With everyone’s anxiety levels up at the moment I thought today was a good day to be inspired by LoveCrafts #StarMakerOfTheMonth March theme of Happiness. Sewing and knitting are my two preferred crafts and they both make me happy in quite different ways. As the International Day of Happiness is this month LoveCrafts have asked craft bloggers to write posts inspired by these questions:
1. What makes you happy?
2. Why does the handmade make you happy?
3. Share some of your favourite patterns and makes!
So I thought I would give it a go, as it seems like a good idea to spend some time thinking about the healing power of our crafts and the joy they can bring. I think this is an exercise that will be good for my own mental health, why not join in? I have come up with 10 reasons crafting makes me happy, do you have more?!
1. I started sewing a long time ago to save money on homewares that I couldn’t afford (I’m looking at you curtains for a giant bay-window), it made me extremely happy that I could look at something I had made and know that I had saved my family some much-needed money.
2. The ability to hand-sew means that I can repair things that need mending. Did you know 50% of people say they can’t sew on a button? It makes me really happy when I mend something that someone else might have thrown out! I feel elated that not only have I saved us from having to buy something new but I also managed to save us from throwing something away which is a good thing for the environment – what could be happier than that?!
3. Knitting encourages me to slow down. Everything is always moving so fast, we expect so much nowadays to happen instantly that the practise of knitting is to practise patience. To sit down and know that this project is going to take a long time and that is okay is a rare thing today in our busy world, there is a slow joy in watching something come together stitch by stitch.
4. For me, sewing gives my mind a bigger distraction. I enjoy knitting slowly in the evenings while I allow myself to be distracted by TV/a film/audiobooks but, for me, sewing is more all-consuming. When I need to switch my brain off from thinking about 17,821,873,328,735 things then I turn to sewing, the process of following a pattern step-by-step and engineering those 10+ pieces of flat fabric into one final garment quietens my anxious brain which is definitely a reason to feel happier!
5. Self-care is something that everyone finds hard I think. As a woman and mother I spend a lot of time taking care of (and worrying about) others. Giving myself permission to spend time for myself doing ANY type of crafting is precious. Actually spending that time on myself is even more miraculous and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy just thinking about the time I have given myself working on that much-needed self-care.
6. Making for others. It brings me so much happiness to make something for a loved one. Knitting a family member a hat or a pair of socks is a true act of love (knitting them a sweater should basically promote you to superhero status!), there is much joy to be found in gifting things I’ve made and seeing that person wearing those things makes me so happy!
7. Having something new to wear is always a reason to be happy! I’m sure everyone opens up their wardrobe sometimes and feels like they have nothing to wear. Sewing myself a new dress or knitting myself a new hat is always fun. Especially when I wear it for the first time! And if someone asks where I got it from and I get to say “Thanks, I made it myself” = best feeling ever!
8. Having clothes that fit. Body image is something that takes a battering in everyday media; pick up a magazine or turn on the TV and we are told to tuck, tighten, tone, look younger, look thinner, hide greys, highlight, lowlight, flatten, lift etc etc etc. It makes me so happy that I can reject all those things and appreciate my body for how it is today. I can take my own measurements and look at them practically, sending my body a love letter to myself. I am perfect as I am, my body deserves to have clothes that fit and I am going to spend hours of my precious time sewing or knitting things to fit the exact measurements of the body that I have. Hell yeah!
9. Trying something new. As someone who feels a lot of anxiety, not just at the moment but all year round, it feels good to be brave and try something new which I feel is an inherent part of crafting. Whether it’s trying a new craft (hello! punch needle!) or trying a new fabric or fibre, whether it’s trying a new pattern or a new technique there is always happiness to be found in stepping into the void and trying something. Even if it doesn’t work that well (hello again! punch needle!) we are given the opportunity to try again and know that in this realm of crafts we are free to experiment and make mistakes in ways we can’t in other aspects of our lives. That sense of artistic freedom makes me happy and is a large reason why I’ve been so gung-ho about attempting knitting projects that have been a bit ambitious for me – they haven’t all worked out but I don’t care, I learned something and felt brave which is rare for me.
10. Finally, is there a more pure, genuine happiness than a sense of achievement?! As a newbie knitter learning new skills, there is little that brings me more joy than completing a project that I thought was too hard for me! The Wool and Honey Sweater pictured above is my proudest achievement and now my most precious possession. I made it using yarn I bought from Love Crafts – four balls of Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal in colour Autumn Gold. The sense of achievement that we crafters get when we learn a new technique or finish a project is immense and those rushing endorphins must do great things for our bodies too!
I actually feel a lot better for having spent some time thinking about happiness and things that make me happy. Even if you don’t have a blog, why not spend a couple of quick minutes writing down a list of five or ten things that make you happy?