For some reason, “making” is something viewed as a relic of the past, something that was done out of necessity and boredom before the Internet. This however, is far from true: there are millions of people around the world and in the U.S. who sew, make pottery, knit, crochet, embroider, and use any other variety of media to express their creativity and make. Despite knowing this, for the longest time I thought that I would never meet another maker my age. The only makers I knew before coming to Swarthmore were people my parents’ age or older.
Here at Swat, however, I met more makers than I ever could have imagined. Many of them introduced themselves when they saw me crocheting in lectures and in various spots around campus. Others work in the LPAC costume shop with me, where we spend hours working on costumes and our own projects in each other’s company. There are some whom I’ve spotted from a distance, doing cross-stitch in psychology classes, knitting during chorus, and wearing their own clothing designs. I’ve also met a plethora of people who have expressed an interest in making but don’t know where to start or don’t think they have much of a reason to start at all.
I started making when I was five years old and grew determined to learn to crochet like my mom and I’ve been hooked ever since. I love how tactile the whole process is, with the yarn running through my fingers, hook rolling in my right hand, and the new fabric pooling gently in my lap. I love purchasing yarn and digging through my stash, feeling the variety of textures and feasting my eyes on every color imaginable. I love the sense of accomplishment when I’ve finished a piece and see it in use, especially when I can create something to bring joy to another person.
For me, crochet and crafting is not just a hobby, but a supplement that improves the overall quality of my life. It’s a bit of anxiety relief that I can pull out of my bag at any moment. It’s a channel for me to work out the stress of the day and turn it into something beautiful. It is something that even when I’m feeling my least capable, I know that I can do. Even when what I’m crocheting is difficult, it is a problem that is physical and tangible— it is still a relief from the other problems of the day, which tend to be theoretical. Crochet is a way for me to be able to provide something high quality to my loved ones so I can express how much they mean even if I can’t show them that with my wallet. Crafting is flexible enough that I can always find a way for self-expression, even when I’m at a loss for words.
Because of how much I get from making, I can’t help but have a strong emotional and somewhat spiritual connection to it. This, in turn, means that each piece I make contains a bit of myself in it. And while I may not be able to speak for all makers, many have a similar connection to their craft. Having this kind of creative outlet and connection is something that is especially important here at Swat, as it can provide a much-needed break from and an outlet for all that stress. Without it, I would truly feel like I spent the majority of my time on assignments and other things I don’t enjoy.
While the pieces that we make usually have a set function, they should not be discounted as a form of art all their own. Color, form, and composition all come together in craft pieces to serve an aesthetic function as well. My current crochet project, for example, is a patterned shawl that draws on traditional Scottish knitting motifs and is composed of several shades of grays and purples. Even patterns for children’s stuffed animals that I’ve crocheted are designed with a deliberate aesthetic in mind, ranging from minimalistic lions, vibrant maximalist fish, whimsical fairytale frogs, and punk tattooed rabbits.
Throughout the semester I hope to use this column to share this love of making with you all. There will be tips on places to find classes and supplies (spoiler: you may not even need to leave campus), inspiring interviews, and hints on how to have crafting fit into your life. And who knows, maybe some of you will find inspiration on how to make your life a little better too.