Sarah Alexander on learning a new hobby

Covid-19 has meant that many of us are spending more time at home. Disability blogger, and Scheme customer, Sarah Alexander has been taking up new hobbies, including embroidery, to keep herself busy. Read her article to get inspired.

When it comes to hobbies, I’ll have a go at anything. I think maybe because I love going to craft warehouses and perusing the various aisles. A few years ago, I decided I was going to start making my own cards, I went and spent a fortune on materials, made one card and realised it wasn’t for me. I’ve done this a few times with various things but as I’ve gotten older (and clearly wiser), I haven’t blown a load of money on a hobby that I may end up disliking. But you have to try new things, right? And how do you know if you like something if you don’t try it?

I don’t know what it was that piqued my interest but about two months ago, I decided I was going to try my arthritic hands at embroidery. I’d always found those little hoops with their cute designs really pretty and I wanted to see if I could do it. I was worried how my hands would get on with it since they are one of my main sources of pain but we’ll get to that later.

I went on Etsy (my fave) and found a couple of embroidery kits; they include the hoop, pattern (my first one was of dogs, to no surprise of my boyfriend and friends), thread, needles and instructions. I thought this would be a great starting point because I wasn’t buying lots of materials that could potentially go to waste and if I couldn’t complete it due to pain, it didn’t matter as I’d had a go. Before my kit arrived, I taught myself some basic stitches via YouTube and surprisingly picked it up really quickly. Not only that, but my hands weren’t sore, which was a miracle.


I completed the dog design within a few days and ordered a few more kits to make sure it wasn’t a fluke that embroidery hadn’t caused me pain. I finished a few more patterns, gave myself a lot of breaks, took days off to rest my hands etc and found that I could do this without it taking too much of a toll on my body. And I enjoyed it. Okay, that’s an understatement, I love it.

I have recently moved on to creating my own designs by drawing them on my iPad, printing them off and transferring them to fabric. I have made pieces for friends and family, who all love them, and I get a great sense of happiness giving them handmade gifts.


The one stumbling block I have is transferring my designs onto fabric. I use carbon paper and trace my pattern over it and onto the fabric; and pressing on it with a pen is agony. Within seconds my hand seizes up and is completely immobile. When this first happened, I was so disheartened, I thought I had finally found a new hobby I could do without any help from someone else. I wanted to be able to do it all, alone, but with my disability, it wasn’t a possibility. I am unable to write with a standard pen, I can just about write my full name without it causing me a lot of pain so I knew this would be the case but almost tried to fool myself. The solution is my boyfriend traces the patterns for me, it only takes him a few minutes and he doesn’t mind doing it which I am really grateful for.

I thought because I had been using an Apple Pencil on my iPad that I would be okay tracing my design to fabric but the Apple Pencil doesn’t require any pressure, and that is what causes my issues.

Other than that little hiccup, I have learnt a new hobby that I am getting a lot of pleasure out of, find really relaxing and is a great form of self-care (which I am all about).

If you fancy starting embroidery, here are a few YouTube channels I totally recommend checking out:

Cutesy Crafts 

Diana Vingert 

And if you want to create your own designs on your tablet, I highly recommend downloading Procreate – it’s about £10 but totally worth it.

If you want to talk more about drawing, embroidery or your favourite hobby, drop me a line on Instagram:

Read more from Sarah at

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From the Motability Scheme


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