Rediscovering embroidery and its stress busting powers

About a year ago I was having quite a hard time – work was feeling very stressful and to be perfectly honest, I was feeling quite sorry for myself.

I felt an urge to do some cross stitch. I hadn’t done any for years, so I wasn’t quite sure where this was coming from, but I’m glad that I listened to my intuition. I dug out a bookmark kit that I’d left part done for years and had it finished within a week! There was something about the repetitive stitch motions that I found very soothing. And the process of creating something, taking pleasure in watching it grow, felt like a much more fulfilling way to spend my time than simply vegging in front of the latest box set.

Celtic design cross stitch bookmark

I was vaguely aware of the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) so I looked them up. I was amazed and inspired by the great range of techniques and classes that they offered. I thought it was best to start out by signing up for a one day introduction to embroidery class. Even though I’ve done lots of stitching in the past, this was meant to be enjoyable so I didn’t want to throw myself in too deep!

There are a few different intro classes to choose from, each using a different design. I am more drawn to animal designs than flowers so picked a class teaching this lovely stork design. The class was great, our tutor was very welcoming and supportive and I was pleasantly surprised at how much we managed to cover in the day. I didn’t get my piece finished (you aren’t expected to) but a good chunk was done and I enjoyed having it to finish off at home.

Crewelwork stork at the end of the day class
My stork at the end of the day class.
Completed crewelwork stock from an introduction to embroidery day class
My finished stork

I was super keen to learn and explore more, so signed up for the RSN’s online crewelwork class and also got a copy of their Book of Embroidery (what I now think of as my embroidery bible!).

Completed embroidery from RSN online crewelwork class
My completed stitching from the RSN online crewelwork course.

By this time I could tell that I was getting hooked! I noticed that if I was feeling stressed or low, doing a bit of stitching would get me into a calmer state and I felt much more able to tackle the world again. I probably got a bit obsessive too! Devouring all that I could and sampling some of the techniques I was particularly drawn to.

Samples of long and short and battlement trellis stitches
Some sampling of long and short stitch and battlement trellis.

I’d say that within a month or two I was in a much better frame of mind. I think there were a couple of key reasons for this. Firstly, getting myself immersed in something that excited me and where there was plenty for me to learn – I’ve always found learning to be good for my state of mind. And secondly, by having something that I could quickly and easily pick up which helped distract and channel my thoughts constructively when needed.

So rediscovering embroidery had been an incredibly positive experience for me. As I gained in confidence and curiosity I felt ready to try some more challenging classes, which I’ll tell you about next time!

Have you noticed that embroidery positively impacts your well being?

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