Christine here. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
While the pumpkin pie is baking early this morning, I thought I’d finally get a post written.
OK, we’ve all been there. Someone is sick or not doing well, you have to hang out, your presence is all that is required… but the hours are long. You sit there and worry, and worry, and worry, and there’s really nothing that you can do to remedy the situation: it’s just the way it is. You’re the support, and your presence is helpful, but there’s nothing you can really do except be there.
In this situation, you need to distract your mind and fill your hands with work. You need Comfort Braiding!
Many people have commented on the “therapeutic” nature of braiding and other types of handwork. They are quiet activities that give your mind something to focus on while you are upset or anxious. Instead of sitting there and worrying, you are able to focus on your hands as they execute the maneuvers of braiding, the feel of the wool sliding through your fingers, the juxtaposition of the colors in the braids. You create something useful, pretty, and productive.
These projects aren’t suitable in all situations: when you’re upset, if there is something you can do to remedy it, then by all means get up and set to work on fixing things. But there are many times when there is nothing you can do at all. I am now an experienced comfort braider, and I have the following recommendations:
When you’re in need of Comfort Braiding, only the buttery softest wools will do. Don’t reach for any wool that hasn’t been washed and felted enough to feel like a furry teddy bear. I actually chose a wool that didn’t quite go with what I had braided so far simply because I wanted the warm softness of that particular wool.
You need colors that please you. If you hate grass green, this is not the time to work with it. I chose butterscotch yellows and browns and heathered rusty oranges – not a palette that everyone would choose, but I like it. It reminds me of the fallen leaves that I kick through as I walk.
I suggest a hit or miss project that incorporates different colors and patterned wools from earlier projects. The play of different colors is intriguing, and you can reminisce about when you last used that fabric while you work. And, you don’t have to fuss with making your color changes at the right place. Just work with the colors that you like to look at.
Don’t choose projects that requires graph paper planning to execute, or that are just too difficult and potentially frustrating. Don’t choose projects with corners and angles, or that require a lot of butting. You need something that requires just a bit of thought to distract you, but not challenge you. Choose projects such as continuous ovals or rounds: they require just enough attention to occupy your mind, without being difficult or frustrating.
Make something for someone else – choose a person who has helped you out in the past, and might need a special project as a thank you. You can think about the person for whom you are making the rug while you work.
The only problem is when the darned rug gets too big to lug back and forth. Fortunately, one can always start another project that is more portable and get back to the bigger one later. The quiet reflection and productivity of comfort braiding is very gratifying and peaceful. Thank heavens for braiding!