This week’s blog post is full to the brim with all the positives about crafting and creativity. If you follow the page then you will no doubt be aware of the quilt project we started about a month ago. I was delighted to see the response since the launch, and have been amazed at the beautifully executed squares that have been created, like this one by Helen. Many of them are inspired by nature and so I felt that mine might be too, I just couldn’t quite decide what to put on it though – bees seemed the obvious choice but I considered a sunflower too.

This weekend arrived in a deluge of rain. Having been out all morning, and cycling to and from my tutoring sessions, I didn’t feel like going out again! In fact I dragged out my handmade quilt and got under it as soon as I got out of my wet clothes. Whilst I was upstairs changing, I remembered a special gift that I had been given and an idea started to blossom. I searched the sewing room, and there it was pinned to the cork board in my sewing room. If you look at the bottom left corner of the photo you might just be able to make it out…

I pinned the small rectangle of embroidered felt onto a square of old gold cotton as I felt it brought out the brilliance of the purple blooms and tried to recall how long ago it had been given to me. I remember an online conversation with the creator, a wonderful woman called Mair who I met at the start of the community workshops when we made origami hearts together at a local pub. I had marvelled at the detail and treasured the miniature scene, not really thinking that I might one day be thinking about embroidering myself.

Having wasted time trawling the internet for inspiration, a thought popped into my head which told me how I could incorporate my gift into my personal quilting square. I certainly had no intention of passing it off as my own work, I am sure nobody would have been convinced that I could suddenly produce such perfect little French knots for starters! And then it occurred to me that I should frame it in a window. I found some reclaimed black ribbon to create the surround, I believe I snipped it out of a sweater that I bought at a charity shop recently.

After some contemplation and deciding that I was really quite happy with my little window, the idea of nature being a ‘gift’, started me thinking about being thankful. As I meditated on this thought, the concept of Buddha contemplating the wonders of nature came to mind. I pictured his serene visage, presiding in his sparse room and considering the privilege bestowed on him, watching the busy bumbler going about his buzzy business around the bountiful blooms. Not thwarted by the minor detail that all my embroidery threads are all at Middle Street, I set to work.

I got out my felt tips and made a plan of how I think I would like my quilt square to look, thinking about colours and stitches as I drew. I have a sense of wanting to keep the square fairly simple but felt that there was space above Buddha that needed to be filled with something, and something that could provide a bit of colour in contrast to the black outline of his face. A mandala seemed a likely choice, but I felt the inclusion of a heart was significant so I put that in the centre and the mandala kind of radiated from that really.

This is as far as I have got with my quilt square, but I can’t begin to tell you how much better I felt after just one hour of stitching. The ominous sky and endless rain disappeared from my consciousness, as did the week’s rollercoaster of emotions that had troubled me earlier in the day. We really shouldn’t underestimate the power of creativity on our well-being and so when the winter blues strike, I urge you to go and visit a gallery, take yourself off to a photography exhibition or craft event or strike out and create something yourself. You will be so glad you did.