I consider myself multicraftual, relating to or representing several different crafts. I have many different hobbies and frequently find myself being pulled between them or feeling guilty about not giving them all equal amounts of attention. For years I have questioned whether this stemmed from an inability to commit or just a short attention span, but lately I have come to peace with my numerous craft mediums.
The Tour de Fleece is a spin along in which spinners spin during the course of the Tour de France. Participants choose their own goals whether it be to spin a challenging amount of fiber or to learn a new technique. Ideally, you prepare for this spin along by washing and oiling your wheel, prepping any fiber you wish to spin, training your body for the challenge of sitting and treadling in a position you don't normally sit in for long periods of time, and deciding what show on Netflix or Hulu you will binge watch while attempting this feat.
I didn't prepare myself at all because I decided only the day before the Tour de Fleece to participate. Why? Because I had told myself that with the opening of the shop, keeping up with the podcast, finding time to knit and having my kids home for the summer there was no way I had time to add spinning to the mix. No, it was more than that. More than that I didn’t have time, but that I shouldn’t have time.
But something happened. A small something. A spark. Someone posted an Instagram picture of what they intended to spin for the Tour de Fleece and it got me thinking. What could it hurt to commit myself to 5 minutes a day? I get up very early in the morning to start work while it is still quiet in the house, but I also have a little quiet time at night after the kids go to bed that is reserved for crafty me time. I could take a minimum of 5 minutes from one of those time periods to spin.
My other self, the cranky self that grumps around harassing me, wearing a big sandwich board proclaiming “THE END IS NEAR!", said that I have too many crafts already, I don't need to add to it. It will only stress me out trying to balance all of these activities and in the end I will feel overwhelming guilt that I've started projects in a gazillion different mediums and finished absolutely nothing. I’ll never become a master if I don’t narrow my focus to one craft.
Could cranky self be right?
Is being multicraftual
really just the inability
to commit to one hobby and stick with it?
Is my short attention
span to blame for all
of these WIPs in so
many different crafts?
The Amelia Earhart side of me, the one that is always ready for a challenge and has the spirit of a wild stallion (the side of me that agreed to start a podcast with my friend even though I knew nothing about editing a podcast, the same side of me that decided to start One Twisted Tree and see what happened even if the result was less than successful because I would still have accomplished more in the effort than not trying at all, and the amazing side of me that said I could start running in my 30's when I'd never run a mile in my previous life), told cranky me, in her courageous and authoritative voice, to shut it!
Maybe I do start too many knitting projects when I'm caught in one of those moments where everything is shiny and all the patterns are a must have. Maybe I do go through long periods where I don't finish anything and I am just working on WIPs. Maybe I do flit from one craft to another. But what does it matter if in those moments of creating I am truly happy? Why should the length of my project give me anxiety if the finished project is something I am filled with pride to share with other crafters? Why should I focus my creative activities to one craft if every one of them meets a different need?
My house is overrun with tools and supplies for different crafts. A box tucked in the storage space under the stairs holds molds from a very short lived soap making phase. I still have boxes of beads and jewelry making tools that gets used when my mom needs a bracelet fixed. My sewing machine gets sporadic use as I decide I need to make a skirt in one weekend and then not touch it for the next few months. My spinning wheel always seems to come out in the summer, despite it being the most hot and humid time of the year when the idea of simply holding fiber would make you break out into a sweat. My knitting is a constant in my life like nothing else has been. Should I consider myself unreliably dedicated to these crafts or should I trust in myself that sometimes I am drawn to the right craft at the right time to fill a need in my life?
I draw different kinds of strength and power from each craft. From sewing I get pride in my ability to engineer an item of use. From dyeing I am filled with a warm, creative energy that I get from pulling different colors and techniques together into a yarn. Spinning calms my soul. The soft whir of the simple machine and the slow, fluid movements put me in a state of Zen that I have never achieved from yoga (though I've tried). Photography allows me to find beauty in a scene that might not be obvious at first glance.
And knitting. Knitting can bring me different kinds of energy and power from each project. A large project knit in fingering weight reminds me that I can accomplish big things with small actions and determination. A simple sock blanket square reminds me that even small and simple tasks are still forward motion towards a larger goal. Sometimes you need to add things like "breathe deeply" to your to-do list just to be able to cross them off and feel triumphant in a day where everything is going wrong. Sweater knitting reminds me that I am not weirdly shaped or oddly proportioned, the sweaters sold in the store are. And knitting mittens reminds me how quickly my children are growing up and to be sure to take the time to really enjoy them just as they are right now in this moment.
Some people can find all of these things in just one craft, but not me. My brain is just not wired that way. But we should find this joy and peace wherever we can, whether it is from one craft or one hundred.
All of these crafts we are drawn to serve to make us better people, not just fill our free time. I am a better mom after knitting on my project. I can reflect on my day and life in general and I emerge with more patience and tolerance. I know to the outside world it may seem like we are just killing time with our hobby, but to me it is so much more. It is what keeps me for running like a crazy person down the street when my kids just won't stop fighting with each other. In times of stress, it is a way to put my life into perspective. In times of joy it is a way to mark the occasion as with knitting baby gifts or wedding shawls. This peace and calmness that crafting provides is a part of who I am and to deny myself the ability to explore all of these avenues is to deny myself growth and self-reflection.
I know sometimes I talk about knitting and crafting very loftily. I grandly liken it to part of my being, but for me it really is. I am a miserable person without the ability to create something. As a new mom of twins I went through a very jarring identity crisis where I didn't feel like ME anymore and I struggled to remember who I was when I was alone with myself. As it turned out, all I needed was to create something.
So no. I don't think I'm blowing it out of proportion when I talk about what it means to craft or create. I don't apologize for needing that in my life. Variety is supposed to be the spice of life, and I’ve always considered myself a rather spicy gal.