Tea, Cake, Creativity, and Community, During a Pandemic

There is absolutely no denying it has been the crappiest of crappy years and I have learned much throughout the last 16 months (including proper grown-up knitting) and, whilst I have always had a passion for crafts as therapy, this past year has showed me, more than ever, just how crucial it is for better mental health. Tea, cake, creativity, and online community has been my mental fuel and I can say, hand on heart, there hasn’t been a single day for the past year where I wasn’t excited to get out of bed and embark on another work day. Crafts not only give us immense joy but also serve as a coping mechanism during times of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. It allows us to focus completely on the project in front of us and park our troubled thoughts for a while. We may not have been able to meet up with our creative companions but we have been able to discover the true importance of the online world and the creative community we have been able to share with through our screens.

Crafters do it online!

Testament to this are the many lovely messages, emails and reviews I receive from so many customers and people who have found my online resources. Quite honestly, some of the messages left me a hot emotional mess. I say hot and emotional because I am also going through menopause which is a whole other conversation (thank goodness for HRT) and one that I know many of you understand and have personal  experience of. It is yet another topic severely affecting women that I think we should discuss more openly and not allow others to dismiss as ‘women’s troubles’. Like I said, that’s a whole other conversation…

Hopefully, we will be doing this again soon.

The point is that crafts are the mainstay of my life, not just as business but as a lifestyle, a vocation, my mental prop, my passion and, outside of my family (which of course includes the dog) my purpose. What I have also noticed, since the start of the pandemic, is the joy and satisfaction of really simple needle felting projects. I don’t know about you but the events of the last year has seen my thoughts meandering all over the place, and the need for a simple craft project – one you can just pick up without the need for thinking, planning, or tutorials – has become really important to me; recent bumble bee brooches and spring garlands being good examples you may have seen here on the blog. Creative repetitiveness is quite meditative and blocks out the noisy world much better than any set of headphones, although headphones plus crafts pretty much has you covered.

My free resources are there to encourage, and cajole anyone who is interested into trying a new craft, any craft in fact. My YouTube channel now has 40+ video tutorials and the blog now has too many to count. They are there not only to teach but to help improve your mental health and ease the soul. Start creating something and you will soon wonder where the day went, along with all the stresses and anxious thoughts that kept you awake last night. My resources are also a thank you to all the people who continue to support small independent creative businesses, mostly run by women who, like me, are also spending a lot of time multi tasking, not only their own lives but the lives of their nearest and dearest. We sometimes wonder why more women take up crafts than men and, for me, the simple answer is that many many women carry a huge emotional workload that so many men don’t. That’s not stereotype, it’s fact. Many women won’t even recognise it as emotional workload, but more as just mental list: house work, kids health and well being, planning visits, holidays and packing (often for the whole family), shopping, doctors, dentists, care of the mental health of loved ones, pets, important calendar dates, managing finances, planning for the future, worrying about the future, chronic illness, the list is long and endless and this last year has increased that ten fold! And yes, men do have this too but the fact is that it is still mostly women who are the bearers of these huge emotional stresses, the linchpin of the household and many working a full time job to boot. Now add menopause and hormones into the mix and you realise that women are pretty amazing creatures, and most don’t even realise it! No wonder we love crafts. It keeps us sane in a complicated and, often insane world.

So my best advice is, women keep on filling your creative boots, soothe your soul, drink tea, eat cake and keep falling down the craft rabbit holes of YouTube, Pinterest, and of course my blog. They know where you are if they need you, they always do because you made sure of it x

Tea + Cake + Creativity equals this face!

Subscribe below if you want to receive a notification every time I post something new. I have just done some major housekeeping on the blog and website – no small task for one so technically challenged – so it should be much easier to navigate and find what you are looking for. Just click on the menus for the drop down options. Happy creating!

Needle Felted Mushrooms With Core Wool

This tutorial uses the super easy, soft sculpture technique style of needle felting. Once you have tried it you will fall in love with its simplicity and versatility. If you want to go straight to the mushroom tutorial click below, if you want to learn a little more before you start then read on.

TAKE ME STRAIGHT TO MUSHROOM TUTORIAL

Types Of Needle Felting

There are so many wool options for needle felting that it can make the room spin but really, needle felting mostly falls into just three categories. Yes, there are more but these are the most commonly used, and all you need to be familiar with when you are just starting out.

1 Flat felting: Pictures, brooches and, in my case, really big bunny ears

Flat felting: Needle Felted Picture

2 Firm sculpture: I like to use the coarse British wool tops/roving for this style.

Firm felting: Needle felted hares with flat felted ears

3 Soft sculpture (it’s really squidgy): Uses wool batting sheets (wool that has been carded into short fibres) and core wool, which is essentially stuffing and is what you wrap your batting sheet around.

Soft needle felted sculpture: it’s really squidgy

Creating needle felted soft sculpture is so easy and there is no end to what you can create; pumpkins are my favourite and there’s a video for that too. All you need is some wool batting, core wool, a felting base (foam pad or hessian mat) or a needle felting kit.

What Is Core Wool?

I just want to quickly talk about core wool as it often causes confusion. Core wool, for soft sculpture, is like toy stuffing and you wrap the batting sheet around it. It is made up of uneven, short fibres and is a little bit lumpy; perfect for our project. It is usually the ‘scraps’ of wool that can’t be used for firm felting or spinning, is cheaper than wool tops/roving and is mostly white or grey.

Five minute tutorial Here’s a quick guide to making a mushroom cap with core wool at the centre. This only takes around five minutes or you can watch the video tutorial which also works alongside the, ‘Shroom With A View’ needle felting kit.

1 Scrunch the core wool firmly into the shape of a bread roll and hold the centre to keep in place. Use your felting needle in a straight in and out motion (around the sides) to secure the shape. TIP: It doesn’t matter if the shape is uneven or untidy because the whole piece will soon be covered. Continue turning and felting the whole piece for a few minutes until you have your rough shape and size; it will be really squidgy, quite loose and won’t be a perfect shape.

2 Lay your wool batting sheet on your felting pad and put your core wool in the centre. Pull the batting sheet firmly around your core wool and felt into the centre.

3 Gather the batting firmly towards the centre, so it doesn’t have any sags, and felt in place. Pull away any excess. Top Tip: Only felt in the centre as this will keep the top and sides of your mushroom free of needle marks.

4 Your finished ‘shroom cap ready for it’s spots and maybe a chimney or two.

4

Take Me To Full Mushroom Turorial

The possibilities are endless Once you have learned this quick and easy technique you will soon be making, well anything and every thing you want; enchanted gardens, pumpkins, ‘shrooms, snowmen. The list goes on and on and I am still trying to give away the mountain of pumpkins I made last year.

Supplies If you don’t have any wool or needles then they can all be found on the website, alongside the ‘Shroom With A View and Honey Pot Cottage needle felting kits. TAKE ME TO WEBSITE

TAKE ME TO PUMPKIN TUTORIAL

Click for hedgehog tutorial

If you are brand new to needle felting then pop over to the essential blog post for beginners: THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF NEEDLE FELTING

Happy creating x

Est. 2013
© 2013 Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts

We need craft therapy, now more than ever!

For the first time in my 51 years I am suffering from, what I can only assume, is anxiety. I am usually pretty chilled and my glass is almost always half full. Yet, my stomach is in knots, I can’t switch off, my heart is constantly fluttering, I’m frequently feeling overwhelmed, and fight or flight mode is firmly in the ‘on’ position. I’m worried for those who are going to suffer terrible financial hardships over the coming year and for the kids where school is a safe haven and a place where they get most, if not all of their nutrition. Ring any bells? Well of course it does. It is a universal feeling and we are all suffering – to one extent or another – the same emotions. Much of what we take for granted will be out of reach for some time and many of us (myself included) have the added worry of close, immediate family members and friends who are very vulnerable with serious health conditions. We are entering difficult times, in uncharted territory, and need to find our own coping mechanisms to help us navigate the next few months and beyond.
So here’s the thing. We all know how to stay safe but staying sane is another matter. Many of us will be isolated and often lonely over the coming months and crafts, now more than ever, will provide us with much needed respite and allow us to switch off, for a little while at least. For lots of us crafts and the creative community will become our online ‘tribe’ and take on a much more important role. Creativity is so important for our mental health, especially as we hunker down for the long haul.
I had a discussion with a very close friend about how I was feeling and her advice was to keep creating and continue to share it with others, as I have for the last six years. So, to that end, I will continue to add tutorials to YouTube and the blog whenever I can. I may even do a Facebook live if that’s something you might enjoy. It’s also a time to refocus and prioritise and this is just my, very small contribution. If there is any aspect of needle felting you are struggling with, even if it’s the confidence to get started, then just pop over to my Facebook page and message me or pop a question in this FaceBook post. Even if I’m not around (or don’t have the answers), there are lots of knowledgeable and talented crafters on there (some I have been in contact with creatively for a long while) able to share their own creative advice or just give you the boost you need to get going. What you definitely won’t see from me is lots of ‘positive vibes’ quotes. It’s not my bag (I have always found my sense of dark, dry humour to be the best remedy) and it will get very old very quickly, oftentimes diminishing the problems we are facing. Nobody wants a barrage of ‘you got this’ or ‘keep calm and carry on’ when calm is the last thing we are feeling. However, social media really is about to come into its own so let’s bolster and support each other as much as we can and continue to use our creative social media community for the greater good.

YouTube tutorial links are below and kits and supplies available on the Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts website and Etsy but all you need is a handful of wool, a felting needle and a cuppa.
Stay safe and big love
Sandy xxx

This way for craft therapy video tutorials

Est. 2013
© 2013 Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts