Today as I was riding the bus into campus I realized I was wearing a hat that my mother crocheted some years back, a set of mittens that my sister knitted me for the Christmas I went to Spain, and a beautiful knit scarf from an old childhood friend. Not to mention that my oversized parka was a hand me down from my grandmother’s closet.

I sat there thinking a bit about how much items we produce in the world can connect us to other people. For instance, I know that the three women who gifted me my winter apparel took the time to make something they thought I would like and to use their creative skills to put a smile on my face. I know that every time I wear that jacket, I think about my grandmother, bustling around in it, never sitting still.

The people and stories behind the items is what actually makes them something meaningful that we can appreciate. That’s why I think it’s important to take a moment (or a lifetime) and consider where all of the “things” in your life are from. Do you know who grows your food? Do you know who makes your clothes? Do you know where your dishes and lamps were made?

It seems like it’s impossible to know where everything in our lives came from. Also, part of the cool thing about our globally widening worlds is that we can share a bit of material culture back and forth with people across the ocean, but we also have to be cognizant of how our connections and consumption can make both positive and negative impacts in the world.

Part of my mission this year is to be more conscious about my crafting and gifting. I love creating beautiful and relevant items for the people in my life, but I also want to become more aware of the connections to other people that I am forging when I make my items. Where are my fabrics coming from? Who makes the beads and crystals that I like using? How can we craft in sustainable, human/animal/planet-friendly ways, that make enduring, caring connections rather than exploitative ones that might be invisible if we don’t take the time to look?

These are the questions I’m realizing more and more that I need to ask myself and other people.

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