Crafting and wellbeing
My Knitting background
I learnt how to knit as a child, learning from my Mum and my Granny. I got my Brownie Guide knitting badge, for which I knitted a truly terrible garment, a tank top with an all-over interlocking cross pattern in rust and cream (in my defence, it was the late 1970's!). I continued to knit occasionally, all the way through to university where I completed an Aran jumper (still wearable today!)
I am not sure why I didn't carry this skill through into my adult life. So many other things to try out, I guess. I made several patchwork quilts, and turned my creative energy to writing for quite a while too. And of course, there were periods where I was so focused on work, and coping with living up to my expectations that I lost focus on what made me happy.
One day in 2016, while developing my coaching skills, I was challenged to teach someone a "forgotten skill", so I dug out a ball of wool and some knitting needles. I started practising some sample squares in different stitches, and somehow acquired some more wool! The samples grew and grew as I knitted in hotel rooms in the evenings while working away from home, and I felt calmer and more productive.
And then, while working away in Scotland, I broke my ankle…
I had never been so dependent and helpless since I was a child. My parents helped me make the journey from Scotland, to the North East of England where they looked after me for a week, a week of shuffling around on my bum and trying to build up my ability to use crutches.
After a week, they brought me back to my home in South Wales. I had an office chair with wheels, which allowed me to get around the ground floor of my home with relative ease; I could cook sitting down, wheel myself into the shower and just regain some independence what with online shopping delivering goods to my door.
Knitting helped me face this difficult convalescence time, I had six weeks where I wasn't allowed to put any weight on my leg at all, so I made great progress on my first sampler blanket. It gave me a reason to get up and do stuff each day, I was re-learning techniques, playing with colours and patterns, and creating a useful, attractive and unique object. I was in the moment, making, and I wasn't feeling useless, despite being confined to the house. I was planning future projects in my head too!
Crafting and wellbeing
As I continue to develop my mindfulness practices, I have become passionate about knitting as an aid to be present in the moment. Breathing practice and meditation are the cornerstones of becoming present, and allow us to step away from our autopilot or negative thoughts.
Just as breathing is done in the present, so is making a knitted stitch.
Just as our life is a series of breaths, knitting is a series of stitches.
With knitting, we have a design in mind that also offers the achievement of creating something unique, from a simple square to a complex garment.
We focus our thoughts on creating something; for ourselves, another human being, or even a pet!
We can work with others and co-create larger projects, such as blankets.
Knitting is tactile, colourful, creative and satisfying.
Whatever we make, we have brought something new to the world.
I have since designed and made hats, blankets, scarves and shawls. I have also discovered the wonderful and vibrant world of independent wool producers, dyers, local yarn shops, designers and knitters out there in the UK! Being creative is very important for my well being, and now I have a network of like minded people, many of whom are small business owners themselves.
If you are looking to improve your wellbeing, have a look at my #calmthroughcrafting half-day workshops, which cover the principles of mindfulness and crafting, and introduce clients to quick mindfulness techniques and simple knitting projects