Winter is a dangerous time of the year for a certain segment of the population: craft addicts. The sparkling, glittery, glitzy and rich nature-toned craft components scream at us from store isles, demanding we take them home. We try to resist their pleas, but addiction fogs our judgment and we begin to believe that they truly are perfect solutions to decorating and gift-giving dilemmas.

Winter is a dangerous time of the year for a certain segment of the population: craft addicts. The sparkling, glittery, glitzy and rich nature-toned craft components scream at us from store isles, demanding we take them home. We try to resist their pleas, but addiction fogs our judgment and we begin to believe that they truly are perfect solutions to decorating and gift-giving dilemmas.

You are not alone

If your house, basement or garage is in a frequent “state of craft,” you’re not alone. We are a growing army of addicts who use our powers for good. The world is a more beautiful place because of our efforts and dedication, and we also benefit the environment. I have yet to meet a crafter who doesn’t “recycle” discarded, out-dated or useless items into their endeavors. Whether it’s a piece of vintage fabric strategically sewn into a quilt, an old barn window transformed into a work of art or a set of vintage flatware converted into wind chimes, crafters tend to look at an item’s possibilities, not its limitations.

Also, most craft items themselves are somewhat “recyclable,” especially among addicts. Without shame or embarrassment, crafters can place their unused or under-used craft items on a table at a garage sale. Within minutes, a fellow addict will be looking them over, considering their potential and asking questions to themselves. Why didn’t this person make this miniature dresser, embroider this pillowcase, hook-latch this rug or try out this brand new flower press? One addict’s failure to excel and explore does not spoil the whole bin of crafters. We will gladly pay to take these items off their hands. It’s the least we can do to help a fellow addict.

Winning the battle

Unlike some addictions, crafting has no cure, no 12-step program or even a mantra – just the all-consuming desire to create. Some may think our talents have little or no value in society, but we know differently. Our quilts offer comfort for those who have lost their homes in fires; the brilliant colors of our stained glass windows greet worshippers every Sunday; and our tiny, painstakingly made outfits are used as burial shrouds for babies entering this world too soon. Our crocheted doilies are proudly displayed in living rooms coast to coast, our knitted scarves and mittens keep our loved ones warm all winter and our hand-sewn Halloween costumes and whittled toys are treasured for years to come.

The benefit of crafting is not only in the outcome, it’s in the process as well. We pass down our skills – such as weaving, sewing and wood working – to the next generation, and they to the next. It’s the sense of self-sufficiency, accomplishment and appreciation of a job well done that makes our hearts swell as our sore fingers and strained eyes continue on to the next project.

Crafters may never save the world in a big way, but they do their part in small ways every day. They will always be at the ready for bigger tasks. If an emergency required a macrame guitar strap to save the day, just hand a crafter a ball of string. If a wheel-thrown pottery vase could save the world, give a crafter a pile of clay and they could whip one up in no time. If creating a pair of fashionable earrings would prevent an international incident, a crafter would undoubtedly come through again.

The diagnosis

Determining if you’re a craft addict doesn’t take an expert such as Dr. Drew. Usually, crafters know of their addiction, or their family members will confront them. You can be a craft addict with only one favorite indulgence, such as sewing, or you can be a multi-crafter.

I fall into the latter category. I made a quick list of crafts I have tried through the years, and came up with: mosaics, tie dye, paper quilling, string art, papier-mâché, jewelry making, macrame, oil painting, sculpture, drawing, stained glass, pottery (wheel and hand-thrown), mosaics, sewing, knitting, crocheting, tatting, hook-latch, stenciling, wood burning, wood working, furniture refinishing, decoupage, miniature making, lost-wax casting, whittling, shadow-box making, pillow making, embroidery, cross-stitch, needlepoint, fabric painting, origami, paper making and card making.

Currently, my crafts of choice are mosaics and jewelry making. In 2010, however, I will be dabbling in at least two new areas: watercolor painting and pressing flowers. The works of local artists have inspired me to try my hand at watercolors. As for pressing flowers, I helped a fellow addict by purchasing a flower press at a garage sale this summer, and I simply have to put it to use.

If the holidays relentlessly fan your sparks of creativity into unbridled, all-consuming flames - don’t fight it, just give in to the addiction.

When not crafting, Lori Kilchermann is an assistant managing editor with The Journal-Standard in Freeport, Ill. She may be reached at lkilchermann@journalstandard.com.