Joy versus need

employment, Uncategorized, value

It’s Wednesday morning, my treasured day off.  I’ve slept till I was ready to wake and now I am lying back in bed, with the Iron Paw, contemplating the day ahead.  There are three scenarios.

One: Allow myself to drift, to respond to impulse and whispers from the multiverse.  Go here.  Try that.  Read.

Two: Clean the house, long overdue.  This would take the whole day, given how messy I am.

Three: Harking back to my last post, do some work.  There’s plenty to be getting on with.

Realistically, all three are needed.  Realistically, all three seem about as likely as politicians behaving nicely.

I had a productive day yesterday at work, nailing down some hard to verify facts.  But it’s not what I want to be doing today.  My academic work life is one of detail, fact and argument.  That’s the game and that’s how it must be played.  Endless criticism, questioning, and scepticism.  I find it exhausting and can never sustain it for more than two full days before I get, well, snappy.

In truth, I feel there is no place for me in this world of relentless productivity.  Do more and more and more!  No!  I value roses, and contemplation, quietness and kindness.  I value creativity and connections and gardens of all kinds. Things that may have absolutely no purpose other than sheer enjoyment.

No impressing.  No performing, no innovating.

Just me, and the Iron Paw, being.



Crochet and the art of slow clothing

craft, Crochet, value

I recently made a blanket for a friend’s new born daughter. When written like that, it seems rather casual and unremarkable. I crocheted the blanket over many winter evenings while watching DVDs so it was actually a very pleasant experience.

Grace's blanket. Motif by Edie Eckman from Beyond the Square.

Grace’s blanket. Motif by Edie Eckman from Beyond the Square.

It was, however, quite a long process, and caused me to reflect on how anyone wanting to make a living from craft could possibly do so. Here’s why. I estimated that it took me around 27 hours of work, and even if you only earn the minimum wage (under $18 AUD), then Grace’s blanket was worth a little under $500, plus the cost of the wool. I can’t imagine anyone being prepared to pay that amount for an item like a baby blanket.

Then I went for a little cruise on Etsy looking at crochet skirts in particular. Skirts can be fairly simple or they can be very complex, which would affect the pricing. Even so, knowing what i know about crochet in particular, they all seemed vastly underpriced. Do we really put that little value on the genuinely hand made?

Since then I’ve been experimenting with the first steps to make my own crochet skirt. I find that the inability to source the yarns here (by which I mean actually finger it in person and give it the neck test) puts me off attempting clothing. The few times I have attempted it its been a disaster because of my inability to make gauge. Plus, I am also trying to teach myself the delicate art of increasing and decreasing.

Here is my very first sample. It’s a simple V stitch that increases by the addition firstly of extra stitches to the V, forming a shell, and then by increasing the chains. While there probably is a pattern like this somewhere in a stitch or pattern dictionary, I am proud to say that I figured this out by myself.

Crochet sample, white second hand cotton.

Crochet sample, white second hand cotton.

I felt confident enough after this to make an extended version in a thicker cotton. As you can see, it diminishes the pattern somewhat and was quite stiff. So while its a nice cotton yarn, it doesn’t have the drape that would be desirable for a summer skirt. Hence my third swatch.

Crochet sample, ecru cotton 5 ply

Crochet sample, ecru cotton 5 ply

Crochet sample, red cotton blend, Panda, 8 ply.

Crochet sample, red cotton blend, Panda, 8 ply.

I’m happy enough with this to now try to move on to the mathematically arduous task of trying to figure out if I can make to fit my measurements. Like I said, this really is slow clothing.