Crafting for a Happier Life

You know those times in your life that just suck? I’m there right now & like most of us I’ve been there before too. But this past week I’ve noticed something different about my current disposition. While I’m really sad (much too much family drama), I’m not as bad off as when I’ve faced similar depressive periods. I contribute this more upbeat mood to crafting- supportive friends not withstanding.

How I wish I could deal with my problems. [via]
How I wish I could deal with my problems. [via]
I like to fancy I beat all my problems over the head until I can find some sort of peace, but more often I end up dwelling & ruminating in a bad way. By wearing the things I’ve made I’ve given myself a distraction & a mental boost. It helps me focus on the positive things in my life.

It’s been an especially nice realization because a few months ago I mused about this very thing- could wearing my me-made garments improve my overall mood. Who doesn’t like to be proved right? This is not to say that wearing self-made items will significantly improve everyone’s mood or that Blammo! all depression will be zapped away. I only mean that in my case it’s made a noticeable difference.

I can’t remember on what blog I read it, but it summed things up perfectly so I’ll paraphrase- knit to create your own warmth in an otherwise cold world.

All the things I’ve made help carry me through my day, gentle reminders of what I’m capable of doing & that I’m able to shape the world around me, albeit in small ways. They’re little bits of beauty that I created- nothing to change the world, but enough to put a smile on my face.

Of course I’ve also been sewing & knitting like a mad woman.

My current sock project sitting on the circle skirt I just finished. New socks are needed to keep up with the daily demand of wearing only me-made socks.

There’s all sorts of anecdotal evidence about knitting being similar to meditation, i.e. helps with depression, encourages mindfulness, etc. Most of my knitting happens during my work commute. Although I can ruminate an awful lot while knitting, the mere act is soothing & I’m trying to be more mindful about it. A recent search into knitting & meditation showed me that some knitters do things you would during meditation. When thoughts bubble up just acknowledge them, then let them go. My early, faltering attempts have proved helpful.

And when I get home I sew. Often much too late into the night, which doesn’t always yield the best results. But making progress & being close to finishing a garment makes me feel excited & helps me concentrate on the good things. It’s also hard to feel woefully depressed when there’s so much pride & satisfaction to be had from finished projects.

Have any of you noticed a difference in your day-to-day disposition when you wear something you’ve made every day? Even if the only me-made thing I’m wearing is socks, it makes a difference. Have such small things helped you, or does the outfit you’ve made need to be particularly well-executed & special for it to boost your mood?


20 thoughts on “Crafting for a Happier Life

  1. Gosh, what an interesting post! It’s making me think about why and how I sew, and how I feel when wearing me-made garments….. I’m going to go and dwell on all of this some more. 🙂

    (I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a rough patch though. *hug*)

  2. I had no idea about knitting and it being calming. I love knitting and often have a simple project with me to just do but I never really questioned why I love doing it. As for sewing I do feel better when it is an A+ project. I get too picky on myself and the outcome, sometimes I won’t wear something I made because of minor issues. And, that brings up the whole perfectionism aspect of sewing of which I’m trying to rid myself of in terms of dressmaking anyway. And, as one commentor made, mending, yes I always feel like I’ve done something great when I clear out my mending pile.

    • I’ve found that it helps if I give myself permission to not be prefect, especially if I’m making something for the first time. I just made my first two pairs of jeans & neither of them are perfect, but they’re pretty good for first trys. Reminding myself that I’m still learning & no one gets it perfect the first go around has helped immensely. It can be so draining to be anal about getting something right that I lose heart & don’t want to rip out my seams for a third or fifth time. I get a lot more done this way. Besides, non-sewers won’t notice.

  3. Hoping things get brighter! I guess, for me, I use crocheting and sewing to take my mind off of me. Generally speaking I hate wearing the things I make for myself. I am much too aware of the flaws and I can never just leave it be. I have the overwhelming desire to point out all of the flaws to anyone who would venture a compliment as well :-p But other people enjoy my work and don’t even notice the flaws that are so glaring to me. So I pour everything I have in to making the best garments/crafts that I can and I give them all away. And people love them (love me) in spite of the flaws.

    • I’ve noticed that as I’m wearing my me-mades more often I care less about the imperfections. What matters more & more is that it’s something I made; the concerns over things not being perfectly straight, etc just fade away. I actually haven’t been satisfied with many of the projects I’ve made lately, but consciously choosing to wear them has made me love them.

  4. This post is so close to home it’s scary. Major family problems in my camp too, more sadness than I thought possible, however a big coat project is keeping my hands busy, my mind focused on what’s important, and provides me with a huge sense of purpose and satisfaction.

    I hope you’re okay.

    • Thank you. I will be fine; it just takes time to process things & grieve. Sometimes I’m amazed at how much we humans can endure. Some of the most positive people I’ve known have had the most horrible times in their early years. You hang in there too! That’s what I love about the online crafting community. It’s a fabulous support network. Thanks for reaching out & commenting!

  5. I absolutely agree! 🙂 Christmas obligations are piling up as usual, yet I’m cramming time during conference calls with another speedy mohair cardigan. 🙂
    Sometimes it is so comforting to just let the time pass and know that things will calm down, yes, they will.
    So, knitting– Ultra cushy & warm, 5″ up the body in one day. Wonder if I can wear it Friday evening? Fingers crossed!
    & btw, Good for You with the Socks!! 🙂 and pix of the circle skirt?

    • A post about the circle skirt will be forthcoming. I’ve got so much blogging to catch up on! Seems like I took the entire month of November off. Whoosh! How impressive that you finished 5″ in one day! I have a feeling you might very well be able to wear it come Friday 🙂

  6. Sorry to hear things are not going well. But I just want to say how AMAZED I am that you are only wearing me-made socks! What an incredible goal! I am very impressed.

    • At the moment it feels a little silly. I only have two complete pairs of hand knit socks, so keep having to wash them a few times a week. But no rinse detergents make it fairly easy. But one day I shall have an entire sock drawer full of hand knits.. One day…

  7. Hang in there, Mari! I remember how much sewing and creating helped when I was in the worst school year ever, and I definitely know how wearing a small me-made thing can help boost the mood. Here’s to hoping things start looking up soon!

  8. Focused worry creates a pattern in the brain that results in anxiety. Feeling sad can be very much the same in that it heightens the sadness if we don’t break the cycle. I can not worry or be sad while I knit . The left -right rhythms keep those worry/ sad areas in my brain from engaging. I relax just as I do when I meditate. Crafting of any type is a drug free way to balance our emotions. Wearing what we create can bring a strong sense of well being. Three cheers for crafting.

  9. Crafting helps, definitely. For me, it’s more mending — fixing holes, making patches, hemming curtains — all these things help me to have concrete examples that life is improving and more under my control. Sometimes a new project seems overwhelming, but darning a sock is life made better.

  10. I’m sorry that things are difficult right now for you, but happy that you have (a) supportive friends and (b) craft projects– it’s the ultimate therapy, I think, when you’re creating something beautiful!

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