I probably don’t have to tell you that there’s a pandemic going on, particularly if you live here in the States. Our response has been lackluster and has caused trauma for countless thousands of people here – families directly affected, communities shuttered, jobs lost, and a constant barrage of bad news. It makes it hard to write. Sometimes, it makes it hard to do anything creative.
I don’t have any big solutions. I’m not sure there ARE any right this second. What I can say, is that, sometimes, when we can’t solve something, we have to think outside the box about how to sit with the discomfort and dark emotions we’re feeling. Avoiding them isn’t helpful. There’s a saying in trauma recovery: there are two traumas – the initial event, and what we do with it. And that latter point can make all the difference.
If you’re feeling that you or someone you care about has had a negative outcome from trauma, whether from coronavirus or some other cause, there is help. Seek out a licensed mental health counselor and get treatment. Psychology Today has a great therapist finder, here.
One solution that is highly effective for people experiencing Post Traumatic Stress is mindfulness. It seems like it’s everywhere now – meditation courses, articles, advertisements for apps. But mindfulness is more than just sitting still and counting your breaths (though that is immensely helpful all by itself). It’s about being totally engaged in the present moment, focused on whatever’s immediately at hand. And weavers have known this for centuries.
Getting into weaving isn’t difficult and doesn’t need to be expensive. Yes, purchasing yourself a countermarch loom will set you back multiple thousands of dollars. But that’s not a beginner’s loom, not by a long shot. There are very affordable rigid heddle looms available and a growing body of books and online courses regarding how to make some really cool stuff with them.
But my favorite for when I’m too stressed to even count, let alone work on a larger loom, is the pin loom.
Popular in the 1920s clear up to the 1940s, pin looms are generally small. This one is a modern version called a Zoom Loom, made by Schacht Spindle Company. They create a fully finished piece of fabric, in this case four inches by four inches. These squares can be pieced together in countless ways – like quilting, for example, or to make clothing such as shawls, jackets, and sweaters; purses; and even little plush toys.
I inherited two pin looms from my mother when she died. I don’t recall ever seeing her use them, but I went through a very intense period after a cross-country move and started to play with them. I found a group online that focused solely on pin loom weaving (which is different than potholder looms, those plastic toys we played with as children and that have had a resurgence probably for similar reasons as the Zoom Loom).
I find it calming because to weave a basic square requires no counting or extra concentration. If you want to make textured patterns it’s absolutely possible, but that does require extra focus. And sometimes, I just can’t bring myself to focus that hard. It’s like my brain is overwhelmed from other outside events, and it’s enough to just wind the yarn onto the loom and to weave a little square.
And sometimes, it’s by weaving ourselves back together using simple tools like this that we begin our own process of healing. Trauma is intense. Healing is possible.
I am making the Fox Purse from a book called Zoo Crew, by Deborah Bagley. Check it out, there are some seriously cute projects in there.
About the Author
A. Catherine Noon is a bestselling author, writing instructor, and creative entrepreneur based in Bellevue, WA, in the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not writing, she’s weaving; and when she’s not weaving, she’s knitting. And when none of that happens, she likes to blog. Join her all month for “Self-Care September” – a blog series dedicated to using creative tools to solve the quarantine blues.