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Craftvincible March 16, 2011

Posted by J. in Genius.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way, you’re right.” I’m reminded of that every time someone browses my hand knits at a craft fair and remarks, “I could never do that.”

Just mittens, not magic.

Part of me wants to disagree because that’s nonsense. It’s not magic. I’m not casting spells or pulling a rabbit out of my ass.  It’s a couple of pointy sticks and some yarn. It’s a skill like any other.  Did you always know how to write your name?  No.  There was a time a pencil was just a pointy stick, but then someone taught you how to make scribbles with it, then more carefully formed shapes, then letters and words and before you knew it, you could write.

The other part of me agrees entirely. You know what? If you look at something and say “I could never do that,” you are probably correct. Not because you don’t have the ability, but because you lack the desire to learn the skill.  I used to get all “you can do it!” with them, but now I just hand the “I can’t do it” folks my business card and tell them to stop by my Etsy shop, and to be sure to shop early and shop often for all your hand-knit needs.

I do understand the “I can’t do it” mentality. There’s lots of stuff I can’t do, not because I don’t have the ability or because I truly think it’s out of my grasp as a human being, but because I don’t have the desire to put the time in to learn it. I’d love to be a musician, and I could be one if I didn’t hate to practice. So when I say “I could never be a musician,” it’s not because I lack musical skills or the manual dexterity to play the instrument, but I just don’t have the drive or the desire to practice.

I’ve never felt that way about crafts, though. I don’t know what it is about my genetic makeup that makes me craftvincible, but I am. There is no craft I cannot become proficient at, and if I enjoy it enough, I will.

My cousin JoAnne thinks it’s sheer stubbornness. When I was working at the fabric store, she came in one day and we got to chatting about crafts in general. She is a crafter too, a furniture upholsterer by trade for many years and an excellent seamstress. She said the reason she got into re-covering furniture in the first place was because someone once told her she couldn’t do it. She learned it out of spite. But she added that when it comes to stuff like that, it never occurs to her to think for a minute that she wouldn’t be able to do it.  She simply refuses to accept that she can’t.

I’m that way about all crafts. I haven’t tried them all yet, and some will slip through the cracks, either because they don’t interest me or I’ll just run out of time and/or space.  But I can do any craft I put my hands to because I refuse to accept that I cannot master it.

However, I have crafting ADD. I will spend hours and hours with my latest craft craze, buy all kinds of supplies to do it, produce so much stuff that I have to give it away and then start selling it to get it out of my house. Eventually, I get tired of it, though. I box up the supplies and store them in the craft closet and move on to the next thing that’s caught my fancy.

The nice thing is that I never lose my ability to do the craft I’ve packed up and put into storage, and I’ll often incorporate different but related crafts in one item. Like the embroidered baby booties. If you look at the pink pair that serves as a link to my Etsy shop, you can see knitting, embroidery, and beading combined.

I should do more beading. *makes note*

What was I saying?  Oh yes, crafting ADD.  I don’t know what makes the bloom go off the rose for me.  Why one minute I’m sitting at my kitchen table surrounded by paper scraps, thousands of dollars worth of rubber stamps, and a stack of lovely handmade cards, and the next minute I’m standing in the bead aisle at Joann Fabrics buying up all kinds of stuff to make…hell, I don’t know what.

I love beads.  Shiny…

Alas, I have but one small room for all my craft needs.  Well, it’s not a room so much as a closet.  I have a bunch of built in shelves along one wall and three of those plastic stacking drawer units.  There’s a small dresser in there and the rest stores in bins and boxes stacked on the floor.  What I really need is a dedicated craft room, and I’ve got it planned out.  Someday when I’m back to work full time and we have a second income rolling into the coffers, I’m all over it.  Of course, I’ll be working full-time so I don’t know when I’ll have time to craft…

An example of "quilling". It's the art of curling thin strips of paper into designs. Yes, I can do this.

Anyway, I’ve tried my hand at sewing (of course), I knit, crochet, spin, do rubber stamping, quilling, quilting (two different things and not a typo), I can draw and paint a bit, I’ve done beadwork–both sewn and jewelry-type–tole painting, calligraphy, candle-making, I own an actual Bedazzler, have

Pysanky, or the Ukrainian method of decorating eggs using a wax-resist process. Yes, I can do this, too.

enjoyed origami, covered a lot of wood with decoupage, am adept at pysanky, can make friendship bracelets out of embroidery floss and friendship pins with seed beads and safety pins.  I am good at crewel embroidery, needlepoint, counted cross stitch, and petit-point, I have done ceramics, tie-dyeing, regular dyeing, woodburning, glass etching, and…

Well, you get the idea, right?

I don’t know what significance any of this has, to be honest.  I know that someone like myself who loves and is skilled at this kind of stuff should be able to make a living with it.  One would almost think so, right?

Short of becoming a home-ec or art teacher, I’m stumped.

I wonder if beads are on sale this week at Joann’s…



1. CBear - March 16, 2011

I have “crafting ADD” I do so many different crafts that it boggles my husband’s mind!

2. Aquarianshoes - March 16, 2011

I have the potential for crafting ADD, but have been resisitng the urge to learn to quilt and spin. I do, however, have a yarn stash beyond life expectancy….*Sigh*.

3. Yorkie - March 16, 2011

“Crafting ADD” is an excellent way of putting it. I have (in the unused Sauna downstairs) supplies for scrapbooking, paper making (I own a paper mill and a blender devoted to making pulp), beading supplies, thousands of rubber stamps and decorative paper, yarn, glorious yarn, needles, roving for drop spindles…and many, many books devoted to even more crafting. Have I had time to tackle any of it?? Nope. But I will. I think it’s the idea of possibility that keeps us from being crushed under the louder demands of every day functionality. We might look at those boxes of crafting supplies and think, Someday…but they’re also holding a lot of hope and a promise we’ve made to ourselves to spend our hard-earned free time however we damn well please.

4. Karen - March 16, 2011

I’m with you, Jen. I can do any craft I set my mind to. I knit, quilt, taught myself to crochet, embroider — whatever I desire. However, I realized several years ago that “yes, I can do that” is very different from “I will do that” and sometimes just buy a crafted item. Crafters have to eat and buy more supplies, too.

That said, it brings up another subject. Selling crafts. I am knitting a lace cashmere scarf for my beloved MIL. Someone said “you could sell them on Etsy and make a fortune.” Hmm, $30 for a skein of cashmere, and about 30 hours of knitting. Unless there is a pool of wealthy people browsing Etsy looking to pay huge sums for knitting, I don’t think so. I used to sell my quilts, until I realized I was making about $.29 an hour. I would, and do, happily give them away to new babies, but find that being paid a laughable amount for my time discourages me immensely.

Maybe what we crafting dilettentes need to do is get together and swap materials for crafts in which we have lost interest — or can’t remember what prompted us to buy them in the first place…

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