Jade is a crochet and amigurumi superstar who runs the absolutely adorable blog Sweet Softies. Jade is a an amazing multi-crafter with a lovely story of using craft as therapy and finding a home within the community.
In my journey of art-making and crafting, my purpose and inspiration for making has been both consistent for a few factors, but also changing as I shift and grow as a person.
Here are the key things that fuel my purpose, some having started from the beginning of my story, and others that I've developed over the years.
The joy in actually crafting
When I was around three years of age, I was obsessed with drawing large dinosaur parts on paper, cutting them out, and taping them together to make my own "life-sized" dinosaurs. They were really just about as tall as the three-year-old me was back then, which wasn't very, but they were much bigger to me than what I could've created out of a single sheet of paper. While I loved playing with the dinosaurs that I finished making, the fun aspect of actually making them drew me in!
That's because it is the process of art-making that I love. Oftentimes, it's the end product that takes the spotlight - will my painting win the competition? Will I get my goal number of votes for a crochet pattern that I have designed? Will my followers like my design enough to follow my written directions and make it themselves? Those are all questions that constantly float around in my mind, and it places a lot of emphasis on my end product. However, what keeps me going in my arts and crafts journey will always be the process, which looks something like this:
- Planning out a project, such as sketching a design or draft, determining the colors needed (whether it be yarn, paint, or other mediums), and gathering materials.
- Taking the initiative to begin. Starting fresh projects is always very exciting for me!
- Embracing all of the hiccups that I encounter during the process. Sometimes it's a smooth road and I find that things go as planned with little need to revise. Other times I find that I need to deviate from my original plan for a more favorable option, such as adding an extra embellishment or modifying some rows to achieve the best shape. All of these I welcome and enjoy, because persistence in this process not only teaches me so much in preparation for future projects, but is a FUN challenge!
This joy that I get in crafting or making art has been with me ever since I started exploring art. Thinking of a plan and going through the steps and motions of bringing it to fruition is time well spent, in my humble opinion!
It's a mode of self-expression
Art has always another means for me to express my thoughts, my feelings, what I admire, and what I love. With crochet, I've focused quite a bit on different animals and dolls in the styles that I simply adore!
As a plant-based human being, I absolutely love animals and had so much fun designing a collection of them. My absolute favorite animal is the fox, and I've made several different fox designs so far.
With amigurumi dolls, I get to explore my fashion-design-loving side with my favorite aesthetics! I have a huge affinity for the following themes and styles: rustic, woodland, Celtic, medieval, Renaissance, fairytale, fantasy, bohemian, indigenous, colonial, and prairie-revival.
I also love playing around with colors quite a bit. I personally enjoy the more muted, pastel sort of colors, but I'll occasionally pick bright and vivid ones, depending on the project!
As you can probably imagine, my interests and passions are always strong sources of artistic inspiration for me! I keep a notebook of my ideas for future designs, and I always have many more sketches and ideas than I do actual finished products! Maybe one day in my lifetime, I will finish them all!
It is my therapy
Art-making is my therapy. When I crochet, knit, draw, paint, sew, fold origami, or make with my hands, I am engaging in a preferred activity that eases my anxiety and stress levels. I often experience a lot of built-up worries from my regular job, and I turn into an stress-ball on the inside. Having finally been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder several years ago, I realized that I really needed an outlet of self-expression that couldn't be achieved through verbal means. I didn't want to have conversations about it, I didn't want anyone knowing about it, and I didn't want to hear others' thoughts and input about it. I found my outlet by re-engaging in arts and crafts following some of the lowest points in my life, and I realized how important it was for my mental health.
Often, when I'm crocheting, knitting, drawing, or painting, I find myself mesmerized by the project itself. The tactile sensations that I get from touching the materials, whether it's a hook, needle, yarn, pencil, or paintbrush, and feeling them in my hands add to this experience. The kinetic element of moving my hands to create each stitch or make brush strokes also elevates it. During these projects, my mind allows itself to be distracted from my current reality and instead, focus on these sensations and movements from my hands. At the end of a crafting session, I am immensely more calm and at ease.
The community it brings
This is something that I discovered as I began blogging about my crochet journey. Once sharing my journey with the world, I find that there's an amazing, wonderful, and supportive community of like-minded people out there who share my joy in crafting and crocheting.
I made friends through pattern tests that I've put forth, such as my Christmas Angel test! It was such an eye-opening experience for me because my testers were all so sweet and encouraging, and on a personal level we were able to forge strong friendships that I cherish deeply today.
The same can be said for the Creator Challenges that I host! The one for this year featured Coral the Mermaid, and it got me connected with so many global crocheters! Though the "focus" of the creator challenge was to see others' interpretations and customizations of my pattern design, I came out of it with many dear friends. Again, the comradery and chats between us throughout the process of making Coral were an unexpected but VERY welcomed surprise!
During my crochet journey, I've even had international friends who helped me translate my patterns into different languages. My free Tiny Baby Snowman pattern, for example, was translated by my dear friend Diana into Swedish, I'm ever so grateful!
Now, talking about community isn't complete until I make a shout-out to the Wonder Wool-men! We're a close-knit group of crochet and craft bloggers who regularly interact, and I feel so very fortunate to call them my friends. These sweet makers inspire me day in and day out with not only their creativity, but their beautiful, friendly, and spirited selves! They honestly feel like a second family to me, one whom I can turn to for not only advice related to crochet and blogging, but personal life as well!
I never knew my crochet journey would bring me here, but I am oh-so-grateful for it and it inspires me to keep going!
Well, friends... that is why I make in a nutshell! My crafting passion is driven by a multitude of factors, and I am ever so grateful to be able to keep creating and doing what I love.