Drive Away the Covid Crafting Blues

I want to talk to you about something I’m calling the “Covid Crafting Blues”.  It may not be contagious, but it IS definitely something that is affecting many people in our crafting communities.

We all know by now that most people are experienced increased anxiety and depression from the continued isolation and uncertainty that this Covid-19 epidemic has brought.  I know for myself, I’ve struggled quite a bit.  I miss my guild gatherings, and especially getting to spend time crafting with my friends.  It’s been hard to maintain a sense of connection, even with Zoom calls.

But another consequence of this isolation is that many crafters and artists have been struggling with a lack of motivation and creativity — and this is what I’m calling the “Covid Crafting Blues”.  Worse yet, many of us feel alone in this, as though we are the one ones experiencing this drought.  I’ve talked to a number of friends that even admitted feeling guilty because of their creative slump, mentally beating themselves up over it.

Obviously, this is TERRIBLE! So I’m writing this today to both check in with you, and to offer up some suggestions for breaking your Covid Crafting Blues, if you are suffering from them! 

Check in with your crafting friends.

I think this is the most important thing to do, and yet I’ve been terrible myself at doing this.  With so many of us isolated and working from home, it is too easy to lose touch with our friends.  So make a point of reaching out!  Send an email, pick up your phone.  Heck, even send a “hello, how are you” card in the mail.   Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been bad about keeping up with your social circle.  Even if you only reach out to a few people, you’ll feel a lot better reconnecting.  And feeling better can help get those creative juices flowing again.

Set a daily crafting goal.

An artist friend of mine taught me years ago about her technique of “15 minutes a day”.  She would set aside just 15 minutes to do something crafty every single day, and she would commit to it.  I’ve always thought this is so brilliant. It’s only 15 minutes, right? You can ALWAYS make time for that, so no excuses!  And get into a routine of it.  Maybe sit and wrap temari bases while enjoying your morning coffee.  Or perhaps after dinner spend a little time at the loom or knitting while watching TV.  I’ve been doing this lately, 15 minutes of spinning a day, and wow, it really does help! Often you’ll find that you will end up working longer than your minimum time.  And best of all, your mood will lift because you were able to do some productive crafting!

Schedule your crafting time.

With this, I mean you should actually go to your daily/weekly/monthly calendar and schedule a chunk of crafting time for yourself.  Despite being home more, we all have very busy lives.  But whatever time you can afford yourself, schedule it.  Think of this as self-care time.  You need to nurture your creative juices, and that is absolutely worth setting time aside for.  The longer it has been since we’ve worked on our art, the more we can guilt ourselves, and this can set up a nasty cycle.  But setting aside some time means forgiving yourself for the past, and allowing yourself to be in the crafting moment.  You can even ask a partner or friend to help by holding you accountable for sticking to your schedule.  This way of structuring your time can really help get you out of a rut.

Join a maker/crafter exchange.

Whether with a few friends, through a guild, or with an online group, participating in a “secret santa” type of gift exchange is a great way to get crafting again.  Some people, myself included, need deadlines to push us a little harder to get things done, and so an organized maker swap can be just the thing. You can tailor the item to your giftee’s color choices or likes, and maybe stretch yourself and something you wouldn’t otherwise craft for yourself.  There are free exchange websites like that can facilitate a group exchange, and even enable you to ask your recipient questions.  And best of all, you’ll end up receiving a gift that might just be incredible!  I participated in two such events last year, and both of them helped me really pull out of a slump and get crafting!

Learn a new craft.

Maybe the same old crafts just aren’t inspiring enough right now.  Learning new things can be satisfying and fun, and there are a ton of resources out there to help you get started. There has been a surge of new online crafting content since the pandemic started, including free content as well as more structured online (paid) classes.  There are lots of social media groups dedicated to different art forms that are very helpful to newer members. Many crafting schools offer varying types of online access, from one-on-one time with private instructors to classes with many students.  (I know two of my favorite places, Red Stone Glen Fiber Arts Center and John C. Campbell Folk School both have been providing online content.)  In addition, some schools have taken great steps to make their campuses much safer and are offering in-person instruction.  (If you are interested but nervous, be sure to reach out to the schools and check with them about the steps they are taking to keep everyone safe.)  But whether through Youtube or Twitch, an online group or in-person class, trying something new might just be the spark you need to rekindle your creative fires.

Tackle your stash/UFO pile.

Ok, this one may take some willpower, but why not go to that closet and pull out some of your unfinished projects?  I admit, this is a toughie, but just imagine how GREAT you will feel working on something you’ve either put off or forgotten about.  Or perhaps pull out some of those yarns that have been sitting idle in your closet.  Maybe even grab those really nice embroidery threads that you ordered from Japan years ago, but have been saving for a special occasion.  What are you saving all of this for?  (I’m talking to myself here, too!)  Best of all this option won’t cost you a penny, and with tighter budgets these days, hitting those half-done projects and using up what we already have can be a very savvy way to get creating again.

I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful, especially if you are stuck in a rut and feeling bad about it.  If you are experiencing the Covid Crafting Blues, trust me, you are NOT alone! Remember to be kind to yourself.  These are crazy times, and everyone is suffering.  The key is to find a way to get back in the saddle.  After all, you create because it brings you joy, right?  You deserve that joy, and right now, it will go a long, long way in helping you through these tough days.

Oh, but what if you’re NOT suffering from the Covid Crafting Blues?  Well, let me say I’m impressed and maybe a little jealous of your resilience!  But I would ask you to reach out to some of your friends or guildmates.  You might be surprised at how many of them do feel this way.  And showing that you care will probably help them more than you know!

6 thoughts on “Drive Away the Covid Crafting Blues

  1. Wonderful suggestions, Jen. Thanks. I’ve been wrapping all my temari thread on plastic holders to put in a storage thing I bought from DMC at least 2 years ago. It hangs so I can see all my colors at once instead of pawing through the drawer that I had moved them to from the ziplock bags. New house, at least to me, this year so I am trying many ways to get my crafts organized and accessible. You are an inspiraton. T……

    1. Its great to hear you’re getting organized, Trudy. That is something very high on my “to-do” list. I’ve let my own crafting supplies and spaces go, and the mess of things definitely adds to my anxiety! I think I will follow your example this weekend, and work on re-organizing as well! Stay happy and safe!

  2. I just want to say a word in praise of Zoom. In addition to the obvious advantages of over coming geographic boundaries while staying safe at home, it allows as much time together as you want. I meet three times a week with a group of friends for several hours so we can work together and chat if we want to, compare notes on our work or news on things like where to get vaccinated. The more time you meet, the more you have to say to each other. I meet with a college group every two weeks and the conversation runs to “How have you been?” Or “What have you read?”, while the group I meet with three time a week talks about things like, “What page was that 17-thread pick-up design on?” “Did you figure out the fourth line of the pattern?”, “Can we watch while you open the package?” It gives one a reason to get something done on one’s projects to share at the next meeting. One participant ironed six shirts while we were meeting. We suggest books to order, workshops to take, patterns we saw online and knitting and weave the same things. Actually while I have not been able to travel or hug my grandchildren, this time has been rich in my artisan life with more ideas of directions I want to go than I can possibly achieve. I have heard several times that these friends want to go on meeting like this even after we do not have to

    1. I think you’re a great role model for how to actually stay connected, Gregory! It is so fantastic that you have been able to use Zoom to stay in touch, and stay creative, through this past year. Sadly, I know that the computer platform turns some people off, but maybe reading your words of encouragement and success using it, they might give it more of a chance. And I do think that Zoom, and other online communication forms, will stick around even when we get to return to our “normal” meetings with people. Your point about being able to reach a wider audience over long geographic distances is so right! How wonderful that we can feel MORE connected to people that are far away! Thank you for sharing!

  3. A friend gave me her stash of what’s called Prism craft yarn intended to make friendship bracelets. She had intended to use them in her summer camp that wasn’t. There are many colors and shades and they work quite well for Tamari. Thanks to Jen’s Tamari 101 last MAFA, I have hso far been able to complete six Tamari eggs for my family for Easter. Only 15 more to go. Cancel CoVid boredom with creativity.

    1. Wow, amazing! Free stash of yummy yarns, that is so nice. I know plenty of people that use Prism pearl cotton, because it is such a nice affordable alternative to the DMC. And I’ve seen those eggs, they are amazing! I’ve never done one myself…I’m to… dare I say… “chicken”? Way to go Karel!

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