I love crafting. I have also made a business out of it, but that is not why I started. I studied History of Art at University but, while I appreciate the beautiful art created by others, I cannot draw or paint at all. What I see in front of me just doesn't translate into what my pencil puts on the paper. However, I have always wanted a creative outlet. I've tried a number of different crafts and I have to admit to having lots of balls of wool and several unfinished cross-stitches in my home. I am now collecting fabric like mad - although I am trying to use it to make lampshades and cushion covers rather than hoard it.
1. Express yourself
My number one reason for why you should take up crafting, therefore, is to express yourself creatively. You have the opportunity to make something beautiful and to say at the end 'I made that.' It could be your first knitted scarf, a crochet flower, a cross-stitch teddy bear, a decoupage box, a handmade skirt.......... the choice is yours. If the first thing you try is not for you, try something else.
Images courtesy of Feelart (mosaic flower pot), sattva (felt flower) and artur84 (woolly hat) at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
2. Relieve stress and take a bit of ‘me’ time
Most of us work in high pressure jobs, have too much to fit into our days, and have too much to do when we get home. I cross stitch in front of the TV in the evening, but sew and make my lampshades at the kitchen table. When I am concentrating on my crafting, I am not thinking about all the chores that need doing, the accounts I have been putting off, or the other stresses in my life; I am concentrating on my creativity.
Women, in particular, are often not good at taking ‘me’ time. It is, however, extremely important for our health and wellbeing that we do. It may be that all you want to do is get in a hot bath or curl up with a good book, but if you want to do a little more, taking up a new craft may be for you.
Image courtesy of Surachai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
3. Learn a new skill (or relearn an old one)
There are many ways you can learn a new skill. You can pick up a book (of which there are hundreds now), look on Pinterest for projects, or watch a tutorial on YouTube. If you want to get more out of it, I highly recommend doing a few classes. Simply google classes for your chosen craft in your area. I recently attended sewing classes in St Albans, having not used a sewing machine since I was at school and I am so excited about the possibilities it has opened up for me. Over three lessons I made a cushion cover, a tote bag and an apron. I can’t quite believe that I made them myself as they look pretty professional (as long as you don’t look too closely at the wavy lines). I have bought some dress material and plan to make a summer skirt next. I will go back for more lessons when I have found a project that needs a little extra help.
If you are near St Albans or Redbourn, I can highly recommend Nicky at Sew Enjoyable (www.sewenjoyable.co.uk).
Image courtesy of Sicha Pongjivanich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
4. Meet new people
One of the added benefits of joining a class is that it gives you the opportunity to meet new people. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a class. You could join a crafting group (my cousin is the member of a group who meets weekly to knit… in the pub). You could search for a regular evening class or a one-off day course at the weekend. Not only might you learn a new skill, you could also make some like-minded new friends – you know you have something in common already.
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
5. Time out from ‘screen’ time
More and more our lives seem to be dominated by screens – computers, tablets, mobile phones. Concentrating on something creative away from a screen (even if you use a screen to discover your inspiration), can give you some down-time to refocus and relax.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
6. Make something useful
If you have seen something in a magazine or on Pinterest that you love, why not try making it yourself? You know that whatever you make will be totally original. You might create a really clever (and cheap) storage solution, turn an ugly dressing table into something you want in your bedroom or make pair of slippers. Once you have made one thing you might find you can’t stop and have house full of original hand crafted objects. Alternatively, you might want to make costumes for your children, giving them something reasonably priced and totally original for those class projects or school plays.
Image courtesy of varandah at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
7. For gifts
We all have times when finances are stretched and, even if they are not, you can create wonderful gifts for friends or family. As long as your gift is of reasonable quality (not something which is going to go straight in a drawer or, worse, the bin), it will be all the more treasured, because of the effort you have put into it.
Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
8. Recycle or upcycle
We live in a throw-away culture and too much of the earth’s resources are wasted. I make lampshades and cushion covers and am looking for smaller things to make so I don’t waste any scraps of material. I love tables made from washing machine drums (although they wouldn’t fit the style of my house) and rather ugly 1930s furniture can be made prettier with a lick of paint and some new drawer handles (and will be made of solid wood rather than mdf). On a smaller scale you could use cardboard packaging to make greetings cards.
Image courtesy of Nirutfdp at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
9. Do it for charity
Would you like to do a little more for charity, but can’t make a regular time commitment and don’t have much spare cash to donate? There may be a charity which can use your crafting skills. I know a wonderful small charity called Sands, which is a stillbirth and neonatal death charity. They provide memory boxes for parents who lose a child during pregnancy or childbirth and they supported a good friend of mine. Each box contains two small white blankets, each knitted or crocheted by a volunteer (to a specific pattern). Check out their page to see more and download the pattern: https://www.uk-sands.org/get-involved/other-ways-to-help
Other charities need sewers and knitters too – if Sands is not the charity for you, why not find one that means something special to you – just half an hour could make a difference and think of the satisfaction.
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
10. Make a little money
I am not going to tell you to give up your job and start crafting as a business. However, if you are at home looking after children, or are retired and with time on your hands, you might be able to turn your hobby into a small business. Most crafters are never going to make a fortune, but creating something beautiful to sell may bring in a little extra for treats or a luxury or two.
Image courtesy of twobee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Finally, I would say, whatever your reason, give a craft a go. There are so many benefits one can get out of crafting. I would love to hear if you have other reasons for taking up a craft.
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