How weaving improved my mental health
I’m so excited to be able to share a guest post with you today from Kat, who sells her bright and fun woven wall hangings through her shop Weave and Pom. Her story is really inspiring and a real reminder of the benefits of craft. Take it away, Kat...
I used to be a teacher. A career full of stress and pressure. A career that eventually took its toll on my mental health so severely, that I had to make the very difficult decision to leave the profession I once loved. I am a mum to two young girls, it was them or the career. I chose them.
This gave me the time to spend with my children, but it also gave me lots of time during the days when they were at school to think, to dwell, to wallow in my own self pity. To be frank, I was in a mental health crisis. I had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and was at my lowest. I had been for CBT, which helped, but I was still having daily panic attacks, and in a heightened state of anxiety almost all the time. I needed something productive to fill my mind and keep my hands busy.
I came across some beautiful woven wall hangings on Instagram one day, and thought how much I would like to have a go at making one. I bought a really cheap children’s loom that I found in Flying Tiger and just thought I’d have a go! I looked up a few videos on YouTube to help get me started, raided my pom pom making wool stash and just dove right in! My first weave was TERRIBLE! I started with basic tabby stitch, just over and under, and still I missed stitches everywhere, I pulled my weft too tight so my warp threads bowed and I had NO CLUE how to sort out the ends and attach it to a dowel! But I was HOOKED! The calming rhythm of weaving the weft in and out of the warp had cast a spell over me which I just couldn’t escape! I then used a combination of combing the internet for information, and trial and error to try out new techniques and skills. Every time I mastered a new technique I felt such a sense of achievement.
After a few weeks, with my skills improving all the time, I had started to build up quite a selection of weaves. There are only so many you can hang on your own walls and give as gifts so I decided to open my Etsy shop Weave and Pom, not really expecting anybody to buy anything! Four weeks after opening, I was thrilled to make my first sale! Less than six months later, I have just made my 100th Etsy sale! I never dreamed I would be here, doing this, six months ago!
Having a creative outlet is so good for the soul! One of the things I love so much about weaving is that there are so many different styles and colour combinations that the possibilities are virtually endless! It means that you can let your creativity run wild! It is also a very good way to vent your emotions. I tend to make brightly coloured, vibrant weaves, which never fail to bring me some comfort if I’m having a bad day. However, sometimes I’m compelled to make softer, more muted pieces, which have more of a calming effect. There is no right or wrong!
Since giving up my career, I had often (wrongly, I know) felt like I had no other real purpose in life other than ‘mother’ or ‘wife’. Suddenly, I was contributing to the finances again. I was doing something for myself. It has worked wonders for my mental health. I no longer feel like a ‘failed teacher’. I now feel like a ‘successful weaver’. Sometimes, you just find that ‘thing’ that totally fits you. Something that just clicks. Weaving is that ‘thing’ for me. It is my therapy. It quietens my mind when it is full of anxious thoughts. It keeps my hands busy when I am full of doubt. It is my creative outlet when I am overwhelmed. What I’m trying to say is, that finding something you LOVE and are actually GOOD at, is wonderful therapy! Why don’t you give it a try? It might just be the therapy you need.
Thanks Kat! What a powerful story, and one that I think will resonate with many - it certainly did with me. I can testify to how therapeutic weaving is too, having now tried it myself. You can find Kat on Instagram, Facebook or her Etsy shop.