Monday, April 27, 2009

She's Crafty!

Rhonda and volunteers from Down to Earth host craft swaps throughout the year, and I participated in my first one. I finished my project last night (a few days late!) and will send it to my swap buddy today.

This project was for potholders and tea towels. Here is a pic of the project mid-completion.

I didn't use any newly purchased materials for the project. For the potholders I re-purposed a napkin that I had picked up at a church bazaar late last year. I made the tea towels from a large dish towel that I bought at a secondhand store. To make both the pot holders and tea towels, I simply cut the napkin and towel in half, pinned and hand sewed the hems. I used some leftover cotton yarn for the detailing and crochet motifs.

This is how the finished project turned out.

I really enjoyed working on this project. I didn't have a plan or pattern to work from when I started. Instead, I let the process evolve as I went along.

First I gathered my materials. I knew my swap partner's kitchen colours are blue and white, so I dug out the napkin and the cotton yarn and worked from there. Then I found the towel and started the next step.

Ideas were contemplated and imagined. Some ideas were discarded. Some motifs were begun and abandoned. A few stitches were pulled and started over. A friend taught me the stitch for the edging eventually used. Nothing completely irreversible was attempted until I was sure that was what I wanted, so I didn't create any unnecessary waste.

At one point in the creative process I got stuck and didn't know what to do next. Frustrated and uninspired with the project, I set it aside for many days. With the deadline looming I finally picked it up and worked through the 'stuckness'. I finished off some simple, mindless work that didn't require any creativity, just to get warmed up so to speak. Then, still not sure of what to do next, I started crocheting various motifs and tried them out. I made about a dozen of them before I finally found something that I thought looked right. As I made the last stitch and cut the thread with my scissors, I felt satisfied with my work.

I like crafting this way, even when it gets frustrating at times. It forces me to be creative and inventive. I also find that it's much more conducive to my values of thrift and conservation. I would rather see what is possible making do with the materials that I have on hand (or second hand), than go to a craft store, buy a new pattern and then buy all the new materials required of the pattern. It's expensive, creates more waste, and for me personally, limits creativity. (And, I'm also lazy about following directions and not that great at reading patterns!)

For me, making things by hand is more than just a hobby or craft, it is about learning and practicing valuable skills that I find very empowering and makes me less dependent on mass produced goods. I'm glad I had this opportunity to practice my skills. Especially my hand sewing. I learned how to hand sew as a girl but it's something I rarely do as an adult. It was good to reconnect with this ability and to know that I can still make neat, precise and nearly invisible stitches.

I hope my swap buddy enjoys her new potholders and tea towels. (Or, if it's the wrong colour of blue or not her style, that she re-gifts them or donates them to charity.) I look forward to receiving my set soon and will post pics when they arrive.


Seraphim said...

Ooh they're really pretty Amber :)

I saw the swap over at Rhonda's and I wanted to participate, but I find that there are so few English bloggers (just a handful that I've found) and I always worry about how much postage I would force upon people!
Perhaps next time though, looks like fun :)

Amber said...

Thanks Seraphim.

I really enjoyed the swap! And actually, my swap partner was from the UK. You can also specify when you sign up that you would like to be paired with someone in your own country.