Crafting, Collecting, and Questioning By Sr. Diana Doncaster

Crafting and “Collecting”

This Lent Contemplative Knitting practice is a real gift, though I am beading rather than knitting. Beading has become my hands-on passion; something that no one looking at the many containers of beads in my small office could question. I remember thinking that I’d found a hobby which wouldn’t take much space. Ha! Then I decided to sell whatever jewelry I create to support a charity. Whooee – justification for more beads! Do you see where I’m going with this?

A regular theme of conversation on the beading sites is the size of our stashes and how we organize them. We’ve had conversations about what will happen to our stashes when we die – even as we share our latest additions. Some people show photos of entire rooms dedicated to beading, with cabinets and shelves bursting with beads, tools and supplies; tempting many of us to envy. I laughed at a meme which proclaims, “I’m not a bead hoarder. I’m the curator of an extensive, private bead collection.” But is it really funny? Where is God in this?

Aside from the beading project I am praying with, following Julie’s invitation to enter more deeply into prayer through a calm, repetitive practice, I hope to get real about how many and what kinds of beads I really need. (True confession: In my cart at my favorite on-line bead supply store is an order for “just a few” more beads.) Do I really need to leap at the next shiny thing? Will I really, in my lifetime, bead all of those patterns I’ve collected? What can I release so I have more time, space and calm to let God speak to me, guide me, teach me and make me a better, more loving servant? What is truly important?

I know knitters and crocheters who are really skilled. They can whip out extraordinary items – both beautiful and useful – in the time it would take me to cast on a simple shawl. I wonder if they have similar issues. Do yarn crafters “curate extensive private yarn collections”?

Whether you knit, crochet, bead, do paper crafting, paint glass, scrapbook or whatever, here are some questions for potential reflection. Has your craft started to take over the space you have? What would it be like to give away some of your supplies to someone else who could use them but can’t afford them? Does your stash take the place of something more important, or might it protect you from listening to God whispering in that empty place inside you? Does your craft become an excuse for avoiding those hard places in your relationships?

On the other hand, how is your craft a true gift from God? How are you using it in the service of God and other people? What is it about what you are crafting, about the process, that gives you the greatest joy? What about your craft, your sacred art, brings deep desire to offer thanksgiving and praise? I promise, I’m asking these questions right alongside you. May your Lent bring true blessings as you knit or crochet or bead or do whatever your hands long to do in prayer.

Sister Diana Doncaster – Bio

Sister Diana Doncaster, aka the nun2good, is an Episcopal priest and member of the Community of the Transfiguration in Cincinnati, Ohio. Once upon a time, she was given a a lovely, simple seed bead bracelet. That was all it took. She had to figure out how to make it. She discovered Pinterest. She discovered Facebook beading sites. She met a friend who taught her new stitches. But a Sister vowed to poverty, chastity and obedience must have a good reason for creating jewelry. After all, she wears a habit most of the time (except while in isolation during COVID which just goes on and on and on.) So since she has long been sold on the idea of micro-loans and micro-finance as superb ways to help people help themselves, she decided that any proceeds from selling her beadwork will go to Episcopal Relief and Development’s Microfinance program. She continues to live in that odd space among three mottos: “Benignitas, Simplicitas, Hilaritas” (Kindness, Simplicity, Joy), the motto of the Community of the Transfiguration; “There is no such thing as too many books or beads”; and “No outfit is complete without cat hair”. That last is the gift of her feline companion, a Siberian Forest cat named Motka who loves to “help” with just about everything.

Rows 12-20 of Pattern #26 Japanese Stitch Bible

Published by Julie Cicora

I'm an Episcopal Priest that loves using knitting as a spiritual discipline.

6 thoughts on “Crafting, Collecting, and Questioning By Sr. Diana Doncaster

  1. Dawn, I wanted to share this reflection with you, I think it is central to the work you want to do. The last two paragraphs before the Bio at the end seem right to the point. thank you for everything you do, martha

    On Thu, Feb 25, 2021 at 11:01 PM Contemplative Knitting wrote:

    > Julie Cicora posted: ” Crafting and “Collecting” This Lent Contemplative > Knitting practice is a real gift, though I am beading rather than knitting. > Beading has become my hands-on passion; something that no one looking at > the many containers of beads in my small office ” >


  2. I have had many hobbies, mostly crafts, but knitting didn’t begin as a hobby. It began as a call to ministry after two presentations to a church women’s group: one on knitting as a spiritual practice, and the other on Prayer Shawl ministry. I learned to knit and found such joy in giving my handsets away that I started a Prayer Shawl group to bring others into the fold! That was 15 years ago and this ministry continues to bless my life every day. Now, about that question of cultivating an impressive collection of yarn… well, yes, my stash runneth over, but I have arranged it in various places where I can enjoy the colors and textures of the yarn before it before it becomes the work of my hands and prayers of my heart, and goes on its way to bless someone else.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a crafter what a great reminder that we do not need to have all the things. Back in 2000 I started doing cross stitch. Along the way I have learned and invested needlepoint as well. then I decided it would be fun to learn to knit which I can do at a beginner level. I joined guilds and coklected the designs, threads, yarn and tools of the three crafts I have embraced. Then one day I realized I was SABLE. Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy. 🙂 In addition I also realized my tastes were changing. This posed the problem of having a great deal of stash I would never use. I was also now an empty nester with visions of downsizing to a smaller home.So I started destashing. I took over 100 cross stich and needlepoint designs and some fabric to a friend who has a You Tube Channel for her to give away. I am optimistically aimimg to reach 90 years old since my father did. Therefore, I made a chart listing by year what I thought I could complete over the next 20 years of my life. I stopped buying new patterns unless it replaced something in my stash. This year I am not starting any new cross stitch or needlepoint projects except for a class I am taking in April to learn some new stitching techniques. The goal is to finish 12 of the 32 WIPs cross stitch and needlepoint WIPs.I am also working to complete the knitted cowl and shawl that have started . While I still have too much stash and i feel that I have control over my acquisitive tendancies when it comes to my needle crafts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sr. Diana,

    Let me assure you that we knitters have the same challenge as you beaders — that of ““curating extensive private yarn collections.” I love the questions you pose about the larger purpose of our craft — and our crafting supplies. One of my great pleasures in knitting is yarn bombing. My knitting group’s annual yarn bombing of our village here in the midwest is playful and fun — both for us and for the community. Tree blankets for yarn bombing is the project I’ve chosen to work on during the Lenten knitting practice that Julie is hosting. While the bright colors and the evolution of very organic stitches and patterns give me joy, the work is simple enough to stay present with the practice without being overly focused on the details of following a pattern.

    Good luck with your beading practice — and your bead collection 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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