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Quickie Question: Play With Your Food?

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
By Twistie

(Via instructibles where you can find instructions for making these alligator ‘Nomsters’)

Disaster at Casa Twistie! Our refrigerator – the one that’s needed two new motors(!) in the six years we’ve owned it – bit the dust in the wee hours. I’m going to spend the day cleaning rotting food out of the fridge and researching replacement models. Great.

So since food is a miserable thing in my home right now, I long to make it fun again.

I’m curious, have you ever come up with a particularly imaginative way of styling some sort of food? Funny breads, molded Rice Krispie treats, sugar art, or cheese sculpture… tell me all about it!

Quickie Question: Olympic Craft?

Friday, June 29th, 2012
By Twistie

I’m sure by now many of you know about the recent flapdoodle when the US Olympic Committee sent a snarky cease and desist letter to Ravelry over their Ravelympics event.

Did I say snarky? Well, here’s a direct quote from the letter:

“We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

You see, the committee wants the Olympics to look like this:

not this:

Not that knitting looks quite like that these days…

Yeah, whichever side people were on, they talked about knitting like it’s something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. You know, something painfully wholesome, old-fashioned, and not quite real. Obviously knitting doesn’t involve hard work or long hours of practice! (/sarcasm)

Anyway, the USOC did apologize in a maelstrom of bad press saying they were just protecting their copyright. The virtual black eye of being seen as people who are cruel to little old cat ladies, however, lives on.

But it makes me wonder… what sort of craft/sport hybrid would you like to see at the Olympics?

Me? I’d like to see short track speed skating combined with needle felting. After all, it’s basically roller derby on ice skates. Handing everyone barbed needles feels right. Or, if I have to stick with the events of the summer Games, how about adding drop spindles to the artistic gymnastics rotation? After all, right now they keep ribbons, balls, and hoops twirling while they tumble. And with drop spindles, they would wind up with yarn at the end, too. Oh, and how that yarn turns out is part of the score, too.

How about you? Hit me with your best shot!

Quickie Question: What Do You Wish People Knew?

Monday, June 18th, 2012
By Twistie

I love the film Animal House. It’s gloriously chaotic and shamelessly tasteless. One of my favorite things about it is the statue of Faber College founder Emil Faber, with the sappy yet pointless motto ‘Knowledge is Good’ carved on the base. If you’d like a little knowledge, you might wander over to the blog where I found the above illustration. It tells you what happened to that statue. It also asks the burning question ‘what ever happened to Conan the Vegetarian?’

Beats me, but I hope the author has found an answer in the year since he posted that entry.

So what does this have to do with crafts? Well, as sappy and pointless as Faber’s quote was… it’s also right. Knowledge is good. And knowledge is something woefully lacking when it comes to the general public vs crafts.

My guess is that every one of us has had someone watch what we’re doing and then make an astonishing assumption about what it is, how it’s done, what use it is, or where we learned to do it. Some of these assumptions become so commonplace to us that we start dreaming of wearing tee shirts or posting huge neon signs to dispel those myths.

We at least begin to wish that more people knew the reality.

In bobbin lace, I find the two most common assumptions people make and get dead wrong are 1) that it’s tatting, and 2) that the only way it’s possible to learn it is from an elderly relative, preferably a grandmother.

Nope, bobbin lace is not tatting. They’re different processes that result in very different textiles. As for learning from grandmothers, well, there are people who learn that way, but I learned it from a mail order kit. Others learn it from books, YouTube videos, and people who do demonstrations in public. There are many avenues to knowledge. Every one of them is legitimate.

What about your craft? What common misconception do you wish people would learn the truth about?

Bead Week Quickie Question: Favorite Beaded Item?

Saturday, June 9th, 2012
By Twistie

Welcome to the final installment of Bead Week. Sorry it’s late, but WordPress kept spitting me out yesterday, alas! Still, better late than never.

Beads are great of course. We love them. They’re pretty and fun and useful. But many of us also have beads or beaded items that mean a lot to us personally. I happen to have several beaded items that hold personal meaning for me. All the same, there’s one that matters more than the others. That would be my Great-Great Aunt Anna’s jet necklace.

Of course there’s the sentimental value. I inherited the necklace from one of my all-time favorite relatives, and it’s a piece of family history on its own, besides. Still, there’s another layer to my fondness. I have something of a fascination with mourning ritual, and jet jewelry was designed for mourning purposes. When that necklace was first created, the only reason to wear it was because one was in mourning for someone who had died.

Most of us don’t follow a lot of traditions surrounding death, anymore. A few of us might have attended – or held – a wake or sat shiva, but I’m guessing that the most many more of us have done is attend a funeral or memorial service or two. When my Great-Great Aunt Anna was alive, there were rules about how you dressed, what social engagements you were allowed to participate in and which you’d best not join in until the mourning period was completely over, and just about every aspect of how to live life. That necklace, made of the only material deemed appropriate to wear during the mourning period, is a tangible reminder of how differently life was lived not so very long ago.

So what about you? Do you have a bead or beaded item that means a great deal to you? Or one that just makes you happy whenever you wear/look at/fondle it? Tell us all about it!

Quickie Question: The Rites of String?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
By Twistie

Ritual. We all follow some ritual or other at some point in our lives. The illustration above is a representation of an ancient Druid rite, but it could just as easily be of a wedding ceremony, a Bar Mitzvah, or a high roller having a pretty woman blow on his dice for luck in a casino.

When it comes to crafting, some of us just pull stuff out and get making things… and others have more or less elaborate rituals. Some have different kinds of rituals for different crafts, others keep to one ritual for whatever they’re doing.

My rituals? Well, they’re pretty much the same for lacing or needle felting, though there’s less set up involved for the felting. In either case, I make sure I’ve got plenty of elbow room while seated on the couch, get all my equipment and materials laid out within easy reach, put a drink nearby but in a spot I’m unlikely to jog with an errant elbow, put something amusing on the television (most often a film or a marathon of a series I like, but never, ever the news because it’s not relaxing for me), take a deep breath, let it out, and get going.

Most of these things I can easily explain in practical terms. Who wants to have to put aside a heavy bobbin lace pillow to run down another ball of thread? I quickly get bored when things are too silent around me, hence the entertainment. If I don’t put a drink nearby, I’ll forget about eating or drinking until I’m in a pretty dire place.

But that breath? No explanation. And yet I do it every time, whether I’m alone or in public. It’s pure ritual. It just seems to ground me and allow me to work.

So what about you? Do you have any rituals you follow? Do they differ depending on what you’re doing or not?

Quickie Question: Crafting for a Cause?

Monday, May 14th, 2012
By Twistie

(Illustration via Knitted Knockers)

I love a good cause. I always have. I started doing walk-a-thons for charity when I was… oooohh… about twelve or so. I’ve written my representatives, signed many a petition, written checks, collected signatures, even walked a picket line or two in my day. Activism has been a part of my life almost as long as I’ve been around.

And yes, I’ve done crafts for some of these causes. I’ve donated crafts to auctions to raise money, supplied dozens of bake sales, and for the past couple years I’ve crafted goodies to sell at my team’s booth at our local Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society.

So I’m wondering, do any of you out there craft for good causes?

Quickie Question: Epic Crafts Failure?

Monday, May 7th, 2012
By Twistie

(Illustration via Holly’s Arts and Crafts Corner, where you can read the epic tale of this disaster… and how she salvaged it in the end)

It’s happened to every single one of us, if we’re honest. We had great ideas and the best of intentions. We worked hard. We went in with such optimism… and then disaster befell us anyway.

Maybe we read the directions wrong. Maybe we chose the wrong materials to work with. Maybe we experienced equipment failure. Maybe we just honked off the crafting gods with our hubris. It doesn’t matter how it happened, it only matters that it happened: we wound up with crafting disasters.

The first one I remember dates back to when I was seven years old and my mother was trying to teach me to embroider. I did just fine with satin stitch and back stitch and cross stitch and the lazy daisy. I was feeling pretty chuffed with my little self. And then she tried to teach me the French knot.

Again and again I tried with all the concentration my eager little soul could muster – which was actually quite a bit for an active seven-year-old – and did precisely what I thought my mother was doing with her needle and thread. Clearly I was doing something wrong. The dratted thing unraveled itself and turned into a French Entire Lack of Thread on the Fabric. It’s been more than forty years, and yet to this day I find myself constitutionally unable to make a successful French knot.

So what about you? What’s your crafting Achilles’ Heel? What massive goof have you perpetrated on the world of craft? Did you ever manage to make it better?

Quickie Question: Crafting Epitaph?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
By Twistie

This, for those of you who do not recognize him, is Anthony Trollope. He happens to be one of my all-time favorite novelists, though I also enjoy many of his essays and short stories. In addition to writing nearly fifty novels, scads of essays and short stories and even the odd poem or two, Trollope came up with an idea that changed many a life and still has an impact on us today: while working for the Royal Mail in Ireland, he invented the public mailbox.

Then he published his first novel and, well, let’s just say that for the rest of their lives he and Dickens were more or less neck and neck in popularity. In fact, Trollope wrote an obituary for Dickens that still stands as one of the finest tributes one author has paid another.

What does all this have to do with today’s Quickie Question? Well, one slightly overcast October day in the latter part of the last century, I stood in the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey and read the memorial stone for Anthony Trollope. It read:

Anthony Trollope

Novelist. Public Servant.

Pioneer of the Postal Services

The creator of Barsetshire

1815 – 1882

Now I stretch out my hand

from the further shore I bid

adieu to all who have cared 

to read any among the many

words that I have written

The quote at the end is the final line of Trollope’s autobiography.

I love this memorial, not only for the lovely quote, but because I firmly believe Trollope’s accomplishments are laid out in pretty much the order he would have wanted them.

And that makes me think about how I would wish to be remembered, should anyone bother to do so in the distant future. I’m thinking it goes something like this:

In Memory of Twistie

Blogger, baker, bobbin lacer

She never met a recipe or a craft

she wouldn’t try once

How about you? How would you like to be remembered?

Quickie Question: Who Would You Teach?

Friday, April 20th, 2012
By Twistie

Many of us who do crafts also teach them. You may teach formal classes and workshops, do demonstrations, talk to random people in the street who show interest, write books… we do our best in our individual ways to pass on our knowledge to others.

But some of us have someone we would really love to teach who just isn’t biting.

Perhaps it’s a friend who would be fun to play with… if only (s)he played with the same toys you do. Perhaps it’s someone famous you dream of having a good stitch and bitch with. Perhaps it’s someone you know who desperately needs an outlet for creativity or a good stress reliever. Perhaps it’s even someone you couldn’t actually teach because that person is gone, or never existed in the first place.

For me, it’s that lost person. I would truly love to be able to sit down and teach my mother to make bobbin lace. She taught me the basics of craft after craft only to see me put them down again and not bother with a second project. I know that made her sad, but none of them were my crafts. If she were still here, I know I would have sat her down at a pillow to toss bobbins long before this. She might well never have done a second project, but I think we would have had a really great time making lace together, even if she didn’t go on with it.

We bonded over crafts quite a bit, as we did over cooking and her soap operas, and classic literature. I would dearly love to have one more chance to bond over handcrafts.

So what about you? Who would you teach? What? And Why?

Quickie Question: Broken Equipment?

Friday, April 6th, 2012
By Twistie

Okay, it didn’t look quite like this, but the reason I’ve been gone all week is because my trusty, rusty, eMac has been sick in the sick computer hospital getting a bunch of emergency surgery right when Mr. Twistie’s laptop was filling in for another computer at his office and, well, I’ve been going through internet withdrawal symptoms for days.

My baby is all better now, just as the laptop is coming home, too, of course. Isn’t that always the way?

But now I find myself thinking about broken equipment. It does happen to us all, doesn’t it? I’ve had pins bend and bobbins snap at the worst possible times in a lace pattern. It’s a pain in the lower digestive tract, frankly, though it has yet to utterly stop me in my tracks. And of course I’ve mentally commiserated with Project Runway contestants who find themselves fighting with sewing machines in the throes of various machine ailments. So what about you? Ever had a needle snap? A spindle drop too hard and come apart at the seams?

Tell me all about it. You’ll feel better.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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