Hi! I’m Cat and I run Knots&Xs Crafty Kits, where I make mindful craft kits for macrame and cross-stitch.
I used to be a languages teacher in a secondary school. I absolutely loved the teaching side of the job but the long hours and high pressures meant my mental health was suffering. I found myself just staring at my phone or the TV in an effort to unwind which didn’t work and I desperately needed a different way to relax my brain.
Mental health disorders account for almost a 1/4 of the total burden of ill health in the UK yet are not given the attention they deserve. Crafting is shown to have multiple medical benefits including reducing stress and anxiety as your mind focuses on small, repetitive actions. This not only gives your brain a break from all the crazy stuff going on in the world but also improves cognition, and the sense of achievement and pride you feel releases dopamine, the body’s natural anti-depressant, which builds your self-esteem. You connect not only with yourself but with others through the community you become part of – the NHS calls this social prescription and it’s now part of the Government’s Health Agenda.
A colleague told me they found cross-stitch relaxing so I bought a book on it and sourced the materials I needed, but the designs were all very traditional and not really to my taste; I wanted something a bit quirkier. I stumbled across the world of subversive cross stitch (think NSFW!) which had me in stitches (no pun intended!) and this led me to make my own designs. It was my go-to for relaxing at the end of the day and I then had some hilarious artwork adorning my walls and those of my friends.
I also have a long time obsession with plants but live in a tiny house with no garden and ran out of shelf space. So I started looking at other ways to display my ever-growing collection, and found a macrame plant hanger in a charity shop which was perfect for a small space. Having always enjoyed DIY and crafts, and spurred on by the crafting community, I decided I also wanted to learn how to make them myself.
I went online and watched or read numerous tutorials ‘for beginners’, but I got very frustrated as so many of them assumed the reader had a basic knowledge, or reused the same words but for different things. As a beginner, this was highly confusing and frustrating and it was the opposite of relaxing! I made the hanger eventually but felt the experience could have been much better and so I decided to put my teaching degree to use and make my own instructions and videos. And so Knots&Xs was born!
I started making hangers for charity and then kits for friends but, within only a few months, I had opened an Etsy store, was appearing at craft markets across the northwest of England and had featured in both the Manchester Evening News in their list of ‘brilliant craft businesses’ and also in the Independent Liverpool Gift Guide. I’ve recently launched a website and monthly subscription kit boxes which I’m so excited about, and am growing my portfolio for the bespoke side of my business. My creations now hang in various venues and businesses around the UK and I have several commissions in place for macrame wedding backdrops. Workshops are also in the pipeline once it is safe for us to meet.
A typical day might include a few hours answering emails and planning social media content, followed by a Zoom meeting to discuss a commissioned piece. Then it’s on to the workshop (the spare bedroom for now!) and designing new patterns or assembling kits and subscription boxes. I always have a macrame or cross-stitch piece I’m working on, just for me, and I try to do some every day while my cat looks on hopefully for some stray cord or thread to play with. It’s my happy place 🙂