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What Would Frida Do? Applying Frida Kahlo’s Creativity to Your Knit and Crochet

Hey, Kathryn here. I’ve been reading a book this week called “What Would Frida Do: A Guide to Living Boldly” by Arianna Davis. It’s a brief biography of the famous artist. The twist is that the author uses her in-depth research into Frida Kahlo to suggest some life and creativity tips for others. She is very careful to note that we can never know what someone else is thinking, especially an artist as complex as Frida Kahlo. So this is simply her educated interpretation as an author with a deep love for the artist. With that in mind, the book gives some great self-help tips that apply to creativity. And you might apply them to your knitting and crochet to enhance your experience of crafting.

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What Would Frida Do: The Book

what would frida do guide to living boldly

What Would Frida Do: A Guide to Living Boldly is a combination biography, art history book, and self-help guide with a little bit of the author’s own memoir tidbits thrown in. The author notes that she’s a feminist woman of color but she is not Mexican, like Frida was. She recognizes that she sees things through her own biased lens. And she does a good job of sharing Frida’s life and explaining why she interprets it as she does through that lens. If you don’t know anything about Frida Kahlo, it’s a good primer but shouldn’t be your only resource. Whether or not you love the artist, she was a bold creative woman whose life lessons might inspire you in many ways.

Frida Might Figure Out What Color Means For You Personally

Knitting and crochet are obviously visual crafts. One of the first thing we do with ay new project is to choose the yarn. While we certain choose it with yarn weight, fiber, and drape in mind, our primary consideration is usually color. The color of a project can completely change the way we experience what we make.

One of the most interesting parts of this book for me was a section from Frida’s diary in which she laid out what she felt different colors meant. Of course, there are tons of resources out there about color theory and the psychology of color. You can do your own research to help you choose colors that inspire a certain mood (craft with yellow, for happiness and joy, for example.)

However, as much as humans are the same, we’re also all unique. How you experience color may differ from your neighbor. You might have associations that trigger certain emotions when you craft with certain colors. So take a cue from What Would Frida Do. Come up with your own list of associations with different colors. Consider this when you knit or crochet. For example, if blue is a color that you associate with sadness, try avoiding it when you’re having a hard time. Or notice when you’re using it a lot as a tool to ask yourself what’s going on for you.

what would Frida do knitting and crochet

Frida’s Color Associations

The author of What Would Frida Do shared the diary entry that she saw in the Museo de Frida in Coyoacan, Mexico. It lays out the deeper meanings that Frida associated with each color. I won’t share them all here, but a few include:

  • Green is associated with “warm and good light.”
  • However, leaf green might remind her of “leaves, sadness, science.”
  • Whereas dark green is the “color of bad news and good business.”

Frida associated navy blue with tenderness and distance. Cobalt blue felt for her like “electricity and purity.”

As you can see, she didn’t have typical associations with each color. Moreover, one color might inspire multiple feelings or thoughts. Additionally, she looked at different hues from a typical basic color psychologist, including reddish purple and greenish yellow on her list.

What do different colors means for you?

Other Tips from What Would Frida Do to Apply to Your Crafting

what would Frida do

Each chapter has a theme: What Would Frida Do about love or confidence, for example. At the end of each chapter the author offers three self-help tips. You’re encouraged to use these as inspiration from Frida for your own creativity and life lessons. Here are a smattering of those tips that might apply to enhancing your experience of knitting and crochet:

Make a statement.

Don’t be afraid to use bold colors, creative techniques, and things that draw attention directly to the items that you knit and crochet.

Keep a journal.

You can use a creativity journal to track your knitting and crochet projects. My book, Hook to Heal, offers both crochet and journal exercises for improving life.

Surround yourself with things that inspire you creatively.

Frida’s house and studio had animals, flowers. fruits, and lots of bright colors, among other things that inspired her. Does your space inspire your crafting? Does it need a brush up?

What’s your signature style?

The author mentions that Frida had a signature look and that you might do the same. This doesn’t only apply to what you wear. You might think about your signature color palette, techniques, or products. How can you alter your crafting so that every time someone sees it, they know its by you?

Celebrate your culture.

Frida was known for celebrating her Mexican roots in her fashion and her art. Are there ways you can use your culture and family history within your knitting and crochet?

Craft handmade gifts for people.

The author notes that Frida always gave personalized gifts to people. In particular, she often painted portraits for others. Use your skills with knitting and crochet to give to others. A handmade yarn item is a special gift indeed.

Use your creative outlet to cope with pain.

Frida Kahlo lived a life of intense, chronic physical pain. Arguably she struggled with mental pain as well. Painting was her outlet. We know that knitting and crochet can be therapeutic. Lean into that.

In a different chapter, the author of What Would Frida Do notes that it’s important to feel your pain, specifically emotional pain. Use your craft to work through it and process it so that it doesn’t get bottled up inside.

Be yourself.

People have tried to box Frida into different categories – surrealist painter, for example. But she defied all categories. She was categorically only herself. Of course, you can use knit and crochet patterns but have fun putting your own stamp on everything you do from color choices to how you photograph your finished pieces for social media. Along with being yourself, the author suggests that you don’t give a hoot what anyone else thinks!

Frida Kahlo Craft Merchandise

Here are a few Frida-related items that you might enjoy if you’re a fan of her work:

Handmade Frida Kahlo Crochet Doll

Note that this is a crochet doll, not the pattern, available through Darn Good Yarn. They also sell reversible Frida Kahlo face masks.

frida crochet doll

Frida Kahlo Project Bag

You’ll find lots of great tote bags on Etsy including this Frida Kahlo bag including this one from ByMrsBye.

frida kahlo project bag

Crochet-Inspired Frida Pillow

Loving this pillow made with fabric that combines a granny square print with Frida.

frida kahlo granny square print pillow

Crochet Little Heroes Book

A Frida Kahlo crochet pattern is included in this book.

crochet little heroes amigurumi book

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Photos, except book cover and merchandise, via Unsplash

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Marly Bird

The One and Only, Marly

Marly is a knitwear and crochet designer (and yarn addict) that is here to help you learn how to knit and crochet in a way that's fun and approachable.

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