One glance at Alexandra Wells, a junior history and English major, would suggest that she is in tune with her artistic side.
She walked out of the Pirate’s Cove donning both a large set of headphones and a shirt that displayed what she described as an artist’s interpretation of an album cover, featuring a cartoonishly pink severed head in a pool of black liquid. Wells came with three samples of her embroidery in hand, depictions that ranged from a fish to a bouquet of flowers.
According to Wells, crafting and embroidery have long been fulfilling pastimes for her and they are activities she is hoping to bring to campus by next semester. She has been working to start a crafting club, so far garnering 11 interested students and a club adviser, Dr. Martha Carpentier, a professor in the English department.
Wells explained her motivation in starting the club. “My main goal for the club is to have people relax,” she said. “I feel like, on campus, there are no clubs that are just fun.They are all very academic and all very serious. I just wanted to have something [where] people can go and have a fun thing to do.”
She added that students are likely to feel a sense of accomplishment having crafted something themselves. “I think the fulfillment of making something is something that a lot of people miss out on,” Wells said.
She said that those who wish to join the club can be interested in a variety of crafts, from crochet to knitting, and they do not need any prior knowledge or experience to join. Being that a key purpose of her club is to help those on campus de-stress, Wells said she is planning craft fairs and relaxation events around the midterms and finals.
Carpentier noted that crafting activities like knitting and sewing can have therapeutic benefits. As a self-professed “avid knitter and quilter,” she said that crafting can help foster self-sufficiency, patience and improved coordination.
“Such creative and meditative activities can help relieve anxiety, depression, stress and increase happiness by releasing ‘nature’s antidepressant’ the neurotransmitter called dopamine,” Carpentier said.
She claimed studies show that people who knit in a group setting tend to be happier than those who knit individually, “which is exactly the social and stress-relieving group connection Alexandra is hoping to create.”
One study from Knit for Peace surveyed individuals who donated their works to the organization. Of those surveyed, 92 percent said knitting in a group improved their mood.
Gina Gryskiewicz, a junior political science major, said even though she is not experienced in knitting and sewing, she is interested to learn more about them through the crafting club. She said she thinks it will be a fun hobby and also cited the calming element in these arts.
“I completely get the whole therapeutic aspect and think that it is a wonderful idea,” she said. “I definitely think more activities should be available for students as an outlet to de-stress.”
Various departments at SHU explained their plans to have relaxing events on campus for students.
Dr. Katherine Evans, the director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), said CAPS is planning another “dog day,” in which dogs come to campus to interact with students, for Oct. 24 from 1- 3 p.m. Weather permitting, the event will be on the Green. However, should there be inclimate weather, students can come to the University Center. The dogs will also be coming on Reading Day. Evans said she encourages students to “come on out.”
Diane Lynch, the director of Health Services, said that miniature ponies will be returning to SHU this year. “We definitely want to bring the mini ponies back,” she said.
Lynch said that students can expect to see their return sometime in April. She added that Health Services debated having the miniature ponies come in the fall but that students usually come into the office with more physical symptoms of anxiety around April. Because of this pattern, Lynch said the current plan made more sense.
Even with resources and events on campus, according to Carpentier, Wells’ crafting club is coming at a time when it is much-needed.
She said, “There’s no doubt that Seton Hall students could benefit from any outlet that relieves stress and depression naturally and positively, so I think Alexandra’s crafting club proposal couldn’t be more relevant and timely.”
Julie Trien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org