Archive | with my hands.

Things I’ve either made or written over the years.

Stitching for Ourselves: Remembering to Make Time for Us.

Last week was heavy on the “refresh” button. I’m sure you know those weeks, where it all feels like every second is another chance to hit “refresh.” Refresh. Drink some tea. Refresh. Do a little work. Refresh. Go say hi to your co-worker. Refresh. Drink some more tea. Refresh. Refresh. And so on.

This weekend was one of waking up early, doing laundry, cooking for the rest of the week, scrubbing grout, doing more laundry, vacuuming (getting out the crevice tool!), buying groceries, and running errands. A weekend away from the refresh button, and largely away from technology entirely.

Now it’s Sunday night; I find myself creeping back to technology, wondering where the weekend went, then remembering when I see my clean house and the cooked food in in the fridge.

And I wonder if perhaps that’s one of the reasons why I love stitching so much; it marks our time. It shows us in no uncertain way that we were there, we had a quiet moment with our thoughts (or with our friends and/or family) where time was marked and there was no wondering what we did with that time.

It reminds us to take some time for ourselves, doing what we want, instead of plodding along solely doing what has to be done (like most of my weekend) and what we think should be done (hitting refresh waiting for a response in our favor).

While you may be with a group or by yourself, either way it’s still very much just you and your work. Marking time in a very literal way. It shows us quietly how time moves on, no matter how hard we try to hold on to it. Even if we must pick out stitches, the yarn feels different never to be the same again, the linen bears the holes, nothing is ever the same again as it once was.

It’s a moment. It’s a breather. It’s “just one more row.” It’s feeling the thread as it get pulled through the aida cloth. It’s a microcosm of where our mind should be all the time. Not hitting refresh expecting something that may never come, not spending our time solely crossing off to-do lists.

But while we’re stitching, we’re there. Active, but not harried. Making something from nothing. Bringing forth new work into an old world. As the new week begins, may you find time to do work just for you this week, to remember that time is passing, and slipping, like a needle through cloth.

Also, if you haven’t already, The New York Times magazine this week was the Inspiration issue. Brilliant stuff. Thanks for the heads up on that one, @kirstinbutler and @percolate!

Craftivism: Party of One

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails where people have been frustrated about not having a group to ‘do craftivism’ with. As someone who sent emails just like that until a few years ago, I can tell you, being frustrated is seriously not going to get you very far.

However, action will. And if you really want to call yourself a ‘craftivist,’ it’s not about joining a group or creating a circle or whatever. It’s about YOU wanting something to change. It’s about YOU wanting to make the world a better place. It’s about YOU wanting to make yourself a better person.

You could knit a blanket for soldiers or your sick aunt or homeless dogs or homeless people or refugees or a local family whose house burnt down. You could make a tree cozy for that tree in front of that really ugly abandoned building. You could xstitch a headline or a quote or an image of something that grabbed you and resonated with you about change/changing the world. You could then post it in your bedroom or place it on a park bench or downtown.

Because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you foment change and/or healing. Like I stated above, to be an activist is to create change. To be a crafter is (in a fundamental way) to heal/soothe/bring joy/teach others. Whenever you combine those two, you are a craftivist.

It’s about bringing light and joy and beauty in your life, the lives of those you know, and/or the lives of those you don’t. There’s no one way to ‘do craftivism’ or be a craftivist. If someone tells you different, then they are actually practicing some other -ism, because it sure as hell isn’t the one that I’ve been writing and talking about all these years.

Sometimes craftivist pieces heal you in the making. It’s important not to overlook that, I think. Because changing you is its own kind of activism, because it’s about not accepting the status quo, it’s about taking the reins and taking charge of your own actions. Because as you change, you become an evangelist for change in others, not only by your words, but also by your actions.

If you’re improving things along the way and including craft in this change, you’re being a craftivist. You’re spreading the good word, in a non-confrontational way, and letting people decide if they want to get on the bandwagon or not. With your enthusiasm, you’re empowering them to make changes and maybe even eventually include their creativity in with those changes.

So, take heart, and don’t get discouraged if you are the only craftivist around. That doesn’t mean you can’t act, it means you have even more reason to act! You have more people to inspire with your actions and have more work to do than those of us in towns with craftivist groups or collectives. Activism brings change. Craft brings healing. Craftivism brings healing change.

So, go forth and be crafty, in whatever way you want to be. You don’t have to call yourself a craftivist even, but do know that with your creations, you’re helping foment change without even opening your mouth. And that, my friend, is a very powerful thing, indeed.

Packing. (With four-legged help.)

Bobbin’s been an excellent packing partner. So helpful, in fact, she actually packed herself. I think she looks quite pleased with her efforts, no? Move into my new apartment next weekend, while working a few hundred miles north during the week. Excited to have everything in its right (new!) place. Also quite excited to be added to the most awesome list of all time regarding environmental change over here.

So, in the spirit of new adventures, here’s a lovely quote via Marimello’s Tumblr. Thanks, Marie! I think it’s the perfectest (sic) quote for moving in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. Here’s to letting go, stepping up to meet the sun, and feeling the earth solid and warm beneath your feet.


She let go She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go. She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go. She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go. She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right. She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go. She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go. No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go. There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that. In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…”

Ernest Holmes

[And, I apologize for all the emails I haven’t answered recently that aren’t specifically time sensitive. I still love you the most, just swamped and want to reply when I have proper time to answer. And when I do, then you can write back tell me what you’ve been up to and we can continue like normal and still be friends forever, ok? I am, however, posting sporadically to online things that take less than a minute or 140 characters (and start with T) as I go a little stir crazy when I don’t write at all: Tumblr, Twitter]

Introducing, Origami Documentary “Between the Folds”

Today is the OFFICIAL LAUNCH of Make + Meaning, a new blog collaborative project I’m flattered to be involved in with Diane Gilleland, Pip Lincolne, Alice Merlino, Paul Overton and Kim Werker!

Our mission (taken from the website):
Acts of making are important – whether they involve yarn and knitting needles, wood and tools, pots and pans, brushes and canvas or anything else.

When we make things, time and worry fall away. We’re more aware, engaged, and excited – and we find it easier to connect with others. In truth, making connects us to our best selves.

We believe in making, and we love the fact that the internet allows makers to meet and geek out together, regardless of geography. There are many, many websites that celebrate making in all its forms. We created Make & Meaning to celebrate all the ways making enhances our lives, and all the things it causes us think about.

Also today, the new documentary “Between the Folds” is beginning to be broadcast around the United States on the PBS weekly series Independent Lens! The screening schedule can be found here.

I’ve embedded a 10-minute clip from this new documentary about origami by first time director Vanessa Gould above so you, too, can start seeing paper in a whole new way.

For more about this documentary, there’s more over here in my first post at Make + Meaning!

I, Craftivist.

I’m going to admit it. Whenever I see people writing about craftivism in a “we” sense, I get a bit squirrelly. Why? Because of why the term isn’t copyrighted. Because of individuality. Because of concepts instead of constructs. I envisioned it more of a group “I” term instead of a “we” term. A group of individually reached “Is” who form a larger “we.”

But then again, ideas aren’t copyrighted, as they shouldn’t be. (Want an example? Read more about the Bikram yoga controversy.) It’s in the public domain, yes. But it’s weird to have an idea that you championed from scratch suddenly be defined by other people… in ways you don’t necessarily agree. And even weirder when theory is written of “craftism” which is a word derived from a misspelling!

It’s totally dumb to feel proprietary to something, but having it misused and misconstrued really does bother me. And I feel childish for getting annoyed by something so petty, although watching something that is so integral to your life and way of being (Because to me that’s what it’s all about. Embracing your life at the place between the creative process -craft- and positive change -activism- and going forth boldly and strongly to make the world a better place.) be misunderstood is hard.

At the end of the day, craftivism is just a way to explain how you feel with one word instead of many, and little else. Maybe I just have to formally realize that it’s all grown up and needs to make its own way in the world. I just feel bad I didn’t give it more of a solid sense of self earlier before it struck out in this world by itself, because it has deep and well-meaning roots. And I hope that on its way, its original values and ideals are not swept aside. And that it’s taken care of and moved forward with love and creativity and wonder and kindness.

That being said, receiving emails and reading about works that invoke just what I was hoping (using craft and activism for good!) warms my heart to no end. I am always so amazed when people tell me their stories or actions or whatever and how they are pushing the world to wake up, look deeper, love harder and are willing to explore the goodness that happens when creativity and wish for positive growth/change meet. This is what I hope stays with it going forward, that its aim remains true and good and chock full of love.

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