When I was participating in the #Manifest20 challenge last December, I chose create as my word to define this year. Right on cue I received an invitation to join the Crafty Collective, a new group forming in my local community. A friend of mine has decided to open her studio space in town 2 evenings a month so we can gather to make things. Anyone with an interest in crafts is welcome to join.
I admire this particular friend because she’s politically active, a committed environmentalist, and has a good heart. She’s also a capable craftswoman. One year she made me an adorable mouse bookmark for my birthday since she knows how much I love to read. It gets a lot of use and doubles up as a toy for my two year old since he can’t resist pulling it out! (So much for marking my page…)
It occurred to my friend that change starts in small circles, that there is value in gathering together and strengthening communities. So often we feel powerless processing world news and current events; it’s easy to become passive, mindlessly consuming information. Her solution? Set up her sewing machine, create an inviting space, start a Facebook group and invite local craft lovers to bring their projects along for tea and biscuits. Because in Ireland you have to have tea and biscuits. It’s compulsory.
At the first gathering there were 8 of us. We live in a small town where I recognize most people so I was surprised to only know 2 people there. Half of the group are new to the area, having moved from the UK or other parts of Ireland. We were each given a sheet of paper with the group’s mission statement and asked to share the following freely:
The idea is to offer support and guidance to anyone who has questions or is having difficulty with their project. There is no pressure. There is no cost. People can bring along any project they like whether it’s knitting, crocheting, sewing, felting, sketching, quilting, bead-work, embroidery- anything! We can create at our own speed and skill level. My favorite line on the mission statement was…
We are all a work in progress.
Isn’t that the truth?!
I brought along a simple knitting project that didn’t require much concentration so I could enjoy chatting with the others. They were such a lovely group of people! I look forward to gathering again in March and watching our collective grow. Next time I might bring a knitting project that I’ve been afraid to attempt because the pattern is more complicated than anything I’ve worked on before. I bought the materials a couple of years ago because it’s pretty and I thought the shawl would be easy to make. It may not actually be that difficult, but I lack confidence in my skills at the moment.
My tendency in the past was to get excited about a project and then set it aside to collect dust as I moved on to the next exciting thing. A “crafting butterfly” is what Katie, a member of the group, calls it. Thankfully I’ve started to change that habit within the last 6 months and now find it satisfying to finish what I start. Going to the Crafty Collective will be help me to use materials I already have at home and finish long forgotten projects. (I could even dig out the quilt I started when I was part of a sewing circle 15 years ago!) It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in 2 focused hours (without a toddler or other family members interrupting progress).
I may even learn how to mend things if someone in the group is willing to teach me. I have wool socks that need to be darned, but I don’t have a clue how to do it. I’m also interested in upcycling. There’s so much scope for being creative while also being practical. I love fashion and it’s been hard to cut back on shopping for environmental reasons. Who knows- in time my love of clothes and creativity may merge if my textile skills improve!
Over the years I’ve experimented with wet felting and cross stitch as well as knitting and sewing. I really enjoy doing these crafts, but I quit making time for my hobbies when I started working in the evenings. Being part of the collective will help me set aside time where I can focus on making with my hands. It’s also a great opportunity to spend time with a diverse group of people I might not otherwise meet. I enjoyed hearing their stories and listening to them talk about where they’d moved from and why they chose to come to this area.
A side note: yesterday I noticed a new development. I bought milk from the local supermarket in a glass bottle for the first time. We can receive 70 cents back per bottle if we return them to the shop. The woman at the checkout said there’s even talk of a delivery service being restored like in the past. We started chatting about a return to the “old ways” becoming a trend. I suppose our Crafty Collective is another example. It seems much of our future depends on embracing more traditional ways of living, whether it’s growing food in the garden, shopping local, traveling less, conserving more, and appreciating simplicity. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you welcome these changes or think it sounds like drudgery?
Featured Photo by Rebecca Grant