Suzanne Kelly from Palmers Green arts organisation Stitch! on the growing popularity of crafting
The first anniversary of the pandemic lockdown restrictions has brought into sharp focus the many unforeseen changes we’ve all had to grapple with over the past 12 months.
One of the more positive trends has been a surge in the number of people taking up or returning to crafting as a hobby. Taking up a hobby or learning a new skill even comes recommended by Public Health England as a way of managing mental health while isolating.
I spoke to two life-long crafters, who have been busy passing on their knowledge and skills as part of the creative team here at Stitch! Crafts & Classes, to reflect on what lessons they have learn over the past year.
Sharon Wallin has been hosting the Stitching Circle that switched to running on Zoom every Thursday last year. She said: “During lockdown, being forced to spend more quiet time at home has really made me come out of my comfort zone.
“The Zoom meet-ups have been a great way of staying in touch and making new friends. It’s been so comforting sharing what we’ve been making, seeing what other people are doing, and it has inspired us all to try new things.
“Doing something creative every day is integral to my wellbeing. It’s a feel-good activity.
When I’m knitting or spinning, I really get into a relaxed state of mind and ‘in the zone’ – I truly believe the whole process of physical crafts is so good for all our mental states and that this is precisely why crafting has become so popular in these times.”
Will the trend for crafting last? “I think there will be a continued boom,” says Sharon. “So many friends are now darning, visible mending, coming up with fresh ideas about how these skills can be deployed.”
Susan Mehmet is the person behind the Ashkim Bears brand of cuddly toys. She said: “Lockdown has really rekindled my love of sewing. Having attended two quilting courses at Stitch I bought a new sewing machine and started exploring a variety of sewing projects.
“For a few years now I have been hand sewing bears and rabbits, but lockdown gave me the opportunity to develop further skills and expand my knowledge.
“Setting myself new challenges and goals has given me a real purpose and mindfulness. Also, the pleasure of sharing my new knowledge with others and giving friends and family homemade gifts has been very rewarding.
“I’ve been making facemasks, fabric pots, bears, rabbits, quilting projects, decorations, bags, snoods, just to name a few things! I’ve kept a record of everything I made through a blog and photographs.”
At Stitch! Crafts and Classes we are looking forward to reopening the doors to our shop in Palmers Green – stocking fabric, wool, haberdashery and crafting supplies – on Monday 12th April. In-person classes in crochet, knitting, sewing, darning, quilting and calligraphy (to name a few!) will restart in May.