My friend Alyson asked me earnestly, "Do you knit?" We were standing in Coeur de Mailles in Quebec City, ogling luscious skeins. I felt a magnetic pull to return to knitting, the same avidity I felt when another friend invited me to sew, with her help.
I have not knit since the 1960s, when I produced a turtleneck sweater that strangled my boyfriend. (My mother reknit the neck.)
For nearly twenty years, I was deeply into sewing, the only way to have a yellow seersucker bellbottomed jumpsuit with a matching shawl in small-town Northern Ontario. But I quit in my mid-thirties, when, my taste outpaced my skills, and I wrecked too many lengths of opulent fabric.
I drop by sewing blogs, critiquing (without comment) various projects. Each time I think, Why don't I begin again? Mainly, it is because of the room required for the gear. I'd be buried in buttons, yardage, maybe even machines. It takes a sewing room to raise an outfit.
Knitting is somewhat less demanding of space, but when my heart beat like a hummingbird in that yarn store, I knew, Look out.
So I thought, what hobbies take little space? Some years ago I made pop-up cards and custom-carved rubber stamps; supplies for both will fit into a small box. I enjoy doing some low-key calligraphy, too.
Another criteria for retirement crafting is that the product have some utility, either to me or to the recipient. A handmade object is a form of expression, but also a product. Over the years I have made kites, quilts, enamelled pendants and pins, soft furniture, a cherrywood spice rack. My embroidery enhanced the patched denim of dozens of friends. You could not pay me to house any of it now.
Crafty persons tend to give their creations as gifts. Someone will always appreciate hand knit socks (hint, Alyson), but other times, it may be a matter of pass-the-clutter. (I have many crocheted doilies, thanks to a friend's mother.) Never mind that some efforts aren't perfect; when the item is made by a dear friend or your kids, it's a treasure. But even treasures need house room, so I am reluctant to contribute to hat.
Even if you sew your own clothes, you can still overload. I made one skirt in so many fabrics that I can still see the Simplicity pattern in my sleep. Because crafters are enthusiasts, enthusiasts produce, and then the stuff takes on a life of its own.
The other criterion is enjoyment: What delights, engages, and (at least some times) gives a sense of accomplishment?
My present 'craft' is writing: words take no house space. This blog produces a similar ratio of false starts and unsatisfactory results as making clothes. The product is ephemeral; like environmental art, it has its moment, then vanishes. But anyone subjected to an entire apartment full of someone's flower paintings may conclude that is not a bad thing.
And you? If you are a maker, have your avenues of expression changed? If you've taken up something new, how is the novice stage going? And if you've continued a lifetime of craft, what are you making now?
I'd love to offer a free macramé plant holder as a draw, but all of mine have long gone to pot heaven.