Over the past month I have been to a number of craft fairs and at all of them I was reminded of how so many of us love to make things. We may be as busy as heck but we still love to browse a beautifully edited show such as the super-packed Selvedge Winter Fair, held last Saturday in Chelsea Town Hall and dream that on a spare afternoon we could knock up a pair of Quinton and Chadwick colourful gloves or sew a lampshade made from original 50s barkcloth like those (below) at Folly & Glee.
I spied many like-minded women stroking Ali Holloway’s beautiful handweaves and admiring the quality sewing on Thornback & Peel’s rabbit and cabbage aprons while mentally wondering if they had time to make something similar on their Bernina’s before Christmas.
It’s often not about the end result, it’s the actual process of knitting or sewing that can be so enjoyable, both calming and satisfying -even if the item we make goes in the SWHW (something went horribly wrong) box. It almost feels as if crafting is good for you. And can I just add that you can be a sewer and a knitter and still be a feminist? Just so we’re clear (and thanks for the support, How Things Are Done!)
On the way back from another equally busy craft fair earlier this month, the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York, I read a great article by writer and embroiderer Lisa Borgnes Giramonti in this month’s Martha Stewart Living. Lisa -who has a terrific blog– discovered that crafting is indeed good for your health. She discovered from psychologist Robert Rainer that crafting can ‘decrease your heartbeat and blood pressure and even improve your sleep”. Apparently simply concentrating on the repetitive process of knitting and sewing ensures the mid-brain displaces all thoughts of worry or stress, allowing the cortex, which controls conscious thought to become quiet and peaceful.
Lisa also talked to knitter and former physical therapist Betson Corkhill, who is now director of Stitchlinks, a UK based research centre that promotes the therapeutic value of knitting and stitching in treating depression. Betson reckons that working with yarn soothes your brain the way that touching a soft pet does. This completely resonated with me, as altho I don’t knit, when I was at Rhinebeck I loved to smooth the multitude of coloured yarns on display while wandering around with queen of US knitting bloggers, Kay Gardiner from Mason-Dixon knitting. I also loved the sheep, and in an aside here-knitting yarn is going the way of food in the US, everyone wants to know the provenance and heritage of their wool.
Knitting, sewing and other crafts are a bit like a double-whammy release valve for many of us, not only do they allows us to be creative -either as a hobby or a business – but they also offer a chance to escape the pressure and stress of life. You may have heard we’ve had a bit of bother recently and it really helped calm me down if I sewed. I recently made my first rug hook cushion (bought as a kit from Heaven’s To Betsy at Rhinebeck) and I loved making it, I felt so productive! it’s actually rather lopsided and I should really pull it all out and start again but that’s not the point, I reached a sort of inner peace (no easy feat) while yanking through the bits of thread.
SO, if you’re aiming to get through Christmas without murdering anyone and you are a craft loving person, you might think about having some sewing to hand, or knitting.
To help you on your way, the clever team over at True Brit Knits have come up with this rather fetching knitted Christmas door wreath (top pic) you might like to try. To buy the pattern for £3.00 click here, and the profit raised will be given to the City Meals organisation to help older people in New York still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (TBKs sell a lot of patterns in the US, hence the charity pick).
Of course if you don’t sew or knit already, I’m not sure taking up a new hobby this close to Christmas is going to help, but you know that quiet time between Christmas and New year, when if you are very lucky you get to stay in and slump in front of the TV for nearly a whole week? Yep, that’d be a perfect time. Put down your phone, switch off your computer and chill out with a bit of craft.