The Storm and the Quiet

I love this time of year. For someone who hates the heat as much as I do, the cooler temperatures are a relief and a joy. Is there anything cozier or more comforting than warming up after being briskly chilled? It’s one of my greatest pleasures. And the textures! Soft earth, crunchy leaves, a buffeting wind…this season is sensational in the truest sense of the word. I think what I love most though are the gray storms rolling in, tossing the multi-hued leaves, interspersed with skies that particular shade of vivid blue that only shows up in the fall. I never get tired of the autumn skies.

The dichotomy of the skies feels very familiar to me. The cycling of my bipolar disorder is very similar to the constant displacement of roiling gray and vibrant blue and vice versa. Like most people, the last couple years have left me particularly vulnerable to mental and emotional fatigue and more rapid, and therefore vicious, cycling between the extremes of my condition. I’ve been finding a lot of insight, though, in the beauty of this mercurial season: there is magic in the gray and the blue, the storm and the quiet. When I was younger, I thought that the depressive episodes were purely negative while the manic ones were good for me, since I felt so much more powerful and alive during them. Then, in my late 20s, when I realized how many more unwise decisions I made during my manic episodes, I began trying to avoid them at all costs. Now as I am older, and hopefully wiser, I have realized that the real solution is to find balance between the two. It is ok for me to embrace what is positive about my swings, while using the tools I have learned to regulate the negative aspects. Balance has become my ultimate and daily goal.

Crochet really has become one of my go-to methods to maintain emotional stability. And just like the autumn season, it combines the elements of color and texture (and coziness!), all of which help ground me in the creative process. I personally have found very little else more effective in both soothing and stimulating my mental equilibrium.

In that spirit, I wanted to share a quick cowl pattern with you to work on during this changeable time. It’s soft and colorful, and it works up really quickly. It would be a great handmade Christmas gift too. And if it helps to keep you balanced during your own storms and lulls, so much the better.

Velvet Slouch Cowl

Size: 10.5” x 12.5” (27cm x 32cm)


1 skein Bernat Crushed Velvet (size 5 bulky) yarn. I used Cranberry Cider in these pictures.

Size K (6.50 mm) hook

Tapestry needle 

I love the ridges

Notes: I use a one chain turning chain instead of the more common 2 chains for hdc in this pattern; the turning ch does not count as a stitch throughout.

Work stitches tightly, as velvet yarn has a tendency to worm.

Ch 75, join with sl st.

Row 1: Ch 1, hdc in first ch and across. Join with sl st in first hdc. (75 stitches)

Rows 2-30:  Ch 1, turn, hdc in BLO of first hdc and across. Join with sl st in first hdc. (75)

Fasten off. Weave in ends.

I never get tired of the way velvet yarn catches the light