Over the years I’ve taught perhaps two dozen people to knit. And I love it. It’s like getting them addicted to something that’s good for them — like getting someone hooked on hummus.
But some folks have a hard time understanding why you’d take the time to make something you can easily buy. I was trying to convince a group of new knitters to learn to make socks and someone one commented, “I know how to buy socks at the store,” and gave me a look that told me she couldn’t think of anything that could be a bigger waste of time than making your own socks.
My answer to that comment will take a few paragraphs to explain.
With any craft — sewing, knitting, spinning — you have to learn a few new skills. This is good for your brain. You get a feeling of accomplishment and a greater understanding of the way the world works.
Next, you get to shut the rest of the world out for awhile. Knitting and spinning are meditative endeavors. And I’ve almost never come away from a round of knitting without an idea for something to write about. Hand crafts have a way of allowing your mind to start composting all the garbage that’s been floating around in there. After an hour or two, you can end up with some pretty rich stuff.
Then, there are the long term benefits. You are surrounded by items that you made; they are exactly what you wanted. They keep you and your loved ones warm. They look impressive to strangers.
Then, there are the very longest term benefits.
Recently my in-laws sent us a package. Inside was a small quilt sewn by Nora’s great-grandmother, Mary — she died of cancer more than ten years ago. She was a crafter-extraodinaire. My mother-in-law has saved many of Mary’s handmade things. Nearly every year, she passes something down to one her children, or to Nora. A decade later, we are still enjoying things Mary made: quilts, Christmas ornaments, tapestries, hand puppets, you name it.
And these items give us an opportunity to talk about Mary with her great-granddaughter. We tell Nora how Mary was one of the sweetest people we have ever known, and how if she were still alive, she would be doing crafts and baking yummy things with Nora every chance she got. Nora is able to understand who her great-grandma was when she looks at something Mary made.
So, I sit and I knit. And I take comfort knowing that when I’m dead and gone, the items I made will remind my family of me. They will have something I took the time to make, not something I casually purchased. And they will remember my love for them.
Do you have any treasured items made by a departed loved one? Why do you make things?