Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Is the act of making something good for you? Mentally I mean. I think it feeds the soul in ways that other pastimes don’t. How do you feel after playing video games? Watching TV? Reading a book? (Guess it depends on the book!) For some people playing sports makes them feel good, unless their team loses. And that’s probably adrenaline and dopamine or something chemical from the exercise. But I don’t like sports, either watching or playing. Making, the act of creating with your hands and your heart and your head, is a really positive thing. It channels your more destructive impulses and anxieties and gives you something back for the time spent on it. I think world leaders need to take up crafts. The world would be a much better place if all we were fighting over were things like the bargain yarn bin at our LYS and whether Addi Turbo needles really are the best or not. (Not. The tips are too blunt. IMHO!)

Even if your project doesn’t quite turn out the way you envisioned or you have to frog a sweater because it really makes the recipient look turnip-shaped, you still have all those pleasant hours of working on it. Your mind was in a state of gentle concentration, watching each little part come together into a whole. Creation of something complete from individual parts. Something all yours in a way that not much in the modern world is these days. The process is more important than the product. It’s kind of the antidote to technology, even though we often use technology (like the Internet) to learn techniques, plan our projects, discuss our failures and successes, and show off our products. I’m really glad more young people are getting into crafts in a big way. It’s sure better than whining about their life and how they don’t look like the celeb-du-jour. Oh wait, that’s what stitch & bitches are for.

So if it’s truly good for you, arts and crafts should be emphasized more in school and not relegated to “waste of time and money” status. Skills and creativity should be encouraged but not necessarily graded or marked. Or they could be integrated into the curriculum, where they’d fit well in math and science and history classes. Could you imagine how much quieter a class of 10-year-olds would be if they were crocheting? A friend of mine who is a teacher with a specialty in “difficult students” teaches them fibre crafts like braiding and weaving as a treat after they have completed assignments. They come back to the classroom at lunchtime to continue on their projects without coercion. It helps them to concentrate and to finish things. Also to have some pride in what they can accomplish. She’s a really special teacher but I’m not sure she’s aware of what a gift she’s giving these kids. I’m sure it’ll stick with them forever.

When I was a kid you couldn’t keep me away from crafts of all sorts. I did everything from paint-by-number and mosaic kits to drawing my own paper dolls complete with elaborate wardrobes. I still remember sitting outdoors on a school bench trying to knit a straight scarf for my baby doll without accidentally increasing or dropping a stitch. I wound lengths of fabric around my Barbie and tacked with a few stitches for a glamorous dress to wear with the necklace I threaded with beads from mom’s old jewelry. I tried to crochet a doll hat without really knowing how to make the stitches properly until I was older. I wove a beaded belt on an “Indian” bead loom. I learned a lot from books because my mom only knew how to knit and hem and I never went to camp where other kids learned how to make popsicle stick birdhouses and braided bracelets. I still learn more easily from reading and doing than taking a class. I mostly only took classes for the really hard stuff (bobbin lace is one that I couldn’t get enough information from books) and for the camaraderie. These days I get most of my camaraderie from the Internet and from the guilds and groups that I belong to.

Well if I’m going to get anything done today, I’d better get to it. My son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter are coming over while their water is turned off for repairs. They’re taking me out to lunch! And then DIL wants help cutting and sewing some curtains. Just because, I’ll add a picture here since I still have so many good ones from our holiday. This is a collage of rocks, clockwise from top left: Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, and somewhere in the mountains in mid-eastern California. Doncha love the different colours and textures?

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