Afterthoughts: Squid Craft
Relaxing by staying busy.
I recently bought a pair of really nice socks. They’re dark blue knee-highs with stars and planets on them, with Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and everything. As soon as I saw them, I knew they’d make the perfect squid.
A few years ago, a friend bought me a sew-your-own-sock-squid kit, complete with a pair of socks, thread, a needle, stuffing and buttons for eyes. It also came with instructions on how to make a sock monkey, and apparently there’s a sock squirrel kit out there as well. I’d dabbled in sewing before, having made my own versions of Edward Gorey’s Figbash and a Coraline doll, but had never taken a formal approach. The instructions explained the different types of stitches and knots I’d need to use and showed each step very clearly. It took a few sessions, but it wasn’t long before I had my own lumpy little cephalopod. After I completed Squiddicus, I was hooked.
illustration: kim sielbeck
I hit up Walmart and Ben Franklin Crafts for more materials, and kept my eyes open for cool patterned socks to turn into sea creatures when I went shopping. I’ve made no fewer than seven squid (and one monkey) thus far. But, more than the satisfaction of creating my own little Squid Family Robinson (or Squid Squad, if you prefer), the greatest thing to come of my sewing hobby is a space to meditate.
The main way I deal with stress is I talk to myself. A lot. Like, a lot. I can spend days, weeks or even months dwelling on something, because my one-way conversations do nothing other than feed my anxiety. It’s not a great method of problem-solving or relaxation. Sometimes I try to distract myself, but it’s impossible to read a book or watch a movie when my mind is racing. I’ll just read the same paragraph over and over again or completely miss a vital plot point, so I give up. I’ve never been able to shut down and focus on my breathing or follow any of the standard meditation tips, probably because I’m a multitasking millennial who is accustomed to sensory overload and likes it that way.
But sewing differs from reading. Each stitch requires the focus of my eyes and my hands, and even then I still prick my fingers regularly or forget to make sure the thread didn’t knot itself in the fabric. The act of doing something—especially making something—creates a Zen feeling within me that sends everything else away.
In 2018, I’m looking forward to being more mindful, doing things thoughtfully and creating unique projects that double as therapy. I’ve seen the effects of meditation on some of my friends, and they seem to have this life thing under control—at least parts of it. Centering myself is only going to make me a better person, one who focuses her energy on creation rather than obsessing over every little problem. Sewing benefits my mental health and results in a tangible reward. Plus, crafting is fun. I already have beads for earrings, wool felt, a whale kit and plenty more socks to keep me busy, because there will always be stress, but there will never be another outer space squid quite like mine. I think I’ll name her Celeste.