By Jason D’Amours
Meet the maker
Jason is a doctoral candidate in sociology living and working in Tallahassee, Florida. In fall of 2020, Jason picked up some knitting needles and learned to knit. Since then, socks always seem to find themselves being worked up on his needles. When not working or knitting, you can find him binging reality-TV, tending to his (way too many) houseplants, or sipping wine with his partner.
Crafting a Meaningful Maker’s Corner
Let’s be honest, we makers are prone to finding a comfortable spot within our home to sit and knit, crochet, or craft away for hours on end. The seemingly mundane practice of just sitting and knitting may not even be something we think too much about. Yet, as I settled into my knitting practice, it was this mundane component of knitting that I came to value most, perhaps because of the context in which I learned to knit.
I learned to knit several months into the pandemic. Once I settled into my practice, I realized that the purposeful time I sat aside to just sit and knit was very valuable – taking a break from what seemed like an onslaught of terrible world news has gotten me through the pandemic to today. The question remains, though, how can we be purposeful or mindful about creating that space where we sit and knit?
In September, fellow knitter Deborah shared in her guest blog post a handful of tips about how to practice mindfulness while knitting. I’ve since incorporated these helpful tips into my practice (my favorite is using stitch markers as a tactile reminder to pause, take a breath, and shake out that tension in my shoulders and hands)! Since Deborah’s post, though, I’ve also thought more about the things I’ve done, and could do, to be mindful about crafting a meaningful maker’s corner before I start knitting. So, let me go ahead and share those with y’all!
Here are my tips!
First, you might have guessed it, but let’s start with plants! A 2010 study found that having and caring for plants within your home can lower stress levels and naturally promote cleaner air. I’m sure we can all agree that knitting, or crocheting, or whatever craft it is that keeps your hands and mind busy (or not busy!) also reduces stress, so why not double the stress reducing benefits of our maker’s corner?!
While Pothos are great indoor plants that are low maintenance and easy to care for, I spice up my knitting corner with another low maintenance beauty, a Philodendron Brasil. You can usually find these at your local garden centers but especially at any small and local nurseries in your area. They’re similar to Pothos in that they vine, tolerate (some) neglect, only require indirect light, and don’t require constant vigilance when it comes to watering. Depending on your home, and your current or future maker’s corner, a Philodendron Brasil, in all of its lemon-lime variegated beauty, might be the perfect addition!
Another fun and small plant you might consider is a Fittonia. If you think you don’t have a green thumb, a Fittonia is the perfect beginner plant (trust me, go get a Fittonia and then brag to all your friends and family that you can finally keep a plant alive)! I say this because out of all the plants my partner and I have (by our last count, I think we were close to 60…), a Fittonia is the most telling – it will literally communicate to you when it needs water in the most dramatic way…by fainting! I’m serious, you’ll know it when you see it, which makes it perfect for beginners.
One other easy plant you might enjoy is a Snake Plant. You can find one basically anywhere (sometimes even growing naturally in your own backyard, depending on where you live). They’re low-light tolerant and do not need to be watered often at all.
If you have a few plants on hand, consider moving them around to keep your maker’s corner fresh and exciting!
Before adding plants to your maker’s corner, be mindful of the furry friends you live with – some plants might be toxic to dogs and cats. So just do a quick Google search before purchasing, or make sure to keep an eye out on your pets (our cat is very selective about which plants he will eat, so we have some leeway in our house).
Next, another thing you might want to consider in your maker’s corner is some type of organization. I’m not the person to go purchase all those really neat plastic organizing bins, so I won’t tell you to do that either (but if you are that kind of person, I’m jealous, because I bet your kitchen ‘junk’ drawer looks a whole lot better than mine). I like to keep it simple – I got this really cute woven basket on sale at Michael’s some time ago and find it convenient, and attractive, for storing my yarn and other supplies. If you have quite a bit of yarn on hand, consider being purposeful about the yarn you include in your corner. Maybe only have those few skeins you need for your 2-3 current projects in your maker’s corner (I say 2-3 because let’s be real, who among us only has one work in progress on our needles?!).
Sometimes I also find myself drowning in all the notions I have or need for a project. That’s why I also recommend having some organizational method on hand for storing any needles and project notions (like stitch markers, tapestry needles, cable needles, needle stoppers, progress keepers, etc.). I love my interchangeable Knitters Pride needle set for this purpose, particularly the side pouch for storing all those notions. But, a binder or pouch of any kind could serve this purpose!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, get comfortable, in whatever way that means to you! I like to swap and move around certain tactile objects to keep my corner comfortable. Experiment with different pillows and blankets in your space. Consider lighting a candle before your crafting session. Do what makes you feel at peace, relaxed, and comfortable. And remember, keep those objects nearby. That way, your mindful maker’s corner is ready for your next crafting session.
If you’re now feeling inspired to either curate a maker’s corner or update one you already have, share some photos! Tag Kalley and I on Instagram – I know I’d love to see your meaningful maker’s corner!
Jason is currently designing his first pattern, so make sure to follow him on Instagram where he shares his recent knits and will post updates about his upcoming sock pattern.