Monday, January 5, 2009

Crafting Conundrum

As I head into 2009, I've been pondering what direction my crafting efforts should be taking next. I know, I know, a bunch of you just said "She's yammering indecisively about crafts again...kill me now!"

Here's where I am, crafting-wise. I am currently crocheting an afghan/throw to put on the back of our loveseat. It's a simple repetitive pattern, just a giant granny square that changes color with each round. It's creating exactly the effect I want, but it's not terribly stimulating or challenging work. Obviously every project can't be challenging, though, or I'd never be able to watch TV.

In cross-stitch I have one project currently in progress and one completely kitted and in my work bag. The one I'm currently working on is a Prairie Schooler alphabet piece featuring fruits and vegetables. As soon as it is done I will frame it and hang it on the little piece of soffit that conceals the range vent above the kitchen cabinets.

The other piece I have ready to start on is Fleurs de Provence by Sweetheart Tree. It's a lot more intricate stitching than the PS piece, which is why I have them both in my bag at the same time. I am supposed to be switching off between them, but I haven't been in a "difficult stitching mood" for a while, I guess.

But now I'm wondering what, if anything, I should work on after these things are done. Or what I should slot into each category when I get the item from that category finished. After pondering this for some time, all I seem to come up with is problems. For instance...

Knitting: I'm a beginning knitter, but having finally mastered purling I could stretch my skills by moving on to something (ANYTHING!!) other than dishcloths. But...I don't wear sweaters, Tom doesn't wear sweaters, Colin doesn't wear sweaters, and Natalie buys or knits the sweaters she wants. None of us wear mittens, and gloves are beyond my comprehension. We have plenty of hats right now, although that might be an option in the future. Tom and I each have a scarf and that's really all we need; Colin would like a scarf but would not wear it and would probably lose it. I attempted socks yesterday, and discovered that I can at least begin socks...I can use dpns and I can work in the round, but I may go blind and batty in the process. So...maybe not socks, either.

Crochet: Again with the issues of sweaters, mittens, gloves, scarves, etc. I could make an afghan for the big couch and one for the chair, but I'm not sure if we really want that much afghan-age in our decor. Maybe.

Cross-Stitch: My walls are starting to fill up to the point of Tasteful Simplicity. Now, I know with cross-stitch it is possibly to create an attractive look of Massed Groups of Needlework, and I actually like that look. But I'm in the in-between point, and I'm not sure if I have the decorating skills to choose the right pieces to stitch to begin moving in the MG direction.

Which brings me, in all three categories, to the point all crafters reach eventually...the point where we begin to think about crafting for gifts or profit. I'll rule profit out right away. Right now I'm not interested in the kind of time pressures and extra work that would be involved in marketing any of my crafting. I doubt that the market would be there in this economy, anyway.

Giving away crafts is a really, really touchy thing. Basically you are giving something either to decorate a person's home or to clothe them, and they have no way to return it if it is not to their taste. I know my immediate family well enough to craft for them. (See above about all the crafted things they DON'T need.) I've also cross-stitched one piece for my mom, and she liked it and displays it. Beyond that, though, I'm afraid I'd be wading into treacherous waters. My dad wears sweaters, so if I were to develop some Sweater Skills he would be a possible victim recipient.

Ideally, I need to have a bunch of friends and relatives start reproducing soon. Babies are the best victims for knit and crocheted objects. Baby afghans are fun, fairly easy, and almost all new mothers like them. (Or are really good at faking appreciation.) Beyond afghans, there are little knitted bibs and sweaters and other sweet things which look cute and are not huge time commitments. Here again, though, I think the crafter has to pick her victims carefully. I don't know if any of the young women I know are like this, but I have heard of young moms who would never put something homemade on their child. And, of course, there are always taste issues. We who craft usually think of ourselves as having good taste...but one person's zesty fun purple and lime ripple afghan is another person's nightmare.

So, that's where I am at now. Fill my house with more afghans? Make sweaters for people who don't wear them? Find some needful and beautiful item to make that I haven't thought of yet? Bribe my friends and relatives to have children?

Any ideas?

13 comments:

rebecca said...

I know there are lots of charities that collect knit hats (and maybe afghans?). But I have the same problem as I can't seem to knit anything very useful that doesn't come out looking completely misshapen...

mandolinartist aka amanda said...

Do you go through times when you are not in the mood to craft and then other times you cannot stop? Right now, I am in the mood for drawing; I almost can't put down the pen. I carry around pens and paper almost everywhere...

Why would young mothers not put anything homemade on their new babies? just taste issues?

Hhhmmm... I don't know what to say about making and giving or selling your crafts. I have a similar problem. What do I do with all the "stuff" I make? I am keeping a portfolio now, but that is easier with flat stuff. I have also given some art as gifts, but I don't know what would happen to art that someone does not like...

I'll take a pair of socks. What kind of drawing would you like? :):):)

rebecca said...

I guess you could also knit up a big pile of cute baby stuff and use that as your bribe :P

Jordana said...

There are definitely charities that welcome homemade blankets and other gifts of that sort.

I wish I knew how to crochet or knit. I always say I'm going to learn one of these days, but haven't managed to have enough free hands or time yet.

Jim said...

Here's a good reason - for now - not to be making clothes or crafts for children.

Isn't our Nanny State just the sweetest thang?

Beth said...

Rebecca and Jordana...thank you both for mentioning the charity option. I know there's an organization that accepts baby afghans and little hats for preemies who are in NICUs. Since both my kids spent time in NICU that particularly resonates with me.

Beth said...

Amanda...I do go on crafting jags like that. You'll notice in my post I didn't ever seriously consider giving up doing any of this. :)

Hey, in maybe...oh...three or four years I MIGHT get good enough at making socks to give them away. Good enough to trade for your drawings? That could take longer. :)

Beth said...

Rebecca, now I'm picturing myself waving little afghans in front of all my married friends. "See the pretty fuzzy blankie! Reproduce! Reproduce! For twins I'll will make you TWO afghans!!"

Beth said...

Ugh...Jim...that legislation is a MESS. It goes beyond toys and clothes and even affects used books and curriculum. The potential impact is staggering. To take it completely outside of my realm...the homeschooling, crafting individual who buys lot of used books...this is also going to affect schools, daycares, thrift shops...

It boggles the mind. I can either believe that the authors of the bill were stupid or terribly clever. Which I believe depends on my paranoia level. :)

Jim said...

Beth, the really bad thing is that this law takes effect in February; it's already a "done deal." It'll take an urgent act of Congress to carve out exceptions to the testing procedures.

Of course, I lean toward the "terribly clever" side of things. :) In all seriousness, we've built this twisted fiat-money economy on consumer spending, but consumer spending is lagging. Rather than remove the burdens of excessive government or allow industry to adjust and produce the amount of goods we actually need, it's far better to remove the resale option for everyone.

After all, we'll all just run out and buy new stuff, right?

Excuse me, I feel the need to wretch coming on.

The opposite of progress is...

Beth said...

Retch away, you wretch! :) Spell-check, bless its heart.

Jim said...

Ack. I feel wretched.

Beth said...

Hi - just found your blog today through your link on TWTM board.

I *love* both of your cross stitch pieces! I'm a cross stitcher, too, and even though I'm currently in sock-knitting mode, my first love is cross stitch. When I stitch things, they are often for my children. I also stitch for my sister's children because she appreciates it. You're right; gifting your work can be tricky.

Learn to knit socks! They are portable, wearable, and lots of fun. There are simple socks and socks that will challenge your socks off. ;-) If no one in your family wants them, YOUR feet will be toasty warm and that's a good thing.