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A Week of Crafting: Handmade gifts

September 27, 2010

{A Week of Crafting: The more I make things, the more I realize how important it is to me to do so and the more reasons occur to me to keep doing it.  So I’m writing a series of posts this week on why crafting is important to me.  Feel free to join in by leaving a link to your post(s) in the comments!}

Birthday gift for my mom, pattern from Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol

One of the reasons I love crafting is that I have begun to make gifts for people rather than just buying them.  I love that I can give gifts that are special, personal, and useful to the recipient without spending a lot of money.  Money is really tight for my family right now, as it is for many families, and I feel grateful that I can create gifts I feel good about giving, without taking money from our grocery budget or taking on debt.

I spent some late nights working on gifts the last holiday season and in the days leading up to Boo’s birthday.  But I was so excited about the crafting I was doing that it didn’t feel stressful.  (Although I did have to reign in my ideas to make it do-able!)  I could have spent less time shopping in the mall or online than I spent planning and creating and making mistakes and learning, but it would have caused more stress.  In fact, I did get overwhelmed trying to find cloth napkins that I liked and could afford in an insanely crowded mall with super long lines …and ended up leaving empty-handed (I mean, other than the kids) and with the resolve to just make them myself!  The experience of shopping was one of overwhelm to the senses, frustration of searching through aisles of too many choices but none of them the right one, a dispirited feeling of not having enough money to buy something that would be really special for the recipient, a vague sense of dis-ease about this cultural obligation to purchase something, irregardless of how useful or meaningful an object it might be.

Blanket for Zoe, Boo's favorite doll

I had my two young children with me as well, that day in the mall, and I was acutely aware of how intense a seemingly normal activity such as shopping (especially in the holiday season) can be for little ones.  They are so receptive to sensory experience and they are learning from all of their daily interactions and observations with people and places.  My 2-year-old was excited by all the colors and the many attractive things on the shelves, she was overstimulated by the artificial lights and noise and the press of people, she was frustrated by my many directives not to touch (which interfered with her developmentally-appropriate drive to learn by engaging physically with her surroundings).  For my four month old, it was just pure overstimulation.  She wanted to shut down and go to sleep and even though she was wrapped snugly in the Moby Wrap everything was too bright and too loud.

Making gifts myself was an entirely different experience.  It was empowering and energizing, challenging and comfortable.  It was unequivocally full of heart.  And I think the gifts were well received, appreciated because of the love, thoughtfulness, time, and intention that went into them.

Why is crafting important in your life?

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