In Praise of Do-it-Yourself Culture

I am a “DIYer.”

I like making things for myself, family and friends. My kit includes wool, paper, stickers and beads. Books and magazines give me inspiration.

This year I created craft baskets for my youngest friends. The craft baskets included pencils, glue, a few buttons, stickers, beads and construction paper.

I used little bits of wool left over from another project to knit Domino Knit swatches and make gift tags and cards.

DIY projects span the economic spectrum. Craft supplies can be found at second hand shops. And one winter, when I was living in a cabin with no electricity, I made crafts at the laundromat while I waited for laundry.

This year, when my husband asked what I wanted for Christmas I said, “make me something” and suggested a few things. Roger is a fantastic finishing carpenter, both meticulous and careful. Every cut, sanding and installation is completed in the same expert manner.

He bought some used pallets a few years ago for our woodpile and he has been saving the best pieces. My gift under the tree? A new cutting board made from these pallets featuring a rainbow of colours and textures. It was just about too beautiful to use.

My sister Lorraine in Winnipeg, also a DIYer, dons a Christmas hat and morphs into Mrs. Claus each December. She packs gift bags for my family and myself as well as for her family. All year she looks for small treasures to fill the bags, some of which are garage sale finds.

My grandson, Darwin, found Lego in his Mrs. Claus bag. I was sent two wonderful knitting books – and I am already knitting one of the projects from the book.

I always have bits of wool left over from knitting projects, for example, lots of sock yarn but not enough to knit another pair. The project I am working on is an Advent sock-calendar, which is allowing me to use the leftovers.

I want to make at least two for next Christmas’s gift list. So far I have 12 socks knit; just 36 socks left.

This Christmas Roger and I had time to finish a travel-related project. We had a collection of shells and beads from our spring trip to Spain and Morocco. The Berber culture of Morocco includes woodworking, metal and silver work and jewellery making. Doors to buildings are works of art.

We recreated a Berber door for a bathroom mirror frame. Built with leftover wood, we stained it, bought doorknobs and attached shells and beads as decorations.

I like the DIY culture because it gives me time to reflect – on a wonderful northern Canadian life, on my children and Roger, on creating new things from bits and pieces passed over by others. It gives me confidence to try new things.

All a DIYer needs to do is focus on what he or she can do and then start doing it – for themselves and others.

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