I feel like so much of my life is dictated by an underlying sense of urgency and haste. I’m constantly rushing. Rushing to work, to cook dinner, to decorate the house, to learn… the list goes on. We absolutely live in a culture of speed and haste. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to disparage a sense of productivity in your life. I am often motivated by my endless list of projects and interests. But, if you don’t take a moment of genuine break from it all, it can lead to some real wear and tear. I mean genuine respite because for a long time, I thought my crafting (e.g., knitting, spinning, etc.) was a break from the chaos of life. But, if I am completely honest with myself, I think it helps me maintain that sense of productivity and hustle that makes me feel accomplished and satisfied. I think when we adopt this mentality with our hobbies, we start to produce less meaningful projects and start to accumulate an overabundance of materials to satisfy our urges to consume.
Maybe this is just me, but I’m sure many of you out there have felt a pang of regret or guilt for not having finished that pair of socks you started a year ago, or your yarn stash building up in a closet, or for not sewing in the ends to that sweater you “finished.” When I realized this, I decided I would intentionally slow myself down, invest in better, more meaningful materials, and find ways to connect more to my craft through learning and patience.
People often ask me why I got into naturally dying, and my answer is simple: it aligns with my desire to live a slower, more intentional life. Below is a list of some of the reasons why I began taking on and loving more “traditional” approaches to my crafting:
1 - Slow down and be more intentional
In a world where we are constantly bombarded with stimuli and pressured to produce quickly and efficiently, crafting can be a way to disconnect and engage with our creative side. Traditional crafting techniques such as spinning yarn or hand weaving require more time and attention, allowing us to slow down and be fully present in the moment. This can be a form of mindfulness, where we focus on the process rather than the end product. As we craft, we can pay attention to the feel of the yarn or the texture of the fabric, and take pleasure in each stitch or weave. In this way, traditional crafting becomes a way to connect with ourselves and our surroundings in a more meaningful way, allowing us to appreciate the simple pleasures of life and savor the beauty of the handmade. Not trying to churn out projects. Slowing down often forces you to think more about your projects and be more intentional if you are investing more in the process of crafting it.
2- Reduce waste and connect
with natural materials
Crafting traditionally, whether it's through knitting, crocheting, weaving, or dyeing, can have a positive impact on both the environment and our connection to natural materials. By using traditional techniques and natural materials, we can reduce waste. When we create our own handmade items, we are less likely to contribute to the culture of disposable and fast fashion that often leads to excessive waste and pollution. Instead, we can create unique and long-lasting pieces that are made with sustainable materials and techniques that have been used for generations. In addition, crafting with natural materials such as wool, cotton, and linen allows us to connect with the earth and appreciate the beauty and versatility of natural fibers. It can help us cultivate a deeper respect and understanding of the environment and the resources it provides. Overall, traditional crafting is not only a creative and fulfilling activity but also a way to make a positive impact on the planet and our relationship with nature.
3 - Learn more about the
historical importance of your craft
Crafting traditionally can help us gain a deeper understanding of the historical importance of our craft. Many traditional crafts have been passed down through generations, and their techniques and materials have evolved over time to reflect cultural and historical influences. By learning and practicing traditional techniques, we can connect with the rich history and cultural significance of our craft. We can gain insights into the lives and traditions of our ancestors and appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship that went into creating handmade objects in the past. Traditional crafting can also help us appreciate the value of preserving these crafts for future generations, as they represent an important part of our cultural heritage. By learning about the historical significance of our craft, we can better appreciate the skills and techniques that have been passed down to us and become more connected to the wider community of makers and artisans who share our passion for traditional crafts.
4 - Craft more self-sufficiently
Crafting traditionally can help us become more self-sufficient in our crafting. By using natural materials and traditional techniques, we can learn to create our own handmade items without relying on mass-produced goods or outsourcing to others. This can give us a greater sense of independence and self-reliance, as we are able to create items that are both beautiful and functional. In addition, traditional crafting often involves repurposing or upcycling materials, which can help us reduce waste and minimize our environmental impact. By learning how to mend, repair, and create our own clothing and home goods, we can save money and become less reliant on consumer culture. This can be empowering, as we learn to value the skills and knowledge that have been passed down to us and use them to create a more sustainable and self-sufficient way of life.
5 - Beauty in the imperfections
Crafting traditionally can help you find beauty in imperfections and step away from the pressure of mass-produced perfectionism. In a world where many products are mass-produced to uniform standards of perfection, traditional crafting practices emphasize the unique qualities and imperfections that make each item special. For example, hand-spun or hand-dyed yarns may have variations in texture or color that reflect the natural variations of the materials and the maker's skill and creativity. Similarly, handmade textiles may have small irregularities or quirks that give them a special character and charm. By embracing these imperfections, traditional crafting can help us appreciate the beauty of handmade and one-of-a-kind items, rather than striving for the sterile perfection of mass-produced products. Moreover, traditional crafting can be a meditative and relaxing process, where the focus is on the pleasure of making rather than the pressure to achieve a perfect end result. By stepping away from the demands of mass-produced perfectionism and embracing the beauty of imperfections, traditional crafting can be a source of joy, creativity, and self-expression.
6 - Tell a story with your crafting
Crafting traditionally can help us tell a story with our crafting. Handmade items often have a personal and unique quality to them, and the process of making can be just as important as the final product. Traditional crafting techniques, such as knitting or quilting, can be used to tell a story or express a message through the colors, patterns, and designs that are incorporated into the final product. By using natural materials and traditional techniques, we can create items that reflect our personal values, interests, and experiences, and share these stories with others. Handmade items can also be passed down through generations, carrying with them the stories and memories of those who made and used them. Traditional crafting can be a way to honor our past, celebrate our present, and inspire future generations, as we continue to create and share our stories through the art of crafting.
7 - Lower Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
Crafting traditionally can help lower our exposure to toxic chemicals. Many modern crafting materials, such as synthetic dyes and plastics, can contain harmful chemicals that can be harmful to our health and the environment. By using natural materials and traditional techniques, we can reduce our exposure to these toxins and create safer and healthier crafting practices. Natural dyes, such as those made from plant materials, can provide a beautiful and safe alternative to synthetic dyes, while natural fibers, such as wool or cotton, can be a healthier choice than synthetic materials. Additionally, traditional techniques such as fermentation or natural aging can be used to create beautiful and unique finishes on materials, without relying on harsh chemicals. By adopting traditional crafting practices, we can promote a more sustainable and health-conscious way of crafting, while also creating beautiful and meaningful items that reflect our values and creativity.
8 - Support Fair wages and
Crafting traditionally can help support ethical wages and fair living conditions for artisans and workers involved in the production of crafting materials. By choosing to use natural materials and supporting traditional crafting techniques, we can often source materials from smaller-scale producers and artisans who are committed to ethical and sustainable practices. These producers may prioritize fair wages and safe working conditions for their workers, which can help support communities and promote social justice. Additionally, traditional crafting practices often involve handcrafted production methods, which can help preserve and promote traditional artisanal skills and knowledge. By valuing these skills and supporting artisans who use them, we can help ensure that traditional crafts and production methods are valued and preserved for future generations. Ultimately, crafting traditionally can be a way to promote ethical and sustainable practices in crafting, while also creating beautiful and meaningful items that reflect our values and creativity.
9 - Connect with your local community and resources
Crafting traditionally can help connect you with your local community and resources. Many traditional crafting techniques, such as spinning, weaving, or dyeing, have deep historical roots in communities around the world. By exploring these techniques and learning about their history and cultural significance, we can develop a deeper appreciation for the rich traditions and heritage of our local communities. Additionally, traditional crafting often involves the use of locally sourced and natural materials, which can help connect us to the natural resources and environment of our local communities. By using and valuing these materials, we can develop a greater sense of connection and responsibility to the land and resources that sustain us. Traditional crafting can also be a way to connect with other makers and craftspeople in our local communities, as we share knowledge, resources, and inspiration with each other. Ultimately, crafting traditionally can be a way to build deeper connections to our local communities and resources, while also creating beautiful and meaningful items that reflect our values and creativity.
10 - Save money in the long run!
Crafting traditionally can help you save money in the long run. While some traditional crafting materials and techniques may require more upfront investment or time, they can often lead to more cost-effective and sustainable crafting practices in the long term. For example, learning to spin or weave your own yarn can be an initial investment in a spinning wheel or loom, but over time, it can save you money by allowing you to create your own yarn and fabric from locally sourced materials. Similarly, learning to dye your own yarn with natural materials can be a cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to buying pre-dyed yarns, while also allowing you to create unique and personalized colorways. Additionally, traditional crafting often involves repairing or repurposing old items, rather than buying new ones, which can be a more sustainable and cost-effective approach to crafting. By embracing traditional crafting practices, we can create beautiful and meaningful items while also saving money and reducing waste in the long run.