When I was trying to think of something to write for Sarah, I went through so many ideas in my head (tutorials! show and tell! materials!) but this one seemed like it was just waiting to be written. I'm a pretty creative person by nature, and I have been for as long as I can remember. Knitting, sewing, crochet, drawing, cutting and pasting (the pre-Word document kind), snapping, knotting... You get the picture. Therefore, I came at this post as someone who doesn't know any differently - I have to be creating to stay sane! I'm sure most people can identify with this list to some extent though. So, what are the top benefits of being a crafting aficionado?
1 - Celebrating individuality.
There are some projects I like to do over and over again. I've lost count of the number of baby booties I've knitted over the past couple of years. My signature style is to stick a pompom somewhere on each one, I can't get over the cuteness of them. However, I've never made two pairs the same. Even using the same pattern each time produces such different results according to wool colours and combinations, that every receiver of these tiny gifts is assured of an individual product. So if there's something you especially love to make, just know that it's not hard to vary the method and end up with something completely one-of-a-kind, even if it just means changing the colours from the original design.
2 - Presents for all!
To lead on from my first point, crafting is a great way to give gifts that show you really care. Want to send you favourite friend a birthday card? Draw a cartoon of an 'in' joke. Or, if that's stretching your skills a bit far, trace a design you know they love. I'm not above getting a bit of help from a light box! Feel like showing your other half how much you love them? Knit them a cosy hat. Once you get to grips with a basic stitch, hats are the easiest thing ever to make. Don't have time to make something? Buy them something fab, wrap it in brown paper and tie it up with some string adorned with pompoms (yes, them again.)
3 - Saving money.
Most of the crafts I do are chosen on the basis that I can make things in my own style, but the second biggest plus to come from being creative is that it helps save the pennies (for more craft supplies, naturally.) I recently spend around £6 buying an alphabet stamping set on eBay, and so far I've made two cards and a bunch of Christmas tags. A couple more cards and it'll have paid for itself! Charity shops are great for sourcing bits and pieces too. If I like a design on a garment but it's not my style, I know I can refashion it into something that is. If I find a cool postcard or print, I can pop in there and find a vintage frame to display it for pennies. Which leads me on to...
4 - Trying new things.
I'm a creature of habit for the most part, but when it comes to making things, I'll give anything a go. I love using fun fabrics to make blanket squares and tote bags, but why not have a go at covering a notebook? Always using your yarn for crochet? Make a pompom garland. (I'll shut up about pompoms now, I swear.) Take loads of photos? Print some off and hang them in mismatched (from the charity shop!) frames. Into stamping? Grab some pens and try doodling. Or go right off track and try something else altogether. Love painting? Have a go at cake decorating.
5 - Brain power.
Let's assume we don't all love sudoku (I do, but...). Sometimes making something by following a set of instructions is the ideal time to test out how well your mind works. The amount of times I've come across a step in a pattern that doesn't seem to make any sense is pretty high. Either it can be fixed by playing the Google game and consulting the rest of the online world, or it can be solved by a process of trial and error. I generally use a combination of both, but whatever happens, at least when I do figure it out, I'll have learned what works (and doesn't) along the way.
6 - Keeping those hands busy.
Something I've found to be a pretty common statement among fellow creatives - we don't like to feel idle. Sure, we all love a Netflix binge, but we just do it with one eye on the screen and another on our needles/notebooks/sewing machines. The only time I ever actually sit and stare at a screen is in the cinema, and I've never known any other way, so it feels odd to me not to have a project in my hands when I'm on the couch. My mum is a fanatical knitter and TV watcher, so I'll blame her for that habit.
7 - Exploring new places.
This one is a bit of a double header. There's the basic reason for visiting somewhere new, which is to see another place, explore, maybe take some pictures, maybe turn them into a calendar... Plus maybe get some inspiration for designing something new. And the second one. To hunt out a whole new set of craft and charity shops! It's not for nothing that I go on so many weekend jaunts around Scotland.
8 - Community.
This is where blogging and the digital age come in. When I was growing up, my main passion in life was knitting. However, being a kid in the 90s meant this wasn't a hobby for sharing with other people my age. I was neither a cool kid or a dork, I just hung about somewhere in the middle, being vaguely aware that my 'granny' hobby would be met with judgmental looks. As I got older, I started to own my passions, and guess what? Nothing bad happened! In fact, as I discovered with the advent of blogging and tweeting and Ravelry-ing, there were millions of people out there just like me! I was in heaven, and I still am. Here's to being the weird kids!
9 - Gushing.
Now we come to the final point. Which is... with great creativity, comes great admiration. I LOVE when people love what I make, and if you're creating something that looks even the tiniest bit...not shit... other people will love it too. Seriously, the amount of times I show people in 'real life' (as opposed to blog life) something that I've made and they go nuts for it is still surprising to me. I kind of want to shout at them that 'it's so easy! If I can do it you definitely can! It only takes one type of stitch!' Oh, this example is from when colleagues gushed over a blanket I made and don't seem to understand how easy it is to create. But this is the beauty of the gushing. We can either spend ages explaining how it's done or we can just smile smugly politely and say thank you.