betsy

Is there something in the water? Or perhaps the coffee?

Lately I’ve heard a whisper of malaise and confusion amongst my art friends, friends who were once strong and proud, who are starting to lose their bearings, become uncomfortable and have lost the path. This is something different than being uninspired…it’s more like being adrift.

But the truth is, there is no path. It’s up to you to make it. This path is not something you can premeditate. It’s what unfolds before you once you realize your strength. I’m posting this here because to me this truly resonates with the spirit of art and craft.

We are more than artists and makers and crafters. We are adventurers.

go off the map.

Whenever I feel unsure, I go back to one of my favorite books and the quote at the beginning. Here’s the introduction that never fails to inspire me from Off the Map:

This is what it means to be an adventurer in our day: to give up creature comforts of the mind, to realize possibilities of imagination. Because everything around us says no you cannot do this, you cannot live without that, nothing is useful unless it’s in service to money, to gain, to stability.

The adventurer gives in to tides of chaos, trusts the world to support her- and in doing so turns her back on the fear and obedience she has been taught. she rejects the indoctrination of impossibility.

My adventure is a struggle for freedom.

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[Consider this (long and, sorry!, wordy) post a Public Service Announcement to anyone making their own holiday gifts this year]

I don’t know about you, but I tend to make most of my holiday presents. One year I was working at an upscale specialty grocery store and was walking one of the customers out with her truffles and champagne and other imported iterms, when the subject of gifts came around. When I mentioned that I was making all of my gifts, her eyes turned to sadness and she placed a $5 tip in my hand.

I hate how sometimes I feel guilty about making my own holiday presents. It’s ludicrous! I’m a crafter! But still, each year, there’s a part of me that is worried that my gifts may not be as well received as flashy store-bought ones. Even after all my writing and shows and presents, there is still a part of me that sways to the beat of consumerism. The fortunate thing is that this materialistic side of me is waning, determined to beat the odds.

My handmade gifts are not only a present to the reciever, but a present to myself as well. Each one teaches me a little bit more and makes me think about who’s going to be given the present in question. Each year, the creation of handmade gifts allows me to revel in the goodness that others have brought into my life.

As I was perusing Art and Fear earlier today, I came across this:

“The world displays perfect neutrality on whether we achieve any outward manifestation of our inner desires. But not art. Art is exquisitely responsive. Nowhere is feedback so absolute as in the making of art. The work we make, even if unnoticed and undesired by the world, vibrates in perfect harmony to everything we put into it- or withhold from it. In the outside world there may be no reaction to what we do; in our artwork there is nothing but reaction.

The breathtakingly wonderful thing about this reaction is its truthfulness. Look at your work and it tells you how it is when you hold back or when you embrace. When you are lazy, your art is lazy; when you hold back, it holds back; when you hesitate, it stands there staring, hands in its pockets. But when you commit, it comes on like blazes.”

If you’re out there making holiday gifts right now, keep trusting in yourself, so beautiful things can follow.

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I don’t know about you, but when it starts to turn cold, I tend to reach for a cup of tea and a book when I’m snuggling on the couch with a blanket trying to stay warm. I may not have any furniture, but I do have a whole lot of books.

Thankfully, there have been some recent publications that have provided much inspiration as well as insight.

1. Craftivity, by Tsia Carson

monkeys have more fun

2. Making Stuff, edited by Ziggy Hanaor. Although I do have a pattern inside that doesn’t mean I’m not overly excited about all the other good stuff inside this book!

holiday aprons add some spice...

Need some inspiration on a cold winter’s night? Put the kettle on, and get to reading!

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knitted blankets are warmer

While it’s cold lots of places in the world, it’s really cold in parts of Canada. Like snowmobiles and icicles and sled dog cold. As someone who has spent many hours huddled next to a radiator in other warmer parts of the world in winter, I can only imagine how cold in must get in some Canadian provinces.

So I’m taking a few minutes to promote a charity I really like, Blankets for Canada, which collects handmade blankets for the less fortunate up in the Great White North. There is a similar program for the US, called Warm Up America!

In case you were wondering what I’ve been doing since my last post, I’ve been working on some pieces to send to Afghans for Afghans. Pictures to come closer to the new November 3rd due date.

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Living in the American South, I tend to put down my knitting for the summer and forget working with fiber. It’s hot enough already without toting around heavy projects.

The beginning of this autumn is no different.

With this in mind, I go on a summer craft hiatus each year only to delve back in each fall with excitement and entirely too many projects. And since my main focus is on the activist side of crafts, here’s a reminder that craft can be used in all sorts of ways.

While conflicts are rising in the Middle East, it’s important not to forget the lives of those involved. There are numerous charities that have cropped up over the past few years, however, and one such charity is Afghans for Afghans. Since 2001, Afghans for Afghans has been collecting handmade items for Afghan individuals who may not have adequate clothing to last the winter.

afghan child

Several times a year they send goods to Afghanistan, and the next shipment will be sent sometime in late September.

So this year, while you start to think about making (sewing, crocheting, knitting) hats and scarves for you and your loved ones, consider making one more garment for someone else. I’m going to make ths vest to send off for the current drive to help clothe young children in Afghanistan once the temperature drops.

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