I am sure that I am not alone in feeling the need to escape from the fast-paced and digitally driven world that can cause chaos and stress in our daily lives and find a way to reconnect with our inner selves. For me, the only way to do that is to take some time with my spinning wheel and focus on the immersive and meditative rhythm. There is a myriad of creative activities open to us to explore so you may have another avenue that helps you to escape and to heal yourself. So on World Mental Health Day I thought it would be timely to to delve into the world of therapeutic crafts, focusing specifically on the art of hand spinning, and explore how it can benefit our mental well-being.
Therapeutic crafts encompass a wide range of activities that engage our hands, minds, and creative spirits. From knitting and crocheting to painting and pottery, these crafts offer an opportunity to slow down, concentrate on the present moment, and tap into a state of flow. Engaging in such creative endeavours has been shown to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve overall mental well-being.
One such craft that has captured the hearts of many, me included, is hand spinning. Originating centuries ago, hand spinning involves using a spinning wheel or a drop spindle to transform a wide range of fibres, such as wool, flax, silk or cotton, into yarn. This ancient practice not only yields beautiful, unique yarns but also provides a wide array of therapeutic benefits.
Mindfulness and Relaxation: Hand spinning requires a calm and focused mindset. As the spinner rhythmically drafts and spins fibres, they enter a state of mindfulness, allowing the worries and stress of the outside world to fade away. This rhythmic motion promotes relaxation and a sense of peace, similar to the effects of meditation.
Creativity and Self-Expression: Hand spinning provides a creative outlet for self-expression. Spinners have the freedom to experiment with different fibre blends, colours, and textures, allowing their imagination to soar. The act of transforming raw materials into yarn can be deeply satisfying and fulfilling, boosting self-esteem and fostering a sense of accomplishment.
Connection to Tradition and History: Engaging in hand spinning connects us to our ancestral roots. Throughout history, spinning was an essential skill passed down from generation to generation. By partaking in this ancient craft, we honour our heritage and develop a deeper appreciation for the traditions that came before us.
Physical and Mental Well-being: Hand spinning is a physically engaging activity that benefits both the mind and body. The repetitive hand movements promote fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and dexterity. The rhythmic nature of spinning can also induce a state of relaxation, reducing anxiety and promoting mental clarity.
Community and Connection: Hand spinning is not just a solitary pursuit. It has a vibrant and supportive community of spinners who share their knowledge, experiences, and inspiration. Joining spinning groups, attending workshops, or participating in online forums provides opportunities for social interaction and connection with like-minded individuals. You only need to attend our Social Spinning Group at The Spinning Barn to realise just how important these connections really are. It is so evident how the group has bonded over the shared love for this craft and real friendships have been made. I believe this to be due to the nature of such crafting communities where we each share the same hobbies and celebrate in each others' successes but support the inevitable learning curve.
If you're intrigued by the idea of hand spinning, here are some steps to help you get started:
Acquire a Spinning Wheel or Drop Spindle: Invest in a spinning wheel or a drop spindle, depending on your preference and budget. Spinning wheels are perhaps more efficient for larger projects, while drop spindles are portable and easier on the bank balance!
Select Your Fibre: Choose a fibre that appeals to you whether that be animal or plant fibres, or a fabulous richly-coloured hand dyed braid that pulls at the heart strings. Experiment with different blends and textures to discover your preferred spinning materials. And remember that what one person may find tricky to spin another may find easier so go with your instinct and have fun.
Learn the Techniques: Take advantage of online tutorials, books, or local spinning classes to learn the fundamental techniques of hand spinning. Practice regularly to develop your skills and improve your spinning consistency. Above all enjoy the time you spend at your wheel, or spindle and allow yourself that time to be kind to yourself. You will of course find lots of workshops listed on my website and I am always available for any support you may need.
Join a Community: Seek out local spinning groups, attend fibre festivals, or join online communities to connect with fellow spinners. The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers has a list of guilds that will be local to you and you will find the members to be very helpful and welcoming. Here at The Spinning Barn we have twice-monthly Social Spinning Groups and you can find all the details on our website and facebook page/group. Sharing your experiences, seeking advice, and learning from others will enhance your spinning journey and I hope to be able to be part of that with you.
Therapeutic crafts, such as hand spinning, offer a respite from the demands of everyday life and provide a pathway to relaxation, creativity, and self-discovery. Engaging in this ancient art form can yield beautiful and unique yarns while nurturing your mental and emotional well-being. So, why not embark on a journey of spinning your own yarns and immerse yourself in the therapeutic world of hand spinning?
And of course I would love to hear from you and about how hand spinning has helped you to relax and unwind from the otherwise crazy lives we live.
Happy spinning everyone