Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Slow Cloth, and a Challenge For the New Year

I've signed on to Sharon Boggon's 2008 Take It Further Challenge. Here's how she describes it:

On the first of each month I will post key concept. The challenge is to take the idea, develop it and push it towards a resolved design during that month. In other words you interpret the idea and apply it to fiber or paper.

Every month there will be two options. The second option will be a colour scheme or a design element like a shape, to develop into a resolved design. This means that if you don't like the concept you can work the colour scheme or is you don't like the colour scheme you can work with the concept. Or you can work with both.

The actual project you design can be any thing, in any medium or format you choose. It can be a crazy quilt block, a postcard, a journal quilt, a piece of embroidery, a sampler, a fabric book page or whatever sparks your imagination. It can also be...pages spreads of designs worked in a visual journal....What ever you choose to do, I am asking people to blog the development of the idea through the month (preferably weekly) and to leave a comment here with your blog address so that people can visit your site and see what you have done.

Sharon B's In a Minute Ago was one of the first blogs I ever bookmarked. Besides writing about her own needlework projects and teaching online courses, she has produced the Dictionary of Stitches for Hand Embroidery and Needlework, and she teaches and blogs about Web design, network literacy, digital culture and the visual arts at Mindtracks.

In 2007, she challenged hand embroiderers with Take a Stitch Tuesday: Each week I took a stitch and suggested people experiment with it, push it a little and see what possibilities the stitch holds. Participants posted photos of their work, and SharonB provided links to them. Although I don't hand-embroider, it was inspiring to see all the different interpretations. You could browse for days....

In the course of organizing this year's challenge, SharonB mused on Slow Cloth, a celebration of giving thought and taking time in fiber projects. I enjoyed her essay, but it has stirred up a host of comments and blog posts, a few of them of the strain "My knitting (or embroidery or quilting) is good, and pleases me; your knitting differs from mine, and is therefore naughty, wrong, and bad." I agree with SharonB that it is good and useful to consider why we choose our craft and what we hope to achieve. I'm not sure sharing our entire thought process on the Internet is so valuable. Sometimes we figure out what we like by first identifying what we don't like, and that thing we hate may be someone else's beloved goal. A screed defaming crocheted toilet roll covers will come up when someone who craves such an item searches for "crocheted toilet roll cover pattern," and hurt, offend, or inspire flame wars. One gal's brilliant expression is another gal's hideous monstrosity, and until we can articulate what we love, there's no sense in publicly denigrating other people's projects and media. (I am, personally, neutral on the topic of toilet roll covers; should I ever require one, I will probably make up my own pattern.)

I also offer an off-topic but interesting link that I discovered while reading the responses to Slow Cloth: Handmade 2.0 By Rob Walker, December 16, 2007 New York Times Magazine. It's about, among other things, Etsy.


sharonb said...

LOL I too am personally neutral on the subject of toilet roll covers but enjoyed your this post your point about the community needing to define what they are doing is very valid

Rebecca Clayton said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it!