When going through my feed reader the other day I came across an interesting post that piqued my interest on a personal as well as a business level. It was about why the UK Craft Industry is enjoying continued growth. They look at it from the point of view of Direct Selling, using new technology and Social Media amongst other things. It got me thinking about it from the other end, the customer – a point of view I am well qualified to take!
I have always loved making things and there are few crafts I haven’t tried, though I haven’t adopted all of them. Most of the crafts I indulge in on a regular basis are thread and fabric related, and I am borderline obsessive about them. The Dearly Beloved was known to take my temperature and check for signs of impending illness if I wasn’t doing something with thread and fabric for more than 15 minutes outside working hours.
obsessions crafts are Lacemaking, Knitting, Sewing, Quilting, Embroidery of all sorts, Crochet, Watercolour painting, assorted paper crafts and I’ve lately taken up weaving again which is proving very satisfying. I have an entire room dedicated to storing my Craft Supplies and books. The general idea was that I would also use it to do my crafts, particularly the sewing and paper crafts – but it’s too full! In fact my Lace Pillows take up a large part of the storage in another room – I think they are breeding! Then there are my ‘current projects’ which occupy space in the Living Room – my loom, my lace pillow, my knitting basket with several projects in it… need I go on?
I’m obviously not alone in my crafting as it seems to be one of the few growing sectors in our economy. Looking at the amount of money changing hands at the recent Festival of Quilts, no one would believe that we are in the depths of one of the deepest Recessions ever created by a stupid, inept government and a corrupt Banking sector – but that’s another topic.
The driving forces for me are a combination of the challenge of trying new things and the satisfaction of creating something useful and hopefully beautiful. Doing the work, if you can call it work, stills my mind in the chaos of daily life, it is about the only thing that does. The friends I go to craft groups with are very dear to me and are a source of much fun and laughter – in fact we have something of a reputation for being noisy and cleaning up in the Raffles.
Crafting of all sorts has seen a massive growth over the last few years, probably predating the current recession. As ever there are a number of factors that have contributed to the growth of interest in crafts. Don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s to produce things cheaply – the cost of materials has sky-rocketed over the last 15 years. There is no such thing as a cheap hobby where crafting is concerned. I suspect it is a mix of more available time, a need to create, the companionship of craft groups in an increasingly lonely world, and availability of materials not to mention better marketing.
What do we do with it all? We use a lot of it, if socks are needed, I knit them. As a family we have always made as many of the gifts we give people as we possibly can, often planning things months ahead. A classic example are some Bookmarks I recently made for my Sisters-In-Law, which were almost as long in the planning as the making. The thread was bought over 100 years ago by their Great Grandmother and ended up with us. We carefully chose which we would use and what the patterns would be. Finally I embarked on the task of making them with the fragile threads that grew in strength as they were woven together to make the lace as well as bridging the years between generations.
A costly gift – no, but to me the handmade things I give and receive are beyond price. Why? Because they take time, a lot of time and time is the ONLY finite thing in life. Your time can run out at any moment with no warning, so when you you give a gift that you have made, you are giving the most precious thing you have – your time. When you receive that handmade gift, you are receiving the most precious thing the giver has to give – their time.
Crafts may well be a growing sector of the economy but more important, they are an expression of just how much your crazy friend who is always covered in bits of thread, paper, paint and glue cares about you.