We create and craft for many reasons. When I was a girl, my mother and grandmother taught me to sew and knit. My parents gave me a wee Singer hand-cranked sewing machine; I was about 5 years old and I absolutely loved it. I remember learning to sew on that machine—cutting out patterns and sewing Barbie doll clothes with little darts and sleeves. After cutting a pattern out of the middle of a piece of fabric, my mother gave me a lesson on how to lay out a pattern. Later, I knitted my doll a couple of outfits. It was creative and fun.
I was lucky that I had women to teach me and, as long as I sewed, my grandmother bought me fabric and patterns. She never balked at the price or the complexity of the projects. I realize now that her support helped build my confidence and exercise my creativity. I learned to appreciate the feel, textures and colors of good fabric. One of the last sewing projects she sponsored was a beautiful white brocade fabric and a Vogue pattern for my senior prom dress. I loved that dress!
After I married, I sewed more than I knitted. I made clothes for my children and a couple of quilts, Christmas gifts and totes. The one constant through the years has been the pleasure of creating something useful and pretty. What I have learned is that sewing and knitting help lift my mood and stretch my creative muscle. In fact, research has revealed that sewing and knitting have measurable health benefits, including relief of stress, help with depression and chronic pain, improved hand-eye coordination, and brain growth that helps prevent some types of dementia (yes, you can develop new brain connections as you age). As noted in a CNN report by Jacque Wilson:
There's promising evidence coming out to support what a lot of crafters have known anecdotally for quite some time," says Catherine Carey Levisay, a clinical neuropsychologist, and wife of Craftsy.com CEO John Levisay. And that’s that creating—whether it be through art, music, cooking, quilting, sewing, drawing, photography (or) cake decorating—is beneficial to us in a number of important ways.
“When we are involved in (creativity), we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life,” psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said during a TED talk in 2004. “You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.”
One of the best ways to keep your creative juices flowing and the health benefits they provide is to continue to learn and connect with other crafters through classes and social groups. Their energy, wisdom, humor, and knowledge can help even the most experienced sewer or knitter negotiate a challenging project or learn a new method. Although I have been sewing and knitting for years, I continue to take classes, both online and in person—there is always something new to learn and inspire. If you have always wanted to learn to knit or crochet, check out Beginning to Knit and Beginning to Crochet Classes. You might want to join our Building Blocks or Finishing with Excellence classes if you are interested in expanding your knitting skills. If you want to begin to play with fabric (no sewing required) try our Fabric Wreath class. Socialize and learn something new by joining our Picnic in the Park Sew Along that begins May 17th, or drop into the shop on the second and fourth Mondays of each month for Sticks & Strings (a free social stitching gathering).