Revisiting craft

29 January 2010, 00:11

I have recently developed a dabbling interest in what might be termed craftivism. Crafty things for surprising, unusual or subversive purposes.

It kinda started when my housemate wielded her hand-me-down sewing machine to do a shorter hem on some pants for me, and then made a Christmas hat out of the leftover material. I thought, “Hm, creating things from pure thought-stuff (and the odd bit of material)…that’s rather what I love about the power of programming! Except with sewing, you can hold something in your hand, or wear it.”

I’ve also had in the back of my mind, for quite a few months now, a vague idea that “learning how to do Arduino stuff would be cool.” Every time I see Andy around Melbourne tech events I am also reminded of this, as he is a keen Arduino evangelist, you could say. But not in an overbearing way. :)

Then I was reading Frankie, which is a crafty/fashiony magazine (a girl I went to high school with works for them now! just sayin’), and they mentioned a book called Yarn Bombing. I immediately saw that it was a cross between street art and craft, and it’s such a sweet, surprising, colourful idea that I immediately fell in love with it. It’s just so… wonderful. I love those little details in public places that make you smile and suddenly improve your day, and by extension I wanna hang out with the people who make those details exist, and be cool like them.

BinaryApe / Trees / CC-BY.

So I bought Yarn Bombing and just started reading it yesterday. And I was thinking, I’m sure I’ve seen Skud mention knitting... why were all these things off my radar? Why do I feel like there’s so much more “cred” to be had with Arduinos than sewing, even though they’re all maker activities?

Why have I felt the urge to shun or pooh-pooh traditional/stereotypical women’s hobbies? Why do I feel so perversely pleased in pursuing traditionally male-dominated things, like mathematics, programming and football?

Partly it’s that I have fumble fingers, and partly it’s that the women who pursue male-dominated activities are virtually without exception really freaking cool, but mostly it’s that… I have obviously internalised the value judgements that say Men’s Things are Important and Worthy, while women’s things are trivial, trifling, silly, harmless diversions.

Now it’s kind of annoying to consider yourself a feminist for some 10 odd years before realising that, but there you go. Better late than never I suppose. Succeeding at the status quo is a certain kind of success, but it’s not as good as broadening the idea of what success can look like. So, you know, is designing and building an Arduino so different to creating and making a knitting item?

In fact, one of the most fascinating Arduino products to me is the Lilypad range, which is designed to be sewn into clothing. Imagine the explosions of awesome to come when sewers and coders are united!

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  1. Hi Brianna,

    I knit. I spin wool and silk and own my own spinning wheel. I’d love to build a four-shaft loom to weave on. Of course these are ‘girly’ activities. So what? :-)

    I knit because I love it – I love the ingenious way one thread can turn into a beanie or scarf. I love the textiles, the colours and textures and shapes of the yarns and the finished products. I love the patterns that you can make even with the simplest stitches. I love being able to give a person a beanie and say “I made it!” My dad still tells the story of the beanie I made for him (out of wool he’d brought back from New Zealand for me!) and going back to find it after he’d discovered it missing on a filming trip.

    I also do wood-turning, and if you feel that knitting is too banal or something then try that. You get coated in chips of wood, you get to play with powerful motors and high speed steel, and you still get a thing you can give as a gift. There are a couple of clubs in Melbourne that allow you to come in and use their equipment if you’re a member, such as the Waverley Wood-workers.

    Have fun,


    Paul Wayper · Jan 29, 09:19 AM · #

  2. Hey Paul, how come I’ve never heard about your knitting and spinning exploits on your blog? :)

    pfctdayelise · Jan 29, 01:23 PM · #

  3. I’m slack :) And I haven’t done any knitting recently. I want to try out a klein bottle hat and a moebius scarf, so I’ll let you know :)

    Have fun,


    Paul Wayper · Feb 2, 12:20 AM · #

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