Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Here's a scratchy sweater with no shape...enjoy!"

After reading my last post, I know some people are probably thinking about the 'kitsch' factor. I must say that I do think it's totally fun to make and wear zany things sometimes. I am one of those self-expressive people who still like wearing some odd nostalgic garment or accessory from the thrift store...but that's not something for the uptight or the average Joe. My Craftster pal Tess is a great example of a free-spirited dresser who likes wearing handmade articles without reservation. I love her Flickr photos. (Hi Tess!) So, there are times when an orange acrylic macramé owl purse with wooden bead eyes and beak might be appropriate for the intended recipient, but only because they themselves would buy one at a thrift shop and they would probably swoon if you made one for them that didn't wreak of 'vintage smells'.

I think the key is to know the market you're targeting. If you know your daughter has never liked turtlenecks, don't give her a crocheted dickie! Now, if you're thinking that you could ask someone if they would like you to make 'such and such' for them, you should consider that about half of the people you ask are going to tactfully lie to you and tell you that they would like one, just to be polite. Trust me...it could be packed up in their next shipment to Goodwill, or worse...it will sit in their drawer for the remainder of their life until one of their surviving relatives toss it in the garbage, not knowing from whence it came. How many painstakingly-made lace doilies do we see in the thrift stores for a dollar?

Before you craft for someone, view their blogs and virtual wish lists. Pay attention when they genuinely, out of no obligation, show their approval of something around them and try to note their style choices in their clothing and home decor. Can they wear wool without getting a rash? Will that color wash them out? Some people have very minimalistic tastes in decor. If you look around their home and they have very few trinkets, realize that it may pain them to have to display your lovely set of hand knit coasters. I myself live with an individual of that nature and trust me, you won't see a doily anywhere near our home. If you want to make someone a dishcloth set and can't find matching colors for their kitchen, go with neutrals. I would presume to say that most people do care if things match, otherwise you wouldn't see such a wide array of colored counter top appliances on store shelves.

My advice for gift-giving is to stick with simple, useful items in natural fibers. I'm not saying that I'll never again work with synthetics. Loving nostalgia the way I do, I myself have been hanging onto some fabulous vintage double-knit polyester fabrics in a variety of wonderful prints hoping that one day I might find the perfect pattern for them. Like I said in my last post...I will only work with materials that are pleasing to me. Yes...even polyester fabric can be pleasing to me! Now, something that I would never do with it is make it into a scratchy tied quilt and give it to my brother and his wife for their new baby. (Oh, the horror!!!)

Finally, when I give a gift I like to tell people that there are no strings attached. If they feel someday like changing their decor, their child grows out of it, or something else happens that makes it lose it's necessity, Pass It On! Donate it, sell it or if it's beyond repair, toss it. I will not show up on their doorstep three years later expecting to see them wearing it.

Did you need to read this today? I think I needed to write it...just to reestablish it in my own mind. Now I am at crafting peace.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

If I had not made it...

I've come to the conclusion that I must really be honest with myself about the things I create, especially where clothing is concerned.

I must ask myself this question and be brutally honest with myself as to the answer:

Would I want to wear my items if I had NOT made them myself?

In other words, if I had seen it for sale on a store shelf, would I have grabbed it up and headed for the dressing room or register with a silly grin on my face, or would I have passed it right on by without giving it a second thought?

I feel that I sometimes work with a material that I would not normally use simply because it is what is on hand. If I do have fabric or yarn sitting around that is not my style, it was either 'too good of a deal to pass up', inherited or it was given to me by a generous friend. Most of the time I try to only buy or accept the things that I know I'll use, but sometimes the 'pack rat' in my loses touch of reality which can lead to the creation of a garment that I myself would not usually wear. I do understand that not everyone has my tastes and that someone else may want to buy it from me, but then it's sitting there in my shop, regarded by viewers as a direct representation of my style and taste.

As hard as it is for someone like me who loves to 'Reduce, Reuse and Recycle' to not stash any and all supplies away for a future project, I must be truthful with myself about my materials.

Will I use that which I do not love?

Then, an even more important thing to think about is...

Is it fair to my loved ones and friends to make them something handmade if I myself am unhappy with the materials that I use?

Yes, the hat that I knitted in the photo above is pretty cute, but my daughter would not have worn it if I had paid her off in ice cream! (I tried.)

How many coarse, ugly-colored knitted or crocheted hats must people have hidden away in their sock drawers since the invention of acrylic yarn? How many people have hand sewn items in their closets that will never see the light of day because all their moms or wives buy is cheap, unfashionable, discounted fabric prints which in all honesty, had they been seen in a garment on the racks of a department store, would have certainly been passed over by the same women who buy it by the yards?

As someone who has just packed up a box of fabric that she herself has bought at discount prices, I urge you...

"Don't walk away from the store with cloth or yarn that you're not thrilled about...no matter the price!"

I really don't want to sound harsh, and I'm not saying that I wouldn't be pleased as punch to find a $1.00 fabric table or even a gently-used cotton bed sheet with a fabulous print that is just perfect for a project. It just seems to me that we, as artists who display pride in the skill and dedication to the quality of our workmanship, should be willing to seek out the kind of quality in materials necessary to maintain that high standard.

Now, remember...I am Recycle Micol! So don't worry about any supplies currently in my stash going to waste, of course. I do like to use a lot of vintage and repurposed fabrics and materials which I feel represent me perfectly in my crafting. When I do have to 'weed out' some undesirable supplies for lack of storage space, I would never let anything that can be useful to someone else just go into a landfill somewhere. I have wonderful local artist friends who work in costuming for the theater and others who design their own crafts who always benefit from donations of my fabric and craft destash sessions.

So, I hereby vow: I will not create with materials that are not thoroughly pleasing to me.

With all due respect and love for myself and others,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

She's very clean.

My four year old daughter had a wee fit of coughing tonight. I asked her if she was alright. After she finished, she said, "Yes, I was just dusting my mouth."

Ah...kids say the darndest things!


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Apron Love

I walked past the pantry area where we hang our coats and things....

Me: Where are all of my aprons?!

DH: I put them in your closet...you have like...fifteen of them!

Me: I do not. I have about ten.

DH: I'll bet you have more than you think.

Me: I'm sure I don't have fifteen.

...I found one more in my bedroom...I do NOT have fifteen!

I have sixteen. *blushes*

Here's my favorite vintage apron. It was given to me by my dear friend Angelia. I usually have it all neatly pressed, but I wore it yesterday.