Hi, I’m Jackie! You might recognize me from some of the recent CYC campaigns. I’m 23 years old, a senior in the Fibers program at UNT, and yarn is one of my greatest loves!
I learned to crochet when I was 14. Before then I had always been captivated by the colors and textures of yarn but I never really knew what to do with it. If I could have seen where I've ended up today, I would’ve been so surprised.
Today, I’m a weaver, embroiderer, social media amateur, and knitting and crochet fanatic. One of the most important things I’ve learned being both a fiber artist and an avid crafter is that even with something you absolutely love, you have to balance work and play. Between my studio work I do at school and my embroidery side hustle, Forest Fibers, I can exhaust my creative reserves pretty quickly and deal with burnout frequently.
There’s often this misconception that an artist’s work is all fun and not as tiring as other professions, but this is totally not true. Being in a creative field also takes an emotional investment. You put all of yourself into a piece that you grow attached to when you’re not even sure if it will turn out successfully or how your peers will feel about it. Protecting my own emotional well-being is a constant struggle, and so it’s important that I have things in my life where failure doesn’t exist.
I could talk about the subject of burnout for hours, but I really want to share here today how crocheting in particular has become a healthy escape from my busy life.
Making blankets is my ultimate favorite craft to pass time and unwind when everything else overwhelms me. I love going through the process of picking out a pattern, choosing my yarn, and finally starting the foundation row! I made my first blanket one summer when I was home from college. It’s a large green and white chevron blanket I worked up with treble crochet stitches and it’s big enough to cover a queen size bed. I sat in front of the TV for two weeks straight and worked on it for maybe five hours a day. I don’t have any decent pictures of it but I can promise you it’s impressive and still lives on my bed!
A lot of the work I do in weaving is minimalistic and conceptual, and it’s where I often project my own issues to work them out and search for answers. Crocheting is definitely an indulgence for me, and that’s exactly what my brain and hands need after a long day at the studio. This is where I allow myself to pick the colors that bring me the most delight, and that giddiness I get when I look at bright reds and pinks brings me comfort and reminds me of what a safe space my home is. (Having a cuddly cat around to enjoy your yarn creations also helps!)
I like to focus on simplistic stitches, something I can do while I binge watch The Office on Netflix again and again and let my brain turn off in the background. I recently made a blanket using only half double crochet stitches with cake yarn that changes colors as you go. This took me most of the fall semester to make since I got pretty ambitious with it and decided to make another queen-sized throw (it’s big enough to completely encompass my boyfriend, and he’s 6’0!).
Making these blankets gives me a task to accomplish where I’m not trying to get a good grade on something, or I don’t care how much praise I get back for it. But at the same time, I still feel empowered for having this skill, for being able to make something new and useful to me. This is something I do only for myself, for my own mental health and for my own entertainment. Although it seems like the world demands too much from me at times, having this creative outlet on the side helps me recharge and get back to work feeling much more capable than before.