I have been decluttering my apartment for the best part of a year now, but the one area I find next to impossible to minimalize is arts and crafts. I have no problem getting rid of unworn clothes, books I will never read again or knick knacks collecting dust… But my collection of coloured paper, assorted embroidery thread and wool, dozens of different types of needles, postcards, beads, stickers, wax stamps and cross stitch materials? Nope, can’t do it.
I have tried though, many times. I take everything out of the huge drawer that is solely dedicated to this merry mess, and really make myself question each object’s place in my collection. And the problem is that I remember all over again that I have ideas for using virtually everything in there.
The black Aida material? Why, I’ll use it to make a starry night sky with the gold thread I bought and the sequins that need using up.
That totem pole cross stitch design that has been sitting there for 2 years? When I find time, it’ll only take me about 3 hours to finish. Then it’ll look so nice hanging up on the wall!
The mismatched bunch of wooden frames I bought at a garage sale? I’ll paint them different colours and fill them with embroidered motivational phrases, of course.
I think you catch my drift.
So for the moment, I have decided to just let it all be. And frankly, it doesn’t bother me that much: when I do make the time for a crafting session, I feel so at peace with the world that the space taken up by all of the supplies is more than worth it.
And occasionally, the clutter even comes in handy!
I went to visit a friend in the North of France about a year and a half ago and she thoughtfully took me to a massive arts and crafts store in her town. I grabbed lots of nice stuff, more than I care to mention actually, as most of it is still sitting untouched in the allocated drawer!
At the time, I was going to go and spend the weekend at my aunt’s house and was looking for a thank-you present for her. I seemed to remember that her bathroom was pale green and thought that she might like some matching embroidered hand towels, especially since she always encourages me and my art projects.
So I went home and got to work, choosing a simple motif so I could finish it in time for my trip. But then, as always, life happened and I didn’t even have time to finish the first towel. I bought a different gift for my aunt and banished the half-embroidered towel to the dark drawer, reflecting that it was a good thing after all, as plans had since been made to redo the green bathroom anyway.
But still, unfinished projects make me slightly uneasy and I kept on thinking that I should really just complete what I had started… But I was working on other projects at the same time and just never got around to it until I received a slightly unsettling email from my mom a few weeks before Christmas.
In my family, we like to write wish lists so as to help each other out with the whole Christmas-shopping ordeal. Depending on the person, the lists are precise or vague, shared months in advance or a mere 10 days before the festivities begin. And as for my mom? She personally sent me one request: an embroidered hand towel, please.
I had not mentioned my failed attempt to her at any point, and if I had not had the half-finished project in stock I would never have had the time to find the supplies and put them together before Christmas. After reading her email, I laughed in disbelief, whipped out the half-finished project and sewed as fast as I could. I finished it about 2 days before leaving for England and made my mom very happy on Christmas day.
I am all for decluttering and releasing the weight of unidentified “stuff” hanging around your home. But still, I like to think that some objects are just waiting for their moment of glory. That might be in a second-hand store, when their soon-to-be new owner joyfully finds what they have been looking for… But it also just might be in my home, being entwined with thread as I watch my latest favourite TV show.
And what happened to the other towel, you ask? It’s still biding its time with its friends in the craft drawer.