Greetings Textile West Community. I think we can all agree that the past few weeks have been rather frightening. In light of this COVID-19 crisis, I feel the need to take a more Art-Therapy related stance with this post and talk about the ways working with textiles can improve our mental health at a time like this. I have no doubt that plenty of us have been self-soothing with creative hobbies lately- I, personally, have been knitting up a small, apartment-sized storm. Therefore, this study I dug up to share with you might not be shocking in it’s findings. Please let this information serve as a reassuring reminder and validation.
The article I am highlighting this week comes from the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association and is titled The Well-Being of Women Who Create With Textiles: Implications for Art Therapy. Quite a relevant title right? In this study, 821 women textile handcrafters were asked to report on the how often they engaged in making, their reasons for choosing fiber as a medium, and whether they used their crafting to combat difficult moods. The most popular techniques in this population were knitting or crocheting, weaving, and spinning, (Collier p.106). One of the four hypothesis being tested was the following; “Textile making for psychological reasons is an effective way to cope with difficult moods; that is, women who use textiles to change difficult moods will be significantly better adjusted than women who do not use textiles to cope,” (Collier p. 105). The results for this hypothesis were in our favor. Women who use textiles to cope were shown to be “more successful at changing their mood, feeling rejuvenated, and feeling engaged when involved in a textile coping activity as compared to the non-textile-copers, regardless of baseline levels of depression/anxiety, health QOL, or overall mastery,” (Collier p. 109).
Nothing helps ground me the way textile-making does. As I mentioned above, I am primarily a knitter. Everything from the tactile sensation of the yarn to the repetitive rhythm of the needles to the stitches building and growing right before my eyes helps remind me to stay present. My hope is that we can all find what helps us stay present and cultivate calmness in the coming weeks. Keep creating, and stay safe out there!
Feel free to comment if you would like a copy of the journal article. Another, less academic read can be found at the following link: https://www.davidwolfe.com/why-crafting-is-great-for-mental-health/
Collier, A. (2011). The Well-Being of Women Who Create With Textiles: Implications for Art Therapy. Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2011.597025
Photo 1, person doing handcrafts, by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Photo 2, by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash