We all know the personal benefits to being a crafter. There's the satisfaction of playing the creator; of bringing something into existence that would otherwise never come to be, and being in control of the making process from design to completion. There's the therapeutic aspect, the feeling of connection with our crafting ancestors, of continuing their strong relationship with textures and making things without complicated technology. Best of all, there's that indescribable joy of presenting a loved one with something we've made just for them... and their happiness balances perfectly with the long hours we've invested in the gift's creation.
Crafting can be a very personal thing, and a very solitary thing. But the greatest revelation for me since starting this blog in 2011, is that crafting can be anything but solitary, if I want it to be. There is a Circle of Craft, looping through both the internet and real life.
Blogging led to my starting Creatives Unite, so I could sit at home of a Thursday evening in my pyjamas, crafting away solo, and yet be surrounded by a group of friends, all crafting away at the same time, chatting, perhaps sipping tea and indulging in a cheeky piece of cake. If someone's late, they tend to let us know, then we can welcome them in when they burst in through the virtual door, hang up their dripping virtual coat, and plonk down on a virtual scatter cushion in front of the virtual fire. Photos of our makes shoot across the country and beyond during this time. Within seconds of completing a row of crochet I can be receiving feedback on the tension, and encouragement from people who have been crocheting for years. The evening never ends without expressions of joy over our evening's progress and good night tweets.
I have some wonderful friends in 'real life' too - no more real than those crafting away hundreds of miles away from me - but friends I can meet up with regularly and see and share a pot of tea with. You could call this group a separate Circle of Craft, but actually, they are part of the same one - I met them via the online craft community, a community now so vast and far-reaching, that blog and tweet for long enough and the local crafters will always start to identify themselves, as though we have a need to seek out similar personalities and meet one another. This local community has morphed into new and interesting forms, including a craft club, a new WI, a book club and means I have a new set of friends with both shared and complementary talents to my own. Who knew that Twitter could help you feel more at home in your own town?
If our ancestors - those fishermen weaving nets and knitting ganseys, those ladies gathered in the drawing room working on huge, spreading tapestries to keep out the draughts, those knitters making jumpers for the troops during the Second World War - that one day their small circle of craft could reach all around the globe, so that someone in Sweden could praise their work before the last stitch was even completed, so that someone in Bristol could say, 'hey, love that idea, I might try that too!' or that someone in America could help you translate those confusing crochet terms, well, it would have blown their minds.
Whole families, communities and industries have been built around crafting. The Circle of Craft grows ever larger and stronger, and includes everyone, regardless of distance. The benefits to you personally are never ending, and the contributions you can make, limitless.
What's your part in The Circle of Craft?