Mind launch their Christmas Crafternoon aimed at bringing friends, family or colleagues together through craft for an afternoon of festive making to raise money for mental health. Kate O’Sullivan of A Playful Day talks to Kat Goldin, Fran Stone, Joanne Scrace, Emma Mitchell and Sarah Knight about the meaning of craft, plus they share feel-good project ideas.
A quick scroll through my timeline this morning confirms that Christmas is coming and it’s leaving some of us feeling quite overwhelmed. Holiday bargains to power up our shopping, negotiations around relatives and Christmas parties can make the festive season feel a bit like a marathon. For those of us who already experience depression or other mental health difficulties, this can be an especially challenging time.
That’s why Mind launched their Crafternoon which is aimed at bringing people together through craft. The idea behind these events is to get together with friends, family or colleagues and hold an afternoon of festive crafting to have fun and raise money for mental health. As a charity, Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem as well as campaigning to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. Rachel Boyd, Information Manager at mental health charity Mind says: “We know that many people find craft activities to be great for their mental health, because it can be very therapeutic and rewarding to complete small and achievable tasks.”
Escaping into an activity and keeping hands busy when negative thoughts about ability and confidence plague us is something Fran Stone has been open about many times on her blog Fall For DIY.
Fran explains, “Making something helps me to realise that when I put my mind to something I can achieve it. Even if the project isn’t a resounding success I can take the negatives and make a note of how to improve next time. This reminds me that crafting is a journey. Just because something hasn’t worked today, it doesn’t mean it won’t tomorrow.”
Emma Mitchell of Silverpebble also enjoys the way using her hands helps soothe away daily stresses whether she is crafting her silver jewellery or stitching. “The process is often rhythmic, aesthetically beautiful and the sensory pleasure of feeling wool or soft silver clay in my hands is very like the feeling I get whilst walking in a wood or playing music. Craft is to me what yoga or running is to others.”
This is something echoed by Crochet designer Joanne Scrace and Kat Goldin of The Crochet Project. “Craft to me means relaxation and escape” Joanne explains, while Kat knows that for her, feeling productive means improved mental health. “Craft is about feeling productive. So much of my life is either intangible – words on a screen; or never ending – the endless repetition of life with children and animals. With craft, I feel like I can start and finish something and then see what I have made. I like practical things that make my life better, warmer or more beautiful.”
Then there’s the act of coming together and learning new skills in company that really helps the feel good factor. Rachel Boyd, from Mind explains that relationships are a really important part of the Crafternoons, making you feel supported, positive and connected to the world around you. A strong network can be one of the most important things in staying mentally healthy. Sarah Knight is a blogger and designer who admits that craft has given her a supportive community that helps her keep things positive. Sarah explains “I gained a fantastic community of friends from all over the world” and her regular craftalongs are a source of constant support to many within our making community.
Coming together to craft could be just the boost some of us need in the busy run into Christmas. If you’d like to host a Crafternoon take a look at the list of feel-good craft projects below chosen by Kat Goldin, Joanne Scrace, Emma Mitchell, Fran Stone and Sarah Knight for ideas of what you can make. For festive projects see our list of tutorials here.
“I am slightly obsessed with socks at the moment. Joanne’s Saunders socks are a brilliant quick pattern.” – Kat Goldin
“My Acer Shawl, I’ve made two and started a third. It has such a soothing rhythm to the pattern, easily remembered and grows quickly into a beautiful and intricate looking embellishment to lots of outfits.” – Joanne Scrace
“I’ve been working on a giant Granny Square blanket for almost 18 months now. I chose the softest fluffiest yarn that looks like a Norfolk beach (where I feel happiest). I reach for it when things are especially tough or as a special treat and after making even a single clusters of trebles I feel more relaxed and just a little happier.” – Emma Mitchell
“Jewellery making is always something I go back to when I need a quick fix! I think the thing I love the most about making jewellery is that you can do so much with it. You can use any materials or techniques to create miniature pieces of art and when you’re done you can use what you have made straight away. All you need are a few really simple beginner skills which are available in my Beads & Baubles jewellery making ecourse and you can find lots of inspirational jewellery DIY’s on my blog.” – Fran Stone
“Simple patterns that require little concentration, in my favourite colours, are ‘feel good’ projects for me. Examples include: Rock Those Chevron Socks, Whimsical Cowl, Cosy Colourblock Shawl, and the Beekeeper’s Quilt.” – Sarah Knight