There’s no stopping the ‘mindfulness’ movement, which can be described as ‘actively trying not to piss your life away scrolling through endless feeds of memes and videos of, for example, a baby throwing up on a dog, or a montage of cute owls’.
Mindfulness is undoubtedly a good thing in a world that becomes more and more meaninglessly distracting every day (though what on earth did people do to pass the time when they were having a wee before Twitter?) My problem is that once I’ve tidied up, had a nice long shower, applied a face mask and moisturised myself to within an inch of my life, it’s bedtime and I get all stressed out about all the shit I didn’t do because I was farting about with a loofah.
So when it comes to ‘self care’, I like to get stuff done. And when it comes to actually doing stuff, and making things, real things, in the real world, I tend to gravitate towards cooking. It’s easy and therapeutic, plus you can generally eat it (if you can’t, something has gone horribly wrong). Similar senses of accomplishment can be achieved by properly cleaning all your make-up brushes, putting up some shelves or attacking the cat’s favourite pooping spot with a trowel, because if you’re going to be mindful you may as well do something useful. Mike, for instance, just managed to fix our downstairs loo with the help of YouTube and something called a ‘Flush Daddy’ (???), and days later he’s still strutting around like some puffed up plumbing peacock.
Then I went to a class to learn how to crochet, which I’d been told was like knitting but easier (I can’t imagine anything more satisfying than knitting a whole blanket for yourself and parading around the house in it, naked, like a berserker, but I don’t seem to have the knack for it). And I finally began to understand how nice and soothing crafty things can be on a mind strung out on work and friends and laundry and holiday-planning and housework and other people’s weddings and that bloody cat poo problem in the back garden.
You’d think the first thing you’d learn to crochet would something really simple, like a scarf or a headband, but the ladies behind Hook-A-Monster have started their business based on the idea that amigurumi – the Japanese art of making small, yarn toys – is more fun. Which it is, just look at them all.
Now, generally speaking, the things that bond my mates and I together are mutual loves of food, wine, owl videos and so on (and/or mutual hatreds of shared acquaintances, let’s be real), but Viv, Mya and Mel are all friends through their love of crochet, which I think might be one of the nicest and most wholesome things ever.
Unlike knitting, crochet doesn’t require too much in the way of actual thought, so long as you’re following an established pattern. (When I tried knitting a snood I managed to accidentally completely reverse my stitching halfway through, creating an interesting, er, design detail that rendered the whole thing pathetically lopsided. There is a little bit of counting involved (i.e. the number of stitches you’ve done in each round), but there’s a marker so even the truly absent-minded can’t fuck it up.
Look at the adorable little crab beastie I made..! I was so proud of myself for making a thing that actually looks like a thing. So proud that when I came home I spritzed him with catnip spray and gave him to Nelson to play with. Turns out crochet doodahs make great cat toys.
The Hook-A-Monster gals run their workshops in Stockwell at £40pp, with each session lasting three hours, but you can also buy a little kit when you’re there with an idiot-proof (and I do mean idiot-proof) workbook and a bunch of different crochet hooks. (Smaller hook = tighter stitches.) I did treat myself to one of the kits as apparently it is possible to crochet a blanket, so if I keep at it I could still fulfil my DIY berserker fantasy. I’ve also just seen a pattern for crochet porgs……! Watch this space.
Hook-A-Monster, Art4Space Centre, 31 Jeffreys Road, London, SW4 6QU
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.