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Slow Sewing Therapy

Hello lovely friends! How’s it going? It’s not been so great around here for the last few weeks… (Nothing dramatic though.)

Anxiety

Cortisol has been running rampant around my body like an out of control train. A constant tight chest, no concentration, confusion, waking up with feelings of dread: there’s no logic to this anxiety of course.  But when the engine’s on full throttle it can be difficult to step off and work out what’s going on. It’s obvious there are things you have no control over, what will be will be, but how do you deal with it? I’ve been trying my usual de-stressors: exercising until I drop. Cycling, walking, digging great holes in the garden, even pummelling the life out of bread dough! But it hasn’t had the usual positive effect.

Taking out my stress on the garden!

There’s a lot of additional anxiety coming from the political situation in this country at the moment – if there is an out of control train, this is it. It’s unbearable. The two main parties are in free fall, the recriminations, the infighting – we’re descending into total chaos and the uncertainty and feelings of powerlessness are driving my anxiety sky high (and I’m not the only one).

Social media has been shovelling fuel onto an already raging fire, with Facebook top of the list. It’s a constant bombardment and I have to take control somewhere and cut my exposure to it. There are some wonderful things about Facebook: great quilting groups, the lovely people I meet through the Dawn Chorus Studio page – but navigating my way through the stressors to find them is too much at the moment. So I decided to take a break. It’s been a couple of days now and already the tightness in my chest is easing a little.

Role Reversal

Teenagers are well known for their introspective, self-obsessive traits, but they can really surprise you sometimes can’t they? I was in floods of tears the other day (fight or flight mode in full swing) and Kim calmly said to me “You haven’t been sewing much lately have you? I think you should, I’m sure it’ll help”. Suddenly I realised how grown up he is, how perceptive.  He hugged me so tightly and everything seemed to melt away. A complete role reversal – and I’m not going to get anxious about how healthy that is!!!

He was right. I haven’t been sewing much. I’d pick up a needle and thread and then forget what I was doing or why I was doing it. Any progress I made seemed barely perceptible and I was berating myself for getting nowhere. But since I decided to step out of Facebook for a while, take back some control, the needle has become my best friend again. And we’ve been stitching up a storm!

Sewing Therapy

It’s true: slow stitching mends the soul. Kathy over at Kathy’s Quilts often writes about the calming medative effect of taking a few hand stitches on her Slow Sunday Stitching posts, and I agree with her. Hand sewing is like sewing yourself back together really. You just have to trust that even those few tiny stitches, the ones that make you feel like you’re getting nowhere, will add up to something bigger. And probably sooner than you think.

I almost fell off my chair when I realised I’d actually finished the third border on Summer Blues. Just the final short border to go. It’s a good trick, I think, to do the longer tasks first – the short border will fly by in comparison. I’ve needed some staying power to get this far with it after all these years and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself: tenacity’s a good thing to have.

'Summer Blues' hand quilted patchwork quilt. Detail showing the flying geese border. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Summer Blues goes into another summer

Light Relief – Suffolk Puffs

I had the urge to make some Suffolk puffs yesterday, for no particular reason other than I felt like it. I decided to go with the flow and made enough to make a small scented pillow like this one.

Patchwork: Hand sewn Suffolk Puffs (detail). © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Little Suffolk puffs – like limpets!

I noticed my Suffolk puff tutorial gets a lot of regular views and it’s been at the back of my mind to update it for a while.  Maybe this was a subliminal message to get on with it!  If you had a few Suffolk puffs to hand what would you make with them? I had a lightbulb moment and wondered if it would it be useful if I wrote up the method for making the pillow too? Something quick and fun to do with your Suffolk puffs?

Patchwork: Hand sewn Suffolk Puffs. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

A lovely evening’s work

I made a start (in anticipation you’d like it…) and providing I don’t go off the deep end again it should be finished by the end of the week!

I hope you’ve had a great weekend and enjoyed making a few slow stitches today. I look forward to seeing you over at Kathy’s over the coming week – I need her calming influence like I need fresh air!

Happy stitching.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

28 replies
  1. Cathie J
    Cathie J says:

    I have gotten into the habit of blocking all those stressful Facebook posts. It makes scrolling through much more pleasant. I always find that my crafts help greatly when I am stressed. During a particularly stressful time in my life a few years ago I started an afghan that I didn’t need but wanted to make someday. The repetitive nature eased my stress immensely. Your quilt is beautiful and your son is smart and in tune with you. My best to you for a less stressful time soon.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks so much Cathie. I’m fairly isolated and I think Facebook had become my go-to place to chat and find inspiration from like-minded quilters. I’m sure it had surreptitiously taken over my life, like some sort of drug! Cold turkey it is, then when I go back it’ll be time for a good clean out and following your advice on blocking all that stuff out. It’s funny, the other day I was trying to remember what life was like before Facebook – I’m sure I was 100% more productive! I thought about that truism that often goes around: when you’re on your deathbed will you wish you’d done more housework?! Er, no!! And when I’m on my deathbed I don’t want to be regretting spending so much time on Facebook, haha! Thank you so much for your lovely, kind words – all this generosity flowing my way is amazing and I can’t thank you enough. x

      Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Spontaneity is the spice of life Kathleen Mary – as long as it’s not too much spontaneous chocolate, haha! I hope you’re well and enjoying the summer so far 🙂

      Reply
  2. Karen Goad
    Karen Goad says:

    quilting is a great to keep anxiety under control – sometimes we have to take a step back from social media – lots of people are doing that right now – we have our own political theatrics going on here and it is making people crazy – on facebook I only have family on it – nothing else – one facebook quilting group that is small – I think you are on it too – hand quilting? no political talk. keep on quilting and exercise – you can do it!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Oh the hand quilting group is wonderful isn’t it Karen? So friendly and inspiring. I’m going to miss it, but hopefully it won’t be for long and I can join in again soon. “Theatrics” is a great word to describe politics at the moment, perfect! Of course we haven’t just got our own theatrics going on but are bombarded with the antics of DT to boot! When he endorses the outcome of the EU referendum, you’ve really got to worry about what the country’s done, haha!!! Thanks for the words of encouragement, I really do appreciate it – it’s wonderful to have such grounded friends to remind you of the important things in life 🙂 x

      Reply
  3. Bossymamma
    Bossymamma says:

    I’m sad to hear that anxiety has been hitting you but pleased to know that Kim has been looking out for you. Stitch well.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Half my anxiety has been about Kim, so it was a bit of a shock that he noticed!!! I’d noticed a change in his mood but he wouldn’t say what was bothering him – and after last year I think my anxiety just went into overdrive. It turns out he’s worried about his friends moving away to university and his difficulty in making new ones. At least now I know it’s something we can try and tackle together, and hopefully make the transition easier for him. Hope all’s well with you Dina? x

      Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Patricia, lovely to meet you! Thanks for your kind comments about the tutorial and pinning it too. It’s lovely gestures like this that put a smile on my face for days 🙂 What do you plan to make with your Suffolk puffs, have you got anything special in mind? Come back soon and show us what you’ve been up to!

      Reply
  4. Maureen
    Maureen says:

    Sorry to hear you are having to deal with stress and anxiety – a friend of mine!!!! I am not on Facebook but can relate to what you say about taking a step back for the moment and the hand stitching is great therapy indeed. I have problems currently and when I saw your Suffolk Puffs I had a light bulb moment – I’m waiting for your tutorial and then I shall sit myself down and slowly work on them.
    Being Brits it is worrying about what is going to happen back home, we’re in touch with relatives who are pretty apprehensive.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      There are some wonderful things about Facebook Maureen, it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends living a long way away and to make new friends with similar interests, but sometimes it really is too much. It’s not just the politics you can’t avoid, but things like petitions going around to stop other cultures doing things like boiling dogs alive (with pretty horrific pictures to go with them). It literally makes me sick to the stomach and lose faith in humanity, and I don’t want to be made to feel the whole world’s an ugly, terrifying place. I need to find some balance and focus on the warm and supportive quilting community we’ve got going on 🙂

      I’m sorry to hear you have problems at the moment Maureen, I hope you’re remembering to take care of yourself too. A needle and thread can make all the difference to how we deal with what life throws at us – and all that wonderful colour in your stash is bound to lift the spirits! I could lose myself in there for days 🙂 x

      Reply
  5. Lynne Nicholson
    Lynne Nicholson says:

    I wouldn’t recommend the thing that stopped me stressing over things I can’t control (in two months it will be 6 years since my granddaughter was stillborn) – the worst has happened so the rest can’t stress me. I can’t control the blues that wash over me but can refocus on my grandson to keep me from falling too far. Just keep plodding on lovey.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Lynne. It’s incredible what people go through isn’t it, and how we each deal with things in different ways. What works for one person won’t work for the next. It’s a matter of finding what it is that gets you through isn’t it – trial and error, time and most importantly of all being kind to yourself. And of course, finding the joy in what’s going on around you and focussing on that. x

      Reply
  6. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    I hope you feel better soon. I try not to get too caught up in world events for the goodness of my health! I’m sure it’s much more difficult when your country is going thru something so huge, though. I’ve thought there must be so much emotion going on when the vote was quite close. I’m glad if you can find some peace thru your needle. I start every day with two cups of coffee and my applique…I refer to it as my yoga!
    xo

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Sandra, and thank you for your kind words. The vote being so close makes the country feel split in two and some people are very acrimonious about it (understandably, I think, when you consider how awful the campaigning was beforehand). It feels such a relief to let it all go for a while and regroup. I love the sound of your morning yoga session, what a wonderful way to start the day! I think that’s what I’ve lost over the last few weeks, a gentle rhythm, a sewing ritual – thanks for the reminder to get back on track 🙂 x

      Reply
  7. Colleen
    Colleen says:

    Thank you for sharing about your anxiety due to things you have no ability to control.
    For me it’s 4 of my grandchildren being kept from me. I just cried everyday no control over that either. Then I thought as bad as this is for me there are others who have worse troubles and they are going to work walking around I have to get control of me . So now I have a mental health team depression meetings, medication, a psychiatrist, a psychologist…..I’ve been diagnosed as depressed but I don’t feel depressed I feel sadness profound sadness. And for me it’s like grief I am suffering a loss and it’s truly time that is needed to lessen the pain and tears.
    I know I’ll get better at dealing with my sadness and I feel confident your anxiety will lessen its grip on you in time.
    Thank you for your blog I do enjoy reading it
    Colleen from California USA

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Colleen I’m so sorry to hear that, it must be awful, heartbreaking. I’ve had chronic depression since I was in my teens, so I completely understand what it’s like to be cared for by a mental health team. Make the most of what’s on offer, whether you feel you have depression or “profound sadness”. It gives me great comfort to know that there are people I can talk to that don’t judge me and help me get through the day to day when I need it. Good friends are wonderful during difficult times, but I’ve felt like I’m burdening them with my woes and find it easier to talk to people who are ‘removed’. Grief can be very difficult to get through on your own, so I’m glad to hear you have support. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but hope that the pain eases with time. Take good care x

      Reply
  8. Susan
    Susan says:

    Hi Stephie!
    Thanks for being so frank! I know those diffuse feelings of anxiety and dread well, and they were particularly acute leading up to the British referendum. The morning after, I actually felt mourning, as if a loved person had died. I think it just brought to a head the realization that the European dream is dying. When I first came here (Germany) in 1970, there was a completely different atmosphere. Even though it was still Cold War, there was a general feeling that things were going to get better and more enlightened for everybody. That’s gone now, so I try to distract myself from what has replaced it by the things that make my heart warm: sewing, music, gardening, being together with friends. The latter as much as possible in physical, not virtual, reality.
    Thanks again– wish you the best!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Susan! It was such a shock wasn’t it? I woke up that day crying and shaking, with my heart in my boots. I feel like I’m still in mourning and the repercussions just keep coming. I remember when the Berlin Wall came down, the feelings of joy and disbelief at the scenes. The hope and optimism was palpable – and I feel like we’ve just kicked all that in the teeth. And for what? Mostly (though obviously not all) for some petty sense of nationalism, xenophobia and racism. The division and uncertainty in the UK at the moment is pretty scary. You’ve got it just right I think: distraction! Focussing on my sewing, gardening, friends and my son is definitely helping to calm the anxiety 🙂 x

      Reply
  9. Kaja
    Kaja says:

    You really seem to have connected with something in other people with this post – the benefits of being so open and honest. I have never Facebooked but it sounds like stepping out for a while and changing focus is a good idea.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I think stepping out is having a really positive, transformative effect. I miss friends on my DCS page, but still pop in once in a while to say hi. And there are definitely some inspiring quilting groups I miss. But I’ve discovered that Instagram’s a much happier place for me. It makes me feel more productive and less distracted by negative stuff. I’ve tried different social media out and to be honest I think I spread myself too thinly anyway. I plan to make Instagram the place I go to regularly from now on – because quite frankly who needs all that negative crap in their life! x

      Reply
  10. Loz Willard
    Loz Willard says:

    Hi. I’m new to quilting and blogs. Your blogs are great and so inspiring. Found it by accident while searching quilting. What a lovely find . I use Facebook a lot as I am disabled and have mental health problems too. And find some of it so depressing, I need to do something to take my mind off it. I used to do a lot of arts and crafts until I had 2 stokes. And I couldn’t do the things I like anymore and after trying for ages I finally decided to try new crafts. But I hadn’t found anything I liked and could do. Then clearing out my Grandad house after he passed away, I found my great grandmas bits. There was much of her sewing stuff but a tin of patchwork hexagons caught my eye most were basted xo I thought I’d try and make a lap quilt. I used to be rubbish at hand sewing but miraculously I can do it now. I’ve found something I ca do, yippee. I think I might try Instagram too. xx

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Loz, it’s lovely to meet you! I’m really sorry to hear about your difficulties. I think the internet and things like Facebook can be a blessing for us when we can’t get out of the house much. But the effects of the negative stuff have been far outweighing the positive for me lately. I highly recommend Instagram though, it’s such a positive place. There are a few adverts (it is a business after all!), but they’re not ‘in your face’ and you can’t post links, so you’re not lead down a rabbit hole to stuff you’d rather not engage in.

      It must’ve been wonderful to discover your Grandma’s sewing and basted hexies, woohoo! I’m really glad you’ve discovered something you can do and enjoy. A lap quilt sounds like the perfect plan – big enough to get your teeth into and small enough to get it finished up in a reasonable amount of time. It’s going to be a wonderful way of connecting with your grandma – what sort of colours do you have? Pop back soon and let us know how it’s going, there’s always someone here that can offer advice if you need it and it’d be lovely to see what you’re up to! xx

      Reply
  11. Lara B.
    Lara B. says:

    Your son is very wise and loving Stephie. I’m glad the slow sewing helped. It certainly is beautiful! It’s really important not to let the raging anxiety take control and to step away. All the fight/flight can have a long term effect on your health. I only use Facebook while wearing blinders, LOL. There are too many things in life that we have no control over. One of the ways I cope is to focus a lot on small things to be grateful for.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Lara, that’s such a good way forward – and you’re so right, the long term health effects of anxiety can be very detrimental. Stepping away from Facebook for a while has really helped, as ridiculous as it seems. There’s ‘real life’ out there and any number of wonderful things to focus on, whether it’s slow sewing, planning a veg garden or just enjoying a bit of sunshine (?!?!?!) and a long coastal walk. Hmm, I wonder where I could get a pair of blinkers from though?! x

      Reply

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