Crafting may seem like trivial, but it turns out that activities like knitting and pottery have beautiful mental health benefits.
Arts and crafts aren’t just for kids anymore.
During the pandemic, which continues to make 2020 feel like the year that refuses to end, Canadians have turned to all sorts of hobbies to stay safely occupied and entertained amid public health restrictions. Bread making was followed by gardening was followed by snowshoeing, all in the pursuit of socially distant self-care. Similarly, crafting kits for adults saw a boom during the pandemic as first-time buyers picked up knitting needles, tried their hands at pottery or got into drawing.
In short: Craft kits have become a hot pandemic commodity—and the resulting mugs, embroidery and scarves aren’t the only benefits.
A 2011 review found that creative arts can improve psychological and physical well-being because they “promote relaxation, provide a means of self-expression, reduce blood pressure while boosting the immune system and reducing stress.” A 2020 review echoed these findings and reiterated that in addition to the mental health benefits, arts engagement can protect against mental distress.
“When we’re doing things with our hands, we are kind of in the moment and it’s a real mindfulness practice,” says Sally Stewart, a University of British Columbia associate professor who has literally written the book on the principles of health and well -being. Stewart explains that doing activities that allow you to be ‘in the moment’ promotes well-being because it helps decrease cortisol levels, the stress hormones. Plus, unlike physical activities, like going for a daily walk, crafting is often sedentary, which can make sewing or sketching feel meditative.
(Related: The Life Changing Power of Hobbies)
Finding creative outlets during times of turmoil is nothing new. Marcel Danesi, puzzle expert and University of Toronto professor of semiotics and anthropology, points to the surge of interest in puzzles during the Great Depression. “The jigsaw puzzle provided a kind of solid deflection away from the reality which you would otherwise have to face,” says Danesi, noting that crafting likely has the same draw. Where books and movies offer an escape, crafting provide a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, while also creating something beautiful.
“It may seem like trivial, but it isn’t because it is emotionally and cognitively beneficial,” says Danesi.
Here are some craft kits for adults that are available in Canada:
flower press kits
Image: Oake Living
Turn the bright blooms of summer or fall foliage into lasting memories. Handmade in Halifax, this kit includes a how-to manual and birch plywood press.
$60, Oake Living
candle making kit
Image: Make. Este. Universe.
Turn your home into a lightly scented oasis with soy candles you can make yourself. Each kit is sustainably packaged and handmade in Make This Universe’s Port Hope, Ontario studio and makes one 4 oz candle.
wood carving kit
Image: Lee Valley
This kit includes everything you need to take your charcuterie game to the next level with a live-edge board made from Eastern black walnut.
$149.95, Lee Valley
Arm-knitted blanket kit
Image: Click and Craft
Canadian company Click and Craft works with local artists to create how-to videos for a range of DIY kits including how to macrame and how to sew a leather handbag. This starter kit includes all the chunky tube yarn you’ll need to twist and pull your way to the perfect cozy blanket.
$174.99, Click and Craft
(Related: These Activities Help Prevent Dementia, According to a New Study)
comic book kit
Admittedly, Kid Made Modern’s comic book kit is intended for a younger audience, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy writing their own adventures.
Image: Canadian Craft Crate
This embroidery kit from Canadian Craft Crate will help you create a bouquet of flowers that will stay bright and beautiful all year round.
$42, Canadian Craft Crate
Beeswax food wrap kit
Beeswax wraps are a great, eco-friendly alternative to saran wrap or other packaging, and with the help of this craft kit from Vancouver-based small business Mugumugu Mint, they can now be made at home.
Soapstone carving and whittling kit
Image: Studiostone Creative
Based in Vancouver, Studiostone Creative offers soapstone carving kits for a range of figurines like bears, orcas, wolves and turtles. The kits contain all the tools and materials required to turn stone into beautiful works of art in less than two hours.
$60, Studiostone Creative
DIY pottery kits
Image: Terracotta Club
If your home has turned into a haven for house plants, Club Terracotta has the perfect craft kit for you. These pottery kits contain all the materials needed to create six small pots or two larger pieces, all without a pottery heel or kiln.
$75, Terracotta Club
Plant hanger kit
Image: Canadian Craft Crate
Speaking of plants, this plant hangers kit from Canadian Craft Crate can help put air plants and succulents on display—and bonus, it’s on sale right now.
$42, Canadian Craft Crate
Weaving for beginners kit
Image: Blanc Laine & Divinity Fibers
This kit has a solid five-star review on Etsy and comes with everything needed, including sari silk and merino wool, to start weaving from the comfort of your home.
$130, Blanc Laine & Divinity Fibers
Next: It’s Time to Break Up With Busy and Make Time For Yourself