Friday, February 29, 2008

Spring flowers

I took pictures outside today for my new flower pins. It was a gorgeous day! Bradley, my dog, laid in the flowers and rubbed himself in the grass enough that he now has grass-stains on his muzzle. He does like to roll and rub! I took pictures with dandelions this morning and now, this evening, they have turned to puff balls ready for the wind or lots of wishes. 

I'm finally starting to post my pins, or maybe I should call them brooches? I've always called them the other, hmm. I guess it's time for spring - hoorah! I'm looking forward to more bicycles rides and trips to the dog park.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Neck-Ruff Envy

I made a new scarf for my Etsy shop and it makes me laugh - I've definitely been watching too many period dramas and suffering from neck ruff envy. It is beautiful and unique and kind of ridiculous and that's wonderful. 

Todd says it looks like a sea worm. Probably, they are flat and undulating and very curious looking. Technically, I'm surprised how much yarn was required. I went through almost an entire skein. It is very dense! I think it makes a great sculpture. I love the picture of Bradley (the furry mass, my dog) with the scarf but I couldn't post it on my etsy site, so I'm putting it here. Click here for more images and options for wearing it.  

Some things that possibly put this idea in my head:
The Pride and Prejudice Masterpiece marathon on PBS currently running.
Becoming Jane
The Tudors
Previews for the upcoming new movie, The Other Bolyn
my love of weird sea creatures and expanding crocheted forms...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Girl with the Red Hat

I've been posting a lot of hats on Etsy this month and have had to deal with being my own model. As self-conscious as I am about it, I've actually liked a number of the shots and I think this is one of my favorites. It is very Johannes (or Jan) Vermeer, Girl with the Red Hat. Well, not that actual painting (that's what I would title my picture), but there is something about the light, natural light from the top left corner, and the intensity of the color, jewel-like brilliance, that evokes or maybe just hints at Vermeer's ability to catch an ordinary thoughtful moment.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Revolution will be Handmade: Use Value vs. Economic Value

First, a few things about me. I'm happiest when I've got a project going. I'm making something. I studied art and then art history. I worked in a museum, for universities, and now at an art gallery. My master's thesis covered the intersection of handcraft, design, biography, methodology, and feminism. I was a curatorial assistant in a large decorative arts collection. I say all this to give some context to the following - I am thrilled and challenged by the current and continued surge in craft and DIY. 

The more I read, the more it all seems to be coming together, even compared to a year ago.
Handmade 2.0, published in the NY Times, is an excellent summary of the state of craft. I agree completely that it is, at least for me, a work revolution. I've lost my job before and experienced extreme uncertainty and lack of control about my future. The idea that I could literally MAKE my way out is something I dream about everyday. I'll work harder, I'll think more creatively, I'll trade or gift my way out. But it stops there, for me, for now. 

As much as I have created, I still see myself as a gifter. I reason out the exchange by thinking about how much time I spent on the object, how much I spent on materials, and how much thought I put in to design something just for that person vs. the price of buying a gift at the store. Same with things I make for myself. The time/materials vs. buying it. This form of exchange cannot generate income; it can only be bartered with time and only given to those I feel close enough to give a handmade good. 

When I was doing research for my thesis I read quite a bit about use value vs. economic value. What women traditionally make tends to be used. Quilts cover beds, clothes are worn, ceramics are used. They are handmade and not sold, but used. Of course there are many traditional handcrafts that have no function at all, but the author was trying to draw a distinction between quilts by women (used) and portrait paintings by men (sold). I've felt safe staying in a use value and exchange system. 

I am ready now to move forward. 
The Revolution will be Handmade, Etsy Storque's article following up on Morgan Spurlock's new film on anti-consumerism and the NYT story listed above, confirms the canonization of these ideas about craft, use vs. economic value, and the work revolution. It's a great read, but my favorite part was reading the comments after the story. No offense, but most comments to stories on most websites are useless drivel and thoughtless insults - knee jerk taunts. This was different; people really wrote what they thought, what this means to them, what they are struggling with. Ultimately, it was very balanced. No one was too radical, everyone was very practical and thoughtful. Societies exchange goods, always have. We don't need to move towards making everything ourselves, but we can add value by making something really well and it's okay to sell it, basically following a cottage industry model expanded by new technology and networking. 

There is also a strong trend towards the local. I'm still figuring this out. I've joined a few groups, but I haven't made it out to see anyone in person yet. I think it is an important part of the equation, but so far my real-world craft presence is only confirmed by those I have over for crochet/knit night or the recipients of my never-ending gifts. I plan to... well, I plan to do lots of things, but I'll write about that later. 

Design notes on new bag

I made a really fun magazine sized bag in a thick nubby acrylic blend. I tried to watch and pick the placement of the colors in the variegated yarn and sort of control the final look. See the red outline of the bag form with the top stitch. The top picture is of the back of the bag.

Here, you can see that I added a green pocket inside from a different yarn, but matching color. I pinched the pockets at the bottom corners to give the pocket depth. It is stitched securely, but no stitches show on the outside. It is sized for a cell phone and keys and has a slight roll at the top lip for easy access.

And here is the front! See what I mean about controlling the color. I wanted all blue with a red "lip" at the edge of the top flap. The body is made of a separate front and back - the back is longer and creates the flap. The strap is one continuous loop that is attached to the front and back on the inside. The strap is double crocheted in parts and triple crocheted together to the front and back - not sewn.

The body is sized to fit a magazine. Once I starting putting stuff in it the strap stretched and I need to tie a knot to keep it from being too low. I'm very happy with my new bag. It is thick, solid, soft and tight and just the right size. Don't look for it in my shop since I made it for me. I make something else like it though. 

Monday, February 11, 2008

Stack of crochet

So here's proof that I've been busy. I love all the colors and textures. I'm trying to build my inventory for my Etsy shop - which I should be reopening REALLY soon. My computer was out of commission last week so I had plenty of time to crochet, but no way to work on Etsy stuff.

I made two hats this weekend, but I gave them both away. One for my mom that I made in the car on the drive to Houston and one for my grandmother that I made on the spot when she asked for one. I also gave Mom one of the hyperbolic pseudospheres (a small red one) for her to try with her autistic kids at school. Maybe they will like playing with the shapes and tucking it in and pulling it out. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hyperbolic pseudosphere

According to The Institute for Figuring, this is a pseudosphere - "the hyperbolic equivalent of a cone... constructed by starting from a single stitch and crocheting out in a spiral pattern." My rate of increase was two to every stitch. It grows fast!

I made a similar piece for my friend Elliott that I think his cats really dig, but I didn't know it had such a fancy name. I just thought it was a fun design. I added the shell that attaches to the center, or start, of the crenellated green piece. It, the peach/pink part, begins as a narrow cone that expands and envelopes the model when flipped inside out. Or, it can act as a flat base for the green part to rest on.

I like crochet that changes and is meant to be touched - crochet that you can manipulate and offers surprises.