Photo: Rachel Gomme, The Memory of Yarn Performance, R Space Gallery,, Northern Ireland, 2012)

Knitters learn valuable life skills such as patience, perseverance, and the knowledge that mistakes can be undone (

Stitchlinks is an organisation dedicated to promoting the therapeutic benefits of knitting, stitching and crochet. It disseminates research into the health benefits of these crafts in relation to rhythmic movement, texture, and social interaction.

Our mission is to use knitting and other therapeutic creative activities to improve wellbeing generally, but also to complement medical treatments in the self-management of long-term health conditions. We are working closely with academics and clinicians, and as a direct result, therapeutic knitting and therapeutic knitting groups are being formally acknowledged by leading clinicians and academics for their benefits in mainstream healthcare. We have been successfully using knitting therapeutically in the NHS (National Health Service, UK) since 2006.

Our prime focus is on the use of therapeutic knitting as a healthcare tool – unravelling the neuroscience behind its bilateral, rhythmic, automatic movements and the complex combination of physiological, psychological, behavioural, social and creative benefits experienced.

Knitting’s portability plays a key role in making its benefits available when you need it. We have helped people to use it to successfully manage panic, anxiety and pain spasms when out and about as well as problems with sleep and social confidence (

1199701-7Photo: Bora Lee, bora201308, Keywords: black, space, time, infinity, knit, line,


Photo: Katie Holten, It Started on the C Train, Crocheted Maps,

Usually I’m on the move, and I started to crochet on the subway making circular shapes that were like a drawing accompanying my journey. I collected a bundle of crochet doodles, all made from a simple chain stitch and connected them together. The bundles of crocheted ‘maps’ can be displayed and assembled in different ways (Katie Holten, It Started on the C Train, Irish Museum of Modern Art).


Photo: Kathy Prendergast, The Grave Blanket, wooden blanket and marble chips,


Photo: Kathy Prendergast, The Secret Kiss, Kerlin Gallery, Ireland


Photo: Faith Wilding 1972 Womb Room (Renamed Crocheted Environment in 1995)


Emin, Tracey, I do not expect to be a mother

Photo One: Tracey Emin, Everyone I Ever Slept With 1963-1995, Appliquéd Tent and Mattress, Photo Two: Tracey Emin, I Do Not Expect, 2002,, Blanket Graffiti

It’s not what you inherit, but what you do with your inheritance (Tracey Emin,

Emin employs the lightness of traditional “women’s crafts”, like sewing, to explore what (Louise) Bourgeois classed as the “volcanic unconscious” which we only ever encounter in parts: “That’s why I use a lot of embroidery,” Emin explains. “I take this craft but I don’t treat it like a craft, but like high art. (Tracey Emin: Craft Work,


Photo: Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998

Well-known for her confessional art, Tracey Emin reveals intimate details from her life to engage the viewer with her expressions of universal emotions. Her ability to integrate her work and personal life enables Emin to establish an intimacy with the viewer…By presenting her bed as art, Tracey Emin shares her most personal space, revealing she is as insecure and imperfect as the rest of the world (

Within art therapy fibre, texture and story can be incorporated to make a variety of items: 

Book Covers, Sheets, Curtains, Purses/Bags, Tablecloths, Scarfs, Cloaks, Tents, Pillow/Cushion Covers, Veils, Quilts, Blankets, Clothing, Accessories, Upholstery, Aprons, Personal Altars, Baskets, Shrouds, etc.  

Fabric acts to conceal and cover objects and persons, while at the same time, disclosing them…The objects may be commonplace but the wrapping gives them a certain mystery, vitality, and seductiveness. Fabric is malleable. It lends itself to wrapping, draping, and swathing. It restricts direct access to the naked object, but it also has the ability to suggest, enhance, and draw attention to what it covers over and adorns ( Anne Hamlin, Freud, Fabric, Fetish).


Photo: Tracey Emin, Sleep, 1996,


Photo: Tracey Emin, There is A lot of Money in Chairs, Credit: David Sillitoe, The Guardian)

Tracey Emin admits that she is a product of her past, created with her experiences sewn into the fabric of her very being, much like her tapestries. As the onlooker, we’re encouraged to not be ashamed of what occupies the dark recesses of our minds; the skeletons in our closets and the insecurities to which we never gave a voice  (Morgan Meaker, The Art of Self-Indulgence: Tracey Emin).


Hamlyn, A. (2012). Freud, Fabric, Fetish. In J. Hemmings (Ed.), The Textile Reader (pp. 14-26). London: Berg Publishers.

Meaker, M. (2013). The Art of Self-Indulgence: Tracey Emin. Retrieved from

Tracey Emin: Craft Work. (2010). Retrieved from

Tracey Emin Exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery. (2016). Retrieved from

Ward, O. (2011). Tracey Emin: No Bedtime Story. Retrieved from



(Photo: Beverly Ayling Smith, Absence,

The stories of people’s lives are implicated within the threads that compose the intimate surroundings of body and home. Textiles portray a sense of ritual, of making special everyday spaces through a quality of adornment and presence.

Even when the immediate feelings of grief and mourning are passed, we are changed forever; the emotions embedded in the fabric of our lives emerge at different times to stain our emotional states.

Melancholia has been described by Julia Kristeva as ‘an abyss of sorrow’. By exploring the expression of melancholia through the representation of loss in cloth…(lies the) question whether it is possible to re-evaluate the term ‘melancholia’ in the light of contemporary ritual and practice using textiles as a metaphor for grief and loss within rituals of mourning.

(Beverly Ayling Smith)

Some Functions of Texture, Fibre, Cloth, in Art Therapy: 

Rites of Passage, Heirlooms, Amulets/Charms, Adornment, Comfort, Mending


Photo: Beverly Ayling Smith, Shroud

The substance and physicality of fabric…conveys multiplicity, temporality and complexity. Various processes contribute to the somatic history of the fabric and its multiple transformations…As sensuous materials suspended in space, casting shadows on the walls and floors, they confront the viewer differently from different perspectives as they subtly oscillate in response to the atmosphere, becoming ultimately, communicative memories…By creating line as well as openings, and by delineating positive and negative space, the edges frame information – or demarcate the lack of information – caught within, behind, or beyond the edge…The gossamer layers of experience, depending upon our perceptual vantage point, are transient, creating a mutable, translucent skin that keeps quietly changing as we proceed forward in time (Rebecca Cross, Artist Statement)

Some Metaphors Referencing Texture, Fibre and Cloth in Art Therapy: 

Spinning a Tale, A Network of Ideas, Piecing Things Together, Hanging by a Thread, On Pins and Needles, Wear and Tear, Feeling at Loose Ends, Weaving Things Together, Patching Up Relationships, All Sewn Up, Ties that Bind, On the Mend

What if the poetics of cloth were composed of ‘soft logics’, modes of thought that twist and turn and stretch and fold? And in this movement new encounters were made, beyond the constraint of binaries? The binary offers two possibilities, either/or; soft logics offers multiple possibilities. They are the realm of the and/and, where anything can happen…Soft logics are to think without excluding…And if soft suggests an elastic surface, a tensile quality that yields to pressure this is not a weakness; for ‘an object that gives in is actually stronger than one that resists, because it also permits the opportunity to be oneself in a new way’ (Pennina Barnett, Folds, Fragments, Surfaces: Towards a Poetics of Cloth)


Barnett, P. ( 2012  ). Folds, Fragments, Surfaces: Towards a Poetics of Cloth. In J. Hemmings (Ed.), The Textile Reader (pp.182-191 ). London: Berg Publishers.   

Cross, R. (2016). Artist Statement. Retrieved from

Smith, B.A. (2016) Artist Statement. Retrieved from



Photo: Lygia Clark in her studio working on Arquitetura biológica II (Biologic architecture II). Cité internationale des arts, Paris, 1969. Photo credit: Alécio de Andrade. Courtesy Associação Cultural “O Mundo de Lygia Clark,” Rio de Janeiro

The Brazilian artist Lygia Clark (1920-1988) encouraged the formation of art objects to enhance physical encounters and social communication. Her legacy offers significant contributions to art therapy, arts and health and socially engaged art. In essence her psychoanalytic explorations were re-produced within artworks that became animate through physical manipulation by others. Her psychological interests were aimed at dissolving both personal and social boundaries. Through sensory engagement and embodied interactions, Clark created experiences that brought bodies and minds together in unique ways. She choreographed relationships between strangers, who came in contact with each other through propositions for movement that directed the possibilities of working with collaborative materials. Clark produced relational objects to be inhabited, and to use as a means of communicating beyond language.


Photo: Lygia Clark’s proposition Rede de elásticos (Elastic net), 1974. Shown in use, in Paris, in 1974. Courtesy Associação Cultural “O Mundo de Lygia Clark,” Rio de Janeiro.


Photo: Lygia Clark’s proposition Camisa de força (Straitjacket), 1969. Shown in use, probably in Paris, in 1969. Courtesy Associação Cultural “O Mundode Lygia Clark,” Rio de Janeiro.

We transport ourselves into the happening of Clark’s art in order to unfold our inhibitions. Her artworks unleash a desire to expand, to enter into a communion with others as a kind of collective release. She exposes an archetypal unconscious that seeks exposure, contact, and performance. We are not meant to view Lygia Clark’s artworks as objects, but as routes into our own subjectivity. Clark’s kinetic sculptures beckon ritual readjustment, a chance to impose sensation and to create our own experience. She offers us an opportunity to make more of ourselves, by giving us a chance to reveal and to occupy public space in a fuller way. Rather than inhabiting limitation, her propositions extend us outwards. As a consequence we connect with additional dynamics of our personal and social environments. Clark invites us to extend our identities and physicality into new dimensions as an antidote to repression. As a result we become not the spectator, but the spectacle that brings people together.


photo photo

Photos: Art Therapy Constructions as Movement Duets Inspired by Lygia Clark


1. The World of Lygia Clark

2. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948–1988
May 10–August 24, 2014