Three cookbooks, a pair of roller skates, and a box of colored pencils: These are some of the items I’ve accumulated since the COVID-19 lockdowns started in March. Like people holed up in their homes around the world, I thought a pandemic would be a great opportunity to start a new hobby. My sudden lack of commute and social life left me with a lot of free time, and I was desperate for new distractions. I pictured myself at the end of quarantine (which surely wouldn’t last more than a couple of months) with an apartment filled with crafts and baked goods.
Reality didn’t quite align with my expectations. Nearly eight months later, I still spend most of my time at home, and my early-quarantine impulse buys have been packed away. I had found an excuse to abandon each one: I didn’t have the right ingredients to make a new recipe, the park where I skated got too crowded, I forgot to buy a sharpener for my colored pencils. These may seem like minor setbacks, but in a world where the smallest tasks now seemed daunting, they were enough to keep me in my comfort zone.
That’s why I was so excited when The Crafter’s Box, a service that combines artist-led workshops with curated kits, offered to send me a kit to test. With step-by-step video instructions and generous supply boxes, each project offered through their subscription and marketplace is designed to give crafters everything they need to create a piece from start to finish. In other words, they’re quitter-proof. As someone with a long history of half-finished projects, this sounded like my best shot at starting a new hobby and sticking to it.
Crafting for Dummies
Projects from Crafter’s Box include knit pillows, pressed flowers, crocheted scarves, and stained glass. For my first craft, I chose a kit called macramé landscape. I hadn’t done macramé since Girl Scouts, but it seemed like a safe entry point into the world of yarnwork. Plus, example images of the wall hanging made it look like something I may actually want to keep, unlike the keychains I made at sleepaway camp.
My optimism took a slight hit when I received the box. It was filled with yarn—lots of it—plus other random tools that I would apparently need to use. I couldn’t connect the supplies in front of me with the picture of the product I had seen on the website. Maybe someone with more talent could turn this into art, but someone who got a B- in art class? I was beginning to doubt myself.
Luckily, I didn’t have to navigate the venture alone. My kit came with access to a video workshop led by artist Rachel Breuklander, who conceived the macramé landscape design herself. Her authority made up for any confidence I lacked, and to my relief, she led the workshop as if her viewers were total beginners.
She didn’t leave any part of the process for crafters to figure out on their own. Each step was demonstrated and explained, and potential questions—like does this knot need to be perfect? or should I worry about this loose string?—were answered before I had a chance to think of them. The workshop also didn’t expect me to provide supplies of my own, even basic ones like scissors and tape. Whatever equipment Breuklander used on screen was waiting for me in my Crafter’s Box.
The whole workshop was just over 45 minutes long, but the project took me several hours to complete. Most of the work—like measuring string and tying knots—was repetitive, which allowed me to pause the video at points and move my hands mindlessly while blasting Folklore. When I fantasized about getting into crafting at the start of quarantine, this is what I pictured. The fact that my final product actually resembled the art in the picture was a nice bonus.
The Value of a Crafter’s Box
Aspiring hobbyists interested in using Crafter’s Box have two options: the online marketplace, where customers can purchase products and workshops à la carte, or a subscription. Each month, subscribers receive a new curated craft kit and access to the video workshop that goes with it. The featured artist that month will also host a live, virtual chat for subscribers. Customers can sign up for a six-month plan for $360, a three-month subscription for $185, or a monthly subscription for $65 with the option to cancel any time.
While $65 may seem like a lot for one video and some crafting supplies, it may be worth it if you’re a chronic quitter like me. Though the boxes are designed for one craft, the skills taught in the lessons can help you with other projects down the line, and many of the supplies are reusable. Now that I know how to tie macramé knots, all I need is more yarn to make something new with my leftover equipment.
Unlike the many hobbies I tried picking up in 2020, this one may stick. I never had to worry about shopping for supplies or even finding the right how-to video to watch, so the familiar temptation to give up never came. Crafter’s Box made me realize that maybe I’m not allergic to new hobbies after all, because when there was nothing else to think about but the activity at hand, I found it hard to quit.
You can find out more about Crafter's Box here.