Feel Good

Could crafting be the secret to a brighter mindset?

Our wellness columnist, Hannah Bullimore, examines the link between making and mental health.

Written by High Life North
Published 02.09.2023

By Hannah Bullimore

In years gone by, crafting was thought of as the older person’s hobby.

But with bright, modern shows like The Great British Sewing Bee and Kirsty Allsopp’s range of crafting shows, many people of all ages are turning to crafting to fill their spare time and give them a boost.

I’ve always been a crafter. I grew up with a Mam and Grandma who almost always had a pair of knitting needles in their hands, and I can remember making teddies and dolls clothes from a young age. As a teenager I was unwell, and crafting offered a great way for me to pass the time and get creative.

It wasn’t until my 20s that I discovered there was a whole online community of crafters sharing knitting patterns, showing off a range of projects and offering the type of advice that would once have been passed down through generations.

What do these thousands of crafters have in common? They enjoy the tactile nature of making something with their hands and share in the satisfaction of making something no one else has.

But, could crafting be more than just a hobby? Could it, in fact, offer a boost to your wellbeing?


I love to craft because I enjoy the creativity of making my own clothes and combining different yarns and colours.

But I also can’t deny that crafting has helped with my mental wellbeing over the years. In times of anxiety, I find it really calming to listen to a podcast and knit as it keeps both my hands and my mind busy.

I was curious to find out if there is any science behind the benefits I have experience and, indeed, there is!

A BBC study in 2019 found a link between creative activities and improved mood. The study found that even a single session of a creative activity – such as a craft like knitting, painting or a music lesson – had ‘emotional benefits’. While another study by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists found those who knit consistently reported benefits including reduced stress and improved mood.

Additionally, many mental health charities, including those for veterans experiencing PTSD, encourage participating in crafting activities as a great distraction technique from emotional triggers and also as a way to build self-esteem and confidence.



As someone who has tried many crafts, but has always found herself coming back to knitting, I have some advice for trying a new craft without breaking the bank or becoming overwhelmed.

Firstly: do some research.

It might be that you have seen crochet having a moment on Instagram, or you’ve been inspired by shows like The Great British Sewing Bee. Both are great reasons to try something new, but there can be a temptation to buy the same tools and materials you see others using and jump right in by buying enough for multiple projects.

Start off slowly by researching the best beginner-friendly products. Watch a few videos on YouTube to see if you think you will enjoy the process, too. Get to know the craft before ordering a load of materials.


Buy a basic set of materials to try out.

This is when online reviews will come in handy. For knitting, I would recommend starting with cotton or acrylic yarn, larger needles and practicing casting on, knit stitches and counting your stitches before considering anything more complicated.

Each craft will have a simpler version that is best for beginners, so start small. There’s nothing more off-putting than an overly complicated project that you don’t complete and feels like a waste of money.

Consider a crafting kit.

Once you’re well-practiced at your craft, you’ll be able to pick and choose your own materials. But, when you’re still starting out, it can be nice to take away any complications and go for a crafting kit. Although they can be pricey, they are a good way to try a craft.


Knitting - Lil’ Foxy Roxy Scarf - Wool and the Gang, £21.60

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Crocheting - Botos Tee - We Are Knitters, £45.00

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Pottery - Sculpd Pottery Kit, £35.00

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Join the online community.

There are loads of free tutorials, supportive forums and insightful YouTube channels and social media accounts to follow. My crafting has definitely improved thanks to the information available for free online.

For knitting, crocheting and quilting, I highly recommend checking out Kristen Lehrer’s YouTube channel. Ravelry is also the crafter’s social media site, with thousands of patterns, forums and inspiration.


To offer you some final crafting inspiration, I thought I would share some of my favourite makes so far.

This was my first ever jumper in the round (rather than knitting pieces which are then sewn together). I made it using some special wool I bought on a trip with my Mam to York. It was made during the height of the pandemic, which is when my crafting addiction reached new heights.

I then stepped up the difficulty level by making another jumper in the round, this time with lace detailing. One of my favourite things about crafting is that you can choose to make things which are relaxing and simple, or you can push yourself to try new techniques which require online tutorials and several attempts.

And then there were two jumpers by my favourite knitwear designer ‘Petite Knit’. Her designs are simple enough to be worn repeatedly, but the patterns are still challenging.


Of course, knitting might not be the craft for you and there are hundreds of crafts to try. From painting to card making, embroidery to sewing.

Whatever craft you choose, it is all about making for the joy of creativity and the satisfaction of knowing – I did that!


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