Friday, September 3, 2010

The {Why} of Our Craft

Yesterday Rachel, of Stitched In Color, posed an interesting question on her blog. (And if you're not familiar with her you should be!) She wanted to know Why? Why handmade? What got us started? What keeps us going? Why is it worth it? There is so much personal investment in handmade things. It's an investment of time, energy, money... Many people, or I dare to say MOST people, think it's so much easier to simply go out and purchase a new bag or dress or quilt than to actually make one. So why do those of us out there in the crafting community do it?

I can tell you my whys. They might be the same as yours, or they might be very different. There was something about Rachel's simple question that resonated with me. I have been creating since childhood. My Grandma Patsy was the most amazing crocheter I have ever met. She was prolific. Maybe because she was trying to find an outlet to escape from her bad marriage or perhaps it was because her afghans were the ultimate expression of her love for the people who received them. I think it was a little bit of both.

As a child, I idolized my grandmother and I would beg her constantly to impart her knowledge to me. And one day she did. Crocheting was my first love, but sewing was a close second. I took both of these skills with me through my teenage years and into adulthood. All thanks to Grandma.

I absolutely love working with my hands. There is a passion inside me that stirs when I create something. Even when I am working on the tedious stuff I hate, like cutting a pattern or pinning a quilt sandwich, I still feel connected and invested in the project before me. I love to create. I love the pride that wells up inside me when I finish a project and step back and look at what I made. I am acutely aware of every ounce of passion and love and frustration and pain that was poured into that piece. And that makes it all worth it. Even if no one else recognizes it.

We live in a society of instant gratification. If we see something we want we can simply buy it. But when you create something, when you make something by hand, you become aware of just what it takes to put something into being. And I believe that it makes that thing, that object, more special and appreciated than if it was come by more easily. I know that when I receive something handmade it makes me love it even more because I know the time, energy andemotion that went in to create it.

Lastly, I keep it going because I love it but also because I don't want to lose the connection to the past. My past and the past we share as humans. Not so long ago, everything was made by hand, with love but also out of necessity. That art, that foundation, that humanity is quickly being lost as we leap forward with such immense speed into the modern age of machines and technology. So ever time I see a young person express interest in keeping these arts alive it excites me. And it forever keeps me connected to my Grandmother, my immediate, personal past and a generational knowledge passed down.

Which, I suppose, is a good segue into something else I wanted to talk about today. AnneMarie, over at Gen X Quilters is trying to keep the young passion alive and provide a place for 20 and 30 something quilters to connect. I was profiled over there today. Check it out and help AnneMarie grow the community. As younger lovers of all things handmade I believe we have an excellent opportunity to ensure that these material arts thrive and remain a part of our human culture. They only way to keep it alive is to continue to do, share and create.


  1. Very cool, Hollie. You are lucky to have such an inspiring grandma!

  2. Amen! You described exactly how I feel about quilting and scrapbooking. I love the creative process and love to make things for people, especially if they are useful AND beautiful.
    My kids have a grandma like yours who loves to share her talents and crafts with them. You are very lucky.