I discovered a wonderful new way to improve the quality of my life almost by accident.
Craft Is Cool and Life Enhancing
During the past 6-8 months I have been making a range of my own clothes on the trusty sewing machine I inherited from my wonderful Grandma. I love buying fabric (self confessed fabricaholic) and have made my own jeans and pants and summer tops - that I can create a much better job of than buying for my current size. I get to decide on the design and either amend an existing pattern or at times create my own rather than suffering life in poor fitting compromises. Plus I get to choose the fabrics that I love to wear - as I much prefer natural fibres like cotton, linen, and wool over synthetics.
My Designer Top
Looking and feeling summery in soft pink
While I was busy making my sewing projects I had found that I was naturally in a very present state and I thought upon reflection one day - what a great way for me to practice mindfulness and turn out useful clothing items that I love to wear. I realised that craft and making things with my hands is a fabulous way for me to healthily disconnect and decompress from my business focused brain and being caught up with projects that require lots of left brain thinking and processing.
Make Give Live
Easter presented a great time to plan to get my craft on again and I had found @makegivelive on Facebook. Make Give Live is a social enterprise based in Auckland selling handmade beanies and with the purpose of reducing isolation and improving mental health and wellbeing.
Make Give Live connects, empowers and enriches the lives of people who co-create beautiful knitwear.
You can buy a beautiful beanie and they have knitting circles that knit and then give a second beanie to someone who is in need of it for warmth.
Inspired by their gorgeous beanie kits I went online to their website and purchased the Reagan beanie kit in cream. I was thinking why not try another craft project other than sewing and I love woolen beanies in cold winter weather and especially for ski holidays. One of my fitness goals is to be able to return to skiing and ANY excuse to own another yummy beanie - right.
You can check out their website above for more info and buy one yourself if you are keen. I’m not an ambassador for Make Give Live but I am an enthusiast and you might like to try this fun way to improve your own well-being.
Confession - it’s been many years since I picked up my knitting needles. All enthusiasm, I had cast on prior to Easter when the kit arrived - so as soon as I arrived in Taupo for the Easter weekend I began knitting my beanie following the pattern. I’d never used circular needles before and it was a long, long time ago that I knitted an Aran jumper that included cable knitting in the pattern. I had to relearn how to do it all. This meant that I knitted a whole bunch of rows of the ribbing and then had to undo my knitting and start again to get it right. I ended up doing this two times before I solved my questions about how to follow the pattern and especially the cabling involved. However in solving these pattern challenges I then felt confident in my ability to complete the project.
I got up and had breakfast each day and immediately started to knit and one day was still in my PJ’s at lunchtime I was so absorbed in what I was doing and so intent on completing my beanie. It was fun and easy once I relearned how to do the cable needle bit. And I was unable to watch Netflix and follow this complex pattern at the same time. Usually during an Easter holiday type weekend I would relish catching up on a Netflix series or movie I had been hanging out to see.
The project well on it’s way
Note the circular needles
We had quite a bit of socialising on during the holiday weekend so I was squeezing my knitting around our lunches and dinners with lovely friends. AND great news! By Easter Monday I had finished the beanie and was feeling pretty pleased with myself and my new winter hat. And I felt joyful. Really joyful.
The finished beanie
I love the pom pom
Back To…Knitting Is The New Yoga
I’m not making this up. If you google “Knitting Is The New Yoga” you’ll find a bunch of positive references. Knitting is edging as a new trend currently (again) and after coming to this by accident I am loving the benefits for my life and wellbeing.
Knitting requires letting go of distractions (including your iPhone - yeah the one glued to your hand or hip) to enable you to focus on the task and problem solving at hand. This makes it a great way to experience mindfulness and on top of that, British and American studies say that;
“focusing attention on the hands increases the production of dopamine and serotonin, the happiness hormones, and lowers the stress hormone cortisol”
I found that I experienced joy as a result of knitting my beanie. JOY! How great is that?! The Shape of Kate has always been about my whole self and finding healthy activities that help shift and lift my state. So I am a new knitting convert and on to other knitting projects and shared knitting experiences now. And I’ll tell you more about that at a later date.
Now to finish with a the benefits you can experience from knitting….just in case you need persuading.
What are the Benefits of Knitting?
Reconnects you with the present moment
Helps you to let go and decompress from your business or work responsibilities
Reduces stress after only a few minutes knitting (like meditating or sports activities)
Helps manage/reduce and eliminate addictions e.g. alcohol, cigarettes and for me - food
Builds self confidence through problem solving and creating an article of clothing or an accessory
When done with others it provides social connection and the opportunity for in depth conversations
It is an act of love to knit for others. Consider how precious it is in this age of instant gratification to give the gift of your time and attention through knitting for someone else.
Knitting helps me to practice mindfulness and brings me joy
Check out these famous faces who love to knit!
My intention in writing this blog is to share what I have experienced and found to contribute positively to my life and my journey. I want to be very clear that it is not to position myself as a psychologist guiding you to process your thoughts and feelings or a life coach helping you to live your better life. If you find my shared experiences of value and inspiration then I have done my job. If on the other hand you could benefit from professional well-being support then I encourage you to contact a professional who can help. I have done so in the past and will do so again in the future when I have need of that kind of help.