Do crocheted octopi help babies in neonatal? Part Two.

As discussed in our last post, ‘The Tentacles for Tinies’ is a 2017 pilot study of the efficacy of using crocheted octopi in the neonatal unit of the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.

This week we will analyse the social and emotional findings of the study. In addition to measuring biological markers of the babies engaged in this study, the researchers surveyed impressions of the crocheted octopus project from parents of the subject babies. According to the report, 100% of parents surveyed said that they liked the project. More specifically, every surveyed parent reported

  • they perceived the project to be beneficial to their baby, and
  • the project helped them improve their involvement in their babies care.

Good-will, hope, confidence, encouragement are difficult to measure compared to heart-rate and blood pressure. It is, perhaps, unhelpful to seek validation of these positive qualities through quantification.

Other reports (not research studies) on the use of crocheted octopus reveal similar sentiments. For example, Poole Hospital in Dorset, England called for volunteers to crochet octopi to supply their babies in NICU. In response, an article in Modern Healthcare (20/2/17) says,

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the kind response to our appeal for crocheted octopi,” said Daniel Lockyer, matron of neonatal services. “Patients are already telling us that their babies seem calmer with an octopus friend to keep them company so we’re looking forward to continuing the project in the future.”

Similarly, TCA Regional News (5/1/19) reports from Thumbay Hospital Fujairah, UAE, that Mohammad Ali, father of a 33-week baby girl in the neonatal intensive care unit said,

“After being introduced to the crochet octopus last week, our baby seems to have become calmer and is responding well. I am thankful to the doctors and staff for this initiative.”

The perception of the babies as calmer is cited as anecdotal evidence which implies a degree of unreliability or untrustworthiness in the claims. Yet, is any other sort of reliable evidence possible under these circumstances? Is evidence of hope during hardship and peace during uncertainty even an appropriate request?

Returning to the social dimension of the study from Rotunda, Dublin highlights broader, immeasurable benefits. For example, some of the crochet volunteers had themselves experienced premature birth, birth complications or loss. Participating in the project, for these people, reportedly provided an unexpected positive therapeutic dimension. Similarly, staff at the hospital experienced community support in ways that were otherwise not possible.

The good in a human activity is not reliably measurable through a medical or scientific method. Accounting for the social aspects of the crocheted octopus project in a respectful and comprehensive fashion is complicated but worthwhile.

If you want to be involved in our Octopus Crochet project comment below or email for more information. Don’t know how to crochet? No problem. We’ll give you everything you need and support your every stitch.

Ladybird, lady beetle, lady bug

As children, we learnt that to find a ladybird in the garden meant you’d found pure luck. Ladybirds were a good omen and would bear any wish we bestowed upon them. In France, if a ladybird lands on you, when she leaves she will take with her any ailment you were experiencing. In Switzerland it is the ladybird who brings babies, not a stork.

The ladybird family name coccinellids is derived from the Latin word for scarlet which is also where we get the word cochineal. These days, when we say cochineal we’re usually talking about a colour but it used to refer to deeply crimson dye made from the dried bodies of a species of insect.

The dome shape of the ladybird’s body perfectly echoes the aesthetics and shape of a regular shirt button. These buttons, designed and hand-embroidered by Dianne, are only 8mm in diameter. They are six little circles of happiness and good luck. We’re hoping to sell them in sets at a market stall in March.

We’d love to hear your ladybird stories. Do you have a cultural story about the meaning or special powers of the ladybird? Comment below, or email us.

 

What’s the point?

There’s a lot of stuff out there. We’ve reached peak stuff. In the city where Monica lives, people have so much stuff they have started to leave the excess on the kerb. Almost every second house has furniture, kitchenware, whitegoods, manchester, electricals or toys stacked on the kerb with a handwritten sign ‘For Free’.

But it is not for free. Something, someone, somewhere picked up the tab for all this stuff. Materials mined from our earth, animals displaced or species made extinct, waterways polluted with the waste from production, good air turned toxic. Our living breathing biosphere pays for all this stuff.

The point is not to stop making stuff.

  • The point is to make the stuff that we need. NEED.
  • The point is to reclaim those skills that we’re losing. SKILLS
  • The point is to relearn the real-world knowledge that we’ve forgotten. REAL WORLD

Dianne’s new weekly face-to-face classes, ‘Crochet an Octopus for a Premmie’ are about need and skills in the real world.

Prematurely born babies need additional physical comfort and a sense of tactile security to grow strong. The design of Dianne’s umbilical octopus toy fills this need.

Over the past few weeks, dozens of women have walked into Dianne’s studio never before having picked up a crochet hook. You won’t believe what they haev achieved. They are reclaiming the skills of their grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They are making something that we need. They are mending our broken world through the humble craft of crochet. Will you join us?

To thine own art be true

Dianne was recently commissioned to design and create a promotional poster for an upcoming British Women’s Association charity event. The feature image of this blog post is the ingenious outcome of her principled approach to process.

The poster is consistent with Dianne’s method for all her creative work. It conveys not only the details of the BWA 2019 Recycle-A-Ball, but also evokes the essence of the event too.

The medium is the message.

Remaining true to meaning, while arousing a ‘Mend and Make Do’ aesthetic, Dianne created the poster wholly from recycled, ready-to-hand materials. This artistic constraint was a deliberate ambition of the project.

  • The background is an old tablecloth
  • The paint is mixed from what was available in the studio
  • The letters are left-overs from an iron-on lettering kit
  • The drawing is from free-hand markers
  • The skirt is gathered sheets of newspaper
  • The top is fashioned from packing tape printed with the repeated red word ‘Fragile’

Do you feel compelled to create with materials in harmony with your meaning? If not, try it. You might find that deeper resonance you’ve been searching for. We’d love to hear your ideas on harmony in process and material.

 

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