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22 May

Can it really be that we’ve been in lockdown for 6 weeks now and not months? I can’t be the only one who feels like this is the new normal and has gotten rather used to sleeping in, doing some daily exercise and housework, and then spending the rest of the time stitching, binge watching Grey’s Anatomy for the 6th time and joining endless zoom meetings, right?!

I have to admit at the start of lockdown I really struggled. I am not the kind of person who does well without a purpose and I can always be found with my diary in hand with all my tasks for the day ahead clearly planned out, so to be told I had to stay at home and then hear I was being putting on the furlough scheme for work led to just a few tears.

Of course, I am happy to stay at home and as someone with a chronic illness the importance of staying home to help in the fight against coronavirus is not something I take lightly, so I quickly gave myself a little shake and set my mind to finding projects that were going to keep both my hands and my mind busy and stop me reaching for my phone to check for updates every five seconds. 

Once I had deep cleaned my small flat from top-to-bottom and rearranged the furniture in every room I was just about to slip into a dangerous cycle of watching repeats of Charmed and One Tree Hill for hours on end when a small parcel landed on my doorstep. 

“To help the time go by during your isolation, love you darling, Mum xxx” 

Like almost everyone in the world, my mum knows me better than I know myself and being the angel that she is, my first lockdown embroidery project was a present she had sent me to keep me from going stir-crazy during these weird times we are living in. It was unlike anything I’ve ever stitched before and I loved it so much that I stitched three more to give to some family members when this is all over. 

As this little heart project was so different to any embroidering I’d done before I had to learn a few new stitches and I was working with material which looked great in the end, but which was a little trickier to work with than the standard embroidery fabric I’m used to. It took me three days to embroider and stitch together this little heart and it is now one of the makes I am most proud of and kickstarted a bit of a crafting frenzy in me which has seen me through lockdown so far and I’m sure will keep be occupied until we can go back to some form of normal! 

The embroidery project I love the most and proudly display on my living room wall is my little hedgehog! It was in the process of stitching this little guy that I realised just how helpful embroidering has been for me during this strange period. Usually while I’m stitching I’ll have the TV or music on in the background and there was one afternoon I went through five episodes of Grey’s Anatomy whilst stitching spines on my hedgie and I hadn’t realised that three hours had passed while I’d been busy trying to make the spines of this little guy as realistic to a real hedgehog as I could. Three hours! 

Since then I’ve realised just how amazing embroidery has been as stress relief for me during lockdown. I can literally spend hours stitching and it means my attention is focused on whatever project I’m working on and I’ve blocked out whatever is happening outside in the real world, which I think is exactly what so many of us need just now. 

As someone who loves to embroider and crochet, I’m well aware that in recent years there have been studies that show hobbies like this can improve your emotional and physical health, but it was my little hedgehog that really made me take notice of it. I know embroidery takes a lot of patience, especially when you lose your needle threaders, and because you’re making each individual stitch by hand it takes a lot of discipline and determination and it’s the little things like this that are improving your heath without you even realising– the aforementioned studies go into a lot more depth about how this improves brain function and positive mental health, but I just enjoy the aestheticism of my finished projects! 

So, I encourage everyone to try their hand at something crafty. I can’t draw or paint to save my life, but embroidery has given me a real sense of confidence because I’ve found something arts and craftsy that I feel I’m good at and I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I finish my project- especially when it’s a gift for someone and I know it’s going to make someone other than me smile haha! It has also given me some much needed motivation during lockdown, I genuinely can’t stop stitching because I can’t wait to get on to the next project! Much to my boyfriend’s dismay when he finds yet another stray piece of string stuck to his clothes, oops. The more you stitch, the better you get at it and the more you want to do it – I can see why people are trying it out to improve their mental state! I’ve also found that I’m now hyper-aware of colours in literally everything. After learning how to blend colours on a stitching project I genuinely appreciate colour so much more, especially in flowers and leaves- you’ll find inspiration everywhere!

Keep safe and start stitching this lockdown!

Emma x

You can find more of Emmas lovely work over on her instagram page: @emmalily26!