In the darkest season of my life I used crafts to help me maintain my sanity. I am not exaggerating. I was slowly being driven mad by Prince Charming. I did not realise just how much baggage he brought with him when we got married. It was enough to make him into the sort of person that I don’t think he really wanted to be. The problem was it was too hard for him to let go of his baggage and in the end, being around someone carrying that heavy a load nearly broke me as well.

One of the ways I coped was making things. It helped me do something productive and take my mind off the problems that surrounded me every day. I had enjoyed dressmaking and made things for myself while I was at school so it made sense to pick up that again when I had the time and space to do so.

There was a season when I did a lot of knitting. I treated myself to a  simple knitting machine and could make a jumper in a day. I would do the tension sample one day. Measure it and adjust the pattern accordingly. The machine would take care of the plain stocking stitch part that I hated doing. Once that was done I would knit the cuffs, bottom edge and neck by hand partly as the machine did not do ribbing very well. It would take about 10 hours work but I could get a good looking jumper for myself done before bedtime. This really helped me gain a sense of achievement when I was surrounded by negativity.

Then came the season of crocheting. Sometimes doilies, especially ones with coloured flowers incorporated into them. Sometimes cardigans for myself. I even made some jewellery using small pieces of crochet.

Crafting helps keep down the cost of Christmas

One of my big problems during those years was balancing the books. So much money was going out to repay debts that it was hard to make ends meet. I had to learn to be frugal just to keep going. One of the big expenses of a household is Christmas presents.

Being able to make things made it easier to keep the costs of Christmas down. I made pictures. I decorated vases. I sewed jewellery bags. I knitted scarves.

It amazes me that 20+ years later the pictures I made out of virtually nothing are still in my mother’s china cabinet with ornaments she inherited from her mother. Not of them have lasted well but they are there in what is effectively her cupboard of treasures.

Crafts at the mental health support group

I started going as a volunteer and then realised that I had as many of more personal struggles than many of the attendees. It was hard to know where I fitted in at times. Once my personal situation improved I kept going as a helper and even got paid for that sometimes.

I was not the only one who enjoyed making things so I organised some craft sessions. Again the important thing was the sense of achievement that I and the others in the group had.

I soon realized that the adult craft books included projects that were too complicated for ordinary non-crafting adults. However, the children’s books had ideas that were simple enough for them to do but I had to take care to present the idea in a way that dignified adults. 

The end result was a shelf of children’s craft books gathered from local charity shops. Some time later this became a good resource to draw on when we started an offline craft group for adults with learning disabilities.

Like I said crafting has been a lifeline for me. I wonder what it could do for you.

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