ColumnConscious life, hear me roar.
I met a friend last week for lunch in New York City who knows a lot about sewing, knitting, using one’s hands to make and yet she brought up a really good point: how to change the image of women who “craft.”
“And yet keep its very essence intact,” she said.
With knitting co-ops, hipster sewing circles, juried craft fairs, and even Vogue taking on knitting via public seminars, embracing craft is a hot topic. But why? My lunch date, an authority in her field, wondered the same thing and also made it well known that she had been a knitter for a very long time. With all these knitters and the trends, and the cool factor of it, what was the big deal. Her bosses wanted to know too. In fact, they wanted to start calling the genre “Fashion How-To” instead of “Craft” having taken note of it, and as if it had just suddenly appeared before them.
If you’re a plumber you can equate this to your profession suddenly being called “Pipe How-To,” or if a lawyer, try on “Persuasive Oral Communications How-To.” It doesn’t make sense to change some things. It is what it is. It’s really just how you market it.
“Well, I think the first way to change the image is to understand it better. We must deconstruct,” I said.
“Craft” has been with us since the dawn of time. Think cave drawings to communicate life story, roughly-carved eating utensils and clothing woven from primitive looms. Without the ability to “craft,” people would have starved, frozen, died (not to mention, been very bored).
When I think of all the women I personally know who are creating with fibers, I see them as self-sufficient rebels, the ultimate feminists who give the finger to “The Man” and make their own wardrobes instead of shopping at a fast-fashion mega wearhouse dictated by trends. These are the women that, should the world end today, you would want them near you to find ways to clothe you and keep you warm, stitch up your wounds, maintain calm and gather everyone around for rational dialogue.
“The other thing we have to realize about craft,” I said to my friend, “is that using your hands to create makes you aware that you’re alive.”
After I said it, I sat back and heard that sentence swirling about the quiet little bistro we were sitting in.
These hands of ours (of mine) that type up columns like the one you are reading, are so used to repetition that they’ve forgotten their human history and that to be a part of life, we have to somehow document it and prove that we exist. Build a house, plant a garden, knit a scarf, make bread, it doesn’t matter so much how well you do it as that you do it. Craft is nothing more than executing an idea, embracing a spark of creativity that rolls out from our brain to our hands that says “Do this. It will somehow help you.”
This past weekend I made my very first DIY necklace inspired by Gretchen Jones. After that lunch date in New York City I realized that there’s more to documenting this life than just writing about it. I want to make.
I just realized this isn’t a “How-To” anything, this is all about survival.
Between the Lines is a weekly column navigating the sometimes-sharp, sometimes-blurred lines of conscious life and culture between city and country, between inner worlds and outer.