When I first sat down to write this post, my initial plan was to write about my favourite colours and projects. And both of those are definitely a part of how I express myself.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that even the act of crafting, the very idea of being “into crafts”, and then choosing your craft, is in itself an act of self-expression.
And then I got really carried away! As I dug a little deeper, I found that crafting has not just allowed me to express who I am, but it has helped me to learn a lot about myself too.
What is self-expression?
Self-expression is the expression of one’s feelings, thoughts, or ideas, especially in writing, art, music, or dance.Oxford Dictionary
It’s how we tap into who we are, and then communicate that to the world through the things we say, do or create.
But it’s not always easy to know who we are deep down.
In this age of social media and information overload, we are constantly bombarded by messages. We are told what we should do, what we should want, what we should look like, wear, eat, drink.
We are almost told who to be!
It’s so easy to be influenced by what others are designing or making.
It’s a whole lot easier to scroll through someone else’s gorgeous Instagram feed, than to sit quietly and think about what our own thoughts and feelings are telling us.
On a day-to-day basis, simply having access to a hook and yarn has given me a way to express how I’m feeling on a particular day.
My project and tools of choice are definitely influenced by my mood.
If I’m feeling a bit glum, I might go for neutral or blue shades, and maybe a thick, chunky yarn that will give me a quick win!
If I’m feeling reflective, I might choose a simple, repetitive stitch pattern, where I can focus on counting my stitches with little effort.
The simple act of making something with my hands has been such a helpful way to “let it all out.”
If I’m feeling upbeat and positive, hand me the DK yarn, a 4mm hook and my stitch dictionary – I can do anything!
And if I’m feeling particularly energetic, I might go for a garment with some shaping that will challenge my brain (and patience!).
Self-expression and our values
On another level, simply just being a crocheter allows me to express my values. While I’m sure I’ll never be fully able to answer the question “who am I?”, there are a few things I do know.
I value slowing down.
I say this (and really mean it!) but, between running around after 3 young kids, and working part-time, my day-to-day life is anything but slow.
Crochet is the one thing that helps me live out this value in a very real way. I can sit down with a knot of anxiety in my stomach after a hectic day, and within minutes of focusing on a crochet project, the anxiety has magically evaporated. Only it’s not magic. Crafting is one of the best stress relievers out there.
I value growth and learning.
I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. And even though I don’t get to read so much these days, I have become a complete podcast junkie. I especially love to list to crochet podcasts while I crochet!
With crochet, the learning opportunities are endless. There is always a new crochet stitch or technique to learn. And on top of all that, learning to actually write crochet patterns has been, and continues to be, a journey in itself.
As well as giving me the chance to learn new technical skills, my crochet life has also been an unexpected source of personal development.
Never in a million years did I imagine that I would have the guts to create something as public as a blog. Or that I would put a picture of myself on a Pinterest pin for all the world to see! (Granted, there is only a teeny tiny percentage of the world that will ever actually see it, but still, it was pretty scary!)
So, through my crochet, I’ve slowly but surely stepped outside of my comfort zone. I’ve dipped my toes into the world of social media and put a little bit of myself out there. It’s been so, so scary, but also just a bit thrilling and satisfying.
I value beauty and function.
With crochet in particular, it is possible to make something that is beautiful to look at, and also serves a purpose. This sits so well with my logical self 🙂
Self-Expression vs Self-Discovery
As much as crochet has enabled me to express myself, it has also allowed me to learn more about myself.
I’ve pretty much always been a rule-follower. I like boundaries, and I like knowing what is expected of me.
At school, my favourite subject was Maths (yes, really!). I loved how maths problems always had a right answer – my type A brain loves a right answer. Even my day job proves this; I am a software developer, so logic is pretty much what I do day-in day-out.
Life is not a maths problem
But, of course, life is not as black and white as a maths problem. And the question “who am I?” does not have a right and wrong answer. Many people turn to writing or journaling to uncover an answer, but for me, it has been through craft that I have learned a whole lot about myself.
In career aptitude tests, one of the first things they ask is “what did you like to do as a child?” And I guess the idea is to find a clue as to where your passions lie, and hopefully set you on a path to a fulfilling career.
As a child, I was constantly making something. I loved paper crafts and jewellery making.
I learned to knit and crochet when I was 8 or 9, and I loved that too.
But, I never considered myself “arty”. I can’t draw or paint, and my handwriting is terrible.
I didn’t think for a second that my mediocre granny squares would lead to my having a small business later on.
For the longest time, I was pretty much 100% sure that my strengths lay in logic and problem-solving. I honestly, truly thought that I was far too left-brained to be creative. But through designing my own crochet patterns, I have learned that pretty much anyone can be creative – even me!
The Circle of (Craft) Life
Every time I make something new, I am not just expressing myself, I am also growing and changing.
I sit down to design or make something that expresses where I’m at right now. And in the process, I pretty much always end up learning something, be it a new skill or something about myself. And that informs the next project. And so the cycle continues.
Not Just Crochet
It’s just crochet; it’s probably not going to change the world! But to me, it is more than just crochet.
It’s a way for me to take inspiration from the day-to-day and turn it into something tangible.
It’s a way for me to get my thoughts and feelings out of my head and through my hands out into the world.
It’s a way for me to express myself as I am right now, but also a way for me to learn more about who I can be.
If you have read this far, thank you!
And now I would love to know – how do you express yourself through craft? And has it taught you anything about yourself? Leave a comment below or send me a message over on Instagram, I would absolute love to hear from you.
As always, happy crocheting,