I have vague memories of the 4-year-old version of myself attending Helping Hands meetings with my mother. They were a group of local women and friends who would get together once every week or so and make things. Even earlier than that, the term “spinning bee” was used as early as 1769.
Women are social, creative creatures. Today, craft/sewing/scrapbooking gatherings are held in every town. Crafters bring their supplies to a pre-determined location to add a social component to their favorite activity. Sometimes the group works on the same project, or the participants will work on a large project together, like a quilt.
Personally, I work on my projects alone. I’ve always been a bit of a loner when it comes to creative pursuits.
I asked around to see how my fellow crafters felt about crafting solo vs. in a group.
Arlene R: I will do small crafts with my friends, but large ones solo. It’s easiest since I don’t like carting all my supplies around.
Sarah L: Depends on the project – if it requires my undivided attention I absolutely need to work on my own. If a craft is simple or I’ve done it before then the more the merrier.
Renee S: I like crafting with friends but working solo. Er, what i mean is, come join me, and we’ll chat and keep each other company, while working on our own solo projects.
Kylea J: I usually prefer to get crafty solo. I like to throw on some tunes and get involved with what I’m doing so I’m often poor crafty company.
Lyndsey P: I like to paint with company because often I end up in a room alone and its nice to have conversation. Other stuff I often prefer alone because I’m too lazy to transport my supplies around.
Gail H: In art school, I had to share a jewellery studio with several people and I thought, “Gawd, I can’t wait to have my own studio.” After several years of crafting alone, I’d kill to have anyone to talk to when I am at the bench. I definitely like to craft with other people. That’s why I jump at opportunities to make art at public events.
“We must embrace the crafternoon whenever we can,” said Lady Estrogen. “I work from home, alone, so it’s nice to get out and do some crafting with a friend.” She likes to get together with a friend once a month.
“I think I prefer to craft with other people,” said Sarah Strange. “I really appreciate the quiet company that comes with crafting with friends. Where you can sit in silence for an hour just working together and not realize it and its not awkward or weird.”
“I love having folks around who understand what I’m trying to do and can offer opinions and tips,” she added. I think that’s why many of us band together on Twitter and whatnot, because we don’t have a lot of local friends.” (Follow Sarah on Twitter!)
Sarah holds semi-regular Google+ Hangouts to recreate the sense of community with friends that are far away.
The Internet has given way to an adaptation of this tradition. There are more online sewing and crafting communities than I can count: BurdaStyle, Craftsy and Ravelry come to mind. But the topic of conversation is generally all business, since most users don’t know one another. I’m not saying relationships don’t form, because they most certainly do.
But what about the real-time face-to-face connection? What about casual chatting while paper is cut and glitter is glued? Isn’t there a middle ground between online communities, and having to lug craft supplies from one end of town to the other?
And does it involve something like Google+ Hangouts or Skype?
What about you? Do you like crafting solo or with friends? Or do you take the middle ground and use your webcam to connect with other crafters?
And, say, if there were a crafting circle online, would you join?