Today I indulged myself in a trip to the Central Branch of the library – the big one downtown, with 6 amazing floors of books. I hadn’t been to that library in ages, and I had recently been missing the ability to wander through the aisles and browse through all the books. (I have three degrees, remember – most of my teens and 20’s was spent in libraries, pouring over books). These days, my usual approach is to search my books out in the online catalogue, place a ton of holds, and then pick them up at my local branch – yes, you get the books you think you want, but you don’t get the same library experience. Plus, if you are trying to research something specific, it generally works out that most of the books you order don’t end up containing the info you’re looking for, so the whole exercise becomes a bit pointless.
Anyway, today’s mission was the craft section – first embroidery, then a quick glance (as always) through knitting and crochet. You never know what you’re going to find there, after all. It turned out to be an odd experience. On the one hand, it was fantastic pouring over books on so many different kinds of arts and crafts: if you can think of it, there is probably a book there on how to do it. (and they’re all free!) I started in Needlecraft, and then worked back through tapestry, sewing, paper quilling, drawing… you name it, it was there. In the beginning, I was pulling books off the shelves and exclaiming over the fun things I could do. So many stitches I could learn, and such beautiful designs to make them into. Pretty quickly, however, it all went a little sour:
?Wow! Look at all the fancy stitches in these books! I could (learn to) do that, and then I could make this amazing pillow! (oh, but my sofa is already full with the two pillows I knit last year). Well, what about a sampler? (but where would I hang it?). So I could learn all these stitches, and use them for…. well, what, exactly?”
The more I looked at the books, I kept coming back to the same (unpleasant and very mind demon driven) sensation of how all of these decorative arts are just that – decorative. I live in a small place. We don’t have much room for more practical items than we already have, and the walls are already filled with art and photos that we’ve carefully selected over the years. And even if I had room to hang framed embroidery samplers, I’d first have to convince Mike that that’s something he wants to hang in the flat in the first place. I like making crafty things, and I value the skill and talent that goes into it when others make them, but I can’t help the sensation that the finished object just becomes another thing you have to find a home for in an already too-full house. And giving it away just makes it someone else’s piece of stuff with no home. At least with knitting you can wear the finished objects. What do you with 25 hand embroidered pillows?! Is this the real reason why Etsy has become so popular – because all us crafty people need to find something to do with all the
crap creative things we want to spend our time making?!
Clearly, I have an issue with the concept of stuff. Days like today, I come home from being out & about, and suddenly all my crafty supplies (not to mention half my other possessions) just look like so much wasted money and… I don’t know, ambition? Plans, maybe? I don’t know quite how to describe it. I can go through my yarn stash and tell you where I got each skein of yarn, or what fantastic project it was intended to become. But that project didn’t happen, and now it just sits there in its box. And at least with knitting I do it every day, so I can (kind of) justify holding on to all that yarn. My other craft supplies – cross stitch, embroidery, card making, scrapbooking – I haven’t
had made time to do these things in ages, and now the supplies just sit there taking up space. Some days I think I need to move into a giant house where my everyday living space is kept completely minimalist and free of clutter, but in which there are several ‘back rooms’ where I house all my crafty stuff. That way my stuff is all there for when I need it, but I don’t have to look at it all the time and feel so guilty for not being able to put it to good use.