The Question of Content

The muse for this post was this Veritasium video – I started to share/ comment on Facebook, but quickly realized I was writing a small novel.

While I certainly don’t have the kind of subscriber or viewer numbers to really matter at this point anyway (and the shift in my time and attentions once grad school started slumped down what numbers I did have as I simply wasn’t making anything at that point), but this is something I have been seeing as well: The rise in time-sensitive video topics and click bait.
 
I haven’t posted anything myself in some months – either here or on Youtube. I’ve been working on some doll unboxing videos here and there since the start of the year, nothing to upload yet, just a number of them in various states of completion. And I have been hesitant to post what I have done, as many of those videos would now be considered “old news”.
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The Moana doll that I got for Christmas? I haven’t even seen her for sale for over a month. Those Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice collector dolls from Mattel were only big right after that movie came out. Is it even worth the time at this point to finish editing the unboxing of the Batman doll I got? The big thing in the doll-world at this moment is the new Ken dolls. My most viewed blog post was from Feb 2016 when I wrote that comparison between all the new Barbies and Lammily. I’ve considered doing a companion for these new guys, but I would need to go buy the short Ken and there are already dozens of other blogs and videos at this point. So is it worth it? And even if I could manage to stay on top of every new release and quickly turn out new content for every new hot item, I certainly don’t have the income to buy every hot doll that comes out the moment it comes out. I really need to re-assess what kind of content I’m creating.
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Readership has been steadily decreasing – I deeply appreciate those of you who stick around despite the periods of lull. 

Although the Spring semester ended nearly 2 months ago, I’ve not yet produced what I had hoped to. I’ve taken some of that time to just relax and allow myself to de-stress rather than quickly switch gears and just keep pushing myself. It’s been worth it. My creativity has started to flow again. I have ideas again. That urge to make things has come back — If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve already seen some of these results. (Sorry, Twitter people, I always mean to post there as well, I just don’t always remember).
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I made this little bodhran and tipper just the other day.

I have roughly another month and a half left before the Fall semester begins. Let’s see what I can churn out in that time.
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Doing some Spring Cleaning

I know you’ve missed me. I’ve been busy spring cleaning my apartment. I’ve been going through all of my closets, my storage areas, everything. I’ve come to realize just how much of a fabric hoarder I am, lol.

My tower of fabric. This is where I keep my “good” cotton and other special fabrics.

A box full of formal skirts I’ve picked up at thrift shops to use whenever I need glitzy fabric. I haven’t managed to use any of it in the year I’ve had it. I don’t want to just get rid of it. So, I think some experimenting is in order…

One of two boxes of denim that I have. Hoping I would get more orders for the NowhereMan Jacket (read the whole story, Part 1, 2 and 3), I stocked up. It seems weird how much interest there was when I first made it, I had someone offer to buy the original before it was even finished. ::shrug:: I’ll do something with it eventually, I have plenty of ideas.

A couple rolls and a box of of quilt batting I picked up via Freecycle this past summer. I’ll use them eventually. I still need to settle on a design I really like for the Nataraja Quilt.

Little boxes of notions that an elderly woman gave me when she moved some years ago. I have made use of these again and again. Especially the zippers. Thank you elderly lady.

A clean closet!! These dresses are prom/ formal dresses that I picked up from thrift stores that I intended to alter (this was around the time I made some formals for a fashion show in Springfield, IL) I don’t know that I’ll ever get around to doing anything with them. I should probably take them to a consignment shop. Although, when my friend Julia got married back in 2010, I did get my bridesmaids dress from this collection (that’s it in the front) and all I had to do was shorten the skirt.

So, after all this cleaning (and there’s more yet to do), I’ve managed to take in a TV and some bags of clothes/ fabric to the second hand store where I work. I’ve also sectioned off some stuff to sell on eBay (see my shop and all my spring cleaning goodies here)

Re-Domestication: Are We Re-Claiming the Feminine or Being Herded Back into the House?

I read an article in Forbes this morning entitled, The Redomestication Of The American Woman. It really struck a chord and I have so many things spinning through my head as a result. I will try to organize those thoughts as best as possible.

DIY Marketing: Targeting the wants/needs of the current generation

For those of you who aren’t already familiar, the last decade has seen a bit of an explosion with DIY (Do-It-Yourself)/ crafting. There are numerous concepts and ideas tied into this explosion – wanting to go green, wanting to be less dependent on/ fighting against mass consumerism, wanting to save money, hoping to make money, wanting to create something – the list is rather long, and different people come to DIY/ crafting for different reasons. I’ve seen a lot of books and sites that market themselves on taking traditional activities (sewing, crocheting, etc) and bringing them up-to-date/ de-grannifying them. (My favorite line from The AntiCraft’s AntiFesto: Never again would we be forced to gleefully execute a sweater of intarsia puppies.) I actually got a book from the library yesterday titled, The New Granny Square, which boasts that the patterns in the book “are not your granny’s granny squares!”
Of course we don’t want to do the same things our mothers and grandmothers did! But… why? Why does this marketing work and what is it saying? Is it as simple as new generation, new wrapping paper? Is it really even new wrapping paper? There is an excellent article in the Fall 2007 Interweave Crochet magazine, “Crochet Heydays”, that discusses the cultural role of crochet in the 1960’s and 70’s. From the IC article:

Crochet was play, but in the late sixties it was also political as a highly visible communication of a generation’s radically different values. Crochet was one way to express the young generation’s need to craft its own image and identity and to move beyond conformity and the status quo.

So much for being different from our parents and grandparents, huh?

Who’s Space is it Anyway?

Handicrafts such as knitting, sewing, etc. have traditionally been considered to be feminine. Because women were homemakers for so many years (and in many parts of the world, still are), there is a kind of social tendency to associate these activities with femaleness. Do we still feel this way as a society? I’ve seen a handful of knitting books and blogs geared toward men (See: Knitting with Balls and a similarly titled blog Knits with Balls that I follow), 6bdf47c13bd10525354272ea646edfccbut these still seem to be novelties to me. By and large, most books and patterns are still written with women in mind. But at least we’re starting to acknowledge the fact that men like to pick up hooks and needles too.
I can remember going through a phase during high school/ my first couple years of college where I was steadfastly tomboy and wouldn’t give the time of day to anything traditionally deemed “feminine” or “girly”. I considered myself to be a feminist and, at the time, I was convinced that somehow wearing men’s cargo jeans and working on cars with my Dad was somehow superior to wearing a dress, carrying a purse and cooking or fashion. Of course, I eventually realized that what I was doing was still giving power to men/ maleness/ masculinity and denying myself things I would come to love. (I am reminded here, of the song “What it feels like for a Girl” by Madonna, where she intros, “Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots, cause its ok to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, cause you think that being a girl is degrading.”)
So, as I read the Forbes article, I can certainly understand her concern that, “scratching at the organically-sanitized surface … is the haunting notion that the pro-creativity movement is in bed with strong societal forces to bring women closer to procreativity (and ideally “full-time” motherhood) …” However, I think, so long as we are aware of what is going on, aware of our own interests in these activities, and we’re not choosing to engage or not engage in them based on what society’s ideals for us are according to what we have between our legs, I think we’re safe. The important thing is having options, knowing what they are, and making our own choices. (I suddenly want to watch Mona Lisa Smile for the millionth time. Re: The part where Julia Stile’s character tells Julia Roberts’ character, “This *is* what I want.”)

Plush Brains and Procrastination

Recently, I checked out a copy of Invasion of the Plush Monsters! by Veronika Alice Gunter. It’s somewhat funny and worth checking out. She introduces each creature as though it were part of some B movie trailer or War of the Worlds news coverage of space aliens.

I have a lot of old clothes I want to use up, so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about trying to make some manner of plush creatures and/or sock monsters. As I posted on almost all of my social networking statuses (we should change the pluralization to “statii” – it sounds cooler), the wrong side of sweatshirt material provides a cheap alternative to buying fleece or fur for these little creatures. These are small projects that use up old material and don’t require a lot of time. Plus, they’re just really awesome and I’m dying to make some.

My problem is, as magnificent as Gunter’s creations are, there is something in me that prevents me from making them. It’s as though I feel I should be creating my own little creatures, which, is all well and good, but that my mind starts churning and spewing out this great deluge of large, detailed creatures that are more like works of art in their own right than just funny little creatures. I don’t have time for that, nor is it what I’m shooting for. But, as with almost everything, my imagination doesn’t want to lay complacent to something so simple. “But look!”, my mind tells me, “You’ve already seen what these creatures look like.. we need to do something bigger and better!” After  which, all productivity comes to a standstill as I procrastinate and wait for my mind to make itself up as to what I really want to do.

What I’ve been up to: The Rag Rug

Working on the rag rug

Where does all the time go? Is it really near the end of September already? This month has seemed to just fly by me. While I have been keeping myself busy this past month catching up on reading, spending time with family that came to visit and other endeavors to stay social offline, I hate to admit I haven’t done much in the way of crafting or creating. Oh, I’ve worked some on this project or that, but not enough for me to really feel I’ve been productive. Having said that, here is a glimpse at one of the projects I currently have underway:

Each warp is made from 4 strands of yarn, tied to the pole in the middle, making the warps 8 strands thick. There are in the neighborhood of 60-70ish warps.

I would say this is my major project right now. For those of you who know me on Facebook, you’re already familiar with it. For the rest of you, this is new info.
I’ve had the book Twined Rag Rugs by Bobbie Irwin in my possession for a few years now,  and, part wanting to experiment with something different and part needing a rug for my living room anyway, I decided to begin this project.
I don’t have any kind of a loom frame, and I don’t have the tools, space or woodworking know-how to create the kind of frame Irwin uses. I went to a hardward store and purchased an 8ft wooden closet pole. To this pole I tied long strings of yarn.
For the wefts, I cut strips of fabric about 3 inches wide. I wanted to start of using what I already had. This includes an old satin bed sheet set that I’ve been keeping for a few years. I admit, I’m a bit of a fabric hoarder – some of my fabric I have been toting around since I was in middle school, never sure what to do with it, but feeling I could do _something_ with it. However, I didn’t quite have enough black and red fabric to complete the rug, so I did have to acquire more, which I got from secondhand sources. Not being able to find enough of what I needed, I attempted to dye strips of white using Rit. Epic Fail. Rit sucks.
To create the repeating design pattern I made use of another book sitting unused on my reference shelf – Gold and Silver Needlepoint by Maggie Lane. I bought it at The Book Rack in Springfield, IL a couple of years ago. (support local/independent sellers!) I took one of her repeating designs used in a section of background and expanded it. Not so secret Secret: Any design that uses graph paper can be used for knitting, crochet, weaving, or needlepoint.
The weaving technique I am using is called taaniko, sometimes spelled with only one “a”. Irwin introduces in on page 64. This is a twined weaving technique perfected by the Maori in New Zealand.

After the completion of 5 rows...

As beautiful as taaniko work is, this was almost a lost art only 20-30 years ago. Indeed, twining in general is a craft trying to survive. Considering that it takes considerable time (each row on my rug has taken me approximately an hour), I can see how some might be dissuaded from even attempting it. To quote a good friend of mine from a comment she wrote on my Facebook, “…just sayin, there’s easier ways to do those things…”. Indeed, in this day and age there are faster, easier ways to do a great many crafts. Sewing machines have become increasingly computerized, most of your store-bought knitted items use a knitting machine, and some weeks back I rented a DVD on fused art quilts (essentially making use of fusible web to bond fabrics together). While I’m certainly not about to knock any of these things, I kind of have this love and respect for the old traditions of craft. Maybe it’s the anthropologist in me… but, when I do this kind of labor intensive work, I feel a sense of connection to all the people who have gone before me. I love feeling like I’m helping to preserve methodology, or bring something back from the dead.