10th March 2023

Inherently we know the benefits our time with needle and thread affords us. However, it is possible to become all too familiar with these over time, and sometimes it takes an insight from someone else to remind us of what we once consciously knew to be true.

In her most recent book, The Light We Carry, Michelle Obama did just that.

At the onset of the COVID pandemic, Michelle found herself working through feelings of being overwhelmed. Given what many around her were experiencing, she unquestionably recognised her own luck and privilege, but still struggled with the stillness and isolation the pandemic imposed.

Having spent a lifetime being busy, the first months of the pandemic stripped away the previous structure of Michelle’s days leaving her a little lost in the process. Suddenly there was time to overthink and ‘the tidiness she’d always relished was replaced by a cluttered sense of unease’.  

Michelle found herself in a particularly low place when she finally got around to picking up the two beginner-sized knitting needles she’d randomly ordered online at the onset of the pandemic.

As she knit and purled, purled and knit alongside YouTube tutorials, she found her focus narrowed and her mind felt a little at ease. She realised that when her hands were busy, her mind would slow, detouring her mind from anxiety.

Each time she picked up needle and thread, her mind would trail behind her fingers, providing a much-needed sense of relief.

There was ‘something in that tiny and precise motion on repeat, the gentle rhythm of those clicking needles’ that moved her brain in a new direction. It helped her regain a sense of steadiness and clarity amidst the uncertainty.

Even to this day, when Michelle feels a sense of agitation rising as she struggles with her ‘not-enoughness’ against what the world can sometimes throw at her, she ‘picks up the knitting needles and gives her hands a chance to take over, to quietly click her out of that hard place’.

Michelle’s words reminded us that needle and thread are so much more than just a way to while away our hours of leisure, they help us navigate the inevitable hardships that come our way.  

Whether the ‘hard’ we face is big or small, may we always remember to turn to the healing power of needle and thread.

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