It’s not easy to stay grounded in a digital world. Job and work related issues, family troubles, financial woes, conflicts with friends, long boring commutes, and other factors can make us feel disconnected, burnt out, and stressed. Too many of us hardly take time to sit down to have dinner, let alone feel peaceful and content on a daily basis. It might be fast and easy to send off an email, text someone, plug in a movie, or watch a video on a smartphone, but are these technological practices helping us maintain a sense of self?
Learning from our Ancestors (You know, before the Internet)
Our ancestors might not have had anywhere near the digital tools and tricks we have to day that make life easier, but they did have a refuge from life’s stressful moments: handcrafts. Knitting and quilting are two of the oldest and most beloved crafts. When your hands are engaged in making something, it slows the mind down and creates a sense of contentment. Then, when you’re finished, you have a beautiful sweater, warm pair of mittens, colorful scarf, or cozy quilt to use in your home or give away as a gift.
Knitting is a very enjoyable activity that has been practiced for centuries. Irish knitters made heavy duty cable Aran sweaters for fishermen to wear out on the freezing waters. Scandinavian sweaters from Norway and Sweden are famous for their red, white, and green colors, and blocky folk art patterns. One key way to stay grounded in a digital world is to support the sheep farmers and wool suppliers who provide such an amazingly wide array of yarns. Knitting has become more popular than ever, due to wonderful websites like Ravelry, which create online communities who share knitting patterns, ideas, and materials.
It Can Help Build Communities (You know, Before Facebook)
Quilting also has a long history of community. During the Civil War, women would form quilting bees to create soft blankets for the soldiers. Since many slaves in the Antebellum South were illiterate, some quilt patterns were even used to communicate on the Underground Railroad. In the later part of the 19th century, crazy quilts were created from leftover fabric scraps. The online version of quilting bees might be forums, but you can also start a quilting community of your own in your hometown. Ask around at fabric stores, to see if anyone is willing to pass on their quilting knowledge, for me I actually took advantage of this new fangled internet and learned a lot from this site. Take a couple of hours out of the hectic pace of modern life to sit around a table, pin appliques, and chat with other quilters.
Knitting and quilting connect us to the history that comes from thousands of crafters in the past. This helps us stay grounded in a digital world, during the present time when hand-crafted things are no longer a staple of regular life. It may be more common to go out and buy a sweater or quilt, but making something by hand has a lot of time and care invested into the process. The crafters of the past didn’t have emails or texts, but they could read patterns and cut fabric. We can still do the same today.