Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In My Not-So-Humble Opinion

I am about to write a blog post about a blog post about a New Yorker article. First time for everything, right? Here we go!

I get on Etsy this morning to see what's new, renew a few items, etc., and I see a blog post titled Is Cuteness Bad for Craft?  I'm intrigued, admittedly more about the comments section than the actual article, but I read the entire post anyways. Turns out, it's about an article written by architecture writer and critic Alexandra Lange for The New Yorker titled Don't Put a Bird on It: Saving "Craft" from Cuteness and it's a critique of the new show "Craft Wars", which is being presented by Michaels stores. I followed the link, read the article and after viewing a handful of people's comments on the Etsy blog, I felt compelled to post my own comment.
I think the real issue here is that Alexandra Lange decided to substitute the word "cute" for "non-functional" and/or "durable", which are much more accurate terms for what she appears to be upset about. It's not necessarily that the projects were glittery (although she does seem to have a strangely intense aversion to glitter) or even that most of these projects were kitschy to the extreme. If the contestants had made their finished product in a way that was functional AND made to last, yet looked exactly the same, half of her post would be irrelevant. I was also shocked that Lange seemed to believe that every single person who crafts or shops at Michaels is an art-based entrepreneur. My great-grandmother learned to knit when she was a child and did it most of her life, spending months working on gifts for friends or baby hats she would then donate to the NICU ward at her hospital. She was extremely talented and achieved a level of meticulous detail that is rarely seen anymore. Not once did she ever think about selling her pieces or desire to make a career out of knitting. It was something she did to keep her hands busy during quiet evenings. I understand that Lange may be upset by certain stereotypes being continued with this show, but ultimately, she just needs to calm down and acknowledge that she can't control what people think about her or her career choices. Some people will always hear the word "craft" and their minds will conjure up bottles of Elmer's glue, colored construction paper and stickers of baby animals. That's their mind, not ours.

The point I was trying to make is that everything, especially within the craft/art/theater/dance/music community, is subject to opinion. I could spend every waking moment of my life trying to convince every person I meet that my career choice is valid, but that would be pointless. Some people simply won't understand. Maybe they weren't raised to take risks and follow their dreams. Maybe stability and conformity were important lessons in their life that they learned well. Maybe they aren't naturally creative so they don't understand how my brain could make the leap from "This is fun" to "I think I could make a living doing this." Hell, maybe they really do like their desk job. The fact of the matter is that I will never be able to control what people think of me and I firmly believe that it is a waste of time and energy to try otherwise.

I love my life and that is what's important. Know why? Because it's mine.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Time for a rant

Some days the 9-5 really kills me.

I can't crochet at my desk during quiet moments because it appears "unprofessional" to anyone coming in the front doors. I have worked a desk job my entire adult life and I have never understood this.  When I walk into an office and see a young woman slouched at her desk, eyes glazed over and scanning the screen in front of her, the glow of Facebook lighting her face, I do not think "Goodness me! How professional she looks!" The thought that generally runs through my brain is "She looks like one half of her brain is frozen in boredom and the other half is about to start dripping out of her ears because it's simply melted from disuse."

Some days at the office are busy. Some days are hectic and frantic and stressful as hell. I looooove those days. Seriously, no sarcasm. I always have something to do, I'm coming and going from my desk a lot so I'm not sitting on my ass all day, I'm juggling phone calls and e-mails and projects. I'm exhausted at the end of it all but I never mind because I feel like I earned it, ya know?

And then there are the other days. The days when you're lucky if the phone rings three times all day. The days when your boss keeps randomly walking up to your desk, only to stand there for a minute, sigh and then walk back to his office. The days when you realize you're actually caught up on shredding. Shredding!!

Those are the days I feel bitterness seeping into my pores. I sit here uselessly (yes, I'm at the office right now, and yes, there's nothing to do) and twiddle my thumbs, hating the fact that I am now that woman. The one who looks half bored and half stupid. It upsets me that I can't quietly pursue a creative passion in the occasional (or frequent) moments of downtime that come with any desk job. I'm not asking to sculpt a unicorn at my desk or tile a table next to the copier. Crochet is a very portable craft that takes almost no room and is very rarely messy. (I can actually hear Red rolling his eyes at that statement since I generally leave a sprawling mess at home.) It can quickly be put away until the next available quiet moment, it isn't noisy or smelly and I can't think of a single way someone could be offended by what I crochet. Now, when I start working on my life-size genitalia project... ;-)

Ultimately, what really gets me is that it's all because of this cold, mechanical facade we've decided equals professionalism. As long as you're demure and smile and react like a freaking robot with only four programmed responses, you're being professional. This concept has become more and more foreign to me as I've both worked and patronized several markets over the past couple of years. I love being recognized as a seller when I'm only at a market as a customer. I love the rapport I have with both clients and other marketeers. I love how people come back again and again to just chat with Red or me and ask how life is going. I love the enthusiasm that these people around me have for both their work and their life. I love this community that is both intimately local and everyone knows each other, while at the same time becoming global and massive.

I crave that life with every fiber of my being. I ache to be a part of it 24/7 and knowing that I could be working toward it and am being stopped by other peoples preconceived notions of what is and isn't professional, regardless of how efficient I am as an employee... that's why the 9-5 kills me some days.

On that note, all the bosses have left early today and I snuck in a skein and a hook. Like a ninja!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Two years later...


It has been two years since I last posted on this blog. I'm pretty sure I forgot I had even started it for almost a year of that time, but I can't claim selective amnesia for the last several months. I took that time to slowly build my courage back up, tweak fonts and color schemes, decide on a general feel and flow to the entire page... basically, I've just been freaking out over the thought of putting myself out there again and trying my damnedest to procrastinate the hell out of starting.

The past two years have been eventful. I left the job I had been at since before I was a legal adult, started a new job in a completely different field, finally moved out of the tiny tiny tiny one bedroom "First Apartment" and into a tiny tiny tiny two bedroom house. The hubby (Red) has pursued his raygun business full-time and we have learned so much, not only about selling, marketing, etc., but also about ourselves and our desires for the future.

Just a couple of months ago, I worked my first solo market! I feel a little silly about how excited and nervous this made me since Red and I had been selling at markets together for over two years at that point, but this time was different. It had always been his booth, with the handful of items I'd managed to make during the evenings and weekends thrown in haphazardly. This time it would just be me. Not only crochet rayguns and Jeets, but hats and booties and bears and whatever else my imagination could come up with before the day of the show. Every single item I had worked so meticulously on would be out, my own banner displayed proudly across the front of a table filled with crochet goodies.

Jeez-a-lou, my palms are starting to sweat just thinking about it. Excited and nervous.

I worked every spare minute on product, not giving a thought to my own exhaustion or making dinner or even the booth display. Well, that's not entirely true. I would think about display on occasion and then I would get completely overwhelmed and freak out and huddle into a dark corner of my mind for a few hours. Luckily, I have quite possibly the most amazing husband in the world. Red took it upon himself to make me the most beautiful display I could have ever hoped for, especially considering we had less than a week to complete the displays and absolutely no money to spend on them.

Genius that he is, he managed to design me a fantastic new logo, draw it on a banner and design a table layout with height and layers and depth using only our collapsible bedside stands and whatever fabric we already had laying around! The finished product is below.

Not bad, eh? It's hard to tell from the tiny squashed photo, but it looked super cute. It will need to be tweaked to work out any imperfections, but it was certainly eye catching enough to bring in some sales. I was even approached about consigning to a local shop! Admittedly, I'm not quite there yet, but it's still nice to know that other people, people who are not my loved ones, really like what I do. It's not just my family and friends saying pretty words to me!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hello. My name is Cat and I am a crochet addict.

Yesterday morning I opted to crochet for an hour instead of showering, doing my hair and eating a healthy breakfast. I don't regret it. It felt good. Being creative first thing in the morning was a great way to start my day. It's just that... well, it makes me wonder a bit when I skip stuff like basic hygiene in favor of getting my fix.

I wasn't always fascinated with crocheting and knitting. You hear from a lot of people "I learned how to crochet/knit from my (insert family member) when I was a child and I've never stopped since" but that's not quite how it was with me.

I did learn the basics when I was a child from various family members and acquaintances. I think I may have made a pot holder or one of those long, skinny scarf/belt/snake things. It was fun enough, but I was an outgoing child and spent a lot of time running around the neighborhood like a wild child. I was rowdy and didn't tend to do well with anything that required sitting still for extended periods of time.

I kind of skipped over the whole "tween" time and went straight from child to teenager. I have to say, as teenagers go, I was pretty awesome. My mother always knew where I was. I wasn't boy crazy. I didn't drink or smoke or do drugs. I genuinely enjoyed spending time with my family and I was open and honest with my parents (at least, about the stuff that really mattered). Time passed and I mellowed out to become a slightly calmer young adult. I got a job, bought my first car and spent more time just talking with friends. I had finally learned how to sit still for 10 minutes together. Once I conquered that hurdle, it all came together.

As much as I enjoyed just talking with people, I needed something to do with my hands. I found a few of my old crochet books and tried again. It was perfect! Exactly what I needed! A compact, portable project that yielded quick results! All I needed was a ball of yarn and a hook!
Yeah, right. That's just how it starts.

You start looking at patterns and decide you have to make that gorgeous sweater with the lace detailing. Think of all the compliments you'll get! You go out and buy all the materials, find the perfect yarn, get the recommended hook size and start working. You're totally pumped about how everything is going perfectly... until about four rows in. You realize this is waaaaay over your head and you're nowhere near experienced enough for this project. You decide to set it aside for another time and try something a little less challenging, starting the whole process over again. Eventually you will complete a project, using the yarn that you're always buying and never using, but there is very little stopping the world from being taken over by semi-unraveled skeins of yarn and halfway done projects.

This morning, I actually took care of business (and myself). I woke up early enough to shower and fully get ready for the day and still have almost an hour to watch an episode of Bones and get my crochet fix. Take it one day at a time. That's what I have to do. Be sensible about my own limits and prioritize.

Yeah. That's it. Easy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Dreaded First Post

I'm not a blogger. I don't read or follow other peoples blogs. I've never been a part of the Blogging Community. I'm not even sure I've said the word "blog" more than half a dozen times in my life (until now). Yet somehow, I am still acutely aware of that most terrifying of blogging ailments: First Post Pressure Syndrome.

It starts with the tiniest little fluttering in your stomach. Is it excitement? Is it fear? Could you simply be hungry? Then, you feel that same fluttering travel throughout your entire body. You're not shaking (not yet) but there's definitely a current of... something... traveling through your nervous system. Suddenly, your fingers aren't quite as confident as they travel back and forth along the keyboard. You constantly make typos, having to go back to fix and re-read and re-write because you realize that last bit wasn't phrased quite right. Each mistake knocks you a little further down. You feel yourself break into a cold sweat and start thinking thoughts like "Why am I doing this to myself?" and "Who in their right mind would read this drivel?" and finally - "I'M NOT WORTHY!"

Then, you take a breath and the answers to those very questions come flowing into you. You are doing this to yourself because you'll never reach full potential without a good hard shove out of The Comfort Zone. They're called "challenges" for a reason; they're challenging. Usually they suck and often they don't feel like they're worth the effort, but each one that you come across in life will make you that much stronger and that much more capable. Bring on the challenge.

Who would read this? WHO CARES?!?! Ultimately, I'm writing this for me. To see if I can do it, stick with it, maybe someday even enjoy it. It would be a wonderful bonus for someone else to get as much out of it as I do, but I won't bank on that. Parts of this blog may truly speak to some people and the very same parts could just as easily anger or sadden others. I'm not responsible for every other person out there, but I am responsible for me so that's who I'll write this for.

I'll write this because I am worthy. I'm worthy of the peace of mind it could bring for me to share my thoughts with complete strangers. I'm worthy of being better than I ever thought I could be. I'm worthy of learning things I never knew I never knew. Mostly, I'm worthy of the freedom and happiness that always seems to be so elusive. It's time to live the good life.

I have now written an entire post. The first post. I feel pretty good right now, but I've realized something. Not once have I mentioned crocheting, knitting, felting, weaving or any other kind of yarn art. Let's see what tomorrow brings, shall we?