Shirley Anstis at Vogue Knitting Live

pen and knitting and crochet tools, also yarn, pictured on a hand-written page of text

I’m really excited that, as part of their virtual May event, Vogue Knitting Live are debuting a new kind of creative class – one intended to support mental health through therapeutic writing.

ball of yarn photographed by crochet hook, knitting needles, and on page of hand-written and deliberately out-of-focus text

The new class is called “Using Therapeutic Writing to Tell Your Crafting Stories” and is led by counsellor and writer Shirley Anstis, who brings her professional experience and expertise to the creative context of crochet and knitting. On her counselling website Shirley describes therapeutic writing and its benefits:

Therapeutic writing gives you the opportunity to gain insight and this can help you to build self-esteem, feel more confident, make different decisions and be more present. Writing can connect you to your good memories and help you cope with less happy memories by taking a different perspective.

In Shirley’s two-hour long class participants will be guided to reflect mindfully on what we make, why it matters and what it means to us:

This class provides a space to look at your crafting journey and reflect on the many choices you make in creating something from nothing. How do you decide what to create, and what do your creations mean to you? Mindfully reflect on your thoughts and feelings around your crafting experiences in this class.

yarn, needles and crochet hook lie on a page along with a prominent biro; there is out-of-focus hand-written text all over the page

As makers, we attach great personal significance to projects and Shirley’s class holds space for this.

Prompts and timed writing exercises will help participants access and celebrate the layers of meaning in our making, opening doorways for us to relate these themes more broadly to our lives. Most of us have stories to share about the provenance of our materials, our reasons for choosing this or that pattern, the meaning behind the colours used and the purpose of the project. Sitting down intentionally for a couple of hours to reflect on these elements of our creativity is an affirming opportunity to check in with, and be present to, our crafting selves.

yarn, needles and crochet hook lie on a page along with a prominent biro; there is out-of-focus hand-written text all over the page

While many of our stories make their way into social media posts or other public texts, therapeutic writing is private and solely for the benefit of the writer. The texts written in a therapeutic writing class are created for self-reflection and discovery – they’re not for anyone else to see or read, but rather are used as tools to help aid moments of realisation and presence. This is surprisingly liberating and removes some of the anxiety and stress that can frustrate writing in other contexts. These are words we find to remember happy or important experiences, to shore ourselves up, and to reframe difficult experiences: these are words for us.

Shirley’s Vogue Knitting Live therapeutic writing class promotes mental health and wellbeing by providing space and time to process our memories and feelings, celebrate our making, focus our attention on our own lives, and to build self-esteem and confidence around our creativity and crafting. It is an opportunity to get grounded and to find peace and calm, while still thinking about fibre.

yarn, needles and crochet hook lie on a page along with a prominent biro; there is out-of-focus hand-written text all over the page

Having taken several of Shirley’s classes myself in the past, I’m really looking forward to seeing how the warm, carefully-held and reflective space she creates will translate to the creative context of an online fibre festival.

See you there?

Find the VKL May teaching programme and details of Shirley’s class here
Read about Therapeutic Writing here
Shirley’s blog – Living Being Doing

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