About

Crafts with words

Don’t you love it when paths collide, when goals mesh, when you kill two birds with one stone (figuratively of course), when you bump into a friend you’ve been thinking about? I like to call this phenomenon ‘synchronicity,’ a happy, meaningful “coincidence” that is much more than the workings of chance, as if it somehow happened for a reason. And though I am absolutely not a fatalist, nor a believer in intelligent design creationism, I do believe that everything happens for a reason.

Though surely it’s inaccurate to quantify the ideas that merge in this blog, the purpose of “the recluse club” is twofold, in that its development begins with two themes: craft and writing. Though admittedly redundant (this is a blog after all), the writing theme is something of an exercise for me, an attempt to pull the regular practice of writing back into my life. For a bucketful of reasons that I will not explain here, the dynamics of my psyche are such that I am not able to be a professional writer (at least, not yet). However, craft has the wonderful effect of untangling the threads of my mind and unclogging the portals of creativity; therefore, why should its collision with writing (i.e., writing about craft) not result in an imploding, artesian river of creative thought, both verbal and material? That’s the hypothesis anyhow.

Craft has played an intensely important part of my progression as a person; and for me there is no more important purpose in living than to learn, to understand the world around me, to progress intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. To my mind’s eye, there is nothing quite as beautiful as realizing that the more questions I ask, the more there is to learn. Though I lack the anthropological knowledge, I want to be able to say that craft is essential to the human condition – I can at least say that the act of creation certainly is. Regardless of what is created, whether it be a sweater or a pie or an idea or a child, the act of creation brings to the psyche incredible satisfaction, accomplishment, confidence, self-worth, and sheer joy. Perhaps more importantly, the act of creation is a mechanism of learning – it is why children use crayons to draw what they are thinking about, why they build towers and forts with blocks or pillows or whatever is around, and why they imagine scenarios and stories in which to play by themselves or with friends. These activities are not merely time fillers to occupy them until they grow up – rather creative action ingrains in children the ability to learn, by developing both behavioral patterns and neuronal connections in the brain. In addition to the psychological and physiological benefits, the act of creation feeds the soul.

As a kid, I greatly enjoyed crafts of all kinds – jewelery making, drawing, building with blocks and Legos, playing musical instruments, acting, writing, even making miniature lighted Christmas trees with construction paper and LED lights (with the help of my father who is an electrical engineer). Somewhere along the way however, these activities were lost to me, perhaps drowned out by the pressures of academia, of working, of “being an adult.” And then I burned out. I got up, tried to do it all over again, and I burned out again.

To this day, I am totally unable to explain how or why this happened, but I quite literally woke up one morning and said, “I need to learn how to knit.” Not want, but need. I had never knit in my life, never thought much of it, had hardly done anything remotely like it except make friendship bracelets with embroidery string (all the rage when I was a kid). In fact I laughed at a friend one day when she had to bow out of dinner because she had to go to her knitting class. (It took me a minute to realize that this was not a dog-ate-my-homework excuse – she was serious.) Well, whatever the reason for the urgency, the need to knit did not go away. It was right there gnawing at me like an empty stomach, for weeks. I remembered at some point that my sister knew how to knit; I called her and said, “I need you to teach me how to knit!!!” We live in different cities, and apparently I couldn’t wait until we had the chance to get together, because when I found myself going away for a weekend to a cabin in the woods with friends, I told my friend who crochets that she had to teach me to crochet. I absolutely could not allow this craving to work with yarn go on unsatisfied any longer. I crocheted as much as I could manage that weekend; it didn’t matter what I was making, as long as I was doing it. And I kept doing it for another week or two, until I finally visited my sister. She was prepared with some needles and yarn for me, and she taught me the basics of knitting. I practiced, and eventually made my first item, an ill-made bumblebee scarf that to this day my husband still loves. And from that day forth, knitting was on.

See, now I’m stuck. I’m in essay-writing-mode, and there’s just too much pressure in my own mind to “bring the point home,” to support my thesis, to keep the writing style consistent, blah blah blah. At this rate I’ll never get the “About” page done. So let’s just leave it at this:

  • Craft has taught me self-reliance: Why not create whatever it is that I want, instead of choosing from a catalog, or searching for the thing that meets all my requirements but doesn’t actually exist? That is, craft frees me from a consumerist world.
  • Craft frees my creative juices.
  • Craft is addictive.
  • The term ‘craft’ applies to any sort of creative, constructive, and problem solving endeavor; in other words, I consider the project of rewiring my house a craft.
  • Finally, I make no promises to uphold consistency in quality, style, or construction of the writing in this blog. Which is probably exactly what a good blog should do. So I don’t promise that this will be a good blog. But I will certainly be happy if writing about craft “gets the ball rolling,” as they say.
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© 2010

All materials of “the recluse club,” including writing, photographs, and drawings are copyright of the author. You may not know who I am, but I do.

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