A small group of friends gets together at my house once a month. It's like an old-fashioned quilting bee, except we're not working on one big project. We each bring whatever handcraft we happen to be working on--knitting, hand-sewing, crochet, beading.
Lately, many of us are knitting. There are those of us who are learning the basics, re-learning what we once knew, and those who are expert enough to teach. We talk patterns and yarn in between news of family and the latest books read. We inspire, comfort and affirm each other. We share the joy over the good news and commiserate on the bad. We create gifts for family and friends and items to decorate our homes.
I keep reading more and more about the benefits of crafting. The scientific community is starting to study the effects and finds that it promotes learning in children, quiets the brain like meditation with its focused, repetitive motions, and may even help the elderly retain their memory. Of course there is much more anecdotal evidence than scientific--which means that you and I knew it all along!
We know the benefits, because we live them. Crafting promotes friendships, keeps arts and crafts alive, reduces stress and, in general, is a low cost alternative to other forms of entertainment. And, although it's fun by yourself, it's even more fun with friends!