Mend It May – Mendfulness

May 25, 2016

I first stumbled across the word ‘Mendfulness’ as a hashtag on Instagram, and was instantly intrigued by it. Tracking down a hashtag on Instagram is not the easiest thing to do, but eventually I found the source: New York based artist, writer and crafter Katrina Rodabaugh. She wrote about Mendfulness on her blog:

We can be mindful. We can be mendful. We can do our very best to leave this fragile planet a little bit better than how we inherited it.

and I asked Katrina about it in my interview with her (which you can read in full here):

Mendfulness is about being mindful about mending and repair, but also about being mindful about our relationship to fashion.
It’s about pausing to consider our consumer habits, getting clear on what clothes we like to wear and why, and also embracing wear and tear as a normal and even beautiful process.
It’s a shift from the fashion “trendmill” to make our wardrobe more personal and less perfect.
It’s about applying concepts of mindfulness to fashion.

I love it, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole concept of Mendfulness this month.

We all know that Mindfulness is pretty hot right now.
The benefits are well documented, and it is proven to be beneficial both psychologically and physiologically.
I really love the idea, but I have to confess to finding it really bl**dy hard to sit and just ‘be’ for even 10 minutes. I guess that’s why those colouring books have become so popular. Those of us who find it hard to sit still and be in the moment, find it easier to have something to focus on.
And that’s where I think mending can come in too.

I think probably for ‘true mendfulness’, the idea is to be thinking about the thing you are repairing, and to be intentional about your mend. Where it’s been made, the work that has gone into it, and what it means to you. Which is great, and I think that we could all do with a reminder every now and then that our ‘stuff’ came from somewhere, and that someone somewhere made it.
But for me, I find the mendful aspect of mending, comes more from the meditative effect of the ‘doing’.
There have been actual proper scientific studies into the benefits of crafts like quilting and knitting for our mental well-being, which have concluded that creative hobbies such as quilting can be a meaningful vehicle for enhanced wellbeing” and that “as a skilled and creative occupation, it (knitting) has therapeutic potential”.
I find hand stitching especially theraputic, but anything that is challenging and requires your full concentration can have a mendful effect. And how much more satisfying is it to have made something usable once more, than simply to have coloured in a pretty picture? (Not that I am suggesting that there is anything wrong with mindful colouring, merely that I happen to think mindful mending is a far more productive use of time 😉 )

I used to shy away from hand stitching, assuming that it would never be as strong as machine sewing, and that it would inevitably come undone.
But since forcing myself to have a go, I am a convert.
I still love the ‘quick fix’ of the sewing machine, and I really don’t think that my hand sewing skills would be up to the test of making an actual garment, but for a spot of mending, I now love nothing more than a quiet half hour of soothing, meditative stitching, curled up on the sofa after the kids have gone to bed. I’ll be the first to admit that my stitching is not the most technically correct, and would probably make needlework teachers shudder, but it works. It makes a functional mend, and it does actually help to calm my mind. I forget for half an hour my long to-do list, and I stop berating myself for all the things I haven’t done, and focus on that one thing that I am actually doing.
And at the end, I get to cross something off my to-do list, so it really is a win-win!

My Mending - jeans sashiko

I don’t know if it’s being ‘mendful’ in the way Katrina originally meant when she coined the term, but it’s certainly one version of mendfulness, and it works for me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. Do you find mending soothes your soul? Have you been practising mendfulness without even realising it?
Let me know in the comments, or hop over to the Mend It May Facebook group to join in with the conversation!

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