About two years ago I became artistically blocked. I was crippled really. I couldn’t bring myself to make anything. I tried a couple small drawings, sketches really. Played with color fields. I even attempted a large landscape painting that is still sitting on my easel nearly an entire year later about 30% complete.
This brought on a ton of guilt. I had just gotten into a lot of debt to complete the first half of art school and I had no motivation to make art and no plan on how I would make my (seemingly) inadequate amount of education and huge amount of debt worthwhile. I started procrastinating. A lot. It got pretty bad, but I just continued to dig my hole of procrastination and incomplete tasks. I couldn’t face anything. Not even simple tasks. I was depressed. I was really really depressed. But I didn’t just sit around. I’m not good at that. If I’m going to be in denial, I’m going to make sure and do it right. So I threw myself into time wasters – things that weren’t on my to-do list but gave me a sense of accomplishment. One of them was crochet. I didn’t need to crochet. It was just a hobby. Something I liked to do in my free time. But I started doing it all the time. I’d found crochet groups on Facebook and somehow I got very very lucky and the two I’d joined were full of kind and supportive members and admins who kept it that way. I quickly became obsessed. These people, you… you got me. You understood me. I crocheted even more living for the emotional high I got from sharing my work. Something I couldn’t find anywhere else.
Then my life changed. I got laid off. The company I worked for closed. I decided to take some time off for myself. I crocheted even more. All the while, I continued to guilt myself for not making art. My dream was to be an independent artist. I knew this was my chance to make that happen, but I was blowing it by not making any art. The feelings of failure were nearly too much to bear. So I crocheted some more.
I would often sit down and reassess my situation. Why didn’t I want to make art? Because I didn’t feel I was very good at it. So, what should I do to get better at it? Practice. Obviously. But it was too painful. I did a couple stints with The Artist’s Way, but never got past week two. I would tear myself away from my crochet and go sit in front of a blank piece of paper unsure of what to put on it then give up and go back to crochet.
An amazing thing was happening that I wasn’t aware of. I thought I was wasting my time crocheting. I thought I was avoiding my art by crocheting. But in reality, I was practicing and practicing and practicing my NEW art. I didn’t figure this out for months, years really.
Finally, something changed. I still don’t know what it was. I said to myself, “Polly, if you’re going to spend this much time crocheting, you might as well try to do something with it.” So I grabbed a ball of plain white yarn, my 5mm hook, and sat down and played. I used everything I learned from art school about how to approach a new art project. After a couple weeks, Fan Dance was born.
Now, years later, the path I was on is clear to me. But at the time, I thought I was only using crochet as a coping mechanism, a way to avoid my life. I had no idea it would become my life and my passion. I still wrestle with the idea. I was so guilty for crocheting back then. I did avoid lots of responsibilities to spend time crocheting (or rather, spent time crocheting to avoid responsibilities). I can see my significant other’s face when he would come home from work to a living room full of yarn, a dirty house, and no dinner and still feel my stomach tighten as I tried to think of what to tell him I had done other than crochet all day. Please believe me, he was very kind and supportive and not at all demanding, but the days I did something other than just crochet were definitely easier for him to be so supportive.
Now I call crocheting “work,” and I feel guilty when I don’t do it. It’s got a special place at the top of my to-do list. I still want to go back and finish that painting, and my charcoal calls to me sometimes. But that’s my hobby now. First, I’ve got work to do.