Last year I decided to take up cross-stitching for my mental health, since my mind is always racing with a billion thoughts. I’m not good at meditation or yoga, I don’t find solace in cooking because that’s my job, and I’m no longer allowed to go into my yard and whale on a trash can with a baseball bat because it “upsets the neighbors.” I’d never thought about trying cross-stitch or embroidery because it seemed like one of those twee, dainty hobbies meant for people who don’t think beating something with a bat sounds like a good time. But then I got to thinking about Sansa Stark, and how embroidery ostensibly kept her sane through the horrors she was forced to endure before becoming Queen of the North. I ran to my local creative reuse store, dropped five bucks on supplies, and got myself a pattern so I could raise my banner for House Stark. There’s nothing twee or dainty about direwolves.
My first banner wasn’t perfect, but by the old gods and the new, it was a perfect hobby for my ADD-addled brain. Cross-stitching requires focus and repetitive motion, which practically hypnotizes you. It let me watch television in peace, following along with the storylines instead of getting sidetracked by Googling all the dumb things that pop into my head like the origins of cancan dancing or whether it’s possible to form an all-moose cavalry for reasons none of you have to worry about. And after a few days of serenity, I realized that my calmness wasn’t just from the soothing motions of cross-stitching: when I had a needle in my right hand and an embroidery hoop in my left, there were zero hands with which to hold my phone. I could not continually refresh Twitter, could not keep up with whatever breaking news was unfolding, could not subject myself to the ranting of my friends’ racist uncles on Facebook.
This weekend, after a few weeks of ignoring my sewing box, I picked up my needle and thread again. I hand-stitched face masks for my family using some old shirts and elastic bands. I’m ordering a new pattern so I can raise a banner for my one true queen and remember to call upon her strength whenever I am tested in the trying times that lie ahead.
What are you guys doing to keep your hands busy?