Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why Slow Crafts?

I have been intrigued by the Slow Food movement for quite some time now, and although we do occasionally order a pizza, I believe I am much more aware of what and how my family eats. After reading In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore (also found at our local library), I began thinking about how the Slow Movement could be applied to crafts. It turned out I was not alone:

"Slow Craft might best be described as a return to the philosophy embraced by the practitioners of the original Arts and Craft movement over 100 year ago: simplicity, craftsmanship, respect for environment."
(Debra Roby, Slow Craft/Slow Cloth: Is This the Birth of a Movement?")

In the introduction to her beautiful project book, Sewn by Hand, Susan Wasinger contemplates:

"I wonder what a pair of hands, armed with nothing but a needle and thread, can accomplish. I believe this little seed of a question was planted in my head by my restless hands. Hands that were tired of the tyranny of machines, the indifferent touch of the keyboard and the mouse. Hands that wanted to be of use, from fingertip to palm, for some purpose higher than typing another email or white-knuckling the steering wheel through rush-hour traffic."

What I find the most intriguing is that the Slow Craft movement is less about the product (i.e. how long it took to finish the product: one hour or ten...), but more about the process--the mindfulness of crafting that sets a steady rhythm in our daily lives. With two small children, two dogs, two cats, one husband (thank goodness!), and a growing small business, I feel that Slow Crafts are a vital piece in the puzzle of my life.

As much as Slow Crafting is an emotional priority, it is also very practical during this season of my life. I have a sewing machine, which I cherish especially since it was given to me by my late grandmother, but I'm hardly able to use it: my crafting time is typically in the evening after my children have gone to bed. Unfortunately, the noise from my sewing machine wakes them up. Besides from being quiet, I have also found that many Slow Crafts--hand sewing, embroidery, knitting and crochet--are also highly portable. The practical side in this is that I am able to take my projects to the park, my work, my parents' house, then back home. I feel that I am able to have more time to craft when working on Slow Crafts then when waiting for the "perfect" time to set up my machine.

So, I am curious: what does "Slow Crafts" mean to you? What do you view as its positives and negatives? What craft genres would you apply to the Slow Craft movement?


Thursday, November 3, 2011


As I sit to write and work on the elements of this new blog, I am reminded of what a perfect time of year fall is for both preparation and reflection. With the much cooler air paying us a visit here in northern New Mexico, I am enjoying spending more time indoors. I am back to drinking hot tea throughout the day, and we've already had soup twice this week for supper. My crafting works-in-progress have also spontaneously multiplied! The cool-down has reminded me that I need to make hats and mitts for my boys, get a start on my holiday knitting, and of course continue working on the long list of projects I have going for myself.

My list of projects is endless as it keeps growing faster than I can complete them. My time is precious, so I have started to narrow them down by the following criteria:

*Will I enjoy the creative process, not just the completed project?
*Will the finished project be used? Loved? Appreciated?
*Is the finished project timeless or fleeting?
*Am I excited about the pattern and the materials I will be using?

Some of these questions do not necessarily have a right or wrong answer; they are simply helpful to me when narrowing down my choices. Oftentimes I do not know the answers to these questions until I start, or even finish, a project. Many times I never know the answers. It is, however, a helpful reflective guide.

So, as I pull out whatever my daily handwork is at the moment--crocheted caps, a shrug for a knit-along, some fingerless mitts--I both reflect on the process of knitting/crochet as well as anticipate the finished product. In the end, I participate in handwork because I want to, not because I have to.