What we learn from getting to know other beings...
Thank you for all the warm responses to my last newsletter with the giant octopus adventures. I am happy to report that the newly named, “Alexandria Ray” arrived safely in her new home in California. The pattern for this octopus was created by Elena Times and is available on Etsy. It is the most complex pattern I have completed to date and the instructions were a great guide.
I’m grateful that sharing my fun and whimsey with her inspired smiles in so many others; thank you for the opportunity to share. I wanted to write a bit more about my octopus interest (obsession) of late.
Over the course of last year, I began to explore amigurumi, the Japanese art of crocheting animals and characters. There are many free tutorials and patterns on-line. I created several and sent them to my son at college. At one point he suggested an octopus and I made my first one on a long car ride in January.
My first crocheted octopus…
In February, I taught a series of workshops for The Light House on the theme of Courting Creativity. When I was looking for examples of courting a wild animal, I found lots of quotes related to presence in the natural world, especially the forest. However, the story and image that came to mind was that of the octopus and diver in the movie, My Octopus Teacher.
In My Octopus Teacher diver Craig Foster observes and befriends an octopus diving off the coast of South Africa. The movie documents his friendship with this particular octopus and footage he filmed on his dives. Foster begins the movie feeling professionally burnt out; there is also a story of healing through wonder and connection throughout the film.
When I think about what we learn from interspecies friendships and the ways that relations with non-human beings can inspire wonder and connection, I am reminded of how being in the natural world of creation also inspires the healing power of our own creativity.
Can you think of a time an animal, place, or plant called to your attention?
How did this relationship and awareness inspire your creativity?
Where do you go to seek wonder and awe in nature?
How does relating to non-human beings require a different approach or sense of time?
Further supporting my octopus learning and interest were the books, Remarkably Bright Creatures, a novel by Shelby Van Pelt and The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. Van Pelt’s novel has an intriguing narration by an octopus in an aquarium who offers fascinating observations on the humans he observes. Along the way, the narrator octopus also teaches us a great deal about the intelligence, playfulness and versatility of octopuses. Montgomery’s book is non-fiction, chronicaling her experiences learning about octopuses at different aquariums, through research and in dives of her own.
The podcast, Terrestrials: The Mastermind by Radiolab for Kids, features a great interview with Montgomery about Octopuses. In the interview she talks about “Inky” an octopus in New Zealand who was rescued and raised in an aquarium before he escaped.
If you are interested in trying your own octopus crochet, these two free patterns are a good starting place. You will notice one calls for using just a single strand of embroidery thread to make a very tiny octopus - I used the full 6 strands instead but it could also be adapted to other size yarn.
Tiny octopus made with embroidery thread from pattern created by Anastasia Kirs…
This pattern by Croby Patterns works with different size yarn as well…
Thank you for reading and being part of creative community through this newsletter. I welcome your comments, thoughts and reflections.
With a grateful heart,