This is happening … I think we need to talk about crafting in isolation. If you’re listening to this as it goes to air, it is towards the end of April 2020 and we’re in a pandemic. Whether you prefer to say that you’re stuck stuck inside or safe at home, self isolation is a thing. It’s kind of similar to what I talked about in Episode 22 about crafting in times of crisis. This is a little bit different, although, we can classify this as a time of crisis, for sure. Now, I know you might be thinking, “Oh, she’s going to tell us we should make the most of our time, seize this opportunity and do lots of craft.”. Well, yes and no. I do have a list of 14 things that you, as a crafter, might find useful right now. But they are only ideas. This list might be equally as useful to you in other situations, like if you find yourself confined to the house with a broken leg, recovering from surgery, taking annual leave … so it’s not all COVID-19 doom and gloom. If you just don’t feel like doing anything, I have some thoughts on that as well. For now, though … let’s go through the list, starting with the first thing I did.
Number One – Make items for essential workers
Now there’s a lot of controversy over the whole facemask thing, whether they’re safe, whether they’re effective, whether they can be used. If you plan on making them for your local vet or doctor or hospital, etc … call or email them. Ask them if they need them, and for exact specs of what they need. If they say no, ask what else you can do to support them. Just like making items for wildlife carers, it’s best to invest your time, energy and resources into items that can and will be used, especially items that they desperately need. So things like caps and scrubs for hospital teams is a fantastic idea, but always check first. Some people are making 3d printed ear savers … a plastic strip that you can hook your face mask elastic around instead of very irritated ears. I think that that’s an extraordinary thing! If you have a 3D printer and would like to make some, check in with your local GP or hospital and see if they can use them, do your research and have at it! In my online scrolling one day I saw a crochet version of the ear saver with buttons. I don’t have a 3D printer, but I can crochet (and have a ludicrous number of buttons). But before I went nuts making them, I asked a few nurses if they could use them, and overwhelmingly the answer was no. The use of yarn meant they couldn’t be properly cleaned and sterilised like the 3D printed ones, so while they were pretty, and easy to make, to do so would be a waste of time and resources. Always check before you make.
Today I saw a gorgeous post in The Kindness Pandemic group on Facebook. A little girl baked some homemade sausage rolls, wrote a note and asked her mum to take them to the local police station to thank them for being brave and keeping the community safe. I mean, what a beautiful thing to do. Maybe you don’t have a 3D printer, or know how to sew surgical caps or scrubs, but if you can bake, there are so many people you could gift with your baked goods. Your local front line and essential workers, like doctors, nurses, hospital admin, posties, couriers, truck drivers, police, child care workers, teachers, vets, retail assistants (and so many more) … they’re the ones I want to thank right now. They’ve probably been running on adrenaline for weeks, but eventually that wears off, and they’re going to be worn out. A token of appreciation could be just the thing they need to keep going. Personally, I decided to make cards to send out to doctors and nurses. I did a blog post about this … don’t die of shock … I wrote a blog post with no video and no audio. I just had an idea of how we can use our crafting superpowers to spread some joy, and I’ll link to that blog post in the show notes. Anyway, I sent out a bunch of cards to doctors and nurses and medical teams in local hospitals as well as my mother’s local hospital and the one where I used to live. I asked my friends and customers if they knew a doctor or a nurse who could use some uplifting words right about now, and every time I’ve sent out a card, it has landed at just the right time when they’ve been having a really bad day. Never underestimate the power of a kind word in a handmade cards. For the card makers, quite a few stamp companies have released free images that you can use to send out cards to medical staff and first responders, so I’ll link to some of those as well. It doesn’t have to be a card … a handwritten note on nice paper would work just as well.
Number Two – Art Exhibition
It’s not what you’re thinking. I’m not saying go out to a gallery and breach social protocols. What I was thinking was … how about an art exhibition in your front window or on your front lawn? If you are a person who creates large works, like big canvas paintings, quilts, giant amigurumi or plushies … why not put some of your creations on show for your neighbours? If your neighbourhood is anything like mine, people are out and about getting their daily exercise, families have kids out on bikes to prevent cabin fever. People still need to walk their dogs and joggers are jogging. Let’s let’s give them something to look at in the front window. My daughter got out and did some chalk drawing in our driveway, and I saw many people walk by, admire her work and it put a smile on their faces. Make a sign with your Instagram handle or website so people know where to see more of your work, and you might just find yourself with some new fans and customers.
Number three – Craft for Charity
I know we talked about crafting for essential workers, however this is a little bit different. All those charities that do non COVID-19 related work, they still need things made for them. Every angel gowns organisation, Capes for Kids, Blanketlovez, Wrap with Love, Knitted Knockers … they still need to do their good work, but with Caronavirus dominating the news, they’ve been forgotten. It’s just like when the fires came along, we forgot about people in drought stricken areas and when the floods came along, we forgot about fires. And now that COVID-19 came along, we forgot about the floods and the fires and the droughts, but these people still need help and our support. So if you are burned out on COVID-19, and you want to direct your attention elsewhere, I’ll link to a great directory of different organizations who need your crafting skills.
Number four – Level up your craft skills
If you find yourself at home, and you’re a bit bored with time on your hands, or you’re feeling restless, it’s a great time to do this. You could learn a new technique, a new stitch, a new method, even a whole new craft. There are so many online courses and classes, YouTube videos and a vast wealth of knowledge available to us. Crack open that kit, that book, that online course you paid for but never started, and level up your craft skills.
Number Five – Organize your Craft Supplies
I took an hour a couple of weeks ago and organised my papercrafting desk. I had a pile of embellishments, ink pads, stamps, cardstock and paper in front of my embellishment tubs, and consequently I wasn’t using any of them. It had been bugging me for nearly a year, so I figured, while I had a little extra time on my hands, I would tackle it. I threw away the rubbish, found homes for the new supplies, and was able to rearrange my working desk space more efficiently. I ordered some small storage shelves from KMart for vertical desk storage, and it’s freed up a lot of space. That time I invested in tidying was well spent, because I always feel more creative with a tidy work space. Sure, I haven’t done a full cull, but when I make time for that, it will be easier because I can access everything now. I’ll link to episode 12 about organising your craft supplies, as well as Episode 7 (Should you Kondo your Craft). The beauty of organising your supplies is that it’s like a treasure hunt, and next time you sit down to craft you can spend more time making something and less time searching for the supplies.
Number Six – Finish Things
I cannot be the only person with an unfinished craft project … my notorious Mario quilt … I’ll get to it one day!. If you started something, now is the time to take it out, have a good look at it and decide if you’re going to finish it. If you’re excited to finish it, grab everything you need and get going. If you realise you no longer love it or need to finish it, that’s ok. Bag it, tag it, send it off to the op shop, sell it or give it away. Even if you don’t have time to finish the whole thing now, take it out, make some notes about supplies you need to buy or steps you need to take to get it done, and put everything together so you can work on it when you do have the time. Making decisions on unfinished projects is very freeing.
Number Seven – Teach someone your craft
If you have kids, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “I’m bored” more than once in the last month or so. Why not teach your kids how to do your favourite craft. Heck, why not sit down and learn something new all together, it can be a great bonding time. When I tell people I’m a professional crafter, most of them instantly assume I mean kids craft. I actually don’t teach kids classes now, but I used to, and I have a few tips for crafting with kids. Let go of perfectionism. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it has to be fun. Don’t use your best supplies (maybe let them at your b-team supply box). When your kids look back on the times spent crafting with you, do you want them to remember how they didn’t do it right and Mum got cross, or do you want them to remember that Mum was encouraging, you all laughed a lot and made fun memories together? Wouldn’t it be nice if the stories your kids tell about the 2020 pandemic include good times with Mum doing craft. I know that craft brings me a lot of joy, and hopefully it will bring them a lot of joy in their adult lives as well.
Maybe you don’t have kids to teach, or your kids aren’t interested in learning (maybe your 18 month old isn’t handy with a crochet hook). But you may have family, friends, co workers, acquaintances, neighbors, who would like to learn what you do. There are a lot of crafts that you could actually teach over zoom. Crochet is one of them. It’s very easy to hold something up to your webcam and show someone how to do something and then watch them as they do it, and correct them as you go along. Teaching classes is one of my favorite things to do, but I can’t teach at my local store, so teaching online classes is something I would like to find time to do.
Number Eight – Do a Challenge
Oh my goodness, there are challenges everywhere on blogs, Facebook pages and groups, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and more. A challenge could be just the thing to shake you out of your crafting funk. Bring back a little of your missing Mojo. By the way, I will also link to Episode 6 about Lost Craft Mojo. A lot of links are going to be in the show notes for this one. Look, challenges can be great. You may see something that someone else has made and think “Oh, I really like that product. I didn’t think I needed it, but now I think I do.” or “That technique looks great. I think I’d like to learn that.”, which takes us back to number four. So doing a challenge could be a great way to pass the time and upskill.
Number Nine – Craft socially via Zoom
If you’ve not heard of zoom, it is a video conferencing call you access online, kind of like Facetime, and you can have multiple people on a video call at once. What a wonderful way to pass time on a quiet day, crafting with other people, maybe making new friends, learning something and chatting with like-minded people. Zoom is quite easy to use … you download the software to your computer, click the link that the host sends (sometimes you might need to enter a code and password sent by the host), and join the virtual craft session. You can turn video and sound on and off at your end as needed, and there’s a chat box where you can type in questions and chat via text if you don’t feel like talking on video. There are other virtual meeting spaces, like Eyeson and Meetfox, but they pretty much work the same way.
Number 10 – Catch up on Your Favourite Crafty YouTubers
If you have been wishing that you had time to catch up on all those videos from your favorite crafty YouTuber, now is the time! I give you permission to do this guilt free. When I was overseas in January, and I had the flu, I was laid up in my hotel room, in New York for two days. There was so much else I wanted to see and do, but couldn’t. I had just been to Creativation, and met some of my favourite Craft YouTubers, like Laura Bassen, Jennifer McGuire and Mary Polanco, so I was thrilled to catch up on their videos that I had missed. So, you’ve got my permission, go binge watch crafters on YouTube.
Number Eleven – Break up with a craft
Oh, I bet you weren’t expecting that one. Yes. From time to time, we have a craft that we used to love, but now it just sits there making us feel guilty because we don’t love it any more. If you’re stuck at home, now might be the time to take a good hard look at those craft supplies and decide if you are really going to use them again. Do you get excited thinking about doing this craft? Or have you learned what you wanted to learn? Did it bring great things into your life? You know it in your heart before you accept it in your head, but there’s sometimes a moment when you realise … I’m done with that craft. It is okay to break up with a craft. Sure, it might be painful, and you have to get rid of some stuff that reminds you of them. Thank it for its contribution to your life, bag it, tag it and move it on out when isolation is over. Breaking up is part of life, and there’s a new craft out there just waiting for you to fall in love with it.
Number Twelve – Take an online class or course
Even though I’m still quite busy and don’t have loads of free time on my hands, I did want to take this time to learn something new. A couple of weeks ago I bought an iPad & Apple pencil, and a drawing program called Procreate. Sure, I’m using it for a business project and am hoping to do some video editing on there, but it’s also for my kids to use. They are fantastic artists, and my youngest daughter has been drawing up a storm on that thing. We’ve been watching lots of videos to learn how to use it, and honestly I was feeling a little bit left out. I’m the only person in my household who’s not good at drawing, so I signed up for a cartooning class. It’s online, it’s video delivered, it has templates I can use, and I really liked the format. I found this guy on YouTube, his name is Brad Colbow (I will link to his channel for you, as well as the course, just in case it’s something you’ve wanted to do). I’m only about a third of the way through, but I’m really enjoying it. I’ve come up with a cute little character. I can redraw him without thinking too hard. I just learned how to do different expressions, and I’m loving it.
I think it’s important to support your local craft store or craft teacher if they’re running online classes or launch a virtual course during this pandemic. By supporting them in new ways during self isolation, chances are they’ll still be in business when it’s over, with lovely stores for us to visit, shop at and take lessons in.
Number Thirteen – Take stock of your Supplies and Shop Online
Yes, you heard me right. I just gave you permission to shop. Part of organizing and culling your supplies is also figuring out what you actually need. I talked about it in Episode 20 (Setting up a craft planner, which I’ll link in the show notes).
Take stock. Have a look. If you’ve been crafting a lot, go have a look. Do you need some more adhesive? Have you run out of white thread? Make a list of the things that you need for your next project and do your shopping online. If your local store is doing click and collect, and you’re comfortable with that, do that and support your independent craft stores.
Number Fourteen – Prepare for Christmas
I know it’s April. Christmas is a long way off and who knows how we’ll even be allowed to do Christmas in 2020. But now is the time you can start preparing. You know those years you were thinking, “oh, maybe I’ll make quilts for the nieces and nephews or grandchildren or for my sister for Christmas”. Well … we have time! Now would be the time to start preparing. At the very least give it some thought. Sit, make some lists, make some Christmas cards, make your Christmas tags. Get the kids involved in potato printing on brown wrapping paper, let it dry, roll it up, and you’re ready to go. This might be the year for your dream handmade Christmas. Yes … I talked about that in Episode 19, which I will also link to. Do some work now, make a note in your diary, calendar or phone, of what you’ve done to prep and where you put those things. That way you can have more time for fun stuff at Christmas because a lot of the things that you might normally rush around doing, you’ve already done.
So that’s 14 things. But here are two more important suggestions.
You might be doing it for yourself, your family, your neighbours, your community, for charity, for Christmas. Maybe you’re helping, you’re teaching, you’re passing time or distracting yourself.
Doing something can make you feel like you’re being useful, being productive, being smart with your time.
Lots of people are doing things … learning a new language, upskilling for work, looking for work, baking up a storm. Some to relieve boredom, some have a thirst for learning, and others from pure necessity. Overwhelmingly the media is suggesting things we can do. Maybe one of the things on my list will appeal to you, as a crafter.
But on the flip side of that coin, my other suggestion is …
Maybe you have been flat out busy for months, or years, or decades. Maybe right now the thought of doing something makes you want to cry.
Right now you might need to stop, to rest, recharge, make decisions, ask for help, accept help, think deep thoughts or just tune out.
Doing nothing could be what you need, and if it is, then no guilt allowed … if you need a break from being constantly busy, take that break.
Here’s the thing. We’re all going to handle self isolation differently. Whether you’re in a stable place in life, or everything is falling apart, the way you handle it will be different to the next person in the same circumstances. There are so many people telling us what we should be doing, but honestly … you’re the only one who has insight into what will work for you and your household.
Change is hard, and we’re all going to have a bunch of emotions and feelings, and they’ll probably swing wildly from week to week, day to day, maybe even hour to hour. There will be stress and grief and irritation, as well as joy and laughter and special moments. I know some days I want to make beautiful things, send cards to nurses, give chocolate bars to check-out-chicks and put a teddy bear in my window for the kids walking past. Other days I want to do precisely zip in my pj’s, under a blanket watching the same thing I’ve already watched 18 times on Netflix (hellooooooo Sugar Rush and The Hitman’s Bodyguard).
If you love something on my list and think it will be helpful, fantastic. If not, hey … they’re just suggestions.
We may all be in this together, but you need to do what you need to do to get through. Whether that is embracing your craft, or just putting it down for a minute. I hope that you will listen to your heart and to your mind into your gut and do the thing that you need right now. So that you come out of this strong, and well, and healthy, and happy.
Episode 22 – Crafting in Times of Crisis
The Kindness Pandemic (Facebook group)
Blog Post – Cardmaking Super Powers
Free Digital stamps (pinned to top of Facebook page)
Crafting for charity directory
Episode 12 – Organising craft supplies
Episode 7 – Should you Kondo your Craft?
Cartooning YouTube Channel (Brad Colbow)
TikTok desk makeover video
Episode 6 – Lost Craft Mojo
Episode 20 -Set up a Custom Planner
Episode 19 – Handmade Christmas