Recently I found a graphic entitled Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time by Hayley Lewis. This graphic was based on an article in the Harvard Business Review, October 2007 by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy. Now, I don’t frequently read the Harvard Business Review and in 2007 I had other things on my mind. So, I found this graphic via the head of NHS safeguarding. This graphic struck a chord with me and I was keen to share it with Adoption UK’s membership, the team here at Adoption UK and the community more generally. It also resonated for me about my feelings during lockdown. I wondered whether it wasn’t a timely message for all of us as this situation rolls on. 

During all of this lockdown I have had a real compulsion to knit and crochet. I learnt how to crochet when I was a young child. My mother was a frequent crocheter at that stage. She made lace doilies with a fine crochet yarn and a narrow, metal hook. Every conceivable surface was covered in cream lace. In particular, my mother believed that the arms of every chair should have a doily and the back of every seat should be protected with crochet. My mother did not venture into other craft territories. Knitting, sewing and tapestry were the jealously guarded preserve of my grandmother, great aunt and great grandmother. Only a reckless fool would consider picking up a needle with those matriarchs in residence. 

However, the urge to crochet was replaced in teenage years by the urge to listen to Kurt Cobain, the need to wallow in my room and a demand to be a lot cooler than crochet would make me. In any case, what use was crochet ever going to be and I wasn’t exactly going to mention that on my UCAS form, was I So, I parted ways with crochet and all forms of craft. 

Rolling forwards 20 years or so, I picked up the hooks and needles again as an adult. Leisure crafting became a part of my life again, but only in a casual kind of way. The occasional painting class in a pub (yes that’s a thing,) go to a farm and crochet a canary (also a real event) and my own favourite, spend an evening making a fascinator. I can provide photos of each of these if evidence is required. However, home and work life relegated crochet and craft once again to a more backseat position. 

Enter lockdown and a strong urge to read and crochet. I have read more, listened to more books and picked up the hooks and needles once again. I could feel the urge, I responded to the urge and I could sense that it was meeting a need for me, but I could not articulate quite what or why. The “Manage Your Energy…” graphic talks about “identify your “sweet spot” activities that give you feelings of effectiveness, effortless absorption and fulfilment.” I recognized this as a description of my urge to crochet. There is a bsalm effect that happens. I am active, I am occupied, I am doing achieving and performing; and yet it does not deduct from my energy stash. Putting that time in replenishes my energy, rather than depleting it. I had never constructed knitting as a spiritual activity, but in an age that recognizes the importance of mindfulness and selfcare, perhaps this makes more sense.  

Reflecting on what these craft activities provide for me tells me that they are so different from my other tasks, responsibilities and activities. Crocheting is just me, my pattern and my project; no other people involved. Knitting can develop at a pace I choose, I am not working to a deadline, there are not fast television jump cuts. It allows me to tune out the environmental interferences. Interestingly, it is also an obvious signifier to my children and the world that I am doing something. This doesn’t prevent all interruptions, but it is a visual marker that might give them pause for thought.  

It makes me wonder what is it in your life that allows you to power up? What would you need to replenish in that same way? Do you value it or do you tend to push it aside and see it as a luxury you can’t afford? Do you hear the craving or do you ignore or deny that need? I hope you have something that gives you this energy back in your life and whilst you answer these questions I am off to see how possible it is for me to be able to knit whilst conducting a zoom call. I will let you all know when I have finished my next hat!