Swedish Death Cleaning for Crafters is your guide for getting control of your stash of crafting supplies. Follow along as I apply these principles and turn my very cluttered craft room into my creative oasis.
The good news is that you don’t have to be Swedish or near death to participate in Swedish Death Cleaning.
And I believe it’s the perfect solution for crafters of all nationalities and stages of life to simplify our crafting supplies and to become more creative in the process.
“Life will become more pleasant and comfortable if we get rid of some of the abundance”— Margareta Magnusson, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning
What is Swedish Death Cleaning?
“Dö is ‘death’ and städning is ‘cleaning.’ In Swedish it is a term that means that you remove unnecessary things and make your home nice and orderly when you think the time is coming for you to leave the planet. ”— Margareta Magnusson, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning
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The concept of Swedish death cleaning has become a popular way to declutter around the world due to the “newish” book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson. It was first published in 2018, and at only 117 pages, it is a quick and delightful read.
You may find the word “delightful” a strange adjective to describe a book about Swedish death cleaning. But the entire book is written in such a way that makes you feel like your quirky Swedish neighbor is sharing stories from her life as she advises you on how to declutter your own home.
Don’t expect a “how-to” manual like The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.
Why Should Crafters Swedish Death Clean
Almost every crafter that I have ever met has a tendency to accumulate a lot of items. Whether you’re a knitter, crocheter, embroiderer, needle felter, jewelry maker, etc. you likely have amassed a rather large assortment of bits and bobs.
And if you’re anything like me, you have a hard time letting things go because…..you never know when you might need them.
Am I right?
Why We Hold Onto Things as Crafters?
“Beautiful things such as an African wooden bird, strange things like a singing magnetic pig, and funny things like a solar-powered waving bear are all things that I adore. My vice is really things. It took me a while to understand this, but you can enjoy all these things without owning them. Even though this may sometimes seem quite hard to do, training yourself to enjoy only looking at things, instead of buying them, is very nice and also a good practice. You really can’t take everything with you, so maybe it is better to not try to own it all.”— Margareta Magnusson, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning
There are many reasons why we hold onto things as crafters.
The first reason is that we genuinely need a lot of materials to be able to create our craft of choice.
For example as a crocheter and knitter I need a lot of yarn, hooks and needles.
I may be afraid to let go of some of the yarn I’ve
hoarded, I mean collected, because I may need it someday in the future.
Sometimes the reason we end up with too many crafting items is that we have collected those items simply to have them.
I know a lot of crocheters and knitters collect hand-dyed yarn, handmade stitch markers and pins from their favorite makers to adorn their numerous project bags.
3. Everybody Does It
You may also find yourself in this position because it’s quite popular in crafting culture to collect massive amounts of materials.
The unique challenge for crafters is that there’s a fine line between having just enough materials to do your craft and having way too much.
I know for me, when I have crossed over that line my creativity suffers.
My motivation goes straight out the window because all I want to do is avoid the entire situation because it no longer inspires me, but causes me stress and frustration.
Taking the time to evaluate what you truly need to keep and what to purge is a very important step in this process.
Swedish Death Cleaning for Crafters – How To
I’m going to assume that if you’ve made it this far you’re on board. You recognize that you have too much stuff and that it’s time to do something about it.
Set Yourself Up for Success
The first thing you need to do is set yourself up for success.
Gather some boxes and bags to be able to sort through your crafting supplies.
Designate areas to:
Make sure your areas are clearly marked so that anyone helping you knows exactly what each category is. (This is especially true for people like my husband who will throw away anything sitting in a pile – Mark Everything Clearly)
Start With Items That Are Less Sentimental
Do you have crafting gadgets and tools that you never use? Items that hold little sentimental value.
Give yourself a win and donate those things to someone who could use them. Or you could sell them on Facebook Marketplace or Ebay. But if they are broken and unuseable, toss them out.
Special Note: You may experience guilt when you think of all the money you’ve spent on these items or if they were a gift from someone you care about. But now is the time to forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made and move on.
Evaluate Your Excess
The next step is to evaluate your excess.
Do you have multiple crochet hooks in every size? Are they taking up space and cluttering up your surroundings?
Take the time to go through your excess materials and keep what you need and love. Donate or sell your excess.
- Evaluate Abundance
- Assess Value
- Would someone else value this?
Ask Yourself These Questions
When going through your crafting supplies ask yourself these questions:
- Will you use it again?
- Will it make someone else happy that you kept it?
These questions will help you evaluate whether you should keep, gift, donate or sell.
Getting Rid of Things/Gifting Things/Donating/Selling?
Keep what you know you will use or things that you truly love. Be honest with yourself and don’t just keep it “just in case”.
Most of our crafting supplies are easily purchased again if you made a mistake.
“If you are not selling something or giving it to charity or throwing it away, careful thought in deciding on a new perfect home for it will satisfy both you and the recipient. To know something will be well used and have a new home is a joy.”— Margareta Magnusson, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning
One of the tips from The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is to gather up the items you wish to donate and invite people you think would like these items to choose them for themselves.
That way you know the recipient will truly appreciate the items and you’ll be happy they went to a good home.
There are so many options when it comes to selling crafting supplies these days.
- Yard Sale – do it the old fashioned way and sell your crafting supplies and any other things you’ve purged at a yard sale.
- Facebook Marketplace – this is a great way to sell items to people who are looking specifically for crafting materials. Gather your hoard into a large grouping and sell it all together or individually list the items.
- Ebay – another great way to sell your crafting supplies is on Ebay.
- Etsy – more and more people are selling crafting supplies on Etsy. It’s a great way to sell your inventory especially if you have a large collection to unload.
Benefits of Swedish Death Cleaning for Crafters
Personally I feel much more creatively inspired by a clean, uncluttered and organized space.
A 2010 study in the scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found:
“Subjects who described their homes as cluttered exhibited greater depression and fatigue, diminished coping skills, and increased difficulty transitioning from work to home compared to people who viewed their place of residence more positively.”— Donald M. Rattner, Medium.com
The science doesn’t prove whether or not a tidy space leads to more creativity across the board, but I know for me when I feel less stressed, I feel more creative.
What to Do When It’s Hard to Let Go
You may find it hard to let go of certain crafty items even if you know you should.
In this case, may I suggest a little something I plan on doing.
I am a very sentimental old gal and find it extremely difficult to let go of things that have a wonderful memory attached to it.
My solution is to take a photos of those items that need to go and make a photo book of.
Shutterfly is a wonderful and simple way to take those photos and create a beautiful photo book. You’ll be able to see the item for years to come, but it won’t take up the same amount of space. It truly is a win-win.
Swedish Death Cleaning for Crafters
I hope you found this information helpful. And if you fancy seeing my own Swedish death cleaning of my craft room make sure to check out the video.
I would also love to hear about your own decluttering advice for crafters.