Why do we want to make stuff?
Well, When you find something you truly enjoy doing, most often there’s no other reason needed to keep doing it.
This is how I feel about knitting, crocheting, sewing, and tending my garden whenever there’s something growing. I can find much to be interested in, but these four areas in particular will absorb me time and time again. Being the type of thinker that I am, though, I was wondering lately about why precisely this is true, and what reasons other people might have for doing the same sorts of things. If that piques your curiosity too, maybe my list below will show you some reasons you might not have thought of before. Plus, I hope to give you some encouragement to keep being creative with the good things you find to do, especially when life is full and time is precious.
As you’ll see, some of these reasons are more on the practical side, while others are more for the enjoyment or other intangible benefits we can get from making and growing. The one common thread, however, is that all of these reasons have to do with WANTING to do something, rather than NEEDING to do it for whatever reason, as has been the case for many different crafts throughout history.
What I am hoping to point out is that even though different hobbies (especially the four I focus on here) might not be necessary for survival, they still add value to us and are, simply put, a really great use of time. Plus, they point out something important about who we are.
As you take a look at the reasons below, see which ones you can relate to the most, and let me know at the end why you spend time creatively!
1. To use what we have
We may not craft because we absolutely have to, but we may have some very practical reasons behind making our own things. A really frugal aspect of crafting involves using materials we already have to make something we need or want, thus saving the money we might have spent to buy all or some of what we had in mind. This is often really satisfying, because even if our end product isn’t as pretty or polished as the store-bought version, we made it.
And even though making something yourself usually takes a longer time than just buying it, situations can still arise where you actually save time or stress by being able to make something, just because running to the store or ordering it might be inconvenient. Oh yes, having all your materials organized really pays off in those times!
2. To end up with exactly what we want.
Sometimes though, we wouldn’t think much of just buying what we need or want, except that maybe there’s not something easily available that fits what we had in mind. In those cases, its nice to be a little “picky”, and just make something that is much closer or exactly what you want! Your favorite store might be out of something in your size that you just know you would enjoy wearing, but knowing how to sew at even the level of an advanced beginner would mean you have the option to get a similar fabric and make something exactly in your size that is really close to what you saw in the store…maybe even better!
3. To end up with more value for a lesser cost
I think it’s safe to say that once you have dabbled in a creative hobby for a while, you start to develop an eye for quality in that field. To continue using the example of sewing, this means that someone who browses fabric regularly is going to be more apt to recognize fabric that will likely last longer, has a better drape, a more detailed weave, and so on. Of course, the negative side to this is that they might just start noticing ways that mass-produced clothing can fall short in these areas. Once this happens, it’s a very short mental road to thinking “well I could…”
“I could buy this top for $25, or I could make a similar one with higher quality fabric and it would last me longer. In fact, for the same amount of money I could probably make two!”
When you think of the real cost of something you should at least acknowledge that you spent your own valuable time on it. This is especially true-imperative actually- if you ever get to the point where you want to think about selling what you make. But without going there, lets just say that the motivation to make something better than we can afford to buy it brings a satisfying feeling that you have added real tangible value to your item in a way that required less actual money. Win-win!
Side note: This reasoning is very applicable in gardening, especially gardening for food. This is because often what is grown in a home garden is going to be more tasty and good than something bought in a store.
4. To improve our skills
I don’t know about you, but once I get interested in a craft and have success with just a few basic skills, I get even more interested and excited to figure out more! The amazing thing is, the more skilled you become, the more you are able to apply yourself to your craft in new and interesting ways, and the more exciting it becomes!
5. To be more productive.
Learning how to make things means we can learn to be more efficient in how we use our time and resources. I already addressed the practical aspect of saving money in #1 and #3, but this goes beyond just being frugal and reaches into our time, our minds, and our motivations.
Lets look at the crafts that I focus on here: crochet, knitting, and sewing. I can (and do!) take a crochet or knitting project pretty much everywhere I go, and when I’m waiting for something or in-between my other tasks I’ll often work on those things rather than check my phone. At home, I might knit, crochet, or sew while I hang out with my family. In both of those cases I’m able to get more of what I want to do done, being more productive with my time in a way that is satisfying rather than draining. I’m also giving myself more of a mental challenge when I apply myself to creating in spare moments. Even gardening, which isn’t strictly what I would call a “craft” becomes productive in the obvious sense that you are using space and your own efforts to grow something for your benefit (whether the results are edible or not).
Another aspect of being productive with our creativity is using it to refresh ourselves. This goes back to the cliché of having a “creative outlet” For many of us, crafting is a way to do something physical with our hands in a way that we simply don’t get to do any other way. It can satisfy the urge to see something tangible from your efforts when other parts of your life don’t offer that kind of gratification. In that way, crafting becomes a release and a pursuit that can give us some measurable success when a little measurable success can go a long way to encourage us!
6. To give something meaningful
In our modern world, many of us already have way more than we need, and this can make gift-giving a bit of a challenge. But, people who make things have an advantage, because we can give a gift that will be unlike anything else that someone will receive. Most of the time, this is extremely special and appreciated, as a lot of friends and family will realize the value of the extra time you took to create something just for them.
7.To show love
To build on #6, giving a handmade gift goes beyond the extra value of the gift itself. The extra time and attention we put into an item for someone else translates to a unique expression of how we care for that person. Oftentimes, we who make things will even think of the recipient as we work on their items. This makes crafters feel especially connected to the people we care about, and it comes full circle and makes us especially happy when we see someone using what we made for them!
This could be a whole other conversation, but knitting, sewing, and other crafts also connect us strongly to others who practice the same skills we do. Often we are quick to learn from one another, and sometimes it is a relationship with someone special that gets us started with a certain craft.
8. To improve ourselves and our surroundings
Of course, we don’t always make things exclusively for other people. Making stuff for ourselves, or “selfish crafting” as it is sometimes called, is fun too! As I brought up earlier, being able to make something “from scratch” makes it possible for us to customize our creations further and get exactly what we were thinking of. This means that when we think of doing something better, whether that means dressing in pretty clothes, making our homes more welcoming, or cultivating our land to be lovely and fruitful, we have the skills we need to make it happen.
9. To contribute to our other interests
Sometimes, we creatives come to take on a new craft in a roundabout way. In my own life, learning crochet made me want to learn knitting because it was something else I could do with yarn. Now that I know both, I’ve developed an appreciation for all things fiber and yarn and would love to eventually get good at spinning, weaving, and dying yarn and even taking care of fiber animals.
This “rabbit hole” happens a lot, and once we learn a new skill, it can serve to support what we were originally interested in. Or, our new interest can start to take on a momentum of its own and we can end up more interested in our new skill than we were in the old one! In reality, people who know several crafts tend to go through seasons where we do some more than others, eventually circling back around again to the ones we took up first.
10.To foster beauty/express ourselves and our creative natures.
A lot of what we’ve been talking about points to the noble desire to simply make the world a more beautiful place through our creative skills. In fact, I’d say that all of our motivations to be crafty and creative boil down to wanting to create or nurture beauty.
In #5, I mentioned crafting as a way to satisfy an urge. But where do those creative urges come from? It seems pretty obvious that as humans we have a creative nature. Beyond just meeting our own needs, we want to enjoy beauty and contribute to it somehow. This points to how beautifully we were designed ourselves, and reflects how much creativity and abundance went into the design of the world around us and into our own amazing minds. It is only natural and good that we would mirror that in our pursuits of creating beauty and learning to do it more and more.
What are your reasons?
Some reasons stem from being frugal, some come from self-expression and betterment, and some come from or with an outpouring of love to others. All have their root in who we were made to be, but which reasons best describe you? Is there a certain combination of motivations that, whether you realize it or not, have shaped you up to this point? Do you think maybe I’ve even missed a reason for creativity that you could shed some light on? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Whatever the reasons, I hope this has been an encouragement to you that creating and tending to our arts is a noble and worthwhile way to spend our time whenever we can. If you have yet to try a skill that has been on your mind, or maybe give yourself the time you need to get better at it, don’t give up! These activities may not be the most necessary or important ones in our lives, but they are more than worth fitting in.
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Keep the crafting delightful!