Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why I will never rule the world.

I will never rule the world because I put WAY too many things on my to-do list and then fret about getting them all done in the time frame that I have allotted myself. That, and because I think that wool food is funny. Not just amusing, but knees-collapsing falling on the floor funny. Why? I am clueless as to why, but I will note that perhaps I am just very easily amused. Here is the corn that escaped having it's picture taken.

Here is the bag that all of those lovely wool veg got to wear.

Here is the pile of pattern pieces and cut fabric and interfacing for my son's present. NINETEEN pattern pieces for this bad boy, some of which had to be cut out 8 times. All of which were cut at least twice. This is why it took 3 mornings to cut all of them out. Another whole morning was spent just ironing on the interfacing or fusible fleece. I'm unsure whether or not I like the fusible fleece; it gives a nice layer of batting to quilt but it also makes the texture of the fabric that it was fused to a bit rough.

Here's what I did yesterday. The body took a whole bag of poly-fill to stuff it. The wings are almost done, and not attached yet. There is an awful lot of hand-finishing that this pattern requires, but that is the part I enjoy.

The head of the dragon, missing needle sculpting, eyes, tongue, and horns.

Matt was helping my dad pick something up from a church yard sale and found an interesting pile of craft things. These are the two embroidery hoops he found. Yes, that is a 12" ruler on the smaller one.

Three little girl sewing patterns - in sizes to fit Rose.

A huge box of acrylic (mostly) yarn and a few crocheted items.

A 13 gallon trash bag full of plastic canvas yarn - very crunchy stuff.

Did you know that Amoco made yarn? Me neither. (Amoco is a gas/petrochem company here in the U.S. for those who didn't know.)

I've got two. Lucky me. I guess I will crochet funkiness from all of this stuff. Mind you, there was a nifty baby cardigan kit from 1971, complete with a finished back and one of the fronts. There were even British size 10 metal needles still in it. Crunchy blue acrylic yarn, but still a nifty find. Also some ultra funky Nottingham lace panels for applique. Had never seen these before either.

There you have it. I will never rule the world because I give myself lots more to do than I think, I am too easily amused, and I am clearly not omniscient - see Amoco yarn comment.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Value of Our Handmade Stuff

Here are most of the crocheted and knitted veggies for my daughter's 2nd birthday present. For some reason, the corn didn't make the shot. So we have (total) 11 veggies: corn, tomato, squash, lettuce, asparagus, garlic, beet, radish, carrot, and 2 mushrooms. I made 2 mushrooms because one just seemed lonely somehow.

As I have been making all of the veg for my daughter's present, I have been thinking of how we value handmade stuff. If you are reading this blog, you probably dig handmade already, but how much do you value it?

Do you buy local handmade in support of local artisans? Do you pale at the prices charged for it? I know we can all get a pair of nifty cabled gloves at discount stores for under $20, so paying $60 or better for what could be seen as the same thing seems exorbitant. Consider that the raw materials at retail prices can cost $20 by themselves. Consider that it can take 20 hours or so to knit a pair of gloves with a complex cable pattern. If we paid ourselves fairly for our time, those gloves would cost $220. Now that $60 doesn't seem so bad, does it? Besides which, the workmanship and materials used in the handmade pair mean that those gloves will last you longer than a month or so of fairly constant use. With care, you could pass them down to your kids. Over their lifetime, handmade goods cost far less than the mass-produced equivalent due to their better workmanship. You could pay $60 for one pair of gloves every 5 years (with hard wear) or $10 twice a year or more for store-bought - so $100 for 2 pairs of $10 gloves a year for 5 years.

Do we as makers value our goods as much as we should? Do we consider that when we do our best work, we should charge accordingly? We pay retail prices for our materials (most of us.) We spend HOURS making each individual item. Why do we then devalue our work when we gift it? We say "well, I made this, so if you don't like it, I understand" or some such nonsense (of which I am guilty as well.) Why are we hesitant to charge a fair price when we sell it? Are we really trying to compete with discount store pricing?

I spent HOURS on my daughter's present. I am spending HOURS on the market bag to hold her present. I will be spending HOURS on my son's birthday present - the fabric cutting alone is in it's third day. The materials mostly came from my stash, but I paid retail for all of them. Why do I feel a little guilty for giving them only handmade for their birthdays? No idea. Even though this was a planned thing, I feel like I need to do more. Do more than 50 hours of work for each one? Spend more than I already have, even if lots of stuff came from stash? Doesn't that sound ridiculous? Even as a dedicated handmade consumer and maker, I tend to devalue my own work. How silly. I put love into every stitch, love into every cut of fabric and moment at the sewing machine, love into choosing the materials and patterns.

If you make stuff, value your time, effort, care, and work. It is more than good enough.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On Handwork

I saw this short video over on the Mason-Dixon blog site. The importance of it struck so deeply that I felt the absolute need to share it here as well.