Thread therapy: How embroidery saved my sanity

It’s crazy how much joy a needle, a piece of cloth and some thread can bring a 21-year-old girl.

I have never been “artsy” by any means — I can’t draw very well, I colour outside the lines and I have about as much patience as an ant. But two years ago, I walked across the hall to ask my best friend for a pair of scissors and saw her creating the most intricate flower I had ever seen with just a needle and some red thread. I was in awe of how she managed to stitch it when I couldn’t even imagine drawing something that beautiful on paper.

So, I didn’t. Not for the next two years, at least.

Last year, when academic pressure got to me and my anxiety was at an all-time high, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Watching TV shows got repetitive, listening to music didn’t calm me and reading started to seem like a chore.

Nothing major pushed me to pursue a new hobby besides the exceeding power of boredom. I needed something to do with my free time. I needed a purpose.

So, I called my best friend and asked for a favour. She was so excited to teach me how to embroider, and kind enough to give me her entire sewing kit to help me start. It was then that I realized how indispensable she was as a friend — she knew I needed something to keep my racing mind occupied and didn’t miss a second before offering to lend me something that meant so much to her.

Sitting on her bed, listening to our favourite songs and silently stitching away was the first time I had felt peace in a while. Don’t get me wrong, I got frustrated a lot. The needle would break, the stitches were too loose and the thread knotted up over and over again. But never once did I want to quit.

Not to toot my own horn, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly.

My fear of failing and being inadequate at a task once held me back, but not anymore. I didn’t think I could create such stunning designs, so I had never let myself try. Soon enough, I wanted to embroider on tote bags, napkins, t-shirts — anything I could get my hands on.

The feeling of being able to create something brand new for someone is so special. I know exactly what to make for my grandmother every birthday — she says a handkerchief with her and my grandfather’s anniversary date is the most thoughtful gift she’s ever received.

Embroidery was like listening to a new Taylor Swift album — I couldn’t get enough of it. Once I started, I would sit in the same spot for the next three hours. Line after line, design after design, I cross-stitched away. During these hours, I discovered the pain of a cross-stitching backache (and that’s what I named my album on Pinterest).

It’s been one year since I started this pastime, and even though I don’t keep up with it, I know it’s something I can fall back into with ease whenever I need to. I believe everyone needs something that helps them de-stress after a long day, and art almost always ends in something beautiful.