The more I craft, the more I rediscover little glimmers of creativity buried in various parts of my soul. It's like that proverbial tugging at spiderwebs, as you gently tug one thread, it snags others connected to it, and pretty soon your entire tapestry is affected [actually, I can't remember the proper metaphor, but you know what I mean]. Sewing has led to refashioning has led to reviving my crochet skills, I've picked up knitting again and am adventuring into all sorts of fun clothesmaking territories, I'm writing more, growing more confident with the camera, and feel that occasional itch to draw or paint or play with mixed media.
The other day I was reading a newspaper account of retirees who had (re)discovered creative pursuits. In that article, two themes really struck true to me: 1) that oftentimes the first artistic medium was not the one they were ultimately drawn to, excelled in, or turned into an all-consuming hobby (one man started in glassblowing and eventually stumbled into painting and now shows his work in various art galleries, for example), and 2) that by accessing their creative side, they felt more alive, more joyful, and frankly just felt more. Stronger emotions, and a wider range of them.
For me, crafting has unlocked this entire creative side of me, and I really feel that this creativity leads me to be a better person. It helps that crafting overlaps with core principles like environmental sustainability, generosity and giving back, (re)connecting with loved ones through various forms, making do and being resourceful, being intentional about our time, energy and resources, celebrating beauty etc. But I also feel more content and grounded, more whole, more appreciative of small joys in life, more happy, and really, the more I dive into creativity, the more I see inspiration everywhere and the more I bring creativity into every aspect of my life. And I have truly found that the first craft may not be one you find most rewarding or the one where you are most inventive. I'd call myself a moderately skilled patchworker and quilter at best, but when it comes to refashioning I find myself staying up at night, getting more and more excited about the possibilities.
Grad school was a really left-brained time for me, and one of the scary parts of reemerging from it was discovering just how much I had numbed myself just to get through the experience. This summer has been a slow thaw - oh wow, I can actually feel my back muscles for the first time in over a year! Or waking up in the middle of the night just bawling from the emotions that flashed through in a dream - and suddenly, I'm remembering my dreams each morning when I wake up (however briefly, and no, they don't make much sense nor are they terribly interesting, just random people in my life showing up in randomer scenarios).
But at the same time, I think my crafting really took off in grad school. Maybe it was my antidote or maybe it was my one tentative hold on sanity, and boy, did I cling tight. I just remember stepping off the bus to school in April and feeling so very alive from writing and knitting and sewing, and knowing I would be able to get through the rest of the semester. It's like when you're determined to pull off a refashion, the question is never if you can do it, but how you will accomplish your mission. I think that by expanding the emotions I felt, by helping me see life through new lenses, by constantly exploring new techniques or even new mediums, and by encouraging curiosity and patience and the confidence that I can teach myself almost anything, crafting has changed who I am.
Today when my friends describe me, "creative" is a word that almost always pops up at the top of the list, even the ones who don't actually know that I sew, knit, crochet, write, bake or photograph. It's funny standing on this end of the journey and looking back, knowing that millions who read that article have no idea just how true it really is, but hoping that some of them will be inspired to give it a try. They have so much to gain.