Despite our agreement that ‘what happens at craft club stays at craft club’ I don’t think anyone will mind if I say how much I enjoyed the chance to hang out with some crafty friends the other night. I’ve heard about a selection of similar groups over the years but I don’t think I’ve ever attended one. Comprising so far of church friends, I’m not sure that ‘Stitch and Bitch’ is quite the angle we’re going for, but I did take along my book published under that name, subtitled ‘The Happy Hooker’. I needed instructions for the crochet teddy I am making as a variation on the rather cute bunny rabbit I made a while back.
Friends were working on a range of projects including sewing on Guide badges, knitting a fabric rug and making a draught excluder, as well as possibly the most intricate piece of cross stitch I have ever seen. As well as making progress on our crafty activities we had plenty of chance to chat and enjoy some snacks including my favourite white chocolate and raspberry muffins. There’s something about talking when your mind is partly engaged elsewhere which encourages more personal sharing. I didn’t say that much at first, concentrating on trying to get my pattern sorted but later I did talk about a few things that were on my mind, including some topics I’ve blogged about lately such as friends getting married and the coalition for marriage petition.
Some of my research into therapy methods with young people included looking at more creative techniques or activities when you avoid eye contact. Several practitioners I have known, including colleagues back in the children’s home in Edinburgh have said how taking young people out in the car can help to get them talking. I think it’s the combination of avoiding eye contact while making progress with something else (either driving somewhere or doing crafty activities) which takes the pressure off the talking. Creative activities like making memory boxes or deliberately expressing feelings through art may add another layer to the therapeutic potential, but even more routine tasks can allow the chance for building relationships.
Part of what I miss about friends getting married is not feeling part of the same close-knit friendship circles that used to mean a lot to me. There’s a lovely photo on my mantelpiece of a group of six of us on a fantastic trip to Scotland five years ago. I think we were all single then – now the photo comprises two married couples, another newly married friend and me. I have enjoyed meeting up recently with all of these people but the gatherings are much less frequent for all sorts of valid reasons. Chances to meet up with university friends are even rarer, but still very precious. Finding things in common with new groups of people seems an important step towards building other stronger friendships, so I’m quite hopeful about having some more good times at our new craft group.
Sometimes you feel more like you’re falling apart than being stitched together, but most things can be mended, or transformed or recycled into something new. I really liked the apron one friend had made from an old pair of jeans. I’m using some old worn bed sheets to stuff the toys I’m making. Whether you rely on your friends to help put you back together, or the one who stitched us together in the first place, we all need support and company on the way. I think my affection for Bagpuss is partly about finding something old or torn or missing and working together to bring restoration, mending, cleaning or a new start. I guess I think that’s what church should be about.