Just under 11 weeks ago I was sat at home two weeks over due and utterly boiling as the UK experienced an epic heat wave. It turns out I was pregnant with a ten and a half pound baby (I KNOW!) and as the days ticked by I realised I was staring down the likelihood of having my baby induced in hospital. There is little that could raise the spirits of such a person but one thing saved my sanity in those days and that was cross stitch.
Gone were the days of dressmaking as one, I was huge so there hardly seemed any point making anything. And two I could no longer bend over to cut fabric. I couldn't really do much that involved heaving my oversized body out of my chair. But I desperately needed something to engage my hands and slow my mind. I can really see why colouring has made a come back for the same reason. Don't we all need something to take us out of ourselves for a minute, even if we aren't massively pregnant?! I'm no psychologist but for me time to not think, rather weirdly, seems to bring more clarity in the mind. Like your brain needs time to rest itself so that it can order itself well.
It seems I'm not alone in rating the theraputic benefits of stitching and the fab online shop Sew and So have recently hosted a blog series for Mental Health Month with stories from people who have found sanctuary and healing in their creative projects. The stories are really worth a read and chart how having a craft to focus on helped these people through everything from anxiety to depression to chronic illness. I know for me, in the long road to having a bambino, taking a dressmaking course gave me a new joy and passion in my life when I needed it most. So much so that the baby now gets some quality Daddy time for a couple of hours every few days so I can get behind the machine again.
One of the lovely side benefits to something like cross stitch for relaxation is that you have something beautiful in the end. The cross stitch I took on in my last days of pregnancy, and finished up a few weeks after Luke was born, was the Love Tree by Bothy Threads. There is something very special about stitching the word 'Love' over and over again as you wait for your greatest love to arrive on the scene. My house is rapidly filling up with things that have emerged in this way but isn't it lovely to look around you in your own home and be surrounded by things that mean something and tell your story.
If you fancy giving it a go then cross stitch really is ridiculously easy. Just stitch in the same direction and maybe get yourself a snazzy magnifying mirror to hang round your neck if you really want to channel cross stitch cool. Next on my project list is a Christmas sack for Luke and then I am stitching an A-Z of the Christmas season called Oh Holy Night. Like a true Vicar-geek I exclaimed to my husband that I just had to have it because the theology in it was so sound. I know, I'm beyond help! Still, I can't think of any better way to really dwell on the true meaning of Christmas.
So how about you? Any tips for creative ways to unwind and rejuvinate? I'd love to hear them.