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The hand made revolution.
When I was a kid, I always had handmade Halloween costumes. My mom was, and is, a great seamstress, and enjoyed the process of making unique costumes for both me and my brother. I was a strawberry one year, a bag of jellybeans another year, a fuzzy spider, a princess, a witch etc.. Her sewing talent also came in handy when school plays came along, and teachers would inexplicably expect us to show up with really specific, bizarre costumes (“You’re going to be the cow in the play next week. You have a cow costume at home, right?”)
So, why didn’t I learn how to sew? And, for that matter, why didn’t I learn how to knit a sweater, or make my own soap? Because I wasn’t interested, that’s why. My very short attention span, lovingly cultivated by TV, video games, the internet, the mall, everything mass-produced, wouldn’t allow for sit-down sewing lessons from my mom. But, in recent years, I have started a love affair with felt. You heard me. Felt. You know, like, wool fibres? The stuff you made crafts out of when you were in grade two? That stuff. In fact, I have recently become obsessed with making my own felt, and using felt to make a number of crafty things. I have books about felt. I have taken classes bout felt. I make things out of felt for fun. In fact, a number of people, may age and younger, have started to learn all number of crafty, “old-fashioned” skills. Knitting, felting, canning, sewing, soap-making... All of these skills that I thought were fading into non-existence are making a huge comeback. I started wondering why this is. Here are my ideas about why this “do it yourself” revolution seems to be happening. :
People are tired of looking like everyone else: At one point in my childhood, I was actually a little embarrassed to wear my mom’s handmade Halloween creations. I kind of wished I could have a store bought one from Wal Mart, like all of my friends had. But now, I think people are starting to get tired of going to the mall and buying a shirt that 100 of their friends are also going to buy. There are YouTube videos, websites, blogs, books, community classes, and workshops offered now to people who want to learn to sew their own funky bag, or re-purpose an old shirt, or learn to knit crazy leg warmers or sweaters for their dogs. Being unique is cool again! Thank goodness.
People are looking for ways to help the environment: Re-purposing items (using magazines to collage, felting an old sweater, sewing a quilt) is just a fancy way of saying RECYCLE! People want to eat smarter (learning to can your own fruits/veggies is a great way to stick to the 100 mile diet). They want to cut down on the chemicals they use (making your own soap using essential oils will make you smell pretty!). Learning to hand make things can really reduce your carbon footprint.
People are looking for ways to save and make money: Ever heard of Etsy? If you haven’t, then you’re missing out on both a way to buy fantastic one-of-a-kind, hand-made items AND a way to sell your own unique hand made things. Many people out there are looking for unique items to buy for themselves and as gifts, and so making and selling unique, hand- made items can be lucrative. In this economic climate, creative people can be their own boss and do something they love through handicrafts.
People are looking for new ways to de stress and form communities: A few times a year, I get together with some friends to craft. We eat a lot, and gossip, and bitch about work/school, and make stuff. Some of us knit, some of us sew, some of us felt, some of us make jewelry, and all of us eat a lot and talk a lot and vent and get creative. Humans feel better when they have a creative outlet. It’s a fact. Handcrafts are an awesome way to get our brains and creative juices flowing, and chill out in the process. Taking crafting classes/workshops, learning new skills and creating with a group of people is a great way to meet new friends and connect.
So whatever the reason, I’m glad this DIY revolution is happening. I still haven’t learned to sew elaborate costumes for my daughter, but I’m getting there. Maybe I can make her one out of felt?
Crafty links: Knitting graffiti...you heard me. Check it out. Angry Chicken - blogs, books, cute stuff. Moobs.ca - weird needle felted stuff. Doesn’t everyone need an avocado made out of felt?
Andrea is a teacher and feels weird if she doesn't have a book on the go. She is passionate about education, youth engagement, art, music and chocolate.