After a year of lockdown after lockdown (after lockdown), everyone’s coped in their own way – whether it’s fitness, writing quizzes or a new hobby.
I’ve seen more people learning to craft than I ever would have expected – I’ve found a collection of people who love cross stitch, I’ve seen so many Instagram profiles for new Etsy candle businesses and air dry clay earrings have become surprisingly popular (let’s not talk about the banana bread or the sour dough, okay?).
Crafting is a popular activity for a reason – it’s so broad, it’s so relaxing and it’s a relatively easy way to start a side hustle too. Whether it’s sewing face masks or digital drawings, I’d love to see the statistics on new Etsy shops that have been set up in the last year. I’ve really gotten into crafting myself – cross stitch, knitting, sewing, paper craft, anything I could get my hands on over Christmas! So I thought I’d write a ‘beginner’s guide’ of sorts (as I am still very much a beginner myself) to some of the easiest and cheapest ways to get into different crafting skills and spend less time scrolling twitter.
- cross stitch
The entire reason I got into cross stitch was due to the little kits available to buy on Hobbycraft – I messed the first one up big time but I found it so therapeutic. Knowing how precise it all is without even trying due to the aida cloth (the one with holes in it!) and how it looks so cute and pretty but really homely – and such a thoughtful gift that shows how much you care!
I also realised cross stitch is like sewing in 8-bit which was really fun.
To start off with, I recommend these little kits from Hobbycraft – they’re really easy to follow and come with really clear instructions (if the link doesn’t work, look for the ‘mini’ cross stitch kits, less than 10cm). I then stepped up to a larger cross stitch kit from Etsy – you can pick any design you like, buying a kit means it comes with all the materials and generally very well laid out instructions, but a bigger project feels more advanced. Then, if you really fancy it you can buy your own aida cloth, a selection of embroidery threads and you can even make your own design on websites like stitchfiddle!
Knitting feels intimidating – the big needles and all the different kinds of stitches – but if you want a soothing, repetitive activity to do while you’re watching some background telly (that doesn’t count as screen time, does it?), then knitting can be just the ticket.
I started by knitting ear savers – my mum sent me the pattern and it was a small little project to get me into knitting. I was watching a new Youtube video for every kind of stitch in the pattern but there are so many brilliant tutorials that I could comfortably knit one ear saver from start to finish in about half an hour (not including sewing on the buttons).
From there, I tried to advance the skill but I found it was just a little bit too stressful and that’s not what I wanted! So I took my needles and a ball of wool (I like to call it a loaf) and just sat and knitted row after row. I find the repetitive motion very soothing and a great relaxing activity for me. If you did want to advance this skill, there are loads of patterns available online and buying wool is definitely something I can see becoming very addictive!
After making the ear savers, I figured it would make sense to try and make the masks to go with them! I lovingly cut up an old duvet into small squares (r.i.p space cats sheets) and found a pattern and I was off! The first pattern wasn’t ideal – it was too big to be an effective face mask and it was a lot of work to sew it by hand. I then bought a kit from Hobbycraft (don’t ask me how much money and time I’ve spent in Hobbycraft in the last year) and I found that pattern was better to use and included the metal nose strips that help your glasses not to fog up (in theory).
I have since found another pattern that uses a rounded shape which is easier to sew and looks better. I was very lucky to get a sewing machine for Christmas (thank you mummy <3) and it’s made the face mask sewing process both quicker and slower – quicker to sew, but slower because I’m learning how to use a sewing machine too! I’m absolutely adoring my sewing machine – I’ve taken in a skirt that was too big for me and I’m hoping to learn to make bunting this month! One day I’ll brave making my own clothes but for now that feels intimidating and fabric is expensive.
- paper crafts
It sounds silly to include paper crafts on the list, but I made a cotton wool ball snowman at Christmas, a 2021 vision board and some spreads in my bullet journal and rediscovered a primary school-level love for cutting and sticking. It sounds silly, but it brings me joy, so I will talk about it!
This one isn’t quite as much of an offline activity, as for me it started on Pinterest – making a digital board of all the things I wanted to include; the aesthetics, the quotes, whatever you like! I then copy and pasted them into Word (which is probably more hassle than it was worth, but I couldn’t think of an easier way!) and, simple as, cut and stuck them! I have a little collection of scrapbooking bits and bobs that I could use to embellish the pictures – a bit of washi tape, some string and some patterned card to use as backgrounds (though I intend to up my sticker game when the shops reopen). But it’s such a therapeutic activity! Literally just cutting and sticking pictures.
There’s not much of a purpose to it – my 2021 mood board is going to go up in my new office when we move house (I’m getting an office!) and I make little collages at the beginning of each month in my bullet journal but I thoroughly recommend it if you’re feeling a bit fed up – find some pretty pictures, maybe line them up with any goals or resolutions or ambitions you have for yourself and give yourself an afternoon with a cosy movie!
This post is already far too long, but I thoroughly enjoy talking about crafts – I can definitely do more specific posts about cross stitch patterns, learning to use a sewing machine as an absolute beginners and recycling household items in craft projects (water bottles and cereal boxes etc!).
Thank you for reading,