Cro­chet de­signer and au­thor Kate Bruning tries her hand at wa­ter­colours and learns how to com­bat 'cro­chet col­lapse'.

Simply Crochet - - Contents - Find out more about Kate's cro­chet ad­ven­tures on her blog, www.greedy­for­colour.blogspot.com, and see her lat­est cre­ations on In­sta­gram – she's @greedy­for­colour

“It’s a strange process that en­ables cre­ativ­ity to re­new it­self.”

W e’ve all been singed by creative burnout along the way. Whether cro­chet­ing for fun or pro­fes­sion­ally, there’s of­ten a ditch wait­ing on the other side of a big project. Some­times it’s after the frenzy of a hand­made Christ­mas, or the mind-numb­ing rep­e­ti­tion of mak­ing 10,721 items for a mar­ket stall, but some­times even mak­ing a blan­ket can do it.

I’ve found my­self in ‘the ditch’ many times but most re­cently, I was there after the com­ple­tion of my third book in three years. This made me so fa­mil­iar with it that I be­gan to call it ‘cro­chet col­lapse’. Fun­nily enough, how­ever, it was when I started to un­der­stand the stages of cro­chet col­lapse that I learned to love it, and to give my­self over to this strange process that en­ables cre­ativ­ity to re­new it­self.


Stage one of cro­chet col­lapse is sheer, giddy relief. Cro­chet hook firmly back in its roll, cups of tea con­sumed in real time, tele­vi­sion pro­grammes watched rather than lis­tened to.

Then comes stage two. A fa­tigu­ing itch in the hands to cro­chet with lit­tle en­ergy to be­gin a project or drive to carry it through. A low grade frus­tra­tion, rest­less­ness and di­min­ished in­ter­est, the cro­chet equiv­a­lent to writer’s block. NB This is an ex­tremely im­por­tant phase, as it’s the draw­ing back of the ar­row in the bow to cre­ate the ten­sion in or­der to shoot you through to the next stage.

Stage three is cu­rios­ity! The wind in our creative sails blow­ing us on to our next en­deav­our. The mo­ment when you spot a cush­ion on In­sta­gram and won­der how it would look in a dif­fer­ent colour com­bi­na­tion.

Fi­nally comes stage four. A re­dis­cov­ered pas­sion for cro­chet. Cold cups of tea, a warm and happy house.


I’ve learned to em­brace stage two, to har­ness that ten­sion and point it in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion. Last year, when the rest­less­ness kicked in, I signed up to a wa­ter­colour class. It was a sur­pris­ingly vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion to find my­self in. After feel­ing so ac­com­plished in cro­chet to the point of hold­ing work­shops and teach­ing oth­ers, it was strange to be­come the stu­dent again, work­ing with slow and painstak­ing strokes, un­der benev­o­lent scru­tiny!

This new skill was ab­sorb­ing and, to my relief and de­light (aka re­light), one that could be learned. It re­quired prac­tice and im­mense kind­ness to one’s self. It made me study ob­jects, and con­sider how they re­ally are, as op­posed to my

“When the rest­lessne ss kicked in, I signed up to a class.”

“In the end, it led back to cro­chet.”

per­cep­tion of them. Tues­day morn­ings be­came a shining light and some­thing to re­ally look for­ward to.

Then the ar­row landed and I had a thought: “How would cro­chet leaves look with this?” I started to play, adding leaves and flow­ers that I had made a few months ear­lier to dec­o­rate a wa­ter­colour cake. That night, I couldn’t wait to lib­er­ate my cro­chet hook from its roll. Flora and fo­liage of dif­fer­ent colours and va­ri­eties mul­ti­plied, bury­ing me on the couch in a spring flurry. I kept re­fer­ring to pho­tos on my phone, sud­denly des­per­ate to rekin­dle the knowl­edge that I had of the hor­ti­cul­tural uni­verse.

After I had cre­ated a few small pic­tures, a con­ver­sa­tion with an­other ex-pat fam­ily mem­ber re­minded me of our shared, nos­tal­gic love for Aus­tralian wild­flow­ers. Cu­rios­ity prick­led its lit­tle hooks into me. Could I... should I... would it be pos­si­ble... to make a big bouquet of Aus­tralian wild­flow­ers out of cro­chet and wa­ter­colour? Es­pe­cially with said fam­ily mem­ber’s birth­day loom­ing.

What a joy it was to make, the cul­mi­na­tion of so many skills built by dif­fer­ent path­ways (in­clud­ing my di­ploma of hor­ti­cul­ture!). I couldn’t have achieved this paint­ing if I had pushed re­lent­lessly through cro­chet col­lapse, deny­ing my­self a break and change of di­rec­tion. And of course, in the end, it all led back to cro­chet!

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