“How do you craft your life?” asks writer, mindfulness expert and knitter Heather Ordover on her site crafting-a-life.com. This question tantalizingly evokes a creative inspiration that also underscores the importance of recognizing personal responsibility. We create our path to joy and happiness. We craft our future with our choices. Heather is a multi-talented renaissance person with a flair for the introspective. Combining her love of literature, art, culture, and spirituality she has come to a deepened awareness with her life practice. She has shared her wisdom with us through three important questions answered on the topic of mindfulness and creativity. Thank you Heather!
1. What were the challenges you faced before your creative outlet became a source of nourishment?
I’m a fairly scattered person. I’m interested in lots of things and throughout my life I dabbled in lots of crafts and hobbies. I don’t know if the restless spirit comes from being a fifth-generation Californian (covered wagons, the whole bit in my family tree) and it’s been bred into me or if it’s just the way I am, but I get the itch to move and to do and to try all the time.
However, for the last 14 years I’ve been knitting daily—which is curious as the only thing I’ve stuck with longer is my husband. Now the process is familiar and soft and comforting and productive—that combination seems to be magic for me. It keeps me grounded, keeps me attentive, keeps me happy.
2. How have you learned from those challenges and the challenges of learning a new art form
I think for me what’s been important is how the knitting calms my restlessness. If you’re mindful about the process of knitting you could go two ways—knitting the same thing all the time (baby hats for donations to hospitals are what I did early-on), or you could constantly draw on new pattern techniques to acquire new skills and over the course of a project as your hands and mind repeat and repeat and repeat the same motion, you find a new sense of calm—excitement of the new at the outset and a grand sense of calm and accomplishment by the end. For someone who grew up having variations on “idle hands are the Devil’s playground” modeled for me, this kind of peace while being productive has been a lifesaver.
3. How are creativity and mindfulness/spirituality connected?
I’ve found in my own life that mindfulness and knitting are intrinsically connected. Watching the stitches grow and a piece of knitting go from being loops of string on a stick to an Actual, Beautiful Thing, is both marvelous and mysterious. There is a great sense of accomplishment that comes with something as simple as the attention you pay while turning a heel—in fact I spent all of last Saturday teaching various ways to turn a heel—and within those moments, those little stitches, is where you find the place where you can be still, and watch, and be.
I know there are many prayer shawl ministries where people actively pray for the recipient of the shawl as they knit. For me, most of the finished objects go to others and I like to think that the process of knitting attentively knits hopes and dreams and memories and love into each stitch. Other knitters, when they receive something from you, they get it on many levels—the time commitment that you made while making the item, the skill it took to be able to create something that beautiful, and the love that must go into making something soft and warm and comforting for another.
For more information on Heather Ordover peruse these links:
Podcasts: CraftLit.com – Just the Books • Knitting Blog: MamaOKnits.com • What Would Madame Defarge Knit? Books 1&2 Available now: WWMDfK.com