Tag Archives | community

5 Ways Most Crafters are Privileged… And What to Do About It

The other week I spent $80 on yarn. True, it was to make an absolutely amazing vest called Goodale by Cecily Glowik MacDonald. (Go check it out here.) A vest that I saw a friend wearing and immediately asked who designed it. I am making it with Tangier by Cascade in Seascape. It is my jam.

However, I’m not exactly rolling in the dough seeing that I just started freelancing. More like skipping among the crumbs as I get the word out… But I bought it. I bought the damn yarn, the damn beautiful yarn. Given my strong support network, I will most likely never be in a situation where I have to choose between food and the electricity bill. And I am forever grateful to be in this position. As in humbled daily by it, because it allows me to sleep better at night as I have a solid place to call home.

But, still, I bought $80 yarn. It is pretty and soft and is doing that really cool stripey thing which non-knitters may think I engineered myself. (Yes!) And, I would expect that most of the people I know in the craft world could also buy $80 of yarn (more on that below). I also think that most of us will never have to make the decision between food and the electricity bill. Or at least not for our whole lives. By this standard, we are all privileged.

So what do we do with this privilege? Act like we don’t have it? Act like we’re a super diverse group of people and just ignore the fact that the majority of us are privileged?

1. First of all, given what the Industrial Revolution started, that we knit or otherwise craft for pleasure is an example of our privilege. Because those without are too busy working to put food on the table to monogram a pillow. (Yes, there are exceptions, but not everyone has an evening free for some crochet and a Netflix binge.)

What we can do about it: We can accept our privilege fully, and in doing so, we may start thinking about doing things for others who are less fortunate. By not trying to ignore it, we can make a difference by the fact that we’re admitting it to ourselves.

2. Secondly, that we have the income (or the credit card limit) that allows us to buy craft supplies at all makes us privileged. Not everyone has the extra money to spend on organic beets and nice yarn. To many, those things are luxuries, well, maybe not the beets so much.

What we can do about it: We can donate what we’re not using to worthy places, because there schools and shelters (along with other groups and organizations) out there where those supplies would be used and loved, instead of taking up space in your attic. Start with this Google search and reclaim your space by allowing your unused supplies to have a brand new adventure!

3. That we have the power to either ignore or kvetch about our privilege means we’re privileged. I know it may sound crazy, but dude, millions of people do not have internet access. And some of those people may live just down the street. In fact, check this out, according to Slate, “less than 40 percent of people worldwide have connected to the internet.” While the reality of this may be lost on your kids, it should be very clear to us adults.

What we can do about it: Stop complaining about our old laptop or shitty internet provider, expecting to get honest sympathy from real grown ups. Donate our old technology (that still works) to charitable organizations who really don’t care if it takes that YouTube video 30 extra seconds to open. Have a look here for where to donate if you don’t know where to start.

4. That we have the option to hoard all those craft supplies means that we’re privileged. It’s not just that we hoard them, but that we don’t have to always use what we bought right away.

What we can do about it: We can make sure that what we have, we use or donate (see above). We can make smarter decisions about what we buy and not just buy something because it’s a good deal. We can use the privilege to make better choices.

5. That we have so many options around us all the time makes us privileged. We’re not making things by hand because we have no other choice.

What we can do about it: We have a learning opportunity in front of us to see how clothes are made as we learn how to construct them. By seeing how much time goes into the process, we can start to question how that top with all the hand beading at Forever 21 is $10. Then, we can learn more about where our clothes are from and support brands that are paying their workers well and caring for their wellbeing when we do buy readymade clothes. We can educate others on the dangers of fast fashion by sharing how long it took to make that top. Opening this dialogue can really make for some interesting conversations.


This is just a short list of the many ways our community holds privilege.

And as crafters and creatives, I think it’s important to also be mindful of what we’re consuming while making things by hand. And therefore we should use the lessons that we learn from crafting and creating to help others become more aware of so very many things we take for granted. And there are ways to do so that aren’t annoying, just like in #5, talking to someone about how you made that scarf or skirt. Doing so creates dialogue, which can change minds, which can change behaviors.

ETA: I decided to write more about this issue; therefore, you can see Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

On accentuating the positive and embracing failure

fiveforthenewyear

Anxiety. It’s something we don’t talk much about in the craft world. However, it’s something we all face in our own ways. We all have our worries, our fears, our insecurities. And to be honest, this is something that the craft world is not good at facing. We are excellent cheerleaders and friends and co-workers and always there to lend support, which has buoyed myself and thousands of others for well over a decade. I have never felt such warmth in a community as I have in the craft world.

However, we are not good when it comes to problems. To sharing them, embracing them, letting others know we are having them. And I think the internet takes a lot of blame here, because we’re all curators of our own feeds. And just like sex sells, so does beauty. And aspiration. I’m not saying we need to do a huge turn and start complaining. But I am saying we need to think about being more honest about our foibles, our flaws, and our troubles. Because if we don’t feel open enough to share a problem or a post that is less than perfect, how strong of a community have we actually built?

Can a full-functioning community be formed on just the positive?

Well, I definitely know it can’t be formed entirely in the negative, so high five for the crafternet not turning into a total jerkfest. While I know that side of things exists, I’m super glad it’s in the minority, so woohoo and hell yeah, way to go, kids! I guess I just have perfection fatigue. I can’t emotionally connect with a photo of your perfect house with nothing out of place, yet I can’t stand to take a photo with too many things out of place, either. Therefore, I, too, am part of the problem. I am tired of it and bored by it, but I’m also trapped by it.

I also think that this also has to do with the fact that we’re all still figuring out this here internet. Because things that go on the internet stay on the internet, I think we’re reluctant to show our imperfect sides because they conflict with who we aspire to be, not necessarily with who we are now.

I’m also tired of initiatives that cost tons and basically offer a person on the other end saying, “you can do it!.” I’m not talking about business coaching, but about hand holding. We should be holding each other’s hands better, but in order to do so, we need to let more of our vulnerability show in order to more holistically connect. That people are lining up to pay money to be told “you, too, can do this!” speaks to the fact that we need more transparency and openness in our own community.

That people are only posting perfection and then others feel that they’re failing because their lives are not that perfect signals to me, a disconnect. One of our own devising. We’ve created a vicious cycle of want and distance. We find ourselves wanting to be like other people, even though we are wanting to be how someone else is purposely presenting themselves vs. how they actually are. And the distance that it’s creating keeps us from interacting authentically and from showing any vulnerability.

That’s what I want out of my community. Shared vulnerability. And that’s why I posted that photo above, a recent Instagram photo. I want to talk about my failures and my goals and receive help and tips as I go, not just receive a “way to go” once I get there, because going on that journey alone is beginning to tire me. Now don’t get me wrong, the “way to gos” have their place, but when comment threads have 25 “way to gos” in them, what does that mean? That we’re scared to share our own related story? Too busy to say anything else? That we don’t feel like our story has a place there? That we’re too thinly spread? Or maybe everyone else is backchanneling all these discussions? I guess I just feel that we get so stuck on selling ourselves and our competencies, we forget to share where we’re not moving forward. Or when we do share, we fear that we’re sharing too much.

Last week in my newsletter, I spoke about two different initiatives. One, a secret Facebook group about growth and failure. We’re still figuring it out and it may fail, but I hope it at least gives people a place to share where they want to go and what problems they’re facing. And somewhere to talk about the process of getting to where you want to be. (If you’re into it, add me on Facebook and message me that you’d like to join!) And the other, I’m starting to do freelance work, and even have a little freelance website set up over here. I’ve been editing for years and love helping people find their authentic voices and strength in their own words. And it’s scary. I literally feel like I’m standing on a very thin branch, even though I know that not everyone feels comfortable with their written words, whether they’re still percolating in their head or whether they’re on a website or about to go to print.

And I’m wondering why no one else talks about how freakin’ thin that branch really is. How scary it is to find yourself without the infrastructure that a day job provides and to create a new one. Because there is no path to follow if you’re working from your own heart. There is no promise of a net, yet you know the only way one will appear is if you jump wholeheartedly. Holy hell! And how, yes, how the threat of failure becomes excessively real in a way you never even imagined, because you’re so busy being terrified of hitting the ground that you can’t even imagine that the net will appear. So you stand there, paralyzed, waiting for someone else to make the decision or possibly a heavy gust of wind, when in fact, nothing is going to happen if you don’t decide to move.

But maybe I’m just speaking to myself here. Maybe I’m on that branch all alone. Maybe it really is just me. But, you know what? That’s okay. Really truly honestly okay. I love my friends and peers and colleagues, especially those that are crafty. And I adore beyond belief the community that has been made. But I need to say that I am scared and terrified and really truly not sure everything is going to work out. And as much as I love the “you can do its” and “way to gos,” sometimes I really just need to hear a “me too.”

So here’s a little tiny callout for more “me toos” in the world. Maybe you need to hear a “me too,” too. If you do, let me know either in the comment section or via email. I’m glad to lead the tiny charge in the hopes it can make a crack in the foundation that leads to more shared vulnerability and to an even stronger community. Because we need “me toos” as much as we need “way to gos” in order to grow to our fullest potential, in order to see and hear that we are not alone. Or maybe it’s just me and that’s okay, but I needed to say this anyway just in case one of you out there is thinking “me too,” too. Because it’s not just you, it’s me, too.

Crocheting Together More than Just a Square

Even though the photo gallery for the story does have a glaring error (mistaking crochet for knitting), the story is so amazing that doesn’t matter. My mom sent me a clipping of this article in the mail and it arrived today. Excerpts and photo below are from the article, Nobody Comes Here Just to Crochet.

I think the most touching thing is the way it started:

It started by accident.

A homeless woman came to Charlotte’s Harvest Center soup kitchen one Tuesday, and instead of mingling with the hungry crowd, she sat in a corner, crocheting.

Weeks passed, and at some point, the staff noticed another homeless woman beside her, also crocheting.

The two eventually became three women, then six, then 10.

Four years later, nearly 30 women can be found in that corner every Tuesday, and no longer are they just the homeless.

The Crochet Ministry, as it’s called, has become a family of sorts, one that welcomes those often forgotten by the rest of Charlotte: the homeless, the elderly, the disabled, the impoverished, the displaced and, most of all, the lonely.

I also love the kindness in the story of Teresa Davis, the homeless woman who used to crochet on the streets. While she died a few years ago with no family, thanks to these ladies, she certainly had a circle of friends. I like the quiet way this circle formed, organically and by accident. How true that sometimes we don’t find what we need most, it finds us.

It was the center’s outreach director, Rosa Marion, who first spotted Davis living on the streets, carrying a large afghan stuffed in a bag. Marion was intrigued when she found out Davis had made it, and the two struck up a friendship. Later, Marion invited Davis to move into a group home sponsored by Women of Vision, a volunteer ministry that helps women in need.

“She asked me if I’d buy her the stuff to crochet another afghan, so I did,” recalls Marion. “She’d always be sitting there by herself in that corner, crocheting. People called her ‘the lady pulling on those strings.'”

You can read more about the work of The Harvest Center here (Although there is a syntax error that shows up on the screen, I know it will be up and running soon!) and about the Women of Vision over here.


Also:

*Slow Textiles
*The Daily Aphorism via The School of Life
*The beauty of Naoki Okamoto’s photography
*Gladys’ longevity secrets: Crafting it up at 104!
*How to make a project keeper by Diane Gilleland
*Coat hooks on Etsy.com (Random, yes, but so cool!)
*Slide show of Renwick Gallery exhibit: The Art of Gaman (Awesomely inspiring)
*19 tips for cheering yourself up… From 200 years ago via The Happiness Project

Thanks for the heads up, Mom!

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