Crafts, Hobbies and the Crafty Consciousness
By Elizabeth Cutright
I have a confession to make…I never took Home Ec in high school. I was too busy being a nerd, spending all my time on the yearbook and the school newspaper while quietly pining after the dismissive jock who was in love with all my friends (more on that story some other time – though I’m sure if you’ve watched even one episode of Dawson’s Creek or Beverly Hills 90210 – or whatever teen melodrama is all the rage at the moment – you’ll pretty much get the gist).
The absence of Home Ec from my class schedule meant I missed out on cutting patterns and threading bobbins, and the satisfaction of a completed milliner’s project forever eluded me.
While it may not seem like much of a handicap, in this age of Pinterest and Etsy a Home Ec deficiency can make you feel a wee bit inadequate. (Those Instagrams of fantastical quilts aren’t helping…you know who you are!).
Over Christmas, my mother set me up with a used sewing machine, and after much Googling and misdirected frustration (my poor father bore the brunt of our aggravation as we jockeyed and jostled to get the machine up and running), two things were clear: I had all I needed to achieve textile triumph, and what I needed more than anything else was some instruction.
Ask and ye shall receive is what they say (and I’ve explored that notion plenty of times right here on this blog). Serendipity always finds a way, and – sure enough – my friend Mindy (the marvelous maven of “Spruced by Mindy”) revealed she was in search of a sewing student/guinea pig as she explored expanding her online storefront into new, “offline” territory.
Last night I had my first lesson, and I have to say…there’s just something so satisfactory about stitching strips of material together…. watching those seams meet and meld…ironing out wrinkles and holding up the first part of a soon-to-be completed project. I’ve always been a fan of physical action as a porthole to creative undertakings – knitting, sewing, gardening, walking…all of these activities and hobbies are enjoyable for their own sake, but for writers they are invaluable tools…ways to open up the subconscious and free yourself from that bully left brain.
As Mindy gentle guided me through needle threading and fabric pinning, we talked about the satisfaction of completing a project and how, when we’ve ignored that aspect of ourselves for too long (like during the recent holiday chaos I’m only just now recuperating from), we will begin to crave it…crave that respite and that renewal of spirit that only comes from what I like to call “crafty consciousness.”
Because it involved good friends, yummy wine (thanks again Mr. Spruced – Marc – for that plumy Cabernet and that hint about the WineFinder app), and a charming toddler, my Spruced Sewing lessons don’t completely qualify as an Artist’s Date, but in many ways the end result was the same: I felt inspired and excited and optimistic.
And plus…. you can’t avoid the obvious metaphor at play: stitching seams and threading needles and pinning patterns mimics the motions we go through when we’re staging that play, scheming out that plot, or playing with poetry and prose.
Even better, once finished, my patchwork throw-pillow will take on totemic properties: a symbol of the crafty consciousness.
Meanwhile, I heartily suggest head on over to Spruced and take a gander at the incredibly cool products Mindy repurposes from a variety of materials…I’m sure you’ll find something to covet.