As I stood outside painting white primer on my future closet shelves, I found myself wondering why we D.I.Y.

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Some projects like knitting have an obvious answer. The act of knitting is enjoyable. I however did not particularly enjoy painting these shelves with primer. It didn’t make me miserable but it wasn’t the preferred way to spend my day (I would rather have been knitting). My dad didn’t especially enjoy cutting and sanding and working the slabs of wood into finished looking shelves. So why do we do it when we don’t get pleasure from the act of doing it?

It’s not like D.I.Y. saves money anymore. Materials aren’t cheap for most crafts. The boards my dad bought for my shelves cost more than finished shelves from Ikea that come with edging and paint on them already. If you add the value of your time into the equation, D.I.Y. becomes significantly more expensive. When you can buy something prefab cheaper than the materials to make it, it’s hard to argue that D.I.Y. is done to save money.

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There are two major reasons why I was out there painting shelves this morning. The first one is quality. I know exactly how the shelves were made. I know what kind of primer was used. I know what kind of paint was used. I know what kind of wood my shelves are made of. It’s not a big mystery. It takes a bit of time to develop the skills to create higher quality D.I.Y. projects (hence why my dad is building the shelves and I’m just on paint duty) but once you have an understanding of your craft, what you make will be significantly better than anything you can buy. Your sewing will have better hems. Your knits will fit and drape better. You will know how materials behave and what the best ones to use for a particular project are. The problem with this is that I end up being more persnickety about quality. Once you master the skill set, D.I.Y. allows you to make higher quality things than you can buy.

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The other major reason is customization. I’m not going to find a prefab shelf that fits exactly in my oddly shaped closet. I’m not going to find one that is the exact same green as my trim. To get unique customized stuff, you have to make it yourself. That’s one of the biggest draws to D.I.Y. for me. I can’t go buy garments that are custom fitted to my body but I definitely can make them myself. D.I.Y. allows me to have things that no one else has. It lets me create things that are exactly what I want and have in mind, things that aren’t available for purchase.

There also is another reason why we D.I.Y. that doesn’t really apply to me in this scenario but does apply to my dad. Love. He’s making the shelves with me because I asked him to and he loves me. There was a girl at my Uni Knit Night who never kept her knitting projects because she enjoyed that happy shiny feeling from giving them to her friends. There’s an extra specialness to a hand made gift that helps motivate me to D.I.Y.

Sometimes I D.I.Y. because I enjoy the process. Sometimes I do it because I want the finished item. Sometimes I do it for someone I love.

Why do you D.I.Y.? Do you ever do projects that you don’t really enjoy doing? Why do you do those projects?

0 Comments

  • It's funny you ask this… I'm currently doing a research paper on DIY (mainly knitting)and the purpose of it. For me it's a creative outlet. I also can't help but feel a sense of pride knowing I made something most people don't know how to. Like you I don't like the actual process of doing whatever it is (knitting, sewing, or crocheting) but I almost always love the end result.

  • I am afraid I enjoy the whole process of knitting. I like buying the yarn and pattern, making the garment and knitting it. There are other DIY projects I really don't like doing like painting but I think you are right. I do it because I get something specific to my needs as opposed to compromising on something.

  • Izznit: Your paper sounds interesting. I hope you post about your findings.With some things( like knitting) I do enjoy the process, but the sense of pride is definitely a factor that I forgot about when I wrote my original post. It's a nice feeling to have things you made yourself, even if they were a PITA to make. There's that sense of accomplishment that goes along with being proud of your skills, you know? Having a tangible unique end result kind of justifies the ridiculous amount of time I spend doing something. I couldn't justify spending hours playing computer games but I can justify it with crafts because at the end of the craft session, I've accomplished something real that I'm proud of. It's interesting to think about.

  • I like to make things for all the reasons you mentioned. With knitting, I can choose exactly what I want – the colors, the size, the yarn. Quality is important to me but it's getting harder to find affordable, good quality clothes. Knitting is fun and in the end, I get exactly what I want (hopefully!), made from great materials and at a good price too. And I love wearing things I made, I feel so proud of myself.I do also enjoy the challenge of learning something new, but I'll probably only do something if it looks like fun.

  • i definatly diy for love. this is also why i cook things like pizzas and cakes from scratch or knit and sew things, when all of these things would be quicker and cheaper to buy. i feel like i am making my home with my effort and my love. i nurture my family with love and carve a place for myself in their hearts with every little thing i make for them. that way they will never be able to do without me and i will always be loved. i thnk this sounds a little desperate having written it but i am sure i am not the only woman that feels this way. one of the most important and satisfying feelings for me is the feeling of being needed. since having a child i have become very worried about the day no one needs me any more. what will i do? who will i be?

  • hi, your blog is so great…i check out the other one too but I think I like this one idk why…lol…I am not following you…check out mine and you can follow it if you like.. :)http://rosebarbie23.blogspot.com/xoxo

  • I'd say I do it for the same reasons as you: the process, the finished item, the glow of giving. Also, since I don't find myself to be terribly creative (as in coming up with design ideas out of nowhere), I like that I can follow instructions but feel like I'm making something creative at the same time. If that makes any sense…

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