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Connecting different generations – how crafting can bring people together

There’s no doubt that sharing similar interests and values can help us to connect with each other, regardless of our age, gender or class. These connections are so important, allowing us to learn from each other and to develop mutual understanding, which is beneficial for our family relationships, our work relationships and for society as a whole.

Global Intergenerational Week is being celebrated between 24th and 30th of April this year and it seems a great time to think about how crafts can play an important part in connecting people from different generations.

What are the benefits of mixed generations crafting together?

While the older generations bring wisdom, well-honed crafting skills and life-experience, the younger generations bring energy, enthusiasm, a capacity to learn quickly and new ideas. With crafting in common, doors are opened to new friendships, that can extend beyond the realms of knitting and crocheting, with a new-found empathy and understanding of each other and a more open-minded approach to others in general. I feel like age is just a number, when I’m surrounded by like-minded people who love yarn as much as I do.

What is Global Intergenerational Week?

It’s an annual campaign, celebrating all things intergenerational.

‘The campaign aims to inspire individuals, groups, organizations, local and national governments, and NGOs to fully embrace intergenerational practice. It encourages connecting people of different generations in intentional, mutually beneficial activities. During this week, we celebrate good practices, ideas, moments, and opportunities where different age groups come together, forming intergenerational friendships!’  (generationsworkingtogether.org)

How does Yarny Bees support intergenerational relationships?

I’ve experienced first-hand, the value of learning from members of older generations, who have passed down skills they’ve learnt from their parents and grandparents. This is something very close to my heart, as my grandma not only taught me to knit, but we grew closer through our shared passion for yarn craft. She inspired me to start my Yarny Bees business, to help encourage others to knit and crochet, through my workshops and groups, both in-person and online.

I offer in-person craft workshops and craft and chat sessions, for people of all ages. Due to the increasing demand for my classes and groups, I’ve needed a bigger space. I’ve recently moved from The Fabric Vault in Lichfield, to Unit 2, 69 Upper St John Street, just a seven minute walk away. My new, permanent location, means that larger numbers of people can attend now and I can run more sessions too.

As well as the many children’s sessions and adult sessions listed on my website, to celebrate Global Intergenerational Week, I’m also offering a family Craft Hive session on 27th April, from 12:30-1:30pm and I have plans for more sessions moving forwards. I have two young children of my own and I believe you’re never too young or too old to take up a new skill and yarn craft can appeal to people of all ages. Knitting and crocheting come with added physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages and it’s good to get the family away from screens, learning and having fun together.

If you’d like to find out more about my workshops and Craft Hive sessions, in-person and online, click here: https://yarnybees.co.uk

You can also hear more about what is happening in the Yarny Bees’ community in my regular email newsletters: (link)

Reference

https://generationsworkingtogether.org/global-intergenerational-week

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How conscious of Fairtrade are we when we buy our clothes?

With the cost of living rising, it’s natural for us to be more cautious about what we are spending our money on. In spite of this, however, many of us still want to look stylish and fashionable and so we may be instinctively drawn to the fast fashion stores on the high street, or to the cheap clothing available to us online. But are we aware of where our clothes come from, or the pay and conditions experienced by the workers who create them?

‘In order to manufacture things quickly and inexpensively, sweatshop workers – often women and children – suffer grueling workdays and meager pay that does not cover basic expenses, while offering them cruel working and living circumstances…Working conditions are poor, unhygienic and unsafe since a large number of sweatshops are located in poor nations with weak labour laws and little government control.’ Earth.org

So, is mass producing clothing a recent development, or has it been going on for centuries?

Knitting machines and sewing machines

The history of the knitting machine actually began in 1589, although sewing machines were invented much later, in the late 1700s. Mass producing clothing, meant that items could be created more cheaply than before, but workers were forced to work long hours in oppressive and often dangerous conditions, with low pay. Most of the mills in the 19th century were known for their poor working conditions and unsafe practises, with many people maimed or killed. While working conditions in the UK have changed, due to more stringent laws, companies get around this by exploiting overseas workers (adults and children) and then shipping in the clothing instead. Fashionable clothing is often viewed as disposable and with the speed at which fashions change, relatively new clothes can often end up in landfill.

While knitting still continues to be a hobby enjoyed throughout the world, mass-produced, machine knitted garments, now dominate the high street.

Do you know that crocheted items are exclusively handmade?

In stark contrast to knitted garments, crocheted items are exclusively handmade. There is no way of mass-producing crocheted clothes, due to the intricacy of the stitches, so every piece involves a skilled craftsperson working on it by hand. Such work involves a great deal of time and effort and overseas workers are grossly underpaid for the quality craftmanship involved in making crocheted garments.

So, should we avoid buying crocheted clothes? Not at all! They are beautiful and durable and I’ve loved seeing them become more popular. However, it’s also important to recognise the skill involved in making them and to buy ethically sourced clothing or to make our own. 

What are the benefits of making our own clothes?

I love crocheting and knitting – the texture of the yarn, the versatility and durability and the feeling I get when I have created something new to wear. I enjoy creating patterns myself, knowing that I’m making my own, unique garment to use and enjoy for years.

Yarn craft is great for our mental health too, helping us to truly be present in the moment, to relax and to unwind.  

How will I know if the yarn I use, or the clothes that I buy, are ethically produced?

  • Look out for words like ‘Fairtrade,’ ‘ethically sourced’ and ‘organic’
  • Ask the company about their sources and processes – if they are an ethical and sustainable brand, they will want to share that information
  • Do your research on the internet and on social media
  • Buy 2nd hand clothing, do clothes swaps, or upcycle old clothes or yarn

I stock yarn from Drops Design, as they have a great reputation for being sustainable, fair and affordable, as well as producing high quality, natural yarn, that I love to use when knitting or crocheting items for myself, or for my online shop.

If you are looking for inspiration, please see my website for yarn, patterns, knitted and crocheted items and for my online and in-person workshops: https://yarnybees.co.uk

References

‘History of machine knitting,’ Knitting and Crochet Guild

‘Fast Fashion: The Danger of Sweatshops,’ Earth.org

Fairtrade Foundation

https://www.fairtrade.org.uk

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How can Knitting and Crocheting help with Children’s Mental Health?

Since lockdown began, there’s been an increase in the number of adults and children taking up knitting and crocheting. Having learnt to knit as a teenager, I love the fact that an ever-growing amount of people are enjoying yarn crafts and passing their skills down to the younger generations too.

One of the big benefits of knitting and crocheting, is the positive impact they can have on mental health, both in the short term and longer term. By teaching children crafting skills, we are setting them up with a healthy hobby that they can enjoy and come back to throughout their lives.

‘We all make mistakes in knitting. When you learn from an early age that it’s about the journey not the destination, you become a happier adult. Kids need to be taught that it’s okay to NOT be perfect. When kids can create an imperfect product and still love it because they made it, their confidence level goes through the roof.’ (pattylyons.com, 2019)

Knitting can lead to increased serotonin production

Modern life, the impact of social media and having access to more screen time in general, has led to an increase in mental health issues among pre-teens and teenagers. Even where parents are diligent in applying parental controls and limiting screen time, children can often pick up information from their peers, or experience peer pressure that can be unsettling or distressing for them.

The repetitive nature of knitting has been shown to release serotonin, a natural anti-depressant that helps to lift mood. As well as the therapeutic benefits experienced while knitting, creating something tangible at the end is great for children’s confidence and self-esteem. 

Needlecraft for young children doesn’t have to be complicated, knitting a scarf for a favourite doll or teddy, or even one for themselves if they have the patience, can be extremely rewarding. As their skills and interest develop, more intricate and challenging patterns can be introduced.

Once the basic skills are mastered, the repetitive movements can help anxious children to self-soothe too, an important skill for their wellbeing.

Brain development, coordination and problem solving

As knitting and crocheting involve using both the right and the left hand, this helps to develop coordination. Both sides of the brain are engaged and more neural pathways are built up. Knitting helps with cognitive function, memory retention, concentration, problem solving and mental agility, which can lead to greater success, confidence, achievement and self-esteem in school too.

‘knitting requires following instructions, reading, and troubleshooting, all components of problem-solving. For any child, these are great traits for them to develop. Of course, mistakes happen in knitting, and these mishaps provide a great learning opportunity for your child to discover how the mistake occurred and how to fix it.’ (pattylyons.com, 2019)

Children can take onboard new skills quickly and easily, compared to older adults, so teaching them needlecraft skills when they are young is a great idea. It sets them up with a healthy hobby for life.

Family bonding

When skills are handed down from one generation to the next, it helps with family bonding. This, in turn, has positive benefits for mental health, as it can result in more mutual respect, understanding and tolerance.

My family has always been full of skilful knitters and I used to watch with awe, as they turned colourful balls of wool into beautiful garments, with the rhythmic click of their needles. After many attempts and lots of loving patience, my grandma finally taught me to knit and my skills and confidence grew from there. I have fond memories of our time spent together and though I lost her a few years ago, the skills she taught me and her love of yarn continue to inspire my creations and my growing Yarny Bees business.

Transferring skills from the older to the younger generations is vital, so that those key skills don’t get lost over time.

Children’s Mental Health Week (5th – 11th February)

This time of year, is a great time to encourage your children or grandchildren to take up knitting or crocheting. It’s still a little chilly to be outdoors for long and helping them to have fun, learn new skills and spend time away from the screen while indoors, ticks lots of boxes around mental health.

Place2Be launched the mental health awareness week in 2015 to empower, equip and give a voice to every child in the UK.’

For the many ways in which you and your family can engage in activities and/or fundraising, as part of ‘Children’s Mental Health Week 2024’ click this link:

https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk

Ideas and inspiration for needlecraft with children

As a mum and a former teacher, I love creating patterns and workshops for children, knowing that I’m helping to give them a great start with needlecraft.

Here are some of my upcoming workshops for children and families, in the Lichfield area:

https://yarnybees.co.uk/product-category/learn-with-me/childrens-workshops/

Simple patterns for children who are learning to knit or crochet:

https://yarnybees.co.uk/product-category/learn-with-me/childrens-workshops/

For information about future workshops and events, plus patterns and yarn, you can visit my website at https://yarnybees.co.uk

References

6 Benefits That Children Experience from Knitting’ Patty Lyons, 25th September 2019

‘Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week’

https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk

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Why is January a great time for creative crafts?

It’s that time of year again, where people are talking about New Year’s resolutions – but not me!

Personally, I prefer to take the more positive and generally more achievable view, that January lends itself to new opportunities – it’s a chance for us to broaden our horizons and to try something different. With the hustle and bustle of Christmas over, but the cold weather still here, it’s a great time to take up a new hobby that can be done indoors, or to develop an existing one.

This quote from Dr. Avril Gabriel sums up my feelings about new year:

‘Throughout life we will evolve and move forward… The aim should not be “new year, new you.” Working on ourselves should not mean scrapping the great things that are already present within us and starting from scratch. You will undoubtedly still be you in the new year, and the gift of being you means that you already have a good foundation to continue building on, acknowledge this and use it.’ (Counselling Directory)

To me, life is all about learning, evolving and growing, but in our own time and at our own pace.

What are the health benefits of learning a new skill?

Stepping outside of our comfort zone to learn a new skill may feel a little daunting at first, but once we’ve taken those first few steps, it can often feel exhilarating, satisfying and have a positive impact on our mental health too.

‘Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem
  • helping you to build a sense of purpose
  • helping you to connect with others’ (NHS)

Why choose yarn crafts?

What I love about yarn crafts is their inclusivity. Yarn crafting really is accessible to everyone. Whether you are a total beginner (learning to knit and making a scarf) or you have years of experience in tackling more intricate projects and designs, there is so much variety in terms of what you can make and skills that can be developed. It’s never too late to learn something new.

The beauty of knitting and crocheting in Winter, is that you also get to wear what you’ve made straightaway. I’m a great believer in crafting for a purpose. It’s so satisfying to create something unique that you enjoy making and wearing and that can also keep you warm, like a bobble hat, a knitted jumper, a crocheted cardigan or a cosy scarf. 

Yarn craft for beginners

My upcoming workshops can help you to unleash your creativity. You will learn new skills and get the support that you need to master them and grow your confidence with knitting or crocheting.

If you live in Lichfield, join my small group, in-person sessions, running once a month for 6 months. I can take you from a bee-ginner to a crochet or knitting queen!

If you prefer a one-off session, those are available too, the next crochet one is the 18th March, and knitting on the 29th January but I may be adding more due to demand!

You can also book one-to-one sessions with me, or join my online or in-person Craft Hive sessions – for social time with like-minded crafters.

Workshops for the intermediate or more experienced crocheter or knitter

If you are already comfortable with crochet or knitting and want to extend your skills or try something new, I am launching new, intermediate level courses, including more advanced techniques to help you level up your crafting. Keep your eyes peeled for these!

You can also book to join Craft Hive; online or in-person sessions, where like-minded crafters get together to craft, chat and share tips and ideas.

Children’s workshops

Look out for my pop-up, children’s workshops.  Whether your child is naturally creative, or needs a lot of support, my in-person workshops can help them to go from a ball of yarn, to a creation that they can be really proud of. As a former teacher and a mum of two boys, I’m used to working with groups of children and helping them to learn and achieve, while having fun and being creative. 

You can have a good browse of all the options of working with me on the main website.

References

‘New year, new you’: The New Year’s resolution trap’ Dr. Avril Gabriel, PsychD, CPsychol, published 20/12/21, Counselling Directory

https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/memberarticles/new-year-new-you-the-new-years-resolution-trap

‘5 steps to mental wellbeing’ NHS

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/five-steps-to-mental-wellbeing/

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Last minute crafts and ideas for Christmas

December is here already, with only a few weeks to go until Christmas!

Are you an organised forward planner, with most things ticked off of your list already – or do you like to do everything in December, to get yourself fully immersed in the Christmas buzz? 

What are the benefits of being a crafter at Christmas?

Whether you are someone who is prepared for Christmas in advance, always at the last-minute, or somewhere in between, the great thing about being a crafter at this time of the year, is having the ability to create gifts and decorations, while enjoying your hobby at the same time.

When it comes to organising Christmas presents, I much prefer relaxing with a cuppa, while crocheting hand-made gifts for my friends and family, to trawling the busy shopping centres for inspiration, or finding that things have sold out. When the recipient knows that something has been hand-made, especially for them, with love and care, it also makes it an extra special gift.

Taking time to switch off and be in flow with your hobby, can be beneficial for your mental health and for family harmony too, over the busy Christmas period.

‘Research has shown that crafting, regardless of the medium you use, can bolster mood, improve self-confidence, and reduce stress overall.’ (Spectrum Health and Human Services)

More about the health benefits of crafting can be found on my blog post from October ‘Crafting for mindfulness, menopause and memory’.

Pattern ideas for last minute Christmas gifts and decorations

I enjoy creating patterns for myself and others. The following patterns (which are all suitable for anyone with a basic knowledge of crochet or knitting) can be purchased from my website:

Christmas stocking – this can be used as a decoration, or to put little gifts in

Hat – perfect as a useful gift, to keep your loved ones warm in winter

Headband – create a stylish and colourful accessory, for a friend or family member

Bunting – can be used as a durable and timeless decoration

Basket – can be given as a gift on its own, or filled with other Christmas gifts

Christmas presents for crafters

I’ve always got something craft-related on my wish list. Whether it’s new yarn, patterns, tools, storage solutions or new craft kits to try out, I’m a very easy person to buy for. The drawback of being a yarn stockist, is wanting to use it all myself!

Craft-related vouchers are also a great option to put on your own wish list, to leave around as a giant hint for your partner, or to purchase as gifts for friends or family members.

Yarny Bees gift vouchers can be used on any of the items on the website. You could choose yarn made from ethically sourced, natural fibres, in a wide variety of colours or patterns to suit your own projects. You could choose to spend them on Craft Hive sessions, either online or in-person, or on ready made projects. The vouchers can be used online on my website, or physically in store at The Fabric Vault, in Lichfield.

Please get in touch if you require a voucher for an alternative amount than shown.

I hope that you have a very happy Christmas, however you are spending it and I will be back with my next blog post in the new year.

References

‘The Unexpected Benefits of Crafting’ Spectrum Health and Human Services

https://shswny.org/the-unexpected-benefits-of-crafting

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Natural fibres or plastic? Why the yarn you choose can make a difference

Last month, it was National Recycle Week. This has prompted me to write about how, as crafters, we can be environmentally friendly, while still enjoying our hobbies to the full.

Why choose natural fibres?

All the yarn I use and sell within Yarny Bees, is made from natural fibres. I have consciously made the decision not to use man-made fibres within my business. This is because almost all of them are made from plastics, which, when washed, release microfibres into the water system. My feeling is that there is enough of this going on around the world, without me adding to it! 

The brand I have chosen to stock, Drops, have a great reputation for being sustainable and fair. I also love that their pricing makes them accessible to most people, allowing good quality, natural yarns a place in the market, to compete against the cheaper acrylic and polyester blends.

What are the other benefits of choosing natural fibres and skin-friendly dyes?   

Although sustainability and concern for the environment are important factors in yarn choice, there are other reason to choose natural fibres too. It’s important that our clothing is comfortable. Man-made fibres can cause irritation or friction for people suffering with skin conditions, such as eczema or dermatitis.

‘Polyester, acrylics, rayon and nylon are common fibers that can have a negative impact on people with skin conditions. These fibers are hydrophobic and tend to trap moisture which can irritate your skin……. The interaction between textiles and skin has led many brands to improve their sustainability standards by designing garments that are healthy for your skin microbiome.’  (today.com)

Another consideration is to avoid the use of toxic dyes, which can also be harmful to the skin. Companies like my supplier, Drops, make it their priority to use suppliers who have OEKO-TEX standard 100 certification, which confirms that ecological practices are in place for the safety of textile products.

More about my supplier

I buy the yarns I use and sell, from Drops Designs, as they have a strict code of conduct, which fits with my values, beliefs and principles. They are a company who seek to support sustainability, protect the environment and respect animal and human rights. They are meticulous about their choices, examples of which can be found on their website, including:

We focus on wool from South America where it is guaranteed that the sheep are not subject to mulesing. We have chosen not to source our wool from Australia because we know mulesing occurs there and we avoid controversial fibres, such as angora, because of the way the animals are treated. (Drops Designs)

Recycling hand-knitted and crocheted items   

Recycling isn’t just aboutbottle banks, green bins and charity shops. One of the things Ilove aboutknitting and crocheting items, is the ability to re-use the wool, when my children grow out of their knitted jumpers, or if I change my mind mid-project or later!

Creating a style of my own

With fashions ever-changing, the waste created and the impact that has on the environment is immense. I love creating my own patterns and clothes, which I will treasure for years and which will never be out of fashion; pieces which reflect my personality and colour choices and coordinate with my staple bought items. Through Yarny Bees, I provide high quality, natural and sustainable yarn and patterns, to help others to do the same. Here is the link: https://yarnybees.co.uk/product-category/make-yourself/

Craft Hive

If you’d like a bit of company while you are crafting, I also run Craft Hive in-person groups in Lichfield and an on-line Craft Hive group too, as I love to meet like-minded crafters. Here are the links, for more information and to join: https://yarnybees.co.uk/product-category/craft-hive/

Check out my next blog post, for last-minute craft-based ideas for Christmas gifts and decorations.    

References

‘Sustainability’ Drops Design

https://www.garnstudio.com/sustainability.php?cid=19#:~:text=Our%20assortments%20are%20for%20the,are%20not%20subject%20to%20mulesing.

Article from today.com by Jannely Espinal, December 2021 https://www.today.com/shop/best-fabrics-fibers-sensitive-skin-t242078

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Crafting for mindfulness, menopause and memory

There has been a recent increase in the popularity of knitting and crocheting, since the start of the pandemic and lockdowns. I’m enjoying watching this upward trend, as I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits that they can bring. This is because knitting and crocheting are not just fun hobbies, they can also have a positive effect on your mental and physical health too, at all stages of your life.

Needlecraft has been scientifically proven to help to manage a variety of mental and physical health conditions and getting together with others while you craft, can be even more beneficial.

‘Knitting has significant psychological and social benefits, which can contribute to wellbeing and quality of life,’ (The British Journal of Occupational Therapy)

‘data suggests that crochet offers positive benefits for personal wellbeing with many respondents actively using crochet to manage mental health conditions and life events such as grief, chronic illness and pain.’ (Perspectives in Public Health)

How does crafting help with mindfulness and stress release?

Mindfulness involves being fully immersed in the present and switching off from external pressures. Both knitting and crocheting require attention and focus, keeping your hands and your mind occupied at the same time and enabling you to achieve flow. Mindfulness occurs as a natural side-effect of knitting and crocheting and many people find needlecraft more accessible and easier to practise, than more conventional forms of meditation, such as yoga.

Crafting is great for relieving stress, as it helps you to wind down, subconsciously process your day and focus on something you enjoy doing.

It was great for me, when I was a teacher in a special school, as it allowed me to fully switch off after work. It’s also a great way for me to unwind now too, after my boys have gone to bed.

What are the benefits of crafting for menopausal women?

The following symptoms are commonly experienced by women going through the menopause or perimenopause:

Hot flushes; sleep problems; mood swings; digestive problems; weight gain

    All of these symptoms can be exacerbated by stress, as it can put pressure on the nervous system, keep us awake and cause us to crave unhealthy foods.

    Crafting, especially crafting with others, can reduce stress and boost the natural production of serotonin. This is a hormone that helps to regulate our mood and sleep patterns and reduces cravings and it is beneficial to both men and women.

    How can knitting help with memory loss and retrieval?

    The increased attention to detail when following complex knitting patterns, can help to build up more neural pathways, reducing the risk of dementia.

    ‘Knitting has been found to have a positive impact on cognitive function and memory retention. The intricate patterns, counting stitches, and following instructions require concentration and mental agility. These activities help exercise and strengthen neural pathways, potentially slowing down cognitive decline.’ (Alzheimer’s Lab)

    ‘Knitting can help delay memory loss. A Mayo Clinic Study has shown that activities such as knitting, reading and quilting along with other social activities in midlife can help cut the risk that people would develop memory loss in their 70s or 80s by more than one-third.’  (Canadian Living)

    I knit and crochet because I love it, but knowing that I’m helping my future self too, is a big bonus.

    Have you been to one of our Craft Hive sessions yet?

    Crafting together, either online or in-person, is a great way to meet like-minded people, share tips and patterns and enjoy a chat, while crocheting or knitting. I set up Craft Hive to facilitate this, both online and in my local area of Lichfield. I really enjoy the sessions myself too, as I’ve always found that crocheting calms my mind and I love the social element as well. If you’d like to know more about Craft Hive and the sessions available, please see https://yarnybees.co.uk/product-category/craft-hive/

    So, next time you find yourself wondering whether you should be spending time knitting or crocheting, have a re-read of this, to remind yourself that it’s an investment in your health and time well spent.

    References

    ‘The Benefits of Knitting for Personal and Social Wellbeing in Adulthood: Findings from an International Survey’ British Journal of Occupational Therapy

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.4276/030802213X13603244419077

    ‘Happy Hookers: findings from an international study exploring the effects of crochet on wellbeing,’ P. Burns and R. Van Der Meer

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1757913920911961

    ‘Knitting and Dementia: A Therapeutic Thread of Hope’

    by Ryan Wilson, July 1, 2023, Alzheimer’s Lab

    https://www.alzheimerslab.com/knitting-and-dementia/

    ‘Can Knitting Delay Memory Loss and Help You Manage Anxiety?’ Canadian Living

    https://www.canadianliving.com/health/article/can-knitting-delay-memory-loss-and-help-you-manage-anxiety

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    Worldwide Knit In Public Day

    Once a year, in June, we celebrate Worldwide Knit In Public Day! I love it, as it’s an excuse for me to get my craft on and show more people.

    Here’s some photos of me, and others, enjoying our crafts out in public!

    Have you ever celebrated Wordwide Knit In Public Day?

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    Crochet saved my life.

    Trigger warning: talk of mental health struggles, including self-harm.

    Throughout my life I have always been creative and crafty. Along with reading, craft has been an escape for me, going back to my childhood.

    A quote which sums up how knitting (and crochet) makes me feel!

    During my university life, I used knitting as a way of forgetting about the looming deadlines and switching off my brain from the mathematical proofs I was working on. (Did you know I have a Masters in mathematics!?) And often I would find that focusing on something else for a while would allow me to have the breakthroughs I needed to continue with the maths.

    Following my degree, I launched myself into teacher training and found that I needed craft in my life more than ever. It became a respite, and a way to wind down before bed. Without my daily crafting I would be unable to get to sleep, which resulted in a tired and grumpy Becci – not conducive to a great teacher!

    The start of a new project – always exciting!

    I continued to knit, and crochet my way through my teaching career, using it to help my mind switch off and subconsciously process the challenges of the days. Working in a special school, every day was different and it was essential to almost wipe the slate clean at the end of the day.

    After several years of teaching, we decided to start a family. Becoming a mum was something I had dreamed about for years. When I got pregnant, I felt like I was fulfilling my purpose in life and I was so excited to start a new chapter of my story.

    Becoming a mum – the day Reuben was born

    It became very clear though, just a couple of weeks after having my first son, that I was not well. I was spiralling in intrusive thoughts, self-harming and feeling like I was struggling to bond with my child. Fortunately for me, I had my fantastic husband, mum and friends around me, who helped me to reach out for the help I so clearly needed. As part of my treatment, I attended CBT counselling and this enabled me to remember how much crafting had helped me in the past. I went back to my yarn with determination, and found that, when I was crocheting, my mind was quiet. I wasn’t hearing the horrid voice telling me I was worthless or a failure. Instead, I was focussing on my stitches, on what I was creating. I have no doubt that without the crochet, I would have continued on my downward spiral, and wouldn’t have been able to accept the other support I needed to battle my demons.

    How I spent a huge portion of my time as a new mum – cuddling a baby and crocheting around him

    I also found the community behind the 60 million trebles movement – who were creating blankets for Syrian refugees – and gave myself something concrete to make. I must have made at least 15 blankets over those few months – although for me the crochet was as much, if not more, about the process and the healing than the product.

    Just some of the blankets I made for the 60 million trebles movement

    I am incredibly grateful to everyone who supported me through the first couple of years of my mothering journey, and helped me overcome the obstacles that I encountered. I can now look back and see how different my experience of motherhood is now.

    Growing my family – adding Seth to the mix!

    Craft is still firmly in my life (obviously!) as a daily practice. And this, for me, is about self-care. It’s about mindfulness. It’s about allowing myself time to switch off and quiet my mind. It’s about the sub-conscious processing of the positive and negative events from the day.

    I fit in craft wherever I can, even if that’s just a few minutes car crochet!

    I am proud of the journey I have been, and am still, on. I am always open, honest and willing to chat about it, or to listen to anyone who wants to talk about their experience. I am also happy to help anyone find out if crafting can be as helpful to them as it has been for me.

    If you would like to find out if crafting could be a tool for you and your well-being, why not come along to one of my workshops? Or, if you know it is helpful for you, but perhaps you aren’t making as much time for it as you could, head over to join one of the Craft Hive sessions, either online or in-person. That way you’ve scheduled it in!

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    Thinking of coming to a Yarny Bees workshop?

    If you’re wondering what to expect when you come to one of the Yarny Bees workshops, then you’re in the right place… Read on to discover what happens from the moment you have purchased your chosen workshop.

    Once you’ve selected which of the Yarny Bees workshops is right for you, and you’ve purchased, you will receive a confirmation email with details of your purchase. Please check your junk mail if you can’t find it!

    During the week before your workshop, I will email you again with details of the venue, how to find it and any other information you may need beforehand.

    On the day of your workshop, once you’ve arrived, you can expect a warm welcome from me along with a cuppa and plenty of biscuits. I try to have a variety of options, including vegan and gluten free, but please let me know if you have any specific dietary needs and I will do my best to meet them.

    You will receive your Yarny Bees workshop kit, containing all the supplies you need to complete the workshop! This may include knitting needles or a crochet hook, beautiful yarn, written patterns and a tapestry needle.

    Your workshop will last for 2 and a half hours, so you will have plenty of time with me to learn the skills you need to get cracking with your project. You will be able to ask questions and I am more than happy to show you stitches as many times as you need! I want to make sure you go home prepared to finish your project or continue to use your new found skills.

    There will be up to 6 crafters in each workshop, including you. You will have time to chat to the other attendees, making new connections with like-minded, crafty people.

    Once the workshop is finished, you can take home your kit to finish off your project. You are more than welcome to join me at a Craft Hive session, either online or in-person to commit to finishing, where I will also be able to offer you more support, advice and guidance if needed.

    I will be in touch again the week following your workshop, to check in and give you the chance to get a discount code in return for a review on my website.

    If you’ve got any more questions, pop them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. I look forward to welcoming you at a workshop soon.