It'll come as no surprise that craft and mindfulness go hand-in-hand - repetition, texture and colour are the perfect tools to help you relax and refocus. Emma Leith, the author of the upcoming Mindful Crochet, is an award winning artist, teacher and Simply Crochet Magazine contributor who uses craft as a way to manage pain and relieve anxiety. We spoke to Emma ahead of Mindful Crochet's release to chat about her work and the story behind the book.
Hi Emma, can you tell us a little about how Mindful Cochet come about?
Mindful Crochet is in part a result of having been treated for breast cancer. Since my mastectomy 3 years ago a lot has changed in my life and one of the things I have had to tackle is finding ways to manage chronic nerve pain. With pain comes anxiety, this is because the brain is always ’switched on’ and crochet has been the thing I do to calm both of these things. All of this happened accidentally as I initially just planned to use my post op recovery time to get a little crochet in and it has since become my most treasured tool in my pain management tool kit.
What is your favourite project from the book?
I have two and they are both very different. My first is the Ripple Wrap of Mindful Imperfections. I love this project because of how it makes me feel when I make it. I find the combination of the yarns and the pattern incredibly soothing and the drape you get when working a lace weight yarn with a larger hook is so satisfying. I was very truthful in the introduction to this piece when I speak about there being mistakes and imperfections. It really matters to me that in this social media world of perfection we practice acceptance and loving ourselves as we are.
My second and equal favourite is the Happy Flowers Chandelier because of how it makes me feel every time I look at it. I think anyone who knows me would identify this as being an 'Emma piece’ with all its colour! I set out to create a big burst of happiness which I hope is how others will see it!
How has crafting helped you to become more mindful in the past?
I have always used craft as a means to de-stress and unwind. I have always dabbled with yarns in one form or another from tapestry and cross stitch to knitting and weaving. They have all played a part in maintaining my mental health and taking me to my inner happy place where good things happen.
What tips would you give anyone new to crochet?
Treat yourself to a lesson from someone who teaches it. It will be the best investment you make. Ideally have a one to one and in two hours you will have the confidence and skills to make a granny blanket. Then all you need do is to keep going and get that muscle deeply embedded!
Where do you get your design inspiration from?
I think it all stems from my love of colour. It’s always colour that turns my head and gets me going so if a range of yarns has the colours I like I’m desperate to dive in! Kaffe Fassett has been a huge inspiration as his mastery of colour is simply sublime. Niki de saint Phalle is another artist to whom I repeatedly return to for inspiration.
View this post on Instagram
Working on mandalas .... takes longer than I thought! Starts off quickly and then slows down massively with every round.... or so it seems 😂 I’ve ripped it a hundred times but it’s slowly coming together at last! #crochetmandala #crochetmandalas #mandalacrochet #haaken #crochetaddict #crochetastherapy #colourfulcrochet
Aside from crafting, what is your favourite way to pass the time?
Well my other ‘job’ is mosaic. I teach it and when I’m not designing crochet or teaching I really do love to settle in my studio with Radio 4, a mug of tea and my tile nippers. It’s the perfect way for me to switch gear and take a break from crochet. And when I’m not doing that then you can find me buried under a cat or two revving them up with super strokes until the sound of their purring is all you can hear! Absolute heavenly bliss! Cats and Cafes are my two favourite pastimes. I do love a coffee and cake in a hipster cafe… it’s my guilty pleasure. I once went to Cat Cafe - you can imagine my response!!!
Do you have any favourite craft Instagram accounts?
Yes lots! @GillianGladrag - this woman knows how to do colour folks! @KatieJonesKnit for keeping it real and being a delight, @kjcardigan for true crochet artistry and @Knitcollage for glorious textures
What can we look forward to from you over the next few months?
I am so blessed to be a part of the Simply Crochet Magazine team which keeps me busy making a monthly crochet contribution. In addition to this I have 7 commissions stacked up and one Crochet Along (CAL) planned for the autumn so watch this space for more patterns and crochet inspiration!