Crafting Calm: Finding Serenity in Stress Awareness Month


April marks Stress Awareness Month, a designated time to highlight the detrimental impact of stress on our lives. Managing stress is not just a luxury but a necessity for maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Understanding how to effectively manage stress can significantly enhance both our mental and physical well-being. It’s crucial to recognise the signs of stress and anxiety and know how to take proactive steps to build resilience and seek support when needed.

In our quest to reduce stress levels and promote well-being, exploring different strategies is paramount. One such approach gaining recognition is the therapeutic practice of crafting. Research suggests that engaging in creative activities can offer more than just a mere outlet for self-expression or a way to pass the time. Crafting has been found to reduce anxiety, boost mood, and foster happiness, thereby serving as a valuable tool in combating stress and even depression.

Crafting has always been a passion of mine – whether it’s knitting, sewing, spinning, or needlework, I’ve been immersed in creative projects since I was just five years old. Throughout the years, crafting has been a constant companion, offering solace during both the good times and the tough ones. It’s remarkable how this seemingly simple activity serves as an underrated coping mechanism and stress-relieving outlet for daily anxieties.

During periods of extreme stress, whether stemming from demanding work environments or challenging family situations, crafting became my sanctuary. I poured myself into various projects – sewing, knitting, crochet, needlework, and cross-stitching, finding solace in the rhythm of each stitch.

Cross-stitching, in particular, became my go-to during moments of heightened stress or anxiety. There’s something about the focused concentration required, whether sitting outdoors surrounded by nature’s symphony or comfy indoors with a good audiobook or soothing music, that soothes the mind. Counting the squares on the chart, translating the chart symbols into crosses on fabric – it’s a process that demands attention and redirects my thoughts. With each stitch, my mind clears, and I find myself entering a state of calm, completely absorbed in the meditative act of stitching.

Crafting is not just a pastime; it’s a therapeutic journey that allows individuals to momentarily escape the grasp of their conditions and immerse themselves in the positivity of creation. Engaging in a craft project demands complete focus, akin to the state achieved through meditation. This profound concentration serves as a balm for stress, as it redirects the mind away from worries and towards the task at hand.

The physiological benefits of crafting are equally remarkable. As one delves into their creative pursuit, the brain sends signals of tranquillity throughout the body, leading to a reduction in blood pressure and tension. This flow of relaxation fosters a profound sense of well-being, lifting moods and reducing stress levels. Moreover, the state of flow attained during crafting, where one becomes entirely absorbed in the activity, proves to be both rewarding and enjoyable. The challenge of completing a complex craft further enhances this experience, making it a potent antidote to the strains of daily life.

Indeed, after a taxing day, indulging in a hobby offers more than just a momentary reprieve; it becomes a vital tool for rejuvenation. This “me” time provides an outlet for releasing accumulated stress, offering solace in the act of creation. Additionally, the creative process itself serves as a channel for managing emotions, particularly when words fail to express the depth of one’s feelings. By tapping into our imaginative faculties, crafting enables us to navigate and transcend the tumultuous landscape of stress and anxiety.

Yet, stress poses a formidable barrier to creativity, disrupting the delicate balance needed for inspiration to flourish. When overwhelmed by stress, our mental capacity falters, stifling the very essence of creativity. The weight of pressure and anxiety encumbers the mind, impeding the free flow of ideas and inhibiting the freedom necessary for creative expression.

However, the solution to this conundrum lies in the very act of creation itself. By exercising our creative faculties, we not only combat stress but also rejuvenate our capacity for innovation. Positive actions serve to replenish the wellspring of creativity within us, offering a pathway to enhanced mental well-being. Therefore, in our quest to conquer stress, let us embrace the power of creativity and engage in activities that nurture our happiness and ignite our imagination.

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, finding time for creative pursuits may seem like a daunting task. However, striking a balance between work commitments and leisure activities is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life equilibrium. One strategy to achieve this balance is by effectively managing your time and integrating your hobby into your daily routine. By prioritising your creative endeavours and scheduling dedicated time for crafting, even amidst busy schedules, you can reap the benefits of reduced stress and enhanced well-being.

Consider the therapeutic nature of activities such as knitting, crochet, or sewing, where the repetitive motions induce a state of relaxation while fostering creativity. The gentle rhythm of hand-stitching or the rhythmic clicking of knitting needles serves as a soothing melody, guiding you into a tranquil state of mind. As you immerse yourself in the process, focusing intently on each stitch or loop, you’ll find your worries melting away, replaced by a sense of calm and contentment.

Moreover, the completion of a crafting project brings with it a profound sense of accomplishment, triggering the release of dopamine—the feel-good neurotransmitter—in your brain. This surge of positivity not only enhances your mood but also reinforces a happier outlook on life. Embracing the journey of each project, even amidst challenges, fosters a mindset of resilience and growth. By acknowledging the learning opportunities inherent in every endeavour, you cultivate a sense of achievement that transcends the final outcome, paving the way for improved mental health and emotional well-being.

By carving out time for creativity in your daily routine and embracing the therapeutic benefits of crafting, you embark on a journey towards greater harmony and fulfilment. So, whether it’s a few moments of knitting before bed or a weekend dedicated to sewing, prioritise your creative passions and watch as they transform stress into serenity, one stitch at a time.

In conclusion, crafting serves as a powerful tool for combating stress and nurturing our mental well-being. Just as meditation brings calmness to the mind, engaging in creative activities like crafting can have a similarly soothing effect. The repetitive nature of crafting fosters a meditative quality, while the focus and attention required provide a healthy distraction from life’s stresses, allowing us to reside fully in the present moment. Through crafting, we find not only an outlet for self-expression but also a sanctuary where stress dissipates, replaced by feelings of accomplishment and uplifted spirits.

As April unfolds and Stress Awareness Month takes centre stage, let’s seize the opportunity to prioritise our mental well-being. It’s a time to explore new avenues for stress relief and self-care, and what better way to do so than by immersing ourselves in the world of crafting? Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or a newcomer to the craft scene, there’s something for everyone to discover. I invite you to browse through our collection of crafting kits, carefully curated to inspire creativity and promote relaxation. From hand-stitching to needlework and sewing, each kit offers a gateway to tranquillity and self-discovery.

As you embark on this journey of self-care and stress reduction, remember that you’re not alone. Together, let’s embrace the therapeutic power of crafting and carve out moments of peace and creativity amidst the chaos of daily life. Let April be more than just another month on the calendar; let it be a time of renewal, growth, and above all, a celebration of our commitment to nurturing our mental well-being.

Taking stock of all your notions and tools


So following on with doing an inventory of my pre-cut fabrics, I also did one for my Accuquilt dies a year or so ago.

This inventory came about, long before the creation of the Quilter’s handbook, with the need to know exactly what dies I had. I had purchased the machine and a couple of the dies. I found these items to be quite expensive and not something I wanted to purchase often. There was only one or two places in the UK that stocked the dies, however Amazon started to stock them and every so often, they had some very good offers/discounts on the dies. So much so, when they did come on offer, it proved to be hard to resist.

I had my dies stored on a shelf in my craft snug but as the number increased, it was hard to remember exactly just what I had. It proved to be abit of a bother to keep going out to the craft snug, locating the dies, writing down the details on a scrap paper. I always seemed to misplace that piece of paper when it came to the next time, and I had to repeat the exercise all over again! So, I came up with the idea of an inventory and breaking it further down into the different types of dies. This proved handy when I was looking for a certain size in a square and so forth.

I now have my Accuquilt dies written down and placed in my quilter’s handbook and it is just a matter of grabbing it and checking to see what dies I have and also to add in any new acquired ones. I also have a wish list of dies that I would like and when I see them on offer, I can just check them from my wish list.

From my Accuquilt inventory, the idea expanded, and I thought of all the other tools and notions I have acquired over the years and really have NO idea of exactly what I have! It really is bad, but it also meant that I was not sure of what I had if I was wanting to treat myself to a new ‘essential’ tool or notion. Knowing what tool or notion you have on hand is also handy when you start to plan your next cutting task.

I purchased some free motion rulers for myself a few years back and there are times when I see someone DE stashing some on Facebook and was never too sure if I had that particular one. With an inventory I now know exactly what I have and can shop around for specials/offers, knowing it is only a matter of checking my free motion ruler inventory to see what I already have.

Free motion rulers

I found this extremely useful as I have two inventories of the free motion rulers for both my domestic machine and the long arm, as both of these machines use totally different free motion rulers.

Over the years of quilting, my stash of quilting rulers has expanded from the one basic ruler which I brought when I first started and still use most of the time, to a wide range of other rulers. I had lost count of the rulers I have purchased over the years and knowing exactly what I had and what they were used for.

I have the staple collection of my essential rulers – the long standard cutting ruler, a couple of smaller rulers, several square rulers and my Stripology ruler. I kept those in the mat, ruler bag that I had designed to hold my mats and the rulers I use the most for cutting fabrics. It was a handy place to store them, and they were always with my mats.

The patterns for the three different designs – Butterfly among the Flowers, Golden Rule and the Plain mat, ruler bag are available as patterns from our website, either in PDF or printed format.

However, I have purchased other rulers that would be more specialised and used for specific tasks. Some would have been an impulse buy after seeing them promoted. Whatever way you looked at it, the collection was growing, and I was unsure of exactly what I had. It was also getting harder to know exactly where they were stored when I needed them.

So, the ruler inventory was created. But not just one inventory. Not all rulers are equal … NOR do they all do the same thing or have the same purpose. The ruler inventory is divided into three separate categories –

Standard Rulers

Rulers that are commonly used for cutting fabric such as 6 ½” x 12 ½”; 6 ½” x 24 ½”; 4 ½” square; etc.

Utility Rulers

Non-standard rulers that can be used for squaring up blocks, or specific function rulers such as Bloc Loc; ½” Triangles; Stripology Ruler; etc.

Specialty Rulers

Rulers that have a very specific use such as cutting or trimming certain blocks; Crazy Patch; Log cabins; Pineapples; etc.

I had such ‘fun’ storing through my stash of rulers and deciding which ones went into which category. But I can truly say it was a real sense of achievement to get them all sorted, listed into the particular inventory as well as allocating them into their specific locations.

Ruler Inventories

My Stripology ruler went there too as I use this often as well (and it was too large to go anywhere else). I allocated a drawer in my cupboard for storing the other rulers that I would not use as often as the standard ones but would still use regularly. I even placed the small rulers that I used regularly in my sewing trolley that I keep by my worktable, that way they were on hand and wouldn’t get lost in the other places.

The other rulers that I would use less often are placed in my small template folder that I designed for this purpose. I keep the folder on my shelf in the snug, so it is still handy to grab, and all the templates/rulers (instructions) are kept safe and in one place.

This small template folder is brilliant for keeping your smaller and less used rulers and templates safe in a sturdy zipped folder. There is also room to keep any instructions sheets that may have come with the rulers and templates. There are two designs available as patterns (either PDF or printed format) on the website – a plain folder and Just a small golden rule – featuring some machine piecing of a tape measure that matches up with the mat, ruler bag design of the same design available as patterns from our website.  

Completing the ruler inventory took me another afternoon to do and it was so satisfying to gather up all of my rulers and assign them to a specific inventory category and then to a designated location and have all that written down. It is now easy to check what ruler I have and where I can find it …. So much better than wondering if I had really did own that ruler … or did I imagine it?

What about all those tools and notions that you have acquired along the way, like specialised marking tools, applique, and tools/notions? The tools and notions that make your life easier and you just couldn’t be without. I really didn’t think of having an inventory of these items. They were things I seemed to take for granted. Items you purchase along the way, and sometimes forgot about. Small tools that got put at the back of the sewing box or into a drawer and never brought out again. Items that really would be so handy to use …. Often…

I had this happen to me … just recently ….. I was sewing and the pattern suggested using an awl to help with attaching the binding on a 3D item. I really thought it was a tool that I did not own. Yet, once I went through my box of notions/tools in my dresser, I discovered that I did in fact owe one … several in fact! They were pulled out and placed on my sewing trolley and I have been making good use of them!

So, filling out the inventory of these specialised wee tools is brilliant. You never know what you may rediscover!

Once these inventories were completed, I decided to start on my patterns, magazines and books …..  We all collect patterns that we want to eventually make, be it PDFs, single paper patterns or a pattern in a book. I don’t even want to begin on books …. But I promise I will …. After the patterns ….

Over the years I have purchased PDF patterns online and stored them to my computer. I have also forgotten exactly what PDF patterns I have. So with this inventory, it is now possible to have a record of all the PDF patterns, what they are and what document file they are stored under on the computer. Hopefully, no more forgotten PDF patterns….

What about the printed patterns? Do you purchase patterns, with the intention of making them and maybe, putting them somewhere … How many of us forget where that special pattern is? I know I have, plenty of times, getting frustrated on exactly where that one pattern is! I have written them on loose paper (& lost the paper!) so hence, this handy inventory of your patterns kept safe in your folder, so the next time you are looking for that one pattern, you know where to look.

Pattern Inventory

I had fun gathering up all of my By Annie patterns and seeing them written down in my pattern inventory was astounding! I didn’t realise I had accumulated so many of them. However, I have a good reason for that – I am making quite a few of the bags for organizing my craft items and tools. But I will save that for another post…. It is still very much a work in progress, and I have a long way to go on that area ….

By Annie Patterns

Books! Where do I start on this subject?! I definitely think I am a book addict!! Definitely an addict (or collector) of quite a number of different items! I am sure we have all brought books on quilting, techniques, and designs from a particular designer. How many of us forget just what particular book we have, or even where it is (or should be)?

I know that I personally have hundreds of quilting books – ‘How to’ on a particular sewing or quilting technique, a particular designer with a collection of project patterns, or instructions to create quilts from pre-cut fabrics. There have been numerous times that I have wanted a list of the actual books I have, so I can go straight to the location of the book. It is also handy to have if you discover a book sale and you are not sure if you already have that book. With this book inventory (as well as a wish list), you will not be guessing.

Book Inventory

At the start of the first lockdown, Alyssa and I made a pact that we would go through each area of the house and sort through/organise everything. We have managed to do quite a few of the areas – my office area, my fibre/spinning area and the library area was on the to do list as well. To date, we have been putting it off as it really is daunting and there are literally hundreds of books. The bookcases need to be tackled one at a time and the books taken off the shelves, one shelf at a time and sorted. We need to go through the books and see what ones we no longer need/use/interested in. At the same time, write down the title and author of all the books we want to keep. It is a task that is well overdue. The bookcases are overflowing, and I can’t fit any more books into it. I know that I will NOT stop buying books, so the logical choice is to weed out the irrelevant books….


It is a task we have both been putting off …. And we are fast running out of reasonable excuses … I also need to know exactly what books I have in the bookcases …. I have purchased so many of the various craft subjects. I also need to put the books into logical grouping, so I know where to find a specific book when needed.

Hence, this inventory. I now have no excuse for not doing the bookcases and it also means that I can finally have my books written down and at a glance I can see exactly what I have and (fingers crossed) will NEVER purchase a book I already own. I also plan on keeping all the books on a particular subject – spinning, knitting, applique, embroidery, etc. – all together on a particular shelf/bookcase and this will then be noted on the inventory form.

Keeping inventories is brilliant, so you know exactly what tools/notions you have, their purpose and where they are located – i.e. – on the shelf or in a drawer; in a box, container, or folder; or any other place you usually store them. When you are preparing for your next project, you can refer back to the inventories to see what you already have and what you may need to purchase to complete that project.

It is also a handy reference so when you see a sale you know exactly what you have or don’t have, no longer a guessing game as to what you already have.

It is even handy to have a wish list for your tools/notions, so when there is a sale or friends/family are wanting ideas of what to get you for Christmas/Birthday, you can just pass on the ‘Wish list’.

I have also found it handy to have a written inventory for insurance purposes in case the worse happens and you need to replace everything.

Hopefully this insight on inventories in the Quilter’s Handbook will help you to sort and organise your craft space and you will always know exactly what tool, notion, pattern, or book you have …. With our Handbook you will be able to purchase the inventory templates that are suitable for your needs. If you don’t have free motion rulers, then you don’t need to purchase the free motion ruler inventory. The same with the Accuquilt die inventory. If you don’t own a Accuquilt machine, why would you need an inventory for the dies? Our new Handbook release is truly a design where you can pick and purchase what you need to make up your very own Handbook that is suitable for your needs. I will have more information on how it all works once it is ready to be release on the website in the next week or so ….

My Inventory section

Come back next time when I will discuss the Handbook in depth, and we will look at the section all about the journal and projects. This section is one that I am really excited about using…..