Minimalism and Crafting: Irreconcilable?

BeWeave It

Frequently, I feel sheer panic at the number of possessions I own, and I’m sure I’m not alone. I recently watched a documentary about minimalist living, a growing movement focused on doing more with less, making or repurposing instead of buying, and generally bucking free of mindless consumerism. For example, the documentary advocated paring down your clothing, shoes, and accessories to a total of 37 items. Another example of minimalism is the tiny house movement, which is gaining lots of popularity recently.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love shopping. But lately I’m really trying only to buy things that really bring value to my life. That means making, repurposing, or borrowing those things which won’t.

Minimalist Living Dilemma: Is My Yarn Stash Minimalist?

Weaving, knitting, and other crafts create an interesting dilemma for would-be minimalists. On the one hand, there are always new “wants” jostling urgently for attention: new supplies, new books, new fiber…you know the drill. On the other hand, the fiber arts allow you to create things with your own hands which you would normally buy: clothing, home décor, and gifts in particular. They also give you the skills to repair when you would normally replace.

For me, the benefits of weaving for my peace of mind, the looks of surprise and delight I get when I gift a handmade item, and the ability to creatively design my own clothing and home goods make it a net positive in my endeavors toward more minimalist living. In particular, I’ve found that the ability to dye items myself in my kitchen has really allowed me to bring new life to items I would otherwise have to replace.

This repurposed wedding dress is a great example of minimalist living. But are minimalism and crafting fundamentally incompatible?
Robin’s dress on the day of her wedding and after indigo dyeing. Images: Meridian Jacobs weblog

Irene Schmoller from Cotton Clouds recently forwarded us a really inspiring story that confirms my feelings about fiber arts and minimalist living. Robin Lynde, owner of Meridian Jacobs farm and shop, is “not a shopper,” but needed a navy blue dress to wear as Mother-of-the-Groom at a wedding. On Robin’s wedding day in 1986, she wore a simple but elegant white dress (“just a white dress that fit me,” according to Robin), which she dyed a light taupe and wore more than ten years later to her oldest son’s wedding.

Deciding it wasn’t necessary to go out and buy a navy dress that would only be worn once for the second son’s wedding, she dyed the dress yet again using indigo and wore the dress to great success. I was impressed by Robin’s ability to even fit in a dress from 1986! But more importantly, I really admire her determination to not just re-wear the same dress, but to really make it work for each of the occasions she wore it to. Click here if you’d like to read the whole story of the repurposed wedding dress on Robin’s blog.


P.S. Let’s discuss: do you think minimalism matters? Do you have a story like Robin’s? Do you actively practice minimalism? Whether it means reducing consumption, reusing and recycling where you can, or actually paring your wardrobe down to 37 items (if that’s you…please tell me how you did it), I want to hear about it. And how do you reconcile minimalism with your yarn stash?

Comment and join the discussion!

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Weaving Today
Andrea Lotz

About Andrea Lotz

Andrea is a long-time knitter, but a new weaver. She's so excited to learn and grow as part of this community as her weaving skills expand. Come along on the journey with me!

4 thoughts on “Minimalism and Crafting: Irreconcilable?

  1. 37 items in wardrobe? Let’s see: 10 underwear (in case wash day gets delayed), 2 bras, work shoes, dress shoes, sandals, boots. That’s 15. 2 pair work pants, 5 summer work shirts, 5 winter work shirts. 27 so far. Summer and winter pajamas and coats – 4 more. That leaves 6 items for yard work and dress up. Yeah, I could do it. And for what I actually wear, that is about it. Do I have more? Yes, but much of it falls into the yard work category and it is dwindling as it gets worn out.

    Now the fiber stash… that is another story! With knitting (both hand and machine), crochet, tatting, needlepoint, cross-stitch, spinning and weaving… There is always more -tools, fiber, books – to have. 🙂

    1. Wow, sounds like you’re very close to 37 items! I don’t think yard work clothes ought to count against you. I’m embarrassingly far away on that one. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I just registered for the site and was browsing around when I saw this blog. It makes me chuckle when folks talk about the lack of space. I care for my elderly parents who both have varying degrees of dementia. They offered space in their home, but I declined for my own mental health. Instead, I purchased a travel trailer 25×8. That’s 200 square feet. Now deduct for my bed, built in end tables, sofa, kitchen cabinets, dining table and powder room and I’m probably down to 50 to 75 ft. of actual foot room. That’s minimalist and I love it! I weave, sew, kumihimo braid, wire weave, make polymer clay beads and buttons, chainmaille, draw and paint. It all boils down to neatness. At the end of the day, put it away! This also serves as preservation, my little dog had a blast one night with my cotton rolled balls.

    1. Great to have you, and thanks for commenting! I’m really interested in a tiny home, but I’ve always been nervous about how it would impact my ability to weave and knit. It’s great to hear that it can be done! I’d really have to work on my neatness and diligence though… 🙂