Call it what you will – homespun, homemade, handmade, or being creative, there are benefits for engaging in a handmade life. Creating with our hands is as old as, well, Creation itself. God started the trend by creating the world, and everything in it. He then gave us the ability to create.
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Engaging in a Handmade Life
Crafts are also a universal language. You don’t have to be able to speak to someone with words. Often, the act of knitting, crochet, or being engaged in some type of hand work does the talking for you.
But even if you aren’t familiar with the language, there are still real perks for living a handmade life.
Before We Move Forward…
When you think of engaging in a handmade life, the textile arts may come to mind. You think knitting, crochet, or even sewing.
But there is more to handmade than just a knitted scarf. Here are just a few ways you can be creative:
- Textile – knitting, crochet, embroidery, sewing, needle felting, weaving, spinning, quilting
- Food – cooking, baking, cake decorating, breads and pastries
- Nature Oriented – wreaths, working with plant-based dyes, gardening, pottery, basketry, soap, paper
- Other – woodwork, welding, glass blowing, carving, painting, photography, writing, mosaic, (click this link and listen in about the creativity of music!!)
It Begins with Mental Health Benefits
I can be in the worst mood ever. But when I pick up a crochet hook, a pin loom, or even a needle and embroidery thread, my outlook begins to improve.
This is because crafting helps to decrease stress and anxiety. stress relief starts with focusing on something other than our problems. Crafting requires your full attention. Your project becomes a distraction from the negative thoughts and emotions.
Because crafting takes your full attention, you are also improving your mental agility. In some crafts, you have to measure ingredients, count stitches, or follow a pattern. This builds healthy mental muscles.
As your mental muscles strengthen, crafting helps to delay the cognitive decline that comes with age. Engaging in a handmade life may also help with other critical issues such as PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety.
Engaging in a handmade life has other mental health benefits as well. Having trouble with insomnia? Picking up a craft project is a repetitive, soothing focus that may relax your body enough to allow you to fall asleep more easily.
Have you had a one-two punch to your self-esteem lately? This can occur from a negative comment someone makes to larger issues such as financial issues or losing a job. We take them as an affront, and they can make us temporarily feel less than our best.
To help combat those feelings, pick up a craft project. Engaging in a handmade life can help with the satisfaction of creating a unique item. It shows we are capable of vision, implementation, and completion of a project. In turn, it helps us to remember our strengths, and the ability to overcome any hardships life can throw our way.
The Physical Health Benefits
The mental health benefits of engaging in a handmade life alone can go a long way towards improving your physical health. But there are other ways it helps our bodies as well.
The calming effect of engaging in a handmade life can help to reduce blood pressure. This in turn, may aide in reducing heart and other health related issues.
Hand work, such as knitting, crochet and embroidery can help with the dexterity in our fingers. The constant movement keeps our hands moving, which exercises the muscles.
Weaving on a shaft loom, or a large wall-hung loom helps build upper arm strength. If your creative endeavors involve working with wood, you can build upper body strength as well as arm muscles by lifting the heavy boards.
Even cooking and baking is a way to keep us active. First, it can take physical effort. We lift (bags of flour and sugar), mix, knead, and bend. We walk to the refrigerator, the stove, the sink, and back again.
It may not be strenuous exercise, but it does keep us in motion. And even better, we have delicious food, bread, or a batch of fresh cookies to enjoy as a reward!
‘Homespun’ Perks for Engaging in a Handmade Life
As time passes, we find we have lost many of the older skills. These skills were almost daily activities. Now, many have been replaced by technology.
By engaging in a handmade life, we are not only keeping these skills alive, but we are also handing down traditions. Our grandparents were taught these crafts. They, in turn, taught us. We pass along the tradition by teaching our own children.
Engaging in a handmade life means we not only get to hand down these skills to family, but also to others. We can teach our friends and children the joy of handcrafts.
As a weaver and a beginner in spinning, I recently discovered an anomaly. There are very few people in my area who weave or spin. There are one or two, but not many. In the Northern area there seem to be many folks who engage in this textile art.
After putting my feelers out, I managed to find a wonderful woman who was proficient in spinning. She was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. This group participates in Renaissance festivals and adheres to accuracy. She was willing to give me a lesson, and I was thrilled.
Another perk is that engaging in a handmade life helps to bring a community together. This may be on a one-on-one basis. Or it could be one of your fun social obligations by teaching a class in your Community.
Engaging in a handmade life may be a perfect activity when visiting with a friend. It may mean starting or joining a group. Handcrafts aren’t just a great way to bring your community together. They also help these crafts to not only survive, but to thrive, as well.
There is another benefit for engaging in a handmade life that we may not think about. We get to use up our stash. Okay. Well, we do use it up, but that just makes room for more!
Other Benefits for Engaging in a Handmade Life
Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to buy a gift? We want the perfect item. It has to be the right color, right size, and right style. We also need quality. To get all of that, we hope and pray it is within our budget.
All too often, most things you find in stores are mass-produced. There are a few different styles, but not always be big selection. And whatever we are buying, everyone else is too. And more than likely, the quality isn’t there.
When you create a handmade item, you not only create an item. You also get to choose the material, color, size, weight, and style.
The item you create is unique. It is designed with the recipient in mind. And to add a bonus, it is tailor-made just for them. You know longer have to be concerned with everyone else having the same thing.
The best part is the quality. Handmade items aren’t factory made. They are created by hand, which means it takes more time and attention to detail.
And can you imagine giving or getting a gift that was designed specifically for you? Think about giving more than just an ordinary, store-bought gift. Consider the added bonus of joy and delight of getting something created with your likes and wants in mind.
For the Non-Crafting Person
You may think of yourself as a non-crafting person. If so, your mind may be considering only the most well-known crafts. You don’ have to be a skilled knitter to be creative.
You can look at the list above. If you do any of the things on the list, then you are engaging in a handmade life. However, if you truly don’t create with your hands, you can get started today.
Determine what it is about any craft that appeals to you. Is it the color and feel of fiber? Yarn can be the door that opens to knitting, crochet, weaving, and more.
If you love the feel of yarn but can’t find the exact color and style you like, consider hand-dying, and then spinning that roving into yarn or needle-felted pieces.
Did you love making mudpies as a kid? Consider the craft of pottery. ‘Throwing’ clay can turn those mudpies into creative works of art.
If you love to eat, then learning how to cook is a great place to start. If baking is your thing, consider starting a ‘relationship’ with baking bread. You may just fall head over heels with your new love!
Regardless of what new craft you decide to do, it is smart to start small. Find someone who is skilled in the craft and ask them if they are willing to teach you.
As with spinning, there aren’t always knowledgeable people close by who can show you the ropes. If that is the case, check out blogs and YouTube. Both have great guides that can get you started.
If you enjoy weaving, I recommend pin looms. You can begin by making cording or shoestrings with a bracelet loom. From there, you can move to the next level with pin looms.
It may be surprising, but you can learn to weave inexpensively with a potholder loom, such as this one from Etsy. You may think these are just a kid’s toy, but surprisingly, you can exchange the stretchy loops and use yarn. These squares can then be sewn together to make totes, purses, throws, blankets and more.
Or, you can start small with making simple holiday decorations. You can make firecrackers with a bit of fabric, string and glue to celebrate the 4th of July!
Think about what your ultimate goal is when learning a new craft. Then ‘backstep’ it to the beginning. Do you want to get creative in the garden? Start with a few flowers, herbs or vegetables.
Once you master the growing process, consider ways you can use what you grow. Vegetables can be canned and preserved to create delicious meals. Flowers can be used fresh or dried.
And herbs have an endless variety of ways to use them. They can be grown for culinary, crafting, or medicinal use. Think herb blends, potpourri, or calming tea.
Increase Your Contentment by Engaging in a Handmade Life
No matter the reason or the craft, engaging in a handmade life is beneficial to your overall health. It is a great stress relief, can lower your blood pressure, and lift your heart with contentment and joy.
The next time you find boredom taking over, maybe it’s time to dig through the craft room and find a good project to work on.
And engaging in a handmade life may mean you can have some great gifts to give. With Christmas on its way, now would be the best time to start!