Mental Health and Crafting with Calm Homemade
Crochet | 3 min read time
Abby Davies shares the story of her mental health journey, and how crafting has helped along the way.
My Crafting Journey
I’m not sure I understood or even knew the word ‘anxiety’ when I was in school, but unfortunately this is where it all began. It stemmed from being bullied for being dyslexic, something that’s completely out of my control and wasn’t going anywhere. It knocked my confidence and the lies I told myself… ‘I will never be good enough’, I began to believe them. University opened up a world of creative flair, acceptance and opportunity. I finally felt like I was good enough when I had my camera in my hands, but even with a new found confidence on the surface, inside the anxiety never stopped.
Can you believe it took me to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression in 2018 to open up and tell anyone about my struggles? I explained to my close friends and family how it affects my day to day life in different ways, but I’m learning to cope with it through crafting and meditation. The overwhelming support was everything I'd hoped for and more. They still loved and supported me, and no they didn’t run a mile! This idea that people wouldn’t want to hang out with me or think I’d be a burden, just wasn’t true - so why did I tell myself these lies for SO long?
My aim is to raise awareness of the benefits that craft as therapy can have on your mental health, and help normalise and introduce discussion around mental health in our day to day lives. The more we talk, the more we will feel understood and less alone.
I started Calm Homemade at the beginning of the pandemic when I was placed on furlough. I went from the hustle and bustle of full time working, to stopping work completely with a dark cloud of uncertainty caused by the Covid 19. I was terrified this would trigger my negative thoughts and flair up my anxiety again. I decided to take immediate action to help prevent myself from feeling overwhelmed by these strange, unsettling times.
Instagram became a place where I could share my thoughts and feelings while posting pretty crochet pictures, I guess like a diary I shared with the world. I started sharing more and more, with people starting to engage. It was like the online world had no judgments about me and embraced my story, even reaching out with their own experiences.
I found the act of crocheting helped me quiet the mind and feel a real sense of achievement, while connecting with a community full of like minded people. Being a creative person, making has always been a big part of my identity and I’ve now met thousands of people who share the same passion.
My Design Process
As craft as therapy plays such a big part in my life, I not only wanted to share my story but create patterns that express the process of mindful making. In true Calm Homemade style my patterns are covered with a pastel palette, with my main focus on creating a calming pattern that’s size inclusive and totally beginner friendly. Also included are clear step by step photo instructions, crochet notes, tips & tricks, and stitch tutorials. My goal is to have a Youtube link where anyone who buys my patterns has access to my video stitch tutorials to further help the calming process of making.
Minimal is the word that comes to mind when I look at my designs. I want the process to be as relaxing as possible and if there’s lots of counting or colour changes this doesn’t tend to calm, but cause unnecessary stress. I typically use a consistent stitch pattern of a repetitive nature. Once the stitch has been learnt the rest of the pattern should be a totally immersive, relaxing experience.
Being on Instagram and creating Calm Homemade has given me the opportunity to reach a wider audience and spread awareness. At the beginning of the year I organised a global project for the fibre community to help raise awareness of the benefits craft as therapy has on our mental health. Over 80 artists submitted a unique crochet or knitted 4x4 inch square for me to attach into a finished cardigan. This project not only brought the community together but really helped spread awareness of the benefits fibre crafts have on our mental health.
Continue to do what makes you happy and shine, get crafty, be mindful and above all have fun with it!