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crafting as therapy

18/04/2020 - Posted in do-it-yourself , hardware Posted by:

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reading time: 5 minutes

The city of Glass

If you are a knowledge worker like me, then you might also have the feeling that only working in the digital realm is dissatisfactory. Maybe it is because like me, you grew up using your hands for, both, leisure and work. Coming from the countryside and spending most of my waking hours in front of the computer either doing research for work, or programming and reading in my spare time, I felt a disconnect. There are times when working mostly in the digital world feels unproductive — useless even. Let’s assume for a second that what I am doing actually contributes to the progress of humanity, more often than not it does not feel like it. This in turn has a negative impact on my overall well being (it seems I need more than cycling).

living within my limits

Being a solution driven person I was looking for a way to change that. As child I loved to make some small junk projects in my fathers wood workshop. Naturally, my first idea was to learn woodworking. This is where reality came down on me to vaporize the idea. You see, I live in Tokyo and while I am gifted with an actual apartment that is bigger than a shoe box, I have neither the money nor the space to make myself I wood workshop. Accepting that, I looked for other crafts that can bring me joy and don’t require considerable investment in money and space.

My EMM1901 at work stitching the underlay.

That’s when I settled on sewing. My mother used to sew and given that most clothes in Japan are too small for me or I don’t like their cut, I thought sewing might be useful and inspire similar joy for me as it did for my mum. Additionally, a sewing machine requires considerably less space than bulky machines for wood working. To feed into my obsession to put my logo on everything I own, I bought a Brother EMM1901. The machine can read embroidery data from USB and then it can embroider things up to a size of 10x10cm. It turns out that there is even an open source community around machine embroidery and as such I found a pretty nifty Inkscape plugin called Inkstitch that does all the translation from vector- to machine embroidery data. Now that I got better with it and I don’t need 5000 iterations until my design looks passable, I decided to create designs apart from my logo and friends’ shops’ logo. The images you see here are from my latest creation.

If you are fed up with sitting at home because the current climate of biological Armageddon, and if the digital world can not satisfy your need for something real, then I can encourage you to pick up a craft. Learning both embroidery and sewing has helped me to balance out my digital work. Additionally, working on something in the real world has immediately created a number of flow experiences that I have not had doing work or programming for a long time. I am a more balanced person because of my new craft, and I think others could be too.


I do not own the rights to the Mirror’s Edge logo; They belong to the creators presumably at DICE and EA.

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