This is another one of the early pieces I made (although I have done several variations on this one since) and was created to initiate a conversation around mental health. I’ve suffered anxiety and depression for most of my life but took great pains to hide it from everyone around me because I felt that a) no one around me was really that bothered and b) that they would somehow see me as weak in some way and the thought of that was just completely unacceptable to me. It wasn’t till I was in my 40s that I told my closest friends when I was struggling and that's still hard for me to do. For many years crafting was the way to silence that particularly nasty voice in my head that went out of its way to make me miserable because as you can see from the photo above, my inner voice is a complete arse. And wow, that voice really knows all the right buttons to press to get a reaction, doesn’t it!
I’ve been able to knit, crochet and sew for as long as I can remember. My mam made my clothes when I was a child and both my nanas and all my aunts could turn their hand to pretty much anything craft wise. I was surrounded by women who made things and it didn’t even occur to me that not everyone grew up like this. If a family member announced a pregnancy, out came the knitting needles to start on baby hats and matinee coats before the sentence was even finished.
I took this for granted when I was a child but looking back I am incredibly grateful, because crafting in its various forms has helped me so much during the particularly shitty moments of my life. Each craft has a different purpose for me. Want to watch TV while making something, because I can't just sit and watch a programme? Then it’s crochet or knitting a simple pattern because I can usually focus enough on both enough to follow a storyline and not make a jumper with an extra arm. Cross stitch requires more focus. It’s easy enough to do obviously, but it’s also easy to go horribly wrong as I've proved many times. For me, cross stitch is perfect when I need to just shut my brain up. I can’t concentrate on stitches and dwell on the gut wrenching detail of my existential crisis at the same time. Luckily.
I’ve done workshops on virtually every craft going and have subsequently bought all the supplies, admired them, put them in a drawer and then never looked at them again. Yes, I’m rubbish, but at least I’m really quite self aware with it. It’s never wasted time however because I end up with something pretty and spend a lovely day with people who share my interests. My house is full of half finished projects because there’s always a new shiny thing to do, however, when I do complete something there is such a sense of achievement and it gives me a bit of a boost.
I’ve spoken to many crafters who use their craft to silence that inner critic or distract themselves from whatever terrible thing is going on in the world right now. It seems to be a very common theme among us and I'm thankful that we do have something to divert our attention. It’s something I’d like very much to bring to more people. I love the idea of building a community using craft as a way to help people quieten those voices, even if they can’t be silenced completely. And you never know, you might even get a nice jumper out of it...eventually.