Making Things

I read a post recently about ‘walking the grid‘. Walking the grid means keeping things simple and adopting a routine as a way of centering yourself. When you’ve failed or experienced a setback or are just plain out of whack you walk the grid. It takes you back to square one and helps you to re-launch.

I have never formally walked the grid. I find it very difficult to incorporate much structure into my life at the moment since I’m living at the whim of a one-year-old and a four-year-old. For example, getting up to write every morning isn’t always possible, and not something I’m about to do when I don’t get enough sleep as it is. But I’ve recently realized that when I’m out of sorts and I need grounding, I do have a de facto method of accomplishing just that.

Fresh-baked bread

I make something with my hands.

I think this is one of the reasons I’ve been sewing up a storm this summer. My life is in upheaval and it often makes no sense. But I create a dress or a picnic roll-up and suddenly I’ve accomplished something. Really accomplished something, because I’m holding an object in my hand that didn’t even exist before. Sure, it might take me ten times as long to finish as it did before I had two children underfoot. And sure there might be some frustration in the creation process. But that’s not really the important part, the important part is that I did it.

Playing in the new smocked sundress

Working with our hands is something that few of us do anymore. Most professional jobs can be summed up with the phrase ‘works with computers’. Writers, lawyers, programmers, designers, TV graphics people, bureaucrats, bankers, and on and on and on. We spend our days sitting in front of a screen. We buy our household goods and our food ready-made. There is great convenience in that, in not having to spend our time knitting socks for a family of 12 or churning butter. I don’t particularly relish a return to the days when underwear didn’t come in a 3-pack from Costco.

But there is value and freedom in working with our hands. It’s a kind of work that is much different, much more tangible and real. When engaged in it you can often let your thoughts go, as it adopts a sort of meditative quality. There are smells and textures (and maybe even tastes), and you learn to do things by feel. Making something is sort of like riding a bicycle – in the end the best way to learn is just to do it, again and again, until you master it.

Nesting bird detail

Right now, as I am in the process of dreaming and creating a life, making things is very important to me. If nothing else it gives me something I can point to in the midst of the chaos, something that is just my own. Something just for me.

What about you? Do you find making things to be grounding, or do you have another method? And if you do make things, what do you make?

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  1. I love your version of “the grid”. The routine and focus required to make something from start to finish is one of my favorite grounding exercises. YAY for you!
    .-= Sarah Robinson´s last post ..A Completely Commercial Post For the Young Turk =-.

  2. I love this Amber, and wholeheartedly agree with it. I sew and knit and bake and just love creating. It helps to ground me and like you said, gives me something that wasn’t there before. This is just so perfectly written.
    .-= Kim´s last post ..Birthday Recap =-.

  3. Saver Queen says:

    Amber, this is truly a wonderful post. I can relate so much. My life is in upheaval now too. And I too find something grounding about working with my hands. For me, it’s cooking, making greeting cards, painting, picking & drying flowers, refinishing my antiques, the list goes on. Doing something creative and hands on is so joyful. I spend 99% of my time working in front of the computer – or in the car – so my time with my attention focused elsewhere is bliss.
    .-= Saver Queen´s last post ..Fields of gold =-.

  4. Amber this is a great post. I was a person who “worked with computers” before becoming a mom and now with little H around I’m obsessed with making her things and trying to encourage her to work with her hands too.

    Looking forward to reading more about your creative projects.
    .-= Cheryl´s last post ..I’m a blog addict =-.

  5. I’ve been so impressed with the things you make!

    When I get antsy and need to center myself, I need to do one of three things:

    1. Get out of the house by myself. Anything I do alone will help – either grocery shopping or coffee with a friend.

    2. Write a blog post. Just thinking critically and writing helps center me.

    3. I totally forgot what the third thing was going to be. Ha! 🙂

  6. Totally agree. With the caveat that sometimes at the end of a trying week I look around and there are bracelets hanging on every chair handle, light switch and door knob, and I think, ‘well, maybe I should just brood in futility for a while instead…’ 🙂
    .-= Allison´s last post ..*************Big Plans =-.

  7. I had to stop reading the post when I saw the bread picture. They look so awesome! What kind of pans did you use. I wish my bread looked like that.
    Okay, will go back and read the rest of the post.

  8. I am really enjoying cooking more. And making bread. I feel very satisfied when someone eats what I have made.
    My blog is also something I “make” everytime I write.
    .-= Capital Mom´s last post ..Flat tire =-.

  9. Our culture is so fast paced…"instant pudding"…I get it b/c I am a mom who this past year finally broke down at Christmas to buy the "instant cookie dough" so we could have some home baked cookies…(I don't feel guilty b/c that's just where I'm at) But it is so true about creating with our hands…slowing down to take the time to create something or learn how to do something new….riding a bike or walking vs driving for a quick pick up.There are so many Picasso's and Da Vinci's out there that just don't have or take the time to create and work out their dreams. (Too many distractions today!!! ie: TV, internet *my folly*, and then of couse buying into the instant to pack more things into our day!)

  10. Yes, totally agree! I’ve found that my handcrafting has been a great centring and grounding in what became a very random and chaotic life. Now though I might be able to experience some routine and format with the start of fulltime school for my little companion. I’m curious/scared to see what I do with the time available and whether I still have it in me to focus after existing for so long on a 20 second or 20 minute attention span.

  11. You captured exactly how I think about sewing – when so much of my work is abstract (at the end of a successful day, I have convinced two parties to agree on something), holding something in my hands that I have made is very meaningful.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..The Anti-Crust Hater =-.

  12. I find making things to be both relaxing and pleasing. Depending on what I make, I can be done in an hour or two and feel a sense of accomplishment, pride and pleasure that not much else gives me. I keep a knitting project in almost every room of the house. I enjoy working the rhythm of working with my hands that way.

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  1. […] like to make things. On days when I feel as if nothing has been accomplished, being able to point to a new row of […]

  2. […] I need grounding, I make something with my hands. It’s my way of re-focusing my mind, and reminding myself that I can accomplish something. […]

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