Busy, busy, busy…

The Artist and I generally lead simple lives but the last couple of weeks have been unusually exciting.

On the same day last week, I discovered – to my delight – that I’d come first in a 100 word mini-saga competition; The Artist bought me an iPad and we ordered a replacement for the fridge/freezer that has been dousing our feet with either cold water or chunks of ice, every time one of the doors is opened.

So I’ve had a great deal of new data to absorb – particularly about the iPad and various other technological devices, with which I’d like it to co-operate (computer, printer, phone…) By Saturday afternoon, after spending several frustrating hours trying – and failing miserably – to achieve even the simplest of my objectives, I was suffering from information super-saturation and severe caffeine overload. My brain was buzzing – but not in a good way.

Time to step away from the machines and do something less frustrating instead – an enjoyable and relaxing activity; one that didn’t require intense concentration. But what? Weighing up my options, I decided against gardening – there’s always more than enough to be done outside but, although it was a bright day, a bitter wind brought the temperature down to less than comfortable levels.

Cheered by sunshine flooding through my studio window, I was drawn to my ‘Union Jack’ bag-for- life, containing the materials, tools and crochet books that I’d taken to the UFO club the Monday before. Unpacking it, I had no particular plan in mind, but – by the time The Artist came back from a ride on his Harley (brave man!) – I had sorted through the yarns; rearranged my storage; rifled through two containers of patches ‘I made earlier’, and was happily adding those that fitted to my latest scrumble-in-progress.

Crochet has become my anti-dote for stress. Separating balls of yarn that have become entangled (how do they do that? I always wind the tails up carefully before putting them away,) releases knots of tension from my neck and shoulders. Deciding what to put where and how to do it, leaves no room to worry about how computer programmes operate (or in my case, don’t!) There’s something immensely satisfying about working intuitively with colour and texture, unconstrained by rules or boundaries and there’s the added bonus that I’m creating something unique and useful, for myself or to give away.

Scrumbles are like woollen jigsaw puzzles, without a picture on the box to guide you – in fact, there’s not even a box. Because there aren’t any instructions, no-one can criticise it – it can’t really go wrong. Any obvious ‘mistakes’, can be transformed by the addition of a scallop or frill, or artfully disguised by an attractive motif. You either like the way it comes out, or you don’t. And, if it’s the latter you can always add more to it – sometimes that’s all it needs – or stash it away for a while. It’s surprising how good a piece looks when you’ve had a break from focusing on it so intensely.

Of course there are drawbacks to working in free form. You know where you are with a pattern -like a good novel, there’s a beginning, a middle and a satisfying end. Progress can be measured and targets (usually completion dates) achieved. And you end up with an identifiable object, rather than a ever-expanding, wobbly-edged patchwork of crocheted fabric. I do enjoy that process, particularly when the result pleases the recipient but sometimes, when I’m not sure what I’d like to make but I’d just like to be soothed by the rhythm of winding yarn around hook and pulling it through, scrumbling is the answer. Mindful and mindless, it becomes a Zen meditation, bringing calm and tranquility to my overworked cerebrum.

Relaxed and refreshed, I’ve been able to fathom some of the mysteries of the state-of-the-art equipment, on which I’m composing this – and hopefully many more posts, short stories and winning competition entries. Talking of which, if you haven’t already done so and you’d like to read my mini-saga (and the other winning entries), please visit http://blogaboutwriting.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/autumn-mini-saga-competition-results/

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