How I live with my crafty person

Guest post by Aaron Ybarra
Aaron and his wife, Katie (wearing the wedding dress, hat, and slip that she made herself). Photo by Megan Finley (Homies, I was their wedding photographer!)
Aaron and his wife, Katie, who’s wearing the wedding dress, hat and slip that she made herself. Photo by Megan Finley (Homies, I was their wedding photographer!)

I am the husband of a crafty person. I believe there should be a support group for that. Don’t get me wrong: my wife is a wonderful person. She is smart, eccentric, and immensely creative. She funnels most of that creativity into crafting, and that’s when our adventure begins.

It would be enough for her to love one craft: sewing, baking, quilting, whatever. They’re all good. She considers them so good, in fact, that she taken it upon herself to do them all. Right now, she’s building herself a spinning wheel in the garage. With power tools. Many would be content with simply buying yarn from Joanne’s. Not her! She wants to make her own.

She’s into crocheting; she just took up needle-felting; last year, she made some puppets for a children’s video I put together; and, last month, she constructed steel drum mallet bags for a friend of my father’s. And the list goes on and on and on.

Our house is a tornado of crafts. I’m constantly finding needles and pins with bare feet. The floor is riddled with beads and string. The cabinets are full of fabric. Her Pinterest has no cohesive theme and both Netflix and Youtube have no idea what to recommend to us. The most frustrating/entertaining aspect of this diverse pallet is trying to find what we need at Michael’s. Since the store is organized by the craft you’re into, we pretty much need to scour the entire store to get what we need (one day, I will memorize the entire store and be all the merrier for it).

Yet, despite the insanity of all her undertakings, I would also have to acknowledge that there is brilliance in it, too. In this age where everything we have is preprocessed (driving directions, food choices, clothing options, and entertainment menus) it is nice to see that there is still the opportunity to make your life your own. Sure, it takes energy and time. Yes, it really makes a mess. But what is the result? Self-sufficiency.

The more we take ownership of our lives, work with our hands, engage our brains, the happier we are. My wife is the happiest woman I know. The more we create, the less we passively take in, the better life is.

(Plus, having a wide skill set increases your likelihood of surviving a Zombie Apocalypse.)

In closing, I would say: don’t just consume, create. Annoy your spouses. Engage reality. Have fun! And may God bless you in all your endeavors… The worst that can happen is that you fail, and in doing so have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes.

Hey, people with obsessed spouses: how do you balance your partner’s hobbies and your shared living space?

Comments on How I live with my crafty person

  1. It’s okay to set boudaries. Perhaps you can designate areas of the house for storage and crafting activities and some areas as “safe” zones where you may go barefoot unafraid, and where there is not a chance that you will ruin something she’s working on by knocking it over.

  2. “The more we create, the less we passively take in, the better life is.”
    This! 100% this!

    As one of those crafty people, I completely appreciate the patience my husband has with me constantly flitting between projects – we have a craft room and a section of the living room that I tend to use for ongoing projects so the encroachment on the rest of the house is minimal. Sending him to a support group may be a good plan though! 🙂

  3. I’m probably (definitely) biased, but I don’t think crafting is any more annoying a hobby than anything else that requires time/supplies/money/space. And it’s considerably more productive than, say… golf 😉

    (and considerably less annoying than my husband’s hobby, which seems to be “listening to MF Doom on repeat all the time, loudly, every day.”)

  4. Honestly, I give kudos to the article as well as the title. When it comes down to it, living with a crafty person is just that. I could have written this verbatim, including the part about surviving the zombie apocalypse. You have described me and my future wife to the T. When you live with a crafty person, you just have to let them do their thing, otherwise it’s like clipping a bird’s wings. I feel my other half’s craftiness is awesome, even when it is overtaking the house in its insanity. I love her even more for it. Don’t worry about it being called a misnomer as far as the title goes, because it’s either “Living with a crafty person” or it’s “Living alone after a crafty person dumps you for trying to hold them from their true passion.” Rock on Aaron, great article.

  5. I finally appreciated my husband’s concerns over floor detritus when I skewered my foot on a blunt headpin. Yowza. So I can totally relate to this post!

    I still make everything I can, but I’m more tidy about it now 🙂

  6. When I read this, I called my husband to see if he had submitted it under an alias. No place in our house is safe to walk barefoot 😛

  7. I can appreciate this as a domestic partner of a man who has several passions: summer? rip apart the car in the back yard. fall? hunting season turns the second bedroom into a mini sporting goods store. This list goes on… It makes him happy, and i think it makes him even more interesting and attractive.
    However, two things we needed to deal with were Money and Time. It’s scary how demanding hobbies can be for both. Finding a balance both parties are comfortable with is key. You can’t come between a person and their ‘other’ loves. Although for a while i felt cheated on by a Buick. You need to carve out space for each other in any relationship, it might just have to be addressed more formally with a creative person. And in my experience, they sometimes need a little grounding in the financial department, too.

    • Haha, that’s my husband too. He always has to have several “projects” going at a time. He rebuilt a 1970’s SkiDoo snowmobile by replacing the engine with a Honda powerwasher motor…he calls it his HonDoo. That inspired him to start all kinds of other projects. He wants to make a tracked vehicle (like a tank) for chugging around the woods. He wants to make a self powered “picking buggy” to use to harvest vegetables. He’s refurbishing an old air compressor and a vintage Honda dirtbike.

      So, his hobbies are “projects” that make things like buying a $100 engine “justified”…where my hobbies are “crafts” and eyebrows are raised when I come home with more nice alpaca yarn…..Oh well. 🙂

  8. My husband is successfully crafty/handy- I am a dabbling crafter. Between his MANY ongoing projects and my false starts and ‘ooohhhh shiny’ moments, we have stuff EVERYWHERE. The chaos is like a hug. It works for us

    • As for the time I finally said that the time we have together is the most important- time together is for mutual crafts/projects (gardening together, him painting and me knitting while we chat or watch TV) and separate time off is for things like rebuilding motor cycle engines (Him). We also have a regular craft night with friends to get blitz crafting sessions done.

    • I am a notorious dabbler! It’s awesome that you’re both able to successfully juggle your alone-time, together-time, and friend-time so that everyone gets to have fun. Kate and I continue to work on that, but I think we’ll have it down by the time the Zombies come. P.S. Shiny things are fantastic!

  9. I was going to correct JoAnne’s to JoAnn’s and add a link (like the reference to Michael’s), but I feel weird since I work there. Is that cool?

    • Hehe, I work at Michaels and I don’t think it’s weird, so go for it! I always want to correct people’s spelling of Michaels (surprisingly there is no apostrophe, even though I find myself writing one anyway ’cause it seems like there should be one).

  10. I am the wife of a crafty person. However the crafts he indulges in involve tinsnips, a house full of wire and plates of metal, and me having to tell him ‘no you cannot mix up sulphuric acid in the bath’.

    He’s a LARPer and Re-enactor, and he’s always trying to find new ways to make chainmail and armour so that they’re light, strong and interesting to look at. He frequently makes new things and learns as he goes along, just like the metal and leather hoopskirt he made me or the steampunk leather cyborg arm (with shock glove) he made himself.

    We eventually bought a house and two of the selling points were the existence of both a balcony and a garage, so that (in good weather) he has somewhere ‘away’ to do the stinkier, noisier bits of his life while I do my much quieter creative thing – writing. Boundaries ARE necessary, especially if the craft is loud, and setting down rules as to when and where a loud or smelly craft occurs is fine and necessary for the mental survival of the non-crafty one.

  11. My husband and I are both crafty–he’s just more power tool and oil paint oriented. I definitely have more “craft” supplies…but because he’s awesome, he built me amazing shelving units all around my studio (half of our bedroom) to store all my stuff. I do have an idea for all the pins and needles though, they have little magnetic sticks that my hubby uses around his workshop to pick up loose nails and screws. You should get one of those and have her do a daily sweep of the house to keep your little tootsies from being stabbed. As my friend Davey says, “Keep doin’ the things and makin’ the stuff.”

    • *sigh* I’m a feminist, so it feels strange that my husband and I fall into fairly traditional gender roles: I cook and knit, he tinkers with engines and plows the driveway.

      • Yup, I’ve thought that too as a fellow knitter/cook! But really, feminism is about equal choice and opportunity. As long as you’re choosing those things because you like them, not because they’re supposedly what women should do, then you’re absolutely doing the feminist thing.

        • Yes, I realize that both of us are a product of our upbringing. He came from a house where the mom cooked and cleaned, and the boys did outside things. I came from a home with a crafty mom that wanted to make sure I knew how to sew and cook….as well as outdoor stuff. As such, I love the outdoors and science and all that stuff (slugs, and snails, and puppy dog tails)…but with my husband, our roles are pretty traditional. Except I made sure to lay down the rule that if one person cooks dinner (usually me) the other person has to do the dishes…so that I don’t end up being a total housewife.

  12. it’s worse when you are both crafty and not the same crafts the mess doubles or triples. i always suggest a magnet on a stick. and check the couch and bed before guests arrive.

  13. It’s funny because I don’t consider myself being “into crafts”…but my husband keeps referring to buying a house with room for an office and a craft room. I guess I just associate “crafting” with hot glue and popsicle sticks and pom poms and felt and sequins and…basically, anything where you take stuff and make it into other stuff that looks cute for about ten minutes and then you’re like, “Well not what the hell do I do with this snowman made from a mason jar and coffee filters?” and it all ends up as yard sale fodder that no one wants.

    On the other hand, I do have a sewing machine that (once we buy a house) will eventually get a lot more use, I do make pretty amazing paper snowflakes, I did make 100 pinwheels and my own paper flower bouquets for our wedding, and I did just learn to knit this summer…..So maybe I AM a crafter. I prefer to think that I have a lot of craft supplies that only get made into directly useful things. Maybe I do need a craft room….my newly acquired but rapidly growing yarn supply is starting to take over…

    • See, I thought that too. Having done 6 years of art school and received way too many degrees for it, I thought there was this distinction between “High Fine Art” and “Craft”, the latter of which involved popsicle sticks.

      However, the more I speak at/lead workshops at/ manage craft conferences and crafty events, the more I learn about this world of craft. Craft just means art that’s useful. And I’ve been learning more and more that there are two distinct generations of crafters, one in which Great-Grandma Sue is making hideous cat pillows, and one in which a younger generation is creatively hand-making things that have been mass-produced for way too long (of course there is a crossover, but this is the general feel of the places I’ve gone).

      This new generation of crafters is bringing back the idea of “handmade” as “BETTER”. People are doing some of the most creative things I’ve seen, and honestly, half the crap at these fancy art schools was so far from creative I wanted to throw up.

      So even with all my fine art stuff, I’m crafty, and I guess now a crafter! If you don’t want to label yourself a crafter, that’s fine, but I suggest you go to a local craft festival, drink a ton of craft beer, buy some little pies on a stick and some jewelry made out of snake vertebrae, and THEN decide if you want to be labeled with those folk or not 😉

      • Oh no, don’t get me wrong. I’ve gone to plenty of craft fairs, and definitely appreciate hand-made things (I more or less live on Etsy)….but for some reason it doesn’t feel right to list “arts & crafts” as an interest/hobby of mine. I think it’s because I anticipate people thinking of crafts that way I’m used to: popsicle sticks and milk cartons converted into other stuff. As it is now, I have coworkers bringing me random crap, “Do you want these paper towel tubes and styrofoam packing peanuts? I know you’re into crafts and thought you might use them for something…” So, yeah, my mind automatically goes to crappy crafts…like those things people make out of that plastic mesh screen with yarn woven through it to make designs? Anyway, although I am technically a “crafter” I don’t usually identify as such because I’m tired of people thinking that means that I make plastic gimp lanyards and pine cone animals.

        • Defending popsicle sticks, yarn scraps and paper towel tubes!

          That could be ‘kids craft’ but I still love it! It takes on a whole new window of enjoyment when you have a small child to do it with. But you know, you can Blue Peter the shit out of something even when you’re past the age of 12. It’s FUN!

      • Craft has a history of being devalued, mainly because it has been a women’s form of art due to inequal access to the study of art and the focus that women should be restricted to the domestic sphere. Men were artists in their studio painting or sculpting works of fine art that were intended to go in a gallery, women were knitting and embroidering items that were intended to be used in the home. However both forms take skill and creativity so neither is actually worse/better than the other, but one has historically been more valued.

        Here is an interesting read about the subject of reclaiming craft as art: http://www.ic.arizona.edu/ic/mcbride/ws200/reclaimingourart.html

  14. “one day, I will memorize the entire store and be all the merrier for it”

    At which point, their corporate offices will decide that it’s time to re-plan the store, and everything will move! 😉

  15. (Plus, having a wide skill set increases your likelihood of surviving a Zombie Apocalypse.)

    you have no idea just how right you are about that…

  16. I’m a crafty person living with and sharing a creative space with a completely digital creative. Yikes!

    Some solutions we have come up with: Our biggest set of difficulties comes up when my Projects (yes, capital P) migrate from the studio to the living room, kitchen, porch, etc. This happens because I like to do the Projects wherever he is, like when we’re watching TV. We had quite a few talks where I explained that crafting, particularly the very tedious parts, helps occupy the ADD part of my mind so the rest of me can relax. So it’s just as relaxing for me to work on something and watch TV as it is for him to *just* watch TV.

    Solutions for this: I stop working before the point of exhaustion. That way, I have the energy to put away the pieces of the Project before going to bed. He gets very stressed when all the pieces are still all over, and when I might not get back to them for days… well, yeah. It works to put things away when I’m done using them, even if it kinda messes up my organizational system.

    We also have a shared google calendar called “Super Awesome Fun Time”. It’s our cleaning calendar, showing that one of us will be doing one room each week, and which room that is. That way, every room in the house gets deep cleaned every month. And he knows that if there has been a hot glue spill or a bunch of pins dropped, each thing will be completely removed from the room I’ve assigned myself by the end of the week/next week/ whenever.

    Also, since we share a home studio, sometimes he has people over to screen things or do voice-overs or whatever. He lets me know when someone will be visiting, and I can clean or cover up messes (well, they aren’t messes to me, but appear that way to him and outsiders) in my area of the studio and other areas of the house where people might walk/hang out. Similarly, I let him know when someone is coming to do a wardrobe pull for a film or photo shoot, so that he knows why EVERY DRESS I HAVE EVER MADE is sitting out on a rack.

    The final thing we have done is asking each other for help with household projects. For instance, being crafty, I *love* to decorate and rearrange. And he loves to hide cables, install things so they are perfect, and so on. So we will do projects together, where he asks me what I’d like to do with the new photo we got and where/how it should be hung, with what color scheme, and do I want to add anything, and after I rearrange everything around that area, I ask him to install it levelly, hide the cords around it to his satisfaction, or make sure he can walk under it without hitting his head. In regard to the wedding, he did things like shoot and edit our STD video and arrange and print the text for the invitations, while I hand-printed all the fabric for the covers of our invitations on a woodblock. We worked together to make one common goal happen, while doing the things we were each best at.

    I guess that’s another really important thing for us- complimenting each other’s abilities. He tells me he really likes the way I made something and that it looks nice, and I compliment him on the things he does that I see as well, and we make sure to thank each other for our contributions on those mutual projects.

    • “helps occupy the ADD part of my mind so the rest of me can relax. So it’s just as relaxing for me to work on something and watch TV as it is for him to *just* watch TV.”

      Holy shit! I never knew anyone else was like this! I have a really difficult time *just* watching tv too. I feel unproductive and antsy. I draw while I watch (or really mainly listen, glancing up for important moments) tv. The reverse is true too, actually. I can’t really seem to work silently or with just music on. I need a movie or tv show playing to occupy my brain and then I just zen out and draw/sculpt. If I don’t, I tend to just ramble away in my mind and it’s kinda distracting.

      Wow, I sound pretty crazy…haha. Whatever, I’m an artist, it’s expected.

      • I am exactly the same way! I have a office/craft room, but my projects keep migrating downstairs to the living room because that’s where the tv is.

      • This! Me! Right now! It drives my husband nuts because he thinks I’m not paying enough attention. But in reality I’m focusing on my craft of choice so that I CAN pay attention to what I’m watching. Otherwise I get too distracted too easily. I wonder if people with ADD naturally gravitate to crafting.

    • Ditto on the TV thing. I CAN watch *just* TV (or DVDs), but it feels like a waste of time where there is so much knitting, paper snowflake making, or whatever project to be done. Last winter I spent the winter months making paper pinwheels and paper flowers for my wedding. During that time, I introduced myself to Downton Abbey and watched hours of youtube videos of scientific lectures. As such, I can’t think of my pin wheels without being reminded of Downton Abbey, or think of hole punching confetti without thinking of a certain video where Richard Dawkins argued with an infuriatingly daft creationist.

  17. As a crafty person engaged to another “crafty” person living in a studio apartment, you can imagine our life is a bit… messy? I think that is the word I want to use. What I do: graphic design and general crafting (knitting, beading, baking, like the woman in the article I do a lot of different things because they each have something to offer). What he does: miniatures modeling for heroclix. The way we’ve ended up surviving is by me buying a couple storage tote things with drawers and getting him a drafting table with drawers. Now all our crafty stuff is organized and he has a place to work that isn’t the coffee table. In the end, we have a lot of stuff and no where to really keep it, but it keeps us busy and happy.

  18. my husband started enforcing the “current craft” Bin. It’s a giant storage bin that I placed a cushion and some pillows on and made into a type of bench for the corner seat of the table. Usually on good days I’ll fold up my sewing project and stuff it in there all nice and tidy with a bunch of smaller bins to separate the projects. But on bad days It looks the way it does now and most of my projects can fit because there is now room (I was working on several sewing projects at once and so all of them got put in there with no room for the sculpting or anything lol I need to move a majority back to the fabric bin…. but I’ve yet to do it.)

    Anyhow my point is- I have storage bins that can fit anything and move it out of site. When I feel that I’m currently “done” working on a project I have to bin it, sweep, vacuum, and wash the table (or fold up the table if I was using the big traveling table that I used to use at conventions.) We’ve slowly collected enough bins and little tupperwares that I have something to put any project into (ie. shoe making, sewing, sculpting, crochet, leather work, bookbinding, ect.)If I can I try to keep the tupperware clean enough that if I wash them they can still be used for food (like just storing beads in them or something) but sometimes I need to store something like curing resin in them and they can’t be used for that anymore- these I mark with a heart on the lid and on the bin so that even if it’s washed I know not to use it for food; once again that was my husbands idea- as I was busy whining and moaning that I had accidentally stored some mashed potatoes (best thing in the world btw) in a corrupted bin and now they smelled of resin- he sensibly asked why I didn’t mark it to know it was not food safe anymore. *sigh* I may be a crafty person but I think he’s the only one with a brain in this house.

  19. Love this article! It’s basically my hubby and I to a T. I’m into a lot of different crafts (Pinterest is deadly for me, lol). So, he sometimes gets stuck chasing after me while running around JoAnns or Hobby Lobby.

    But, from what he tells me, he kinda likes it. He thinks it’s cute that I get so excited to start a new project and doesn’t mind spending the money on it. Then again, my hobbies are a lot cheaper than his (car modding and guns), so it works out. =)

  20. My wife is crafty, and usually has about 274 projects going on at any time. However, she tolerates my mess, which occasionally involves tractor parts on the dining room table, woodstove parts on the couch (by the stove…), any number of chicks/pullets/hens in various locations other than the barn, work parts/paperwork on the seat of the truck anytime she gets in it, and service manuals on the nightstand. One thing that she will not tolerate, and I make sure to keep away, are any firearms that may be in some state of repair/cleaning (it involves her time in a warzone, so it’s understandable).

    Something that I always feel bad about is when she needs something for a craft project, it’s just a few dollars. When I need a part to complete a project, it’s $800 if you can find it.

  21. It’s like he’s talking about meeeeeeee! (Although I upcycled, didn’t sew from scratch, my wedding dress. I think I still got cred, though.)

    I must post this to my husband’s FB page.

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