Do you find it difficult to find time for needle felting or any other favourite handcraft? This guideline could help you!

When I first showed one of my more elaborate needle felted sculptures to one of my friends, she asked, almost immediately - after praising my creativity -, how much time it took to make it. When I told her the actual number (9 hours), she was shocked and said that she couldn't do that because she wouldn't be able to work patiently on one figurine for that long. Even after I said that it was not one day, she still protested that it would be impossible for her to do that.

That got me thinking: why? People spend time on so many things that are not important - binge-watching series, scrolling through social, just to name a few. So why is it that the same amount of time spent on any creative activity seems not doable? Thinking this through made me write about how to find time for needle felting and any other crafts.

Let me start by how I think about needle felting and crafting. Then, I would like to share a guideline hoping that it would help you find YOUR time for needle felting or your other creative activities. I would like to ask you, though, to not jump ahead. Without reading the first part the guidelines will mean nothing to you.

The concept of slow crafting

Slow crafting examples

If reading that one piece of wool sculpture took me 9 hours and you think that's a lot, I have to say that actually it is not. Bigger projects, more intricate and detailed projects - whether big or small - can take up to several days and even hundreds of hours. It all depends on the project.

If that amount of time was supposed to be work, then I would cringe as well. However, needle felters LOVE doing what they do! It's fun, and amazing, and relaxing and for a lot of us it's therapy. It's a way of dealing with stress, finding time to unwind and find tranquillity again. 

That's what slow crafting is all about. Slow crafting is a form of active meditation for the restless, who cannot sit and do nothing with their hands. It is self-care in a very ancient way. Take knitting, for example. People know it takes long hours to knit a pullover. The same way hand embroidering, painting, wood sculpting - and the list goes on - are all slow handcrafts.

Those hours spent on creating something out of a few otherwise basically useless materials is a way not just to express your creativity but also to find that inner peace you feel you've long lost in this sped-up world we live in nowadays.

Obstacles when we think about finding time for needle felting and crafting

Interestingly, the obstacles we face are not physical. They are in our head thanks to certain social expectations and mainstream views. The following is strongly my opinion (and that of several other crafters), so it's not aimed to attack anyone who thinks the below mentioned social expectations are valid or important.

Obstacle #1: Being stuck in an "I always have to be productive" mindset

I always have to be productive - mindset

If you look around the internet, you'll see that countless people offer help in order to be more productive. When it comes to work, I also agree that productivity is a very important and useful skill.

What I don't agree with is that the idea of being productive penetrated other aspects of our lives as well making people think that they are only worthy human beings when they do something productive.

Let me share you a little story about how dangerous it can be. About 10 years ago, my choice of crafting was knitting. I had a friend who seemed interested in my knitted blankets and said how great I was at it. And then she started asking questions: How long did it take? How much was the yarn? When I answered she asked another question which felt like being punched in the stomach: 

"Why did you knit that if you could have bought it at a lower price? And the same time could have been used for giving at least 4 English lessons earning more money than the price of the blanket. What you did was not productive at all."

I don't have to tell you how that made me feel: horrible. I was judged based on not being productive in my hobby! Consequently, I started to question my "right" to give in to my creative urges and I felt guilty for a VERY long time.

I don't think she understood what crafting meant to me, as she only did fast crafts, usually under 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, it took me a long time to realise why her comment and judgement hurt that much. And, most importantly, why she didn't understand my motivation. The answer: the expectation of being productive ALL. THE. TIME.

How to tackle it

Any form of slow crafting that requires you to be focused on and immersed in your subject is a way to take care of our mental health and relax. Productivity stands in the way of relaxation because it doesn't let you experiment and follow your creative instincts or inspiration.

Obstacle #2: Feeling guilty about wanting to spend time crafting

Feeling guilty about wanting to spend time crafting

Feeling guilty is very typical of a lot of women of any age (with or without kids) and it's in strong connection with the first obstacle, but there's more to it. Women all over the world feel guilty sitting down with their craft projects or even with a book and relax. Why do we think it is okay to watch a football or a film, but not okay choosing crafting over doing the dishes?

It seems to me that when an activity is done for others - family, friends, community - it's somehow validated and we think about ourselves as good and helpful people. But when there's a choice between doing something that relates to others - like some household chore - or spending time on a creative hobby just for ourselves, usually the first wins.

For some reason, spending time solely with the purpose of taking care of ourselves translates in our mind as selfish and bad. That's just not right!

How to tackle it

When it happens to me, I always remind myself about the following line from the flight safety instructions: "Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others." A stressed, nervous, burnt-out (and the list goes on) woman can hardly be as good a partner or carer as she wants.

The solution to finding time for needle felting and crafting

Needle felted lightbulb on 100% pre-felt

The very first step to find time for your favourite craft

I hope that from the above mentioned two obstacles it is clear that no magic app or tip will help you find the time you need if you don't take the first step: a mindset shift.

Productivity has its own place, but it has no business permeating our creative crafting time that is aimed at relaxation. In the same way, guilt is a necessary emotion, but not when we want to take care of our mental wellbeing.

The guideline on how to find time for needle felting and any other crafts

I would like to point out that the following guideline has helped me to find the time I need. It was put together based on my experiences and what worked for me. You may need to incorporate other steps too so you can find the time you need.

The very first thing is to keep in mind the following quote that is so true for all kinds of situations and for this one as well:

"Whether you think you can or can't, you are right."

-- Henry Ford

Embrace slow crafting as a means to a more relaxed and calmer you.

It's also a mindset shift. Slow crafting requires longer time since its purpose is to help you relax. And while sometimes even 30 minutes can be refreshing, more shorter craft times do not add up in the same way as one longer session. 


Yes, I know it's overused and boring to hear. So, let me put it this way: when you need crafting to care for your own mental health - either because you are recovering from a physical or mental problem, or because you want to prevent burning out or turning to dangerous and unhealthy coping mechanisms - then it is a priority.

Talk to your family members and ask for help.

You don't have to do everything on your own. A family is like a small team and everybody should take responsibility for the wellbeing of its members. Communicate your needs and try to explain to them what you need and why you need it. Involve them, open up and help create an understanding that taking care of ourselves is important. You can also ask them to think about what kind of self-care they need.

Try to make slow crafting a routine.

You can only reap the benefits of slow crafting if you make it a regular practice. Just like going to the gym or any form of exercise is an accepted part of our self-care routine nowadays, you can extend this concept to crafting as well. There is no universal rule of how this routine should look like. For some it's a daily practice, for some it's weekly and for others it's monthly. You have to work out what works for you best.

Find the time you need for your crafting

Thinking about time differently

I hope I could help you see the problem of how to find time for needle felting and any other crafts in a new light. It's never the time, it's how we think about it and what we do with it. I'm really curious to see how the guideline works out for you. Please let me know in the comments below!

Happy felting!

PS: If you would like to know more the concept of crafting as self-care, read my post about 'How to practise self-care with needle felting'.

How to practise self-care with needle felting
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