Why Aussies are getting crafty during lockdown
One stitch at a time, one brushstroke at a time, one purl at a time - that is how many people have been getting through isolation.
As we traded our evenings out and weekends away for the comforts of home, many have discovered the simple joy of creativity.
Everything from sewing, painting, knitting, beading, flower arranging and gardening has undergone a resurgence, with experts rising to the challenge to teach and connect everyone from eager beginners to the more accomplished among us.
Creativity is good for our health, often compared to meditation for its calming effects on the brain and body, focusing the mind and releasing the natural antidepressant dopamine.
As online tutorials and crafty zoom gatherings have multiplied, national retailer Spotlight recorded a 240 per cent jump in sales of paints, canvases and brushes in one week alone, while knitting and needlecraft supplies rose 150 per cent, sewing machines 110 per cent and kids' craft 50 per cent.
Art therapist and social worker Claire Edwards said creativity was important for both adults and children, but it did not matter what people do as long as it was something which makes them happy.
"It encourages you to focus on the here and the now, and the one thing you can do right now, and you actually have very good focus when you're doing that," Ms Edwards said.
"It's hard to be worrying about stuff, when you're doing something productive."
Ms Edwards is a textile artist like her mother Ngareta. Her late dad Michael was a potter, painter and jazz musician.
"The other thing is people have got to let go of the idea that I've got to do it well, I've got to do it perfectly," she said.
"That's the biggest barrier to creativity for adults, your own self-criticism and feeling of, 'Oh, I can't do this, I'm not artistic'.
"It's about letting go of all those ideas and being able to accept that what you do is good enough. You don't have to show it to anyone.
"I don't think the value is in what we exhibit, it's the actual process of doing it. That's important."
Jessica van Genderen, 30, for one is glad she will not have to miss out on art classes.
Her regular haunt, The Paint Bar, is offering virtual classes and birthday parties for children, with all materials delivered.
She has become a prolific artist, dabbling in watercolour, acrylic and alcohol inks, since her first class last year, introducing her husband and son to the pastime.
"Art just helps me calm down and relax. It's a way to get my creative energy out," she said.
"I've always been an 'I've got to be doing something' kind of person, and having (son Teun, 21 months), being a stay-at-home mum and working from home, there's not a lot of getting out and doing stuff that's just for me.
"I have lots more time to do it now, because I don't have to go to playmates and stuff. It's a good way to switch off and not worry about everything.
"Find something interesting that you have always been curious about and give it a go - that's how I started with painting and now it's something I do all the time. It's a good way to distract yourself and get all that emotion out.''
On Thursday nights Pamela Felling, 35, would usually be crocheting, knitting or cross-stitching in a different pub as part of the Drunken Knitwits, an international meet-up group for crafters who work with any type of yarn, thread or string, which has chapters in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Bars might be closed but the gatherings have not stopped, they have just gone virtual.
For the past few months, Felling and other members have shared a drink, stitched and chatted on the usual day and time, just from their own homes.
"Everyone was sitting there, working on their projects at the same time and showing everyone where they're at," she said.
"It was nice to have that touchpoint and a live update on where people's projects are at.
"It was basically business as usual, with people laughing and chatting.
"We tried not to have too much Covid conversation. We're all getting quite enough of that in everyday life, so this was two hours of time out.
"We limited it to, 'Let's talk craft, let's talk about the fun things in people's lives'. Any art that you can create brings you fulfilment and a sense of mindfulness.
"You are focusing your attention on one thing and one thing only. It is very important, especially now, for people to remember to slow down.
"It's that measure of reminding yourself that things will be OK."
Originally published as Why Aussies are getting crafty during lockdown