Guest post | Swaddle: Crochet Shows the Value of Women in Art and Society

by Admin on 08/11/2011

in Guest Blogger, knitting+crochet+yarn

Kathryn Vercillo is a crochet blogger, pattern designer, author and fiber artist based in San Francisco, CA. She aims to spread crochet love and information and strengthen the crochet community through her blog, Crochet Concupiscence. She is @CrochetBlogger on Twitter and Ravelry.

Swaddle: Crochet Shows the Value of Women in Art and Society

Crochet art is a terrific niche art form that often doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. This is due in large part to the fact that crochet is considered a feminine craft and still sometimes not taken seriously by the fine art world. However, this is precisely what makes it the perfect medium to express ideas related to femininity, gender and relationships. And that’s exactly what you’ll find with Swaddle, a crochet art project through which I explore the role of women’s communication styles in relationships.

What Swaddle is All About

The premise of this crochet art project is that women have a communication style that is unique from men and that this form of communication both nurtures and suffocates their relationships. Women are raised to be word-oriented problem solvers who talk through issues (or choose to remain silent in strategic ways) in order to maintain balance in their relationships with men. However, their words can sometimes be used as a weapon (intentionally or unintentionally) that harms relationships. It’s called Swaddle because of the immediate nurturing (but sometimes suffocating) image that the name conjures up. Historically women swaddled babies to keep them safe but this sometimes lead to their deaths; similarly women talk through issues in order to keep their relationships healthy but sometimes this is precisely what stifles them. Swaddle is specifically about communication in male-female romantic relationships but also applies on a broader scale to how women talk to their male friends, parents, children and brothers.

Why Crochet

Crochet is the ideal medium for exploring women’s communication roles for a number of reasons. First of all, crochet has typically been considered a woman’s craft and therefore lends itself well to explorations of femininity. It can therefore also be paired with stereotypically masculine things in order to emphasize this exploration. For example, I am using the math-based ‘hyperbolic crochet’ in some pieces. Pairing the traditionally feminine craft of crochet with the traditionally male subject of math makes for interesting pieces. Additionally, crochet can be constructed in both lacy, ‘feminine’ ways and highly structured ‘masculine’ to further express these ideas.

Another key reason that crochet is great for this project is because the repetition of crochet (loop after loop, loop after loop) is similar to the repetition we see in language and communication. Words differ, just like different crochet stitches are unique from one another, but ultimately it’s all the same language and a lot of messages are repeated again and again. Some of the pieces in Swaddle will intentionally explore this. For example, I’m doing a piece called 40 Variations on a Granny, this is a repetitive crochet piece showing how the tiniest shift in a stitch can alter the appearance of your work. It represents how small changes in conversations (using ‘I’ statements is a well-known example) can improve relationships. It also references the way that men sometimes feel like the women in their lives are just saying the same thing over and over and so they stop listening. The piece places 40 granny squares side by side, each one a variation on the traditional granny square.

Crowdsourcing Funding for Swaddle

In order to make this crochet art project a reality in a timely manner, I am crowdsourcing funding through Kickstarter. What this means is that you can contribute to the project to get it off the ground. In turn, you’ll get to be a participant in the project by choosing some colors and stitch numbers that will represent you in a large scale crochet art piece representing how ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, a piece that explores the role of gender-based communication in societies.

If you are interested in supporting this project, you can go to Kickstarter and pledge any amount starting with just $1. I need $2000 before November 14th to get the Kickstarter funding. What I’m hoping to do is to get 100 people to support the project with donations of $20 each – it would be awesome if you can help. You’ll be supporting crochet art, the value of women’s crafts in the art world and even indie yarn dyers since I’m sourcing Swaddle’s yarn from female entrepreneurs with their own yarn shops.

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