The Happiness of Crafting

by Crafty Creatives, the subscription box for crafters



you know that the origin of the word “craft” comes from the notion of “strength”? 

This is particularly appropriate in many ways to the modern sense of “crafting”.  During the current economic turmoil, many are turning to handmade to strengthen their lives – some to make a little money, some to make a lot of money, and some just to inject a little calm and joy into their world.

Here in the UK, the trend for crafting is growing at a healthy pace.  Hobbycraft reported a 200% increase in sales of creative decorations over Christmas 2012, and opened many new stores across the country last year.  The demand for all things handmade can clearly be seen in the popularity of English designer Cath Kidston’s vintage inspired creations, and her cousin Kirstie Allsop’s craft books and TV series’ Kirstie’s Homemade Home and Kirstie’s Handmade Britain.  And look out for The Great British Sewing Bee - a new TV series beginning in March 2013 - made by the creators of runaway success The Great British Bake Off.  Online too - sites such as Folksy and Etsy are booming, and Pinterest is a hub for creative crafty types (taking lead from the US).

This isn’t the first love affair that the British have had with the humble needle and thread though.  The second world war brought about a true “make do and mend” culture which, with the introduction of fast fashion and throw away material goods, many fear we have lost touch with.

So why do we love to craft?  Why bother spending hours… days… weeks… on creating something that we could easily buy off the shelf?  It’s not always the case that it’s cheaper; stocking up on craft supplies can be expensive (especially in the UK – the USA are way ahead of us) and is our time not better spent? Well, it would appear not, as many health benefits have been attributed

to crafting.  Take a look at Kathryn Vercillo’s website:  Kathryn struggled with depression and has found crochet to be her saving grace. She started blogging about her story, and was soon contacted by many others with similar stories.  Research was recently done here in the UK about the benefits of quilting.  The research by Glasgow University in 2011

suggests that many hobbies ranging from reading to train-spotting should be considered for their health benefits – both physical and mental.   Quilting in particular, with its bright colours and mathematical challenges, proves to help cognitive creativity amongst older people.  Not to mention increased confidence and taking part in social meetings too! 

It makes sense that crafting can aid mental health – creative types will recognise that feeling of “where did my afternoon go?” as they “lose themselves” in their work.  It takes the mind to a different place.  It soothes and relaxes.  Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, noted for his studies on happiness and creativity, invented the notion of “Flow”.  As the diagram below demonstrates, we enter “Flow” when we are placed in a state of high challenge and skill levels. Too much challenge without the required skills and we become worried then anxious; not enough challenge with a good skill level and we become bored.

Wikipedia’s definition of flow states: “Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”  Sound familiar?

We asked our Twitter followers (@CraftyCreatives) about whether they use crafting as a means to relax and de-stress, and here are some tweets we got back: 

There is satisfaction too, to be taken from creating your own handmade goodies. Whether it’s a fluffy scarf to compliment a cosy winter outfit, or a comedic sock bunny to give to your new nephew, it’s a real achievement to complete a creative project.  Handmade gifts are becoming more popular too – it really is the thought that counts.  We no longer want to buy mass-produced plastic tack that will end up in landfill.  Why not bake some cookies for your Auntie?  Or string together a necklace using beads in your sister’s favourite colours? Your recipients will thank you for it!

Since launching Crafty Creatives in July 2012, we have been struck by another feel-food factor of crafting, and that is the online communities made up of crafters from all over the world.  Despite having the ability to be quite a solitary hobby, crafting has such a wonderful tight-knit (pardon the pun!) group of wonderfully friendly and positive people.  It is surely testament that crafting DOES

promote happiness, health and wellbeing. Without a doubt, this community has helped our business grow over the past six months – crafters love to talk, to share, to help each other.  Word is spreading about our boxes full of crafty goodies, and not only through words – with thanks to social media we are able to see and share all the wonderful creations that our members make.  We place a label on our boxes that says “Get… Make… Share” and it’s wonderful to see so many doing just that.

 We hope that our craft boxes are helping to bring the joy of craft into many people’s homes.  Each month we carefully plan and select an array of crafty products that fit into a surprise theme, to help provide maximum inspiration.  So far our themes have been Floral, Nautical, Oriental, Gothic, Nostalgia, Icy and, most recently, Woodland. We recently conducted a member survey, and we asked our members “What’s your favourite thing about Crafty Creatives?” 

 If you are new to crafting, or more experienced, then why not give our boxes a try.  It costs only £10/month plus £2.95 p&p, and there is no contract – you can stop and start at anytime.

Is it time to inject a little crafting happiness into your life?

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