Strange Times

10th April 2020

It’s almost become the new mantra, hasn’t it? These are strange times indeed. For many of us around the world, we’re discovering a ‘new normal’ with our movement seriously curtailed and the almost unheard-of experience of being confined to our homes. 

There are plenty of us who are using the time to stitch and are trying to make the most of it. Imagine being able to stitch all day long at last!

But while doing so, it is worth taking the time to remember those others of us who have lost their jobs and income, or who are trying to manage home schooling of children while still working, or who just don’t have anyone they can talk to.

During this time, we are so fortunate that we have the internet and that its presence allows us to still connect to others. And stitchers, crafters and artists around the world are rising to the challenge. Using different technologies, such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, people are coming together to help one another ride this crisis out.

A quarantine art club led by @emilybluestar on Instagram (source)

We’ve always equated stitchers and artists together, so it doesn’t seem out of place to bring to your attention a movement known as #quarantineartclubs. These virtual clubs, being led by different artists around the world on Instagram, provide you with a prompt each day in order for you to exercise your creativity, or offer a lesson, or just encourage you to creatively journal. As a needlework community we can interpret these prompts through the lens of our needle and thread and who knows what new adventures might spring forth.

Arne and Carlos Quarantine Knit Along (source)

For all of the knitters out there, you’re probably familiar with the famous design team of Arne and Carlos. Well, they are offering a free quarantine knit-along. Their comforting and uplifting designs for squares are available free and are accompanied by a podcast so that you don’t ever have to feel like you’re knitting on your own.

Quilters can also choose any one of a number of quarantine quilt-alongs with free patterns and daily guidance. Most of them accept that popping out to the shops to buy supplies isn’t always an option, and so have designed their patterns specifically to use up all of that stash which many of us have been collecting for just this kind of ‘rainy day’.

One of a host of fabulous free patterns available online (source)

If you prefer stitching, a search for ‘free stitch patterns for quarantine’ or a combination of those words will result in a wealth of different options. One of our favourites was a free pattern of the coronavirus itself – know thine enemy? But there are plenty of others available for cross stitch, needlepoint and embroidery. It seems the generosity of designers knows no bounds.

Facebook groups, Instagram hashtags and sites such as Ravelry for yarn crafters provide further options. And the best thing about them is that they’re filled with other people who are all feeling the same things that you’re feeling and are all turning to their favourite craft and each other in order to help to navigate this crisis.

None of us know what the world is going to be like when we finally come out the other side of this. But there is good reason to be optimistic.

We’re all being forced to find ways to support each other. This includes those people requiring immediate support such as our family, neighbours and friends, as well as those people further away from us who we might not even know yet. 

They might just need someone to talk with, someone to share their latest stitching with, or someone to hold on to – virtually, of course – so that they don’t feel like they are experiencing this alone. 

We already know the goodness, kindness and love that exists within the global needlework community and we have no doubt that these new ways we’re learning to care and help others won’t stop when the virus does. In so many ways, it is going to bring us even closer together than before.

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