Making is meaning
These little chaps I made as an emergency baby gift got me thinking about making, and why it matters. It's important to me to welcome each baby with something handmade – and no, Etsy doesn't count; it has to be made by me, FOR this baby. It's silly, really. I'm sure it doesn't matter much to the parents, unless they're crafters themselves. The actual baby doesn't have a clue, and the gift could well be lost long before the kid is old enough to even be aware that it exists. And yet it matters. Every stitch is made just for that baby. It's a welcome like no other.
My newsletter header asserts: Making is meaning. I plopped that motto there without much thought; it was basically a placeholder. But it stuck, because hell yes. Making is meaning. It carries intention and weight. And in a way, it doesn't even matter what you make: the making itself is the point.
I've gotten as much satisfaction from stupidly simple projects like these little garter rectangles as from elaborate lace challenges. More, sometimes, because they can fit into my life when there's no time or energy for anything else. I remember, when Max was tiny and we'd just moved and life was impossible, taking 10 minutes to make a chunky beaded necklace from a kit. A kit with basically no room for decision making or options or any of the things I normally consider essential to "creativity". Making that gave me a rush of excitement and power that you wouldn't believe. I MADE A THING. And I suddenly felt so much more myself.
I tend to be suspicious of the discourse around craft as intrinsically political – as resistance in itself to materialism, capitalism, conformism – because there is after all a huge amount of consumerism associated with our hobbies. And yet. Making very directly puts power into our hands. It makes clear that we have choices; we affect the world. It makes it so much harder to accept "the way things are". It makes you aware of all the many decisions being made for you, in putting consumer goods on the shelves, and it makes you aware that you can take those decisions into your own hands.
Sure, you can just enjoy the sense of bringing something into being, making something that wasn't there before, and never think about what that means. Most of the time that's all we do! But being able to do that changes you. That's probably why so many people start with picking up a crochet hook and end up sheep farmers. Or grab a little leather bracelet kit on a whim and end up never buying shoes again. There aren't so many steps between "I can make a thing" and "everything that I buy is made, why can't I make THAT too?"
Which is why everything we make, no matter who it's made for, is also a gift to ourselves. Each project puts a bit more power and confidence and joy in our souls. How's that for a happy Christmas thought? Your creative hobby really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Wishing you a year ahead full of magical making.