the frame. I bought this lace from the "wedding fabrics" at Joanns. It was about 1/2 a yard, and I got enough fabric for 2.

This isn't a great option if you're looking to display the flexis to see, but if you need a pretty way to keep them off your bathroom counter, this is perfect.



I stapled a scarf behind it to help stabilize the backs of the flexi, and prevent them from dragging on the wall behind the frame. This is optional.

Now, the big news for the blog post is that we're running a BIG sale on some of our LIMITED EDITION seasonal Patriotic Americana accessories. Check them out!



Tell me in the comments how you like to display/store your favorite hair accessories.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sellwood Spiral Slouch Hat - Pattern

I've got a habit of making a hat, posting a photo, and receiving requests for a) custom colors, or b) the pattern. I originally designed this hat back in October of last year, and only just got round to the pattern writing phase.

Check it out on Ravelry. And Etsy.

 

Let me know what you think!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Merry Holidays, and a happy new year!

I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season, and a safe New Year.

I know thats generic, but I don't care. I have so many friends of different faiths, and mine doesn't really fit "mainstream" so perhaps generic is good. It doesn't negate my hopes for everyone's happiness and safety.

There has been a lot of recent tragedy, and I want to look into a positive light going into the new year.

I won't make any new years resolutions, I won't be the fat girl at the gym for the first few days of the year, and then sitting on my ass the rest of the time. I'm going to focus my energy on taking care of myself. I'd like to say things like, "I'll lose x# of lbs and start doing yoga" this is unrealistic.

I pour all of myself into everyone around me, and I am working myself into an early grave. I need to focus on nourishing myself before I can give myself to others. I love my kids and my husband more than I have ever loved myself, and it's starting to show. I think I'm starting to crack, and I need to work hard on repairing those cracks.

I vow to take myself on me-dates. Coffee to people watch, WITHOUT taking my work. Movies and dinner to be in my own head. I need to work hard on the subconscious tendency to feel selfish and embarrassed when I do anything without my family. It's been so long pounded into my head that I must work all the time, and taking time for my own happiness is a waste that I don't know how to do anything else.

How do I move forward? My husband wants me to take a vacation on my own, but I feel like it's a betrayal to go on my own, without him. I go to the store to buy myself some work clothes, and some boots for bad weather, and I walk out with new school clothes and snow boots for my kids, and nothing for me.

My internal self-neglect is a large part of the issue of my self-confidence. I can't justify doing things for myself when the kids and the husband need things too. And when I do something that is self-nurturing, I feel guilty.

I've got issues, and I want to work hard to resolve, or learn to work with them instead of against them in the new year.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Utilizing Skills

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was thankful for a company that appreciates and allows me to utilize my skills.

I was able to put my creative thinking cap on for both visual graphics and intriguing text for out recruiting campaign at work.

Below are a few of the images that I've developed as part of a sideshow of information about the company, which will be combined with a personal conversation with our company president.