Monday, July 27, 2009

A Heartfelt Life

This is a post consisting entirely of sentimentality, but I figure since a blog is a space to take some time to share one’s interests, I thought I’d share one of mine. My Tam has done excellent work with this blog, and I think one of the finest qualities of this blog is that it is a collection of things that we here care—no wait, make that are passionate about—be it activism for a worthy cause, divinely beautiful art, or a common interest in fried dough (yum!). When My Tam first introduced her blog to me, she added as a suggestion that I might try blogging about crafts that I was interested in. And now I am finally taking her up on her suggestion!

But where to begin? When did I suddenly decide to take the time to make an anniversary card? What exactly happened that made me decide that learning how to knit was a must? What made me decide to go on photography escapades? I cannot be exactly sure when I dove headfirst into arts and crafts but my best guess is around my senior year of undergraduate college years. I still remember seeing the book that perhaps changed it all. Perched neatly on display at the University Bookstore at the Husky Union Building was Minigami by Gay Merrill Gross. Something about the colors drew me in. Pink and yellow ducks on a neon turquoise background (um, yes, choice of color scheme leaves much to be desired). On a whim, I bought the book. I returned the next day to buy origami paper. Other than that slight newbie mistake, I was on my way to loving origami. My first project was an anniversary card for my parents which consisted of three button flowers glued to some cardstock. I chose a light green background and made the flowers in various shades of pink. Inside the pink flowers I made even smaller yellow flowers to stick inside. I was quite sure that Lilly Pulitzer would have approved and proudly presented the card to my parents, after my brothers and I wrote little notes of happiness and congratulations to our parents. My parents still have this card on display in our family room.

It will come as no surprise that flushed with this success, I decided that card making was a one way route to total zen. However, as an undergraduate in desperate need to graduate, I turned my proper attention to school. Also, as a very hungry undergraduate, I also had to devote time at my part time job, to support my eating habits. And my eating habits simply consist consuming more than is really necessary. But that’s a separate post. With a major in the sciences, and a part-time job in technical support, I soon shelved my crafting aspirations. I made the occasional card here and there when I had time, but more often than not, I went to Bartells and picked up something that I found humorous. I went on to post-graduate education, which firmly entrenched me in the sciences. Don’t get me wrong, I love science and will continue to pursue a career in it. BUT. There was something else to be desired. I soon realized my need for a creative outlet when I saw a girl cross the street one day between Campus Parkway and the Ave. What was so intriguing about this girl was that she was knitting while walking. She was making a bag on a pair of circular needles. At the time, knitting was also making a comeback as the activity du jour. I decided I had to knit. Needed to knit. And so I took to this new activity the same way I did with origami. Unfortunately, the outcomes were far from successful. It took me a year and a trial of three books before I learned to knit. Despite all my frustrations, I kept on trying, with a zeal which was unusual for me. I did not take kindly to disappointment in the form of gigantic knots of yarn. Then my friend Mary recommended Stitch n’ Bitch by Debbie Stoller, and things started getting better. In fact, it got so good, that I knitted my first scarf. It was a hideous blue and I knit it so tightly that it had the texture of a place mat. I have never worn this scarf, and most likely never will. My next project was the architect scarf that I found in Greetings from Knit CafĂ© by Suzan Mischer. Finally, at last, knitting success! The friend that I gave this scarf to seemed pleased. Whether or not he actually was pleased is questionable—I did give it to him in the middle of August when he absolutely did not need it. Still, I appreciated the enthusiasm, nonetheless. I knit on and on and then suddenly I became the constant bus knitter (even in 90 degree weather) on the Metro 75.

Now in retrospect, I see that my insistence on learning to knit, and crafting in general was because I wanted an activity that brought me and those that I love happiness. As a child growing up, my family was constantly involved in crafts. I have memories of my aunt making her own ornaments for Christmas, my mother teaching me how to make jump rope from rubber bands, and my father making cans of jam during the summer. As a housewarming present, one of my aunts gave my family an embroidered piece, while another made knick-knacks for decorating. It is these pieces that I remember because I was so impressed that it was made with their own hands. That someone would take the time to create something beautiful to make them happy. I was also inspired by their creations and the attention to detail. All of these pieces still decorate my parents’ house. Along with a green card studded with pink flowers. The title of this post is, “A Heartfelt Life” because it is what art, crafts, and creativity in general means to me. There is is just something special, that is unfortunately hard to describe, about the handmade. To make something with your own hands and enjoy the entire process, to transfer this joy of making something to someone else by giving your piece, and then finally, to inspire others to pursue something that means a lot to them. Well. One cannot help but feel gladness.

But you know what? The gladness isn’t exclusive. It is, in fact, what this blog is all about.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Urban Craft Uprising

What: A showcase for independent craftsters + craft author signings + DEMOS!!!
When: August 1st and 2nd, 11am-5pm both days
Where: Seattle Center Exhibition Hall
Fee: It's free. But if you come early, there's a pretty nifty swag bag!
Why: (1) Support local artists and craftsmen/women, (2) jump start or further fuel the creativity, (3) because there's just something really cool about the handmade.