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I didn’t grow up in a crafty family.
I don’t remember doing any crafting of any kind in our home growing up. Growing up down south, most of what I remember is warm weather with hours of playing outside. We did a lot of swimming, rode our bikes and climbed trees.
Next door, there was a sweet, elderly lady, named Mrs. Cloud, who would invite me over from time to time. She lived with her husband, and often told my sister and I that we reminded her of her grandchildren, who she missed very much.
Mrs. Cloud was one of those precious ladies who made special popcorn balls for all the children in the neighborhood for Halloween and knew all of their names.
I wasn’t used to sitting still for very long, but the air-conditioning felt good once in a while. Mrs. Cloud knew how to do everything…crochet, knit, sew, needle point, macramé, etc. Since she lived next door, it was simple and convenient to go over and visit. When I did, she would ask me what I wanted to learn during our time together.
I think I changed my mind frequently. Knitting was difficult for me, but crocheting was easier, so I made a lot of blankets and dresses for my Barbies, from cheap polyester yarn from Woolworth’s. Mrs. Cloud also taught me to sew by hand as well, but again , this was difficult for me. Working with my hands just wasn’t easy for me. Even now, I struggle with my dexterity.
I tell you this story because I think it’s important to understand that crafting is a skill that needs to be learned. Crafting doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the time and effort to learn a skill that will produce something that you enjoy.
It took me years to learn how to knit, but there’s an interesting story there. Not only did I watch videos in an effort to learn how to knit to no avail, I even sat down with my best friend at the time, who was an excellent knitter, so that she could teach me. In frustration, she told me that she didn’t think I would ever be able to knit.
It wasn’t until about 7 years ago that I hesitantly went to a knitting group, just to meet the ladies and connect. I’ll admit that I was pretty self-conscious about my inability to knit, still deep down I wanted to learn. The ladies there were very kind and excited to “teach me” to knit. Soon, they had casted on my needle for me, and I sat there, frozen. As I began to knit the way I had been taught by Mrs. Cloud, someone asked me why I was knitting backwards! Another asked if I was dyslexic. Dyslexic??! I was done.
Until the shop’s owner spoke up and said “She’s not dyslexic, she’s a continental knitter!”.
When people knit, they usually use their right hand to “wrap” the yarn around their needle as they stitch. I used my left hand, even though I am right-handed. I don’t know why I do this, it’s just the way I was taught. Thing is, continental knitting is pretty cool! Not many people do this, most are “English” knitters, but continental knitting is much faster.
From that awkward point, I pressed on with my new-found knowledge about my knitting style and made my first hat. That winter, I made quite a number of hats and scarves for the entire family. I went on to make several pairs of socks and blankets, and now I’m finishing my third sweater!
Knitting is so enjoyable to me now, and I really look forward to grabbing my needles as often as I can.
I share this story to encourage you that no matter what your skill level is at this point, and no matter what anyone has told you, you can craft. You can do something.
CRAFTING IS GOOD FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Wherever your interests lie, take the time to learn how to craft, whether it be beading, knitting, sewing, scrapbooking, gardening, cake decorating, quilting, baking, whatever. Why? Because crafting is an important part of creating resilience in our mental health.
What does mental health have to do with crafting??? Oh man, I’m so glad you asked. There has been a great deal written about crafting’s effects on the brain.
Studies show that crafting is more than just a pastime, but rather a strong tool for improved mental and emotional health. According to many mental health professional, crafting can ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and even PTSD.
CRAFTING IS POPULAR AND EASY TO JUMP INTO
Craftsy.com is one of the biggest crafting sites on the web today, here is some of their information about how crafting can improve mental health….
The data on Craftsy indicates the following:
*87 percent of crafters believed it helps ward off depression.
*93 percent of crafters believed it helps manage stress.
*93 percent of crafters believed it helps keep their mind sharp as they age!
“FLOW” IS A WONDERFUL THING
More data from psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi states that crafting creating a phenomenon called “flow“. “Flow” is when you’re absorbed in a craft, and your state of mind is completely transformed. “Flow” can induce your body’s relaxation response, just like meditation can. How cool is that?
If you currently have a craft that you enjoy, give yourself permission to do more of it! If crafting is something you’ve put aside to do other more “important” things, it just might be time to dig those things back out. And if you’re someone like me, who just struggled for a long time to do things with her hands, don’t give up! Take a class, in person or on-line, whatever! Keep at it!
The benefits are amazing and totally worth it!