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Crafting – let it soothe, restore and inspire you - by Paula Milner from The Crafty Lass

What is it about craft? Whatever it is you are making… I feel craft can provide a sense of satisfaction, joy - an ability to learn, develop and breathe. It can take time, practice sometimes – but I feel that at every stage, it can offer calm and restore the soul.


Is it the ‘touch’ of the natural materials? Woven fabrics, soft and smooth. The sensation of feeling that clay – heavy and sensuous. The touch of the paper – crinkly and creased. The warm glue gun, or the texture of the yarn.


Is it the ‘sound’ of creating – knitting needles clicking together, the brush dipping into the water, the pen gliding across the paper.


Maybe it is the ‘smell’. That musty and familiar smell of paint that conjures up the school art room. The fresh smell of cotton.


Or is it the ‘sight’ – all the colours of the rainbow, brights, pastels. Glittery glitter. Marbling inks swirling into joyous never ending swirls and patterns. Seeing what you envisage coming to life?


Or, the ‘taste’ of that warm cuppa you enjoy alongside your creativity?

For me it can be all of these things – a multisensory activity that satisfies a desperate need to stop, and enjoy the moment.


Time out of our busybusybusy lives. I believe craft enlightens the senses, and enlightens the mind with imagination. Craft somehow manages to provide excitement yet in contrast allows us to softly pause. Focus – make. And, the knowledge that you, with your very own hands are creating something unique, personal. Maybe as a gift, or maybe for yourself!


As we sit and create, we don’t think about anything else. Those worries somehow disappear, the washing up can wait for a while – that email, that must be sent, can wait too. We focus only on the next stitch, the line and flow of the pen in our hand, the shape and form of the felt. Often - it can be also be repetitive, and reassuring. Crochet, cross stitch, following a pattern. A comfort to calmly repeat a known stitch over and over - I can do this!


My name is Paula Milner, otherwise known as The Crafty Lass, and I live in a busy, sometimes stressful household. Life - children, family, work, and additional needs thrown in there too, a world that ‘never’ truly stops! I am sure this is your life too in one way or another? We are all just so busy!


I need craft, I need that time to get making. I crave it. It holds me. It is a comfort, a familiarity – yet is sometimes new! Whilst craft is my ‘job’, it is also my whole life. Always learning, trying, exploring. Craft can be the comforting hot cup of cocoa, or it can be the new jazzy cocktail – trying new things – just going for it!

It has recently been Mental Health Awareness week and as much as we all know we can think about Mental Health every week – it is a great opportunity to highlight and advocate the benefits of craft as a means of taking time for yourself. That feeling of ‘I made that!’, ‘I tried that’, or even ‘I want to do this again!’ it brings fresh hope, and discovery.


And then, that moment, when ‘it’ is done. Wow, what a moment! The adrenaline and dopamine sweeping through your body – look what I made!


I set The Crafty Lass business up with a dream to try and inspire people to get creative. Adults mainly! Kids, are often encouraged to get messy - and craft to their hearts content. Draw, explore – and we sort of lose that ab it as we get older - life sort of takes over. But really, aren’t we all a kid at heart that wants to get the pens out, all the papers, oh and that glue that sticks to your hands and can be peeled off (just me?)

We just need some time, a chance and no judgement! As kids – we make, we draw. ‘Look! I made a rocket!’ ‘I’ve drawn my family!’ ‘Look at my flower!’ I mean, the list goes on. It may, or may not look like (to us) what it has been ‘labelled’ as – but, as adults our response to them is often “WOW! That’s amazing. Well done!” Because - we support their vision, their creativity and dreams. They will continue to draw, to craft.


Somehow, as we ‘grow up’ we lose the ability to see that it is ok to try craft, to give things a go. We feel what we need to make is ‘perfect’ – but does it? When did we lose our fearless ability to just get stuck in? Nothing in life is perfect. And, actually the act of making it - is a gift to yourself in the concept of time for yourself. What have you got to lose if you don’t give it a try? And if it ‘goes wrong’… we can try again! There are times when I have to unpick some sewing, or restart a crochet row, or my ink pen bleeds across a drawing – and sure, it makes me cross. But, I am still enjoying learning - why that happened, and I still want to finish that quilt even if have to unpick it 2, 3 more times!!


Now you may already be crafty, and I might be preaching to the converted, and you know how craft makes you feel. However, maybe you’ve never tried anything creative! But, want to. It might feel like – where do I start? What can I do? Craft certainly isn’t an exclusive club – everyone really can get involved!


Choice

There is almost too much choice. It will be about finding whatever it is YOU would like to learn! Have a look online - Hobbycraft has an ‘Ideas Hub’ full of ideas of creative things to make and do. It might be something simpler to begin with - like mindfulness colouring, but maybe you’d like to try something different like pyrography, or get into knitting or quilting!


Budget

Obviously some crafts are more expensive than others, but it really doesn’t need to be expensive – you could get creative with whatever your budget. Maybe upcycling, junk modelling, collage. Or find materials second hand - I love a good car boot to find fabrics!


Time

You may not get much time in your week, but maybe you could dedicate an evening, or even a lunchtime? Even a 10 minute session of cutting out fabrics, or folding papers for origami?! Take whatever time suits you across the week to spend some time getting creative.


Where?

Well, there will be classes, local groups... Or gather your materials and sit down to learn via or book or online! Craft by yourself, or with friends. I like knitting on long train journeys!


I’ve not taught workshops, or not regularly anyway – since before ‘the’ pandemic. I miss that interaction, and the ability to pass on some crafty knowledge, and skills. To see people engaged in their own love of craft, their own pride of learning. And I cannot wait to share this again, to feel that crafty team spirit as people take inspiration from the person next to each other, exchange.


Keep your eyes peeled for some new and exciting workshops at the Brackley Wellbeing Centre that I hope will bring some crafty joy to people’s lives.


Do you craft as a way of relaxing for your own mental calm? I would love to know how craft makes you feel. And what crafts you enjoy – or are going to try!


The Crafty Lass can be found online at www.thecraftylass.com or across socials @thecraftylass.


Image by Jenny Stewart Photography

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