With the change of seasons, I’m pulling out my winter craft projects. Everyone needs one. “Yeah, sorry, I can’t get up now, I’m MAKING something.” Currently, it’s crocheting baskets. I begin with ripping up fabric like the Hulk tearing off his clothes…it’s extremely rewarding. Arrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
Then I take all those little scraps, roll them into balls and (in theory) crochet the strips into a circle. Once you get the circle base, you can crochet up the sides until you have a basket, or a potholder if you really screwed things up. (Isn’t it great that most mistakes in life can be turned into potholders?).
Here’s one my friend made (mine still looks like a potholder.)
I think the balls could be decoration enough in a bowl or basket, don’t you?
And here’s the thing…this might look like no big deal, right? Sheesh, basket making… but you’d be wrong. It is a very big deal and I’ll tell you why. It’s not just the object itself—the colors, the form, the utility of the thing–it’s the act of creating, slowing down, focusing on something that requires more hands and more heart.
A Swedish friend told me yesterday about a new study recommending people engage in some type of hands-on project daily. According to the study, the human brain is getting too much use, overloaded with technology and information. Too much thinking!!! Here I thought some people weren’t using their brains enough, but apparently, that’s a different problem.
So, tell me…when is the last time you made something? I mean built something, carved something, whittled, sewed, took apart a lawn mower and rebuilt it again. If your answer is Jr. High Home Econ., then you probably lived in the 80’s. And thank goodness you did, because back then handicrafts were “handy” and tax funds were actually allocated for me to destroy a lawn mower in “Shop Class.” Those were the days…woodshop, sewing, cooking, metal shop! Your mom probably still has your potholder.
It’s time to pull out those skills and make something. Because…two reasons.
1. Your brain needs a rest
2. The world is freaking crazy!!!
That’s why. Like what is going on? Wars and people jihading and killing Christians and Ferguson and scandals and Ebola and earthquakes and immigrants sending their kids on boats to America and good people, funny people, nice people committing suicide?
If you can sit down, take your mind off your problems for thirty minutes, who am I kidding, thirty seconds, then do it! String together a couple of torn up pieces of fabric that were headed to the trash bin anyway and make something, a potholder! Call it a good day because you’re alive, because you’re still breathing and you’ve got one more day to tell the people in your life you love them, one more day to witness miracles. Because even though we live in a crazy mixed up world—there are still miracles.
Babies are born, people get married, maybe not the people you want to get married, but fine, can we at least be happy there ARE people willing to say “till death do us part” and stick it out through “sickness and health.” There are lesser miracles too—strawberries, for instance, violins—the sound of horsehairs (of all things) on strings, the fact that you can pull a Kleenex out of a box and another one appears—how great is that? And gravity. Let’s not forget gravity.
Using our brains too much, focusing entirely on the problems of the world, or your own problems, will drive you insane.
You can go insane or rip fabric. Those are your choices.
That’s all I’m saying. Yes, be an advocate, get involved, serve your country, but do some handicrafts too. Carve walking sticks. I’m convinced that is why my father-in-law is so calm and healthy. When you carve you create something that lasts. Give it as a gift and you also create a smile.
Here in Sweden, carving is a tradition. The Dala Horse, famous as the national symbol of Sweden, came about as a result of soldiers keeping their hands busy during wintertime, sitting by the fire, carving horses for children. To this day you can visit the town of Dalarna and buy these hand-carved horses.
Knit, water color, tool leather. If at the end of a bad day you can put your hands to a task and your mind to rest, slow your heart rate, give your brain a rest (science says you need to), then by all means do it. Everyone needs a potholder.