This post was originally published on the now-retired Make and Meaning blog on November 30th, 2009.

When I left my job in the yarn industry about a year ago, I was pretty much a crafting mess. My hobby had been lost to work, the thought of yarn sparked in me nothing but ambivalence, and it felt like the only thing I had left in me as a crafter was my identity as one.

At the same time, I was looking ahead to a year during which I pretty much wasn’t going to have to work. So I concocted some pretty big non-yarn-related creative plans. I wanted to learn how to quilt – in fact, I’d fantasized of making a massive quilt. Of course. I wanted to write a ton. I wanted to maybe take some crafts classes. Embroidery, home decor, maybe some cooking…

But it was nine months before I actually felt that old familiar itch to make something. Nine months of not visiting my yarn stash. Of making one embroidery project and of not quilting even the tiniest square (but I did make a potholder).

Earrings & Smidge
The itch flared up when I was visiting my cousin in New York City in September. She’s that kind of supercool older cousin who read me Stephen King short stories when I was eleven. Anyway, she’d taken up jewelry-making but hadn’t made anything all summer. She was talking about how she wanted to get back into it, but. You know, but.

And I found myself thinking, “I’ve never made jewelry. I was never even interested in it. But we have this one night to spend together and I’ll try anything once.” So I suggested we grab dinner then go back to her place to make jewelry in our pajamas. Turns out she’s a great teacher. A couple of hours later I had a pair of earrings and the satisfaction of discovering I had really enjoyed myself. The tiny scale was a big change for me but the mechanics made perfect sense. And I found the repetitive steps and narrow focus to be remarkably relaxing. I felt great.

A couple of days later I took a train upstate to visit an old friend who’d recently gotten back in touch. She was the high-school friend who got away, you know? The one I’d been so close with, had admired so much. I’d always wondered what she’d gotten up to. It was almost like a fairytale for me when we saw each other last summer for the first time in fifteen years and nothing had changed. She’s just as awesome now, and I jumped at the opportunity to hop on that train to visit her and see her home and her quaint town and meet her kids.

I made earrings!
As she walked me through her lovely home, she mentioned concocting grand plans for DIY decorating projects she never got around to starting. I mentioned being he same way. And then, you know, I said, “we have all afternoon, let’s do it.”

So we went to the paint store, set up in her backyard, and put the first coat of paint on her childhood vanity. It had been bubblegum pink with white detailing. We painted it orange for her four-year-old’s room. We chatted all the while, and all the tedious, unsatisfying set-up and preparation steps didn’t seem tedious and unsatisfying at all.

Sometimes, I guess it’s other people’s projects that lend their itch to make. What an exciting discovery. The next time my craftiness shrivels up and crumbles into dust, I’ll look for a friend who needs a reason to make stuff.

What do you do when you find yourself in a crafty dry spell?

Unfortunately, all comments were lost when Make & Meaning was taken down. Don’t hesitate to repeat yourself here, or to join in on the new conversation!