We’ve been really struck by how honestly Woolness & Me contributors have written about their relationship with wool and wellbeing. Victoria Bennett has written one such post of her management of anxiety with sheepy, characterful wool in her knitting. 

Working wool with my hands helps me to manage my anxiety.

I asked my mum to teach me to knit. I understood that knitting would be a companion to me on nights when the anxious thoughts wouldn’t let me sleep. Knitting became more than simply company in the night: each stitch carries me forward and reminds me that I am capable. Simple repetitive stitches worked on days when I simply need comfort. Complex lace patterns that need my full concentration on days when I can’t bear to be inside my head. Just holding a project in my hands on very bad days helps. When I leave the house I hope it’s cool enough to wrap myself in a woollen shawl, a cocoon of sheepy goodness.

Working stitches in any fibre would probably be good for me, but wool is special.

When I was most unwell and my anxiety was very bad, I couldn’t feel anything at all. I knew things, important things like I loved my mum. But I felt nothing. My fullest attention was on battling my anxious thoughts. I knew good things were there but I couldn’t feel them. I finally learned (with help) that I wasn’t wrongly made, I was unwell. I began to get well (with more help and much knitting) and I started to wake up. I noticed good things. A group of lambs in a field near my house were taking turns to jump across a tiny hollow. One lamb waiting its turn was jumping on the spot in anticipation and excitement. Watching them, a bubble of joy burst through my chest and I laughed. Then I cried: I felt something. I felt something joyful.

Sheep are special to me. They helped me to wake up and working their fibre in my hands keeps me going. I think of those wee lambs and I make stitches. The comfort of the wool in my fingers and the satisfaction of making beautiful things helps me to keep feeling. Getting and staying well is a long path. There are hills and deep valleys. And there is wool.

Victoria explains the picture she sent us to accompany her words: “The picture is me knitting on my Hansel Hap using Uradale yarn natural shades and sitting by the sea outside Burrastow House in Shetland in July. I had a period of intense anxiety in May and June this year and this photo shows me feeling at peace for the first time as I came out of that episode. I felt it was appropriate to my piece of writing about how knitting with wool supports my ongoing quest to manage my mental health.”

Anxiety affects us in numbered and varied ways (speaking from experience) and it can take hold of you unawares just as it can mount for days; knitting and wool can provide a real life (c)raft. Thank you, Victoria, for sharing your experience so honestly and eloquently. 

Important Information: images used are © our woolness contributor, unless otherwise specified.

7 thoughts on “WOOLNESS & ME: Managing anxiety with wool

  1. I concur! I spin, and try and do ten minutes at least every day. The gentle rhythm, and the colour flowing through my hands puts the world back in shape for me. I can’t imagine life without wool! And Alpaca. I see their funny smiley topknotted faces when I spin alpaca.

  2. Loved this!
    I went back to knitting when I had a breakdown in 2014.
    Like Victoria, there were days when I just did plain knitting, and days when I needed something to concentrate on so I knitted lace.
    I knit most days now just for a period of calm and reflection…mostly socks….
    Xxx

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