Scrap-urday

For what it’s worth…

In high school, I was a *bit* of a drama nerd. One of the plays I was in was called The Curious Savage. I played Lilly Belle, the spoiled socialite. It was the closest I ever came (or ever will come) to being part of the upper class. It’s a wonderful play about what makes a person “crazy”. One exchange from the play has been coming to me a lot lately.

Hannibal: And did you know that the human body has only twenty cents’ worth of calcium in it—five cents’ worth of iodine, twenty cents’ worth of phosphorus, and –well—even at present high prices—nobody is worth over a dollar and a half.

Mrs. Savage: So you only value me at a dollar and a half?

Hannibal: Never. You said “worth”. Your value is inestimable.

The Curious Savage by John Patrick

I can still hear the disappointment in April’s (playing Mrs. Savage) voice when she thought she was only valued at $1.50.

This question of worth and value has been plaguing me as I’ve been trying to price my work.

flat,1000x1000,075,f.u1

Usually, I subscribe to the philosophy on the right, which I’ve stolen from the internet. However, over time, I’ve been asked to sell some items for various different events and functions.

I have to admit, I’m usually very Hannibal-like. Many years ago, FIL and I got into a slight amount of trouble one Christmas. We were given a limit on how much to spend for our Christmas exchange.

20180707_185504.jpg

My FIL made me this beautiful laminated cutting board (I don’t let Poopie use it, I can’t trust him to only use one side). I made a pair of socks for a cousin. We were told we “cheated” because our gifts were worth more than the limit. However, neither of us spent *any* money on our gifts. The materials were scraps off from other projects we had done.

I had made many things before for close family. Many of my family are crafters. So while handmade is appreciated, it is also more expected. We never learned how to determine the worth of the items in dollars and cents. It’s like that meme says–either free, or no go. Basically, it’s putting a dollar amount on love. We were also poor, so we weren’t ever going to spend money on something we could do ourselves, so it’s not like we had an idea of what *other* people were willing to spend for the same/similar item.

Which leads me to my Other News. I was invited to participate as an artist at the Second Annual Rejected Art Faire (I’m assuming it’s going to keep going). I am so excited about this project as a whole and will surely bore you in future blogs about it. There are so many lessons to be gleaned from this event!! We’ll have an arts vs. crafts discussion at some point. As well as discussions about rejection, perceived failures, the downfalls of perceived success. Who knows what else I will milk this thing for.

Right now, though, we are going to look at value and worth since I need to figure out pricing structures on my items. Let’s take Poopie’s Cookie Monster (featured image). I want you all to realize that I have re-stuffed him 2x. I have no idea at all where his stuffing goes. One of the times I fixed him, I tried to put eyes back on him, and believe it or not, he looked way creepier. So, Cookie is still blind. Defining value vs. worth is difficult because they are in each other’s definitions. For ease of understanding, Dear Reader, I will just use definitions based on above. Worth is the dollar amount. Value is the intrinsic amount. So: W orth = W ealth and Value = Values.

Take Cookie (don’t really, we’d cry). We will talk about worth first, because that seems to be easiest (I’ll show later on how it’s not). Cookie is literally worth nothing. Even if you found a Cookie monster collector, they wouldn’t want him. However, I know without a doubt that if the house were on fire, Cookie would be the first thing saved, even before me. There are many reasons why Cookie is so valued. However, those reasons don’t translate to dollars and cents. So, his value is truly inestimable. For more on this subject, I highly recommend reading The Velveteen Rabbit. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s at any library as well as retail outlet.

In the past, I’ve crafted as gifts. I think I’ve talked in less specific terms about how the Value of those gifts were mismatched. Take a sock for example (I make a LOT of socks, so this is easy). The cost of making a pair of socks for me is this: 5-30.00 for yarn (depending on the yarn used and if I find a sale). If I’m hand knitting, then we won’t count the cost of the needles because they are amortized over many projects–so, we’ll assume that it would end up being a wash. However, with hand knitting, it would take me say 10 hours, (an hour a day for 2 weeks = 14 hours) which is crazy fast–I’m sure it’s way more. Minimum wage in Oregon is 10.25/hour. That means that I should get 100.00 in labor. But we all know that’s unrealistic, so lets say it’s only 5.00 an hour. Even *significantly* devaluing my labor, this pair of socks is 55.00. Ok, I rarely “hand knit” a pair of socks anymore. I use a Circular Sock Machine (CSM). That brings my labor time down to 45 minutes to crank each sock. But I still have to close the toes by hand, so I’ll say just 15 minutes for finishing a pair of socks. We are back to an hour. Lets not devalue my labor quite so much. Lets say minimum wage is appropriate, and not argue that (though I could). So the time is less, but the CSM costs $2,000. I have NOT made anywhere close to 2,000 pairs of socks. But lets say I do, that’s still $1.00 a sock. So, conservatively speaking, with significant devaluation of myself (by way of my labor), not taking into account any overhead or profit (yay capitalism), a pair of my socks is worth:

$5.00 yarn, $10.25 labor, $1.00 machine, which is still $16.25. Again, this is the product only, this does not include the marketing/selling costs (booth costs, time in a booth, web hosting fees, I could continue to go on and on)

I go through all of that not necessarily to show you how awesome I am (though I am awesome), but to continue this conversation of value and worth. A pair of socks made for a gift is worth $16.25, but what is it’s value? That is in the eye of the receiver.

The cousin listed above found the value to be much more than that $16.25, that’s why I got in trouble. For that cousin, the fact that I made it gives the item more value than it’s worth. However, Thing 2 doesn’t find the fact that I made something to be of any more or less value than the item’s worth. She would much rather I spend $1.00 on a store bought pair of socks for her. She values them much more than socks I make. For whatever reason, they fit her values better than the socks I make. I’ll be honest — for a long time, this hurt my feelings. To be truly honest, this still hurts my feelings. I do not make her socks any more because of the value mismatch. The purpose of giving is pleasing the recipient, so it behooves me to give what is valued by the other person. Not necessarily what I value. My feelings have been much better since I stopped trying to foist my valuables onto someone who prefers something else. We are both happier: she gets what she wants, and my feelings aren’t as badly hurt.

So, we come to the pricing of my work. The general public much better aligns with Thing 2 when it comes to value vs. worth of a handmade item. So we have to price accordingly. However, many in the public still don’t understand how much they are devaluing labor. I’m not even talking about intellectual, emotional, or creative labor. I’m talking about just the manual labor. Others who work in the previously listed fields can go into much more detail on their concerns. I’ll just say that if a maker of goods has such a hard time valuing their work, how much harder is it for a maker of ideas, feelings, and/or services?

I have been to events with vendors and heard people scandalized at the prices of some things. In fact, I see it in Facebook groups as well. Or they don’t understand how something which they believe takes fewer materials could be a similar price. Well, maybe the labor is the same? For example, if I get into making shorty socks, they’ll probably be the same price as “regular” sized socks (20.00 for inquiring minds). Why? because I can still only get the same number of socks out of a skein regardless, and because the most difficult part is the shaping, which I will still have to do, so, the savings in labor is minimal, and as we see, I’m already devaluing my work left and right to make it marketable.

We have all done it–we’ve discussed pricing of someone’s work in their booth, or just outside of it. Guess what…they can still hear you. The question for you shouldn’t be how much it cost them to make it, but rather, how much would it cost you to make it?

One year, BIL and SIL thought they would make gifts instead of buying. Part of it was Christmas ideals, and part of it was honestly cost saving. Do you know what they found? They ended up spending at least as much money, and far more time making things than buying pre-made things. I’m not sure how all the other recipients of their gifts feel, but I can tell you, regardless of what the dollar amount they spent on making my gift, the value is inestimable to me.

So, why would you spend $20.00 on handmade socks when you could spend $1.00 on store bought? It depends on what you value in a sock. If you want a barrier between your foot and your shoe, then buy the $1.00 sock. But, in doing so, don’t tell an artist/crafter that their wares are not worth what their price is. But, if there is something in the socks that matches your values, then by all means, buy them. And if you cannot afford them, let the maker know how pleased you are that they are making things that match your values.

Monday Musings

Unexpected Treasure

This blog thing is hilarious to me.  I usually have an idea of what I want my next blog post to be about.  Often times, it involves me texting/calling folks and asking them for pictures of stuff I’ve given away to show you.  But, my non-existent ADD comes out to play, and something else invariably pops up right before posting, so I end up with a bunch of 1/2 done blog posts, which I’m sure I’ll get out later.  This does NOT AT ALL reflect my normal creative process.  Pay no mind to Poopie’s frantic gesticulating.  He has no idea what he’s talking about.

In my defense, I have finished some of the previous blogs.  For example, Recuerdos was hanging out for a month or so, until the PERFECT opportunity to update and post arrived.  This also happens in my normal, day to day life.  I just have way more space to spread out IRL vs. on the inet.  So, the newest shiny subject is gardening.  I have a half done post about something else I was going to do tonight, but this weekend was faboo for the gardening aspect.

I chopped up my fruit trees.  20180310_114005.jpgI have no idea what I’m doing.  That’s a bit of a stretch…I have SOME idea.  I’ve taken a couple classes from the Master Gardeners.  But, ideally, someone would come to my house.  Blindfolded, of course…I don’t want anyone knowing where I live.  They would tell me: cut here, because this.  And: cut there, because that. It’s hard for me to do spring cutting.  I feel bad about curbing growth.  Logically, I know I’m directing growth, rather than curbing..but still.  Last year, I didn’t trim back far enough based on conversations I’ve had with others who espalier their trees as well.  Fun fact, that is not the same thing as espadrille.  This year, we’ll see if I have let the pendulum swing too far the other direction.

Roses, I’m good with.  Contrary to popular belief, they are hardy suckers.  My mom showed me how to chop them up but good.  They keep coming back just as strong as ever.  As does the hydrangea.  Poopie doesn’t seem as concerned with the roses when I chop them up, but the hydrangea usually makes him worry I’ve gotten too exuberant.

This year, I won’t be able to participate in either of the seed exchanges I know about in my area.  Seed exchanges are soooo cool.  You show up, maybe with seeds, maybe empty handed, and you go home with seeds that you can turn into plants.  Or…sometimes, you get bulbs, or starts for different plants.  This year, even if I were able to have attended one or the other, I wouldn’t be able to really do seeds, as I’m going to be gone for almost two weeks in the middle of seedling time.  Which is fine, I end up starting way too many plants, and overwhelming myself.  I’ll just buy seedlings this year. Meanwhile, I’ll send a bunch of seeds (see featured image) to one of the exchanges.

But, I still need to get my plots ready.  20180310_114029.jpgI came out early enough that the weeds aren’t too crazy.  Plus, I got to see my volunteer kale.  I do a pretty poor job of fall cleaning.  I can tell you it’s because I am letting the nutrients go back into the soil.  And that may be true, but I justify it by seeing my volunteers the next spring.  If I had done a better job of clean up, the kale and the chard would be gone.

Let me tell you my favorite volunteer story.  I periodically try to grow potatoes.  My success is…questionable at best.  So one year, I *DID* do a good job of fall clean up.  I pulled the last of the potatoes out of the bin, and put the tops in my home composter. My outside composter only gets garden stuff. No weeds.  It doesn’t get hot enough to kill seeds.  The next spring, I’m be-bopping around the yard, just puttering, and notice what looks like potato leaves coming out.  I don’t think much about that.  20180312_191048.jpgIn the warmth, and the nutrient rich environment, some clippings get what appears to be a surge of growth, but nothing happens with them.  Fast forward to the end of the season.  I open up the bottom section to pull out the composted stuff, and out spills a bunch of potatoes.  So…I go to the kitchen, get a bowl, and gather them up.  I decide to try out a new potato recipe with those potatoes.

Apparently, Thing 2 had been watching.  When I served the dish, I told Poopie how it was made, and Thing 2 asks “are those the potatoes from the garbage?”.  (She was such a pleasant teen)  Yes.  Yes they are.  To this day, that dish is called “garbage potatoes”.

This goes to show you that the difference between serendipity and adversity is often a matter of perspective.  Her garbage was my treasure.  My father in law grows blackberries….on purpose. I am forever cutting back blackberries.  20180312_190903.jpgLast year, this whole area was blackberries.  The poor lilac has been overrun. Even weeds express this dichotemy…Did you know that dandelion roots can make a dye for yarn? The leaves make a different color; and the flowers, still another.  Poopie spent a lot of time pulling out scotch broom as a weed (it IS in invasive species).  But a couple of years ago, I made him bring me home a bunch to dye yarn with.  I gave that yarn to L.  She’s on vacation, so I’m not going to make her send me a picture of it for you.

Monday Musings

Showing up

I tell people that Poopie and I are ineptly supportive of each other. This is because we do support each other. We are just terrible at it.

In the early part of our relationship, I had said that I thought I wanted to learn how to spin yarn. I mean, I already knew how to knit and crochet, so the next logical step was to learn to spin, right?  However, in looking for a wheel, I discovered that there is very little depreciation in the cost of a spinning wheel.  This meant spinning wasn’t going to be a low cost experiment.  Knitting and crocheting can be done on the cheap, and someday I’ll tell you about my introduction to weaving, but spinning…  I couldn’t justify that big of a purchase if I didn’t *know* I was going to pursue it.  So, I decided that was that. It would need to wait until I got rich.

Except for Christmas. My Poopie had found a spinning wheel in an antique shop, and purchased it for me!  (no, there are no pictures, Dear Reader…what is your deal with pictures??) I was so excited!  I would learn to spin!  And I diligently tried.  I really, really did.  I even found out about a poly drive band, and made Poopie help me figure that out.  Nothing.

However, I am lucky enough to live close to the Aurora Colony Spinners. And they have classes.  See, I had been trying on my own, and failing.  I don’t know if YouTube existed, if it was in it’s infancy, or if I just never thought of it, but regardless, I didn’t play on the YouTubes.  I decided, instead, to take a class on spinning.  The Aurora Colony even let me rent a spinning wheel.  With the patient help of Barbara Quinn, I was able to learn to spin (and ply) in just one day.  Seriously.  Just one day. All that time on my own, and one little class fixed it.  Le Sigh.

So, I called Poopie and ask him to please bring my wheel. He did.  I am informed this is called a chair wheel.  It’s a re-creation of a wheel that was made using the bottom of a chair as the frame.  I told everyone the story of Poopie buying me the wheel, and how supportive he is.  Appropriate oohs and aaahs.  I sat down to try out my new-found prowess…and nothing. One by one, several ladies tried.  No one could get the blasted thing to work.

So, I found out that it wasn’t me!!! It was my equipment. 20180226_213919.jpg Armed with this new knowledge, I went out (eventually) and bought myself a wheel.  Or 2. Or 3. Then I sold #2. Then bought #4. And later, #5.  Trust me, Poopie tells me about my wheel collection (which is only 4).  I ask about his guitars, and he finds somewhere else to be, and his hearing has suddenly deteriorated. I would also like to point out his wall of lp’s behind spinning wheel #1.

I, too, am inept at being supportive.  A couple of years later, I found a reel to reel for Poopie.  He had been wanting to start recording his music.  Being a Luddite, he was wanting analog.  So, I was in our local record store and noticed a reel to reel for sale.  Huzzah!  I bought it for him.  If you are a crafter, Dear Reader, you know that equipment has lots of variables that mean nothing to the lay person, but can make or break your project.  20180226_213943.jpgApparently, the same is true with music.  It would be very helpful, however, if Poopie didn’t sound like a trombone when he talks about his music equipment.  I’m not one of the Peanuts kids, I don’t understand “Wa waa wa waa wawa waa”.  So, even had the reel to reel I bought him actually worked, it was a 2 track instead of a 4 track.  Our local record store took back the defunct reel to reel.  Two machines later, he now has the one he wanted. Also, please note the 2 guitars and mandolin, in addition to the guitars and basses in the music room.

This post started out to be a post about equipment.  I was going to end that the lesson I learned from this is that if something doesn’t work, don’t necessarily assume it’s you.  MjAxMy1iMGFkZjZkM2M4OTI0MWNj

But then, yesterday, Poopie sent me a picture of this real, true to life CD (featured image).  That’s me being thanked on a CD.  Do you know what I did to deserve that? Me neither.  Except…I showed up.  I sat in the audience at most of their shows, and crafted.  When there were side projects, they knew they’d have at least one friendly face in the audience. Even my party foul story is about us showing up.  While Poopie and I were bumbling around like idiots, our friend was texting to make sure we were going to be there.  He was going to go up in front of a room full of strangers, and wanted just a couple familiar faces.  Never underestimate the value of showing up.

Poopie and I gave each other objectively terrible gifts that we had to return.  But, the true gift is that we showed up for each other.  So, take your crafting and show up somewhere and support someone or something you love.

Monday Musings

Madrona day 4 (belated)

The last day of Madrona is like the last hour of a night out partying. Everyone is exhausted, but no one is quite done. We know it’s time to go home, and we are ready to go home, but… there is still so much party left to be had.

As I said Saturday, Sunday’s class was John Mullarkey. I saved the best for last! But honestly, how do you pick a favorite class? I really can’t. I joke about my mad crush on John, but really, all the classes were excellent, as expected.

IMG955105.jpg
Franklin Habit’s sheep

John and Franklin are BFF’s, so I got a bonus Franklin visit when he came in to draw a sheep for John! John has many other talents.

Remember the story of how Pam and I met? Well, the other lady from that story was in this class. This time, we were on opposite sides of the room, and Pam didn’t attend. Did that stop the shenanigans? Don’t be silly, Dear Reader, of course it didn’t!

20180218_093227.jpg
John Mullarkey’s sheep

John was gracious as always. Especially when I compared his drawing of a sheep to Franklin’s drawing. I think he only threatened to kick me out of class a couple of times throughout the day. For a Sunday class, that’s pretty good for me.

You may think with John’s drawing skills, I should look elsewhere for a design class.  You may be wrong.  Like I said, he has other talents.  One of which is teaching.  His medium for art is in fiber and weaving, not in pen and ink.  He made the belt he was wearing, which he called “Robot Factory”.  Which looked like little R2D2’s, but, are NOT.  I really wanted the pattern, but it involved hexagonal cards, and I am not there yet. I couldn’t take a picture without being extra creepy. I think this showed remarkable restraint on my part.  20180218_091331.jpg

Here’s what I started off with to begin my design journey.  I generally try to bring colors I wouldn’t normally use, or wouldn’t normally pair together, for classes.  My thought is that I’m experimenting anyway, so I might as well go whole hog in my playtime.  Those colors are very “Easter” to me, and not ones people would generally associate with me.  So I played.  20180218_100404.jpg

The featured photo is the band I came up with.  I originally wanted to do a lollipop, but clearly did not grock the whole “S” and “Z” threading properly.  So it ended up being a Truffula Tree.  However, as people were coming along, some thought with different colors, it could be a poppy, and I tend to agree.  That’s the fun of design class, you just play and play.  With most of my samples from classes, I’m able to find things to do with them later. I’m sure the same will hold true for the Truffula Trees.

As I said, the class was great, and I was pleased that John remembered me from last year.  We will just conveniently forget it was probably because I am such a pill to have in class…or that I may have been creepily following him around last year (Hey, I didn’t take a picture of his belt!).  Hopefully, he’ll come to Oregon again next year, since I missed him last time he was in Eugene a couple of years ago.

After class, we were ready to go straight to the train station.  Pam and I had packed the night before.  My packing is on the left, and Pam’s packing is on the right.

As you can see, we have different styles of packing.  However, I’d like to point out that I knew where my brush was Sunday morning.

Today has been a day of recovery for me.  This wasn’t just a night out, after all. It was a VERY LONG weekend out.  My brain is still mostly mush, but I can possibly be of some value tomorrow in my day job, and that’s all they can ask of me, right?

Madrona was clearly a success for me.  It’s so much fun to try new things, and see how other’s approach the same things.  Isn’t it wonderful we aren’t all the same?

 

Friday Fails and Fixes

Madrona day 2

Remember how I told you I went to a sports ball event last week? Well, I won Blazers tickets at Christmas party for my day job.  My plan originally was to give them to Thing 2 and her S.O. for Christmas. However, Poopie thought it might be fun/interesting to go to the game.  So, last Thursday night, we went.  As you can tell, our seats were nosebleed seats (third row from the top).  Which means that Poopie and I were both terrified we would randomly fall over, and tumble to our deaths.  Neither one of us is really into any of the sports balls.  This was an experiment.20180208_185625.jpg

Wednesday, I realized that I needed to start another hat so I could knit while watching the sports ball tournament (full disclosure, I’m totally using the wrong terminology for purposes of aggravation).  I mentioned this to Poopie, and he asked me if I wouldn’t rather do a project where things change when there’s a score.  Don’t worry that this sentence didn’t make sense.  This happens in long term relationships (a friend and I have been known to have entire conversations without saying a single word). The important thing is that I knew what he was talking about.

Poopie was referring to one of the first classes (I think it was *the* first class, but don’t want to exaggerate) I took at a festival.  I don’t recall the name of the class.  But the instructor was Debbie New.  I had no idea who she was, but she had already written Unexpected Knitting.  This class was a very interesting take on patterning.  If you check out her book at the library, or purchase a copy, you will find that she is an insanely smart person.  This particular idea is a variation on the one she calls “Cellular Automaton” knitting.  It’s an idea taken from nature, where the environment dictates how the pattern develops.  (I really need to figure out what would be necessary to teach this technique) Anyhoo, I thought this sounded like a great idea for a souvenir of the sports ball event.

The idea *was* great.  The execution was not.

20180209_195019-e1518837210841
pre-game

The first section here is my attempt at remembering what to do.  I separated it with a purl row.

20180209_1950211-e1518838902695
first quarter

Then we have the first quarter.  My plan was to do a yarn over each basket, and the direction of the decrease would be who made the basket, so right leaning would be us, and left leaning would be them.  I chose to do lace vs. a knit/purl patterning because the yarn is speckled and fuzzy.

20180209_195024-e1518808865120
second quarter

What that means, though is that the “wrong” side is generally stockinette, so I can’t “record” any points during my knitting back section.  So, you can see partway through, I gave up on that, and did yarn overs regardless of right or wrong side.

20180209_195025-e1518837699468
third quarter

I missed soooo many baskets though, because I was going off of crowd reaction.  I apparently dropped a bunch of stitches, because everything got smaller.

20180209_195027-e1518837863917
fourth quarter

As you can see, the match went into overtime.  Poopie was less than enthusiastic about that.  Which made me unreasonably happy.

20180209_195031-e1518838753706
OT hahahahaha

The featured photo is what I ended up with.  While I am perfectly happy with a random patterning, this just looked like I had no idea what I was doing.  Even if that is often true, I try not to advertise that.  It’s a secret between us, Dear Reader. So, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.  I like the idea of a keepsake of the sports ball.  But I did NOT like the scarf.  I decided to take it out and start over.  Poopie reminded me to take pictures.  So here they are!!

Why, you may ask, am I talking about sports ball from last week when I’m at Madrona?  Well, this is the scarf that I was working on on the train.  So, there’s that.  I’ve restarted it, and re-did the rules.  I may post more specifics about it, but yesterday had a story that I thought would go well with Friday Fails and Fixes.

Remember how L was working on green? It’s a pattern that Madrona put out in 2014 for the event.  Well, yesterday, while waiting for Pam, L had to frog and tink and was *very* mildly irritated with a mistake somewhere in her knitting.  Meanwhile, I was knitting away on this scarf.  Then I got super excited.  I had had a mutation!20180215_162212-e1518840096919  There was some error somewhere, and the patterning I hadn’t even realized was occurring in my “random” stitches got messed up.  It may be difficult to tell, but the eyelets below the box tend to go up towards the right.  Regardless of how random the pattern is, the eyelet is always to the right.  However, you can see in the box that the eyelets are to the left of the row below. I got off a stitch somehow.  It was super exciting for me.  L thinks I should teach her this technique so that she can be excited for mistakes as well, rather than irritated. I told her I’d think about it.

So, in this post we have a couple of methods of dealing with failure.  We can be glad we tried something, but decide that it’s really not for us (sports ball games).  We can admit that something isn’t working in the form that it’s in and try something new (first scarf). Or, we can be excited to see what new fresh hell we’ve wrought exciting things we can discover (current scarf).  Regardless, if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying new things!

 

This Must Be Thursday

Madrona Day 1

Greetings from Madrona!

Often, when going on a trip, I prefer to take an ease in day and an ease out day from work. These days are my transition days, which are necessary for my health, which means it’s necessary for others around me.

Yesterday was my transition day…ish. It was also my travel day. Poopie didn’t bring me coffee yesterday like he usually does. He was letting me sleep in. This meant I didn’t make an appointment he was unaware of. The next opportunity was going to be mid-day, which meant that I would be cutting my pick up time kind of close. Not close enough to be terribly concerning, so I rolled with it. I packed up before the appointment rather than after.

Since I’m taking five classes, I had a few items I needed to bring for supplies and homework. While all that fit in my carry on size suitcase, I wouldn’t be able to bring clothing. I have no idea what the nudity laws are like in Washington, but regardless, I chose to be clothed for this event. Which meant I had to take the giant suitcase. I told Poopie that I would be made fun of, and that I was sure that L would have all her stuff in a backpack. I was right on both counts (though it was a small duffle rather than a backpack). While Barb made fun of me, she had NO room to talk.

Thankfully, for my schedule, our train was late, and Amtrak was kind enough to let us know before hand. Or, past me was smart enough to sign up for text alerts…Tomayto, Tomahto. We bundled ourselves onto the train and had an enjoyable trip up.20180214_174118.jpg I’m not sure our compartment-mates found us as entertaining as we found ourselves and each other, but no one shushed us, so I consider that a win. L is knitting the green, while I’m knitting the stuff that’s reading as pink.20180214_174126.jpg

Pam was to pick us up, and then we had the typical comedy of errors of there apparently being two train stations within blocks of each other. Of course, we couldn’t both end up at the same train station. I have no idea how we did these things before cell phones, because it took us a while to figure things out, and we were texting and calling like the crazy ladies we are. 20180215_200950.jpgEventually, we found each other, and our respective Airbnbs (we’ll assume that’s the proper plural). Penny Lane was as charming as I remembered. I got a new welcome sign on the door.  Pam is my “& guest”.

We bundled back into the car to go to the hotel to check in to the festival. This is a wonderfully well run event, so that took no time at all. That is, once Pam was able to find the Giant Blue Light on top of the hotel. Have you heard of too many cooks in the kitchen? There may have been too many navigators in that car. How Pam managed not to smack us, I don’t know.

Then off to find food. YAY! Except the place we went to closed just before we got there. So we decided to pack our toys and go home…to the Airbnb. See, mine and Pam’s is above a bar. Barb and L’s is literally around the corner above a Pho place. We went to the bar, since the Pho place closed as well. I knew from last year that I liked the bar. The kicker for me last year was when I ordered an amaretto sour. They asked me if I wanted a small, or large glass. I’ve never been asked that before. I know this will shock you, Dear Reader, but I chose a large glass. Out came a pint glass. I knew then I had found my people. This year, however, there was no amaretto. Sad face.

After a yummy dinner, we went back to our rooms. Pam and I stayed up way too late talking. This morning, while drinking coffee she so generously made for me, Pam told me of her battle with a spider in the middle of the night that I slept through. She had also managed to get at least half a day’s work done before I even thought of waking up.

Unfortunately, Barb woke up ill. We are hoping it’s a 24 hour thing, but even if it goes 48 hours, I don’t believe she had any classes set for tomorrow. The remaining three of us headed off to learn at the feet of the great Franklin Habit. But before we get to that, we see that I broke my bag.  More on that later. 20180215_155327.jpg

Regular classes with Franklin are always full of history. Imagine how a class called Antique Vintage Knitting Patterns went? It was fascinating, as expected. The handout was very useful, and will be useful back at home. Not only did we learn how to read vintage patterns, he gave us some basic skills and practicum at reverse engineering extant items. Then he had us work from a vintage pattern, in a mini mystery KAL.  L and I have dared each other to make his Lady’s Traveling Cap.  Look forward to duelling blogs!

This is L’s first festival, and this was her first class. When I first saw this class description, I immediately thought of her. She has assured me that Franklin, the class, and the event has lived up to my hype so far. Thank goodness! I fear over-hyping things.

While I am writing this, Pam is in her afternoon class. Neither L, nor I have a class this afternoon, so L got to experience her first marketplace. I just *had* to replace my dollar store bag.  The featured image was the replacement.  Always trade up, Dear Reader.

Confession time, I may be an enabler. L is still holding firm right now. But I’ve already moved her from “no way will I learn to spin” to “well, how do you…?” All it took was showing her The Homestead Hobbyist’s booth. With colorways such as “Toxic Waste” and “Crime Scene”, how can she continue to resist?

I love this stage of a crafter. This is the stage of possibility. The stage of transition. Where a person goes from “not” to “beginning”. It’s exciting! Making room for the new, seeing how the new can mesh with the existing. She’s waffling right now. And who knows which way she’ll go? Even if she chooses not to take up spinning, seeing just for a moment how spinners look at fiber I think will benefit her in how she approaches fiber projects in the future.

Well, this is all for now. I don’t have classes tomorrow, but there’s still tons to do. Even if it’s just sitting in the corner listening to the chatter of fellow crafters while I while away the day with whatever project I bring, it’s great being here.

Monday Musings

Zen and the art of crafting

I flagrantly paraphrased the title of a wonderful book.  But I love the title of this post, and think I may unpack this over several posts.  (holla back to my yarn wall!!)
Today was a Monday.  Let me tell you, it was MONDAY.  It started off literally with me having to send an “All the best” email.  For those of you who don’t work with me, that’s how I say “FU” in a professional email.  Everyone I know in any sort of customer service gig has a phrase like that, like “Have a nice weekend”, or “Enjoy your day”.  How are we to deal with these days? Well, I craft.
“Zen is the “spirit of the valley,” not the mountaintop.”
Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
…And so it is with me.  Crafting has been there for me in my valleys.  My very first yoga instructor explained how yoga/meditation can create some space around ourselves.  A mental moat, if you will.  That moat gives you space to respond to, rather than react to people and situations.  Many articles have been written about the difference between the two, and how important that difference is.  Reacting is sending the email that says “had you read the previous email, jerkwad…”  Responding is “all the best”.  Actually, responding is probably “I’m sorry you feel that way”.  “All the best” lives somewhere in the middle.  This is a journey, Dear Reader, I’m not there yet.
Even before I understood what meditation was about, I think I was meditating while crafting.  As I form a stitch, or spin a length, or any of the myriad tasks I complete on my way to my finished project, it is almost as if I enter an altered state.  While I engage one part of my brain to do my craft, another part is processing complex thoughts and feelings.  More articles talk about what meditation can be.  I have taken from my research* that anything done mindfully can be a form of meditation.
I find it difficult to do traditional meditation.  I know I’m supposed to let the thoughts pass through, but I seem to pick at them.  When all I’m tasked with is paying attention to my breathing, I get bored.  It’s not good to admit.  But, Dear Reader, if I don’t admit to the two (ha!) shortcomings I have, you’ll never think I can relate to you.  When I am crafting, though, I don’t seem to need to to pick at the thoughts.  They can come and go.  I can pay attention to them, or not.  That little bit of attention to what my hands are doing is all it takes for me to enter into the appropriate head space.
Not every project is a good Zen candidate, though.  You need something that you can “zone out” doing.  That thing depends on your familiarity with the craft in question.  It also depends on what you need out of the project. Something that is technical for you may not give the “Zen” experience. In fact, there have been many times in my crafting where I’ve needed to meditate to deal with what I’m trying to craft!  Crafting to solve my crafting problems! It’s crazy!!!!  (We’ll talk later about what those more complicated projects can do for you mentally)
Granted, crafts don’t start out as being calming or soothing.  I remember directly after teaching DeAnna to knit, her telling me I was crazy for thinking she’d ever find knitting relaxing.  Well, no, not while you are learning.  But it wasn’t even a couple of months later that she related a story about being irritated with her 70 kids (there are actually *only* five), and one of them brought her her knitting bag because he thought she needed the stress release.  She has many stories of using knitting as a stress relief (which is what meditation is supposed to do, right?).  The point is not to take up crafting in the hopes that you will suddenly find Nirvana.  Unless you hid “Nevermind” in the bottom of your craft basket.
If, however, you have already taken up a craft, see if maybe you can use it as meditation.  Is there something repetitive that you do in this craft that needs you to pay just a little attention? I, personally, have many projects going at the same time.  Each has a purpose, and one purpose could be meditation.  Even if you don’t have an entire project for this purpose, you may find that within a project, there is a step you dread because it’s mind numbingly boring.  Instead of looking at it as boring, does it help to use it to see if you can turn it into meditation? (I’m looking at you miles and miles of stockinette stitch in the body of a sweater–and don’t think I don’t see you quilt binding that needs to be hand stitched…)
Crafting has the added benefit of being “useful”.  It gives us an “excuse”.  While we can discuss the reasons why it’s BS that we need excuses, the fact remains that excuses make things easier.  You don’t have to explain you don’t want to talk to anyone today because you sent five “all the best” emails.  You are crafting.  You don’t have to react to your family member’s questionable political view, because look, that stitch just dropped. Hunh, where did that go?  And those days you just can’t even? For literally no reason other than it’s Thursday? Well, you’re being productive.  And you didn’t have time to shower because you had this project you needed to finish.  It’s not depression (unless it is, and if it is, get help for that shit, you are neither Superman, nor Wonder Woman)
That’s not to say that those who are close to you won’t know.  But just as it’s easier for you not to have that argument, it’s easier for them as well to not have that argument.  You don’t have to explain you need to decompress.  You don’t have to explain that yes, you are just sitting there doing nothing, but that in itself is doing something.  You are making Things.  And if secretly, you are building a moat so that you don’t scoop out their eyeballs with a spoon to feed to feral dogs, well, we can let that be our secret (that was oddly specific–unless you live in my head–in which case, it was just specific).
The featured photo is a gift for Barb.  It was Zen crafting at its finest!!  I spun the yarn, and was able to be soothed by that.  And then, the pattern was simple enough and repetitive enough that I was able to be soothed by the making of the scarf as well!
*there are no sources cited.  This is a blog, not a dissertation.  Use Google, like I had to!