Thursday, June 26, 2014

Crafts are good for the brain

I love making things with my hands. Ever since I can remember, I've made things. I've knitted, sewed, done needle point, counted cross stitch, decorated cakes, painted, and more. Almost 25 years ago, I picked up quilting and I've never looked back. Occasionally I'll do another craft for a while, but I always come back to quilting. Over the years, I've made probably close to 200 hundred quilted pieces, from queen-sized quilts to small wall-hangings - mostly hand quilted.

Quilting relaxes me. When I get particularly anxious, it calms me down. When I get depressed, I seem to be even more creative than usual. It keeps my hands busy while I'm watching TV. If I'm in my sewing room, using my machine, I may be thinking about important issues, coming up with story ideas or sometimes, nothing at all other than the process of creating my next piece.

I also get a tremendous amount of pleasure giving my quilted items to people who I feel will enjoy them. Sometimes the recipient knows he or she is getting it, other times, it may arrive in the mail or be given during a visit. As much as they have told me they enjoyed receiving these gifts, I have enjoyed creating the pieces, with each one meant specifically for the person who received it. Maybe I get even more pleasure, come to think of it.

The cushion above was for someone who has that phrase in his email signature. It just struck me one day that I had to make it for him. The phrase pushed me to design it and I had great fun doing so. Other creations, like this birch tree wallhanging, were patterns specifically purchased for someone. In this case, for my best friend, who loves birches.

Other quilts are for special occasions (weddings, babies, etc) and some are just because I want to make them.

I've learned over the years that crafts are good for you in so many ways (other than the bank account, perhaps). For some people, having a dedicated craft adds to their social life. They get out and meet others who have similar interests. They talk about their crafts and their creations, sharing ideas, and learning new skills. The ideas you get when you think about your craft keep stimulating your mind. I know I get so many ideas just from looking around and seeing the different shapes and colors in my surroundings, from carpets to stained glass windows to gardens and bus stops.

I read an article the other day about knitting and how it was good for the brain (Why Crafting Is Great For Your Brain: A Neuroscientist Explains) so now I know this idea wasn't my imagination. I've also read articles where people who have PTSD often do better with a repetitive craft because of the repeating motion and the attention that you have to put into it to prevent errors. Although in quilting, errors can be referred to as design elements - in my world at least.

Here are a few other photos of some of my quilts. If you want to see more, you can visit my Pinterest page, where I've put a gallery of some quilts that I remembered to photograph before giving them away.

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