Sunday, January 9, 2011

The intrigue of hand-made

Through my travel journals, I have observed that in many souvenir booths and shops, hand-made crafts are the most celebrated and successful. Why is this? I'll admit I used to scoff at the knitted goods on the souvenir strips in Nha Trang, Vietnam (where Miss Universe was hosted in 2008) because I thought knitting was such a normal, easy craft done everywhere---why would you get a knit purse here and not home? As we've reflected on our own knitting projects, I'm starting to see the intrigue in hand-made knits created by people of different cultures and lifestyles. One, it's a great, non-flashy remnant of whatever place you bought it from. Two, it's hand-made and an inherently one-of-a-kind craft that you likely only have one opportunity of obtaining.

Throughout this semester, when visiting small cities in the south and midwest, I found myself scouring for hand-made crafts. I would wonder aimlessly around shops and stands until I realized, I was subconsciously headed straight towards the hand-made crafts section. Being in the role of the maker this semester of course has encouraged me to continue to make, but I've found I have more appreciation for other fellow/experienced makers. I find other people's crafts to be inspirational as well as unique and intimate. Whether they produce things out of necessity to make money, or as a hobby that they can cash on, I'm getting a glimpse of their life and know a little bit of what they do outside of standing at this booth, wrapping up my souvenir.

Crafting for money!

Although most of us in Craft-Wisely knit for enjoyment and relaxation, I have recently observed many people who do it for extra cash. When knitting for hobby as opposed to knitting for a second income, is quality or work ethic compromised? At first, I believed it was but upon further pondering, I decided the answer is situational. Obviously, when you're getting paid to knit you want to do a good job to satisfy your customers, to build your clientele, and to ultimately make more money. This promotes better quality of work and better work ethic. However, in hobby, I think if you knit for yourself and for friends/family, you try to anthropomorphize. The value you place on your crafts' recipients drives your work and its quality.

I have a friend who is moving to Asia to do missionary work this coming summer. She had been really stressed and stumped as to how she would raise enough money for the next year she spends volunteering. One day, watching her grandmother knit at her retirement home, she came up with the idea to knit headbands for funds. Priced at around $10, she had had so many orders of these headbands, she's already raised about a month or two of rent when she moves.

The vastness of ways that needle-crafts can affect service projects and organizations is still amazing to me. Before Craft-wisely, it NEVER crossed my mind that people knit to have craft-ins to promote a local organization, or people knit scarves to strangers as part of a motivation/care package, or people knit to raise money to go to a third-world country and help them find spiritual guidance. This class has opened my eyes to think out-side of the box when brainstorming ways to help/impact our community.