Woolness = Wellness

Many of you will already be aware that it is currently Wovember, the month that is all about celebrating wool.  This year the theme is “Woolness – Where Wool Meets Wellness”, and “Woolness = Wellness” is the prompt for day 2 of the Yarn in the City Instagram Challenge.

I wasn’t planning on writing this blog post, nor even putting up an Instagram.  (I’m not even putting up a photo, the cardinal sin of the internet).  The thoughts came to me this morning as I was lying in bed, contemplating the day ahead.  I’d allowed my mind a bit of space to wander, as the heavy rain allowed me to declare in advance that today was going to be a low-key indoors day.  Sort of a mental health day, where I try to take a bit of pressure off myself (but still somehow needing to be a bit productive).  I’ve already had a few days in bed this week thanks to an underlying health condition, so the topic feels especially relevant.

There is an increasing body of research on the health benefits of knitting, and especially for mental health.  If you’d like to find out more about the therapeutic benefits of knitting and other crafts, Betsan Corkhill’s site Stitchlinks is a good place to start.

This is the bit where I come out to you all:  I’m not really a knitter.  I can hear the gasps! An imposter!  I mean, I know how to knit, and I carry my project bag with me every day just in case a suitable knitting opportunity arises.  Many of my friends are knitters, and I’ve built a business based around knitting.  But I don’t have an innate need to knit every day, and weeks could easily go by without having knit a single stitch.  I’m incredibly envious of the stunning knitted projects that I see people create, and I wish that I was  driven to knit more so that I could have a handknitted jumper for every day of the week, or a drawer full of handmade socks.

I find that I don’t need to actually knit with yarn for it to be an integral part of my life.  I’m surrounded by wool and yarn.  I work with it, I dye it, I read about it, I talk about it.  My home is filled with wool, whether dyed, undyed, knitted or unknitted.  I wear wool clothing every day, even in summer, whether handknitted or factory made.  I love the cosiness and sturdiness of wearing wool.  It help grounds me and keeps me in touch with something real.  My natural inclination is to spend far too much time in my own head, and my day job only exacerbates this.  Wool is an antidote that brings me back to the tangible.

If I don’t necessarily knit with it, then what else do I do with yarn?  I just enjoy it.  In my business, I dye it, skein it, twist it, label it, wrap it up in tissue paper, and send it off to new homes to be loved.  I pile it up, I rearrange colours, I put different combinations together.  I relish all the different textures; smooth or rustic; chunky or delicate.  I don’t quite roll around in it, but a dear friend has (only half-jokingly) suggested creating a yarn pit to do just that!  Just playing with yarn, without even needing to knit a stitch, still brings together all the same sensory experiences.  Essentially, I just like to play with wool.

Tomorrow you can find me back at Wild and Woolly, rearranging the yarn cubbies, tidying up all the gorgeous skeins, getting my weekly therapeutic dose of real joy.

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wool house

wool house entrance with woolly trees

I can’t believe I’m only just posting this, but I managed to make it to the fabulous Wool House on its very last day.  It was an exhibition by the Campaign for Wool, spanning ten days, to promote the multiple uses and benefits of wool.  For those who missed it, the exhibition took over a section of the beautiful Somerset House in central London, showcases the uses of wool in clothing, furnishings, art, and just about any other use you could think of.

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sheepy entrance guards

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There were different themed rooms, each with its own focus, whether natural, modern, or nursery (by far the cutest:)

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a tweedy toy tucked up in bed

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loved these guys

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There were some really lovely homewares, which I realised my flat is lacking.  I didn’t get a photo, but there were walls draped in wool fabric as wallpaper (woolpaper?) to0.  Ah, for a pinstripe room!

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wool blankets

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wool vases, but purely for decorative purposes I expect

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fancy a cuppa?

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lovely rug

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a wall of yarn…I just wish my stash was this tidy

I really liked the incredible detail of the exhibition, right down to the Black Sheep Ale that formed part of one display:

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mmm, woolly beer!

It was such a great exhibition, and over the ten days, they had something like 17 000 people come through the doors.  I’m rather immersed in the knitting/crafting community, so it was great to see how much wool is appreciated more broadly.

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