Saturday, June 03, 2017

the projects begin

this is the usual post-break project parade.

First up: probably the record-holder for the thing that has been in the longest "stall" between starting and completion. This is an old (National Yarn Council is the brand) latch-hook kit a friend gave me as a gift when I was in high school. I started it, worked fitfully on it for a while, put it away. It got moved with the rest of the "basement stuff" when my parents moved from Ohio to Illinois, and when I was helping my mom move some stuff*, I found it and realized it was nearly done (within 20 rows of completion) and so I wanted to finish it:

zebra rug

Interesting how times have changed - this kit, on its box (which I didn't keep) boasted of being Monsanto "Wear-dated" and also noted that it was entirely made in the US. (I don't know how likely it is you'd find a US-made craft kit these days).

(I guess National Yarn Council is now the Craft Yarn Council....)

(*Long story, but: the city where they live is replacing water meters with more modern versions and they asked homeowners to clear access in their basements for work on the meters. My mom had no idea as to how much "clear" they would need so we moved EVERYTHING in that area, but also were able to pitch some stuff we no longer wanted).

I dunno. I suppose some people would say it's tacky and dated but I admit I sort of love these goofy kitschy things, and not just ironically, either. (Which is one way I'm not a hipster: when I like something, I like it whole-heartedly and earnestly, not with ironic detachment). For one thing, it's just cute, and for another, it does remind me of my younger years - latch-hook kits were big in the late 1970s and 1980s. They're still around today but they seem less popular than they once were. Or maybe it was just in some of my circle of friends the girls liked doing them? They were really a good tv-watching craft, because they didn't require deep concentration.

I think what I'm going to do is buy a piece of heavy denim and make a back for this, and then fold back the "selvedges" and hand-sew it to the back....and use it as a mat next to my bed. (With all the white, I can't use it somewhere where I'd be walking with shoes - I usually take my shoes off upon entering the house).


The second item for today is probably the favorite of the things I finished over break.

It's Kero-chan!

kerochan 1

I bought the pattern for this back in March but never got around to doing it. I used a "Big Twist" (acrylic) yarn in bright yellow for the body, and some kind of random white acrylic that was hanging around at my parents' house for the wings. (The eyes are a little bigger than they should be, but 4 mm lock-washer eyes are hard to find, and I used slightly heavier yarn than the pattern suggested, so I used 6 mm eyes).

Kero-chan is the little "advisor" or perhaps even "daemon" character in Cardcaptor Sakura - this is not even really his true form, which is much more impressive (wolf-like). But in this kind of bear-cub form, he is cuter, and I think that's what most fans prefer.

I wanted a stuffed Kero-chan but the pre-made ones on Amazon were super expensive, so I searched around Ravelry and found a suitable pattern.

Kero is rendered as speaking with an Osaka accent, which in US translations is usually rendered as being Brooklynish (as I noted, I "hear" him in my head as sounding like Bugs Bunny).

"Hey, look! It's me!"

kerochan 2

He's a nice size - the right size to hold in your hand and perhaps close to the "correct scale" you would want him to be if you were doing a cosplay. (He might be a BIT small for an adult dressing as Sakura, who is like a middle-school girl)


And because I can't leave well enough alone, I looked up a little bit about latch-hooking and found this history of latch-hooking. Granted, it's more from a UK perspective (it mentions the Women's Institute) but it does have some 20th c. history of it. And I guess it began earlier than I thought: I think of it as a very late 1970s craft (maybe the thing that came "in" after macrame faded), but it seems to have been popular (maybe in a different form) in the UK as far back as the 1920s.

The author of the piece notes something: "By the 1990s, rugs were easily and cheaply available at Habitat, Ikea and Homebase. Scandinavian minimalism was becoming more popular, especially sheepskin rugs, though rya shaggy rugs didn’t seem to catch on. We’re into the era of cheap, disposable homewares – why spend weeks making a rug when you could buy a cheap rug and change your decore every few months? Most of the companies making good quality rug kits went out of business, while those that had offered rug kits as a part of their wool business, stopped stocking rug making supplies and stuck with knitting wool."

(She does talk about how modern rug kits are "cheap" and not very well made, and are not-wool, but that last, to me, is a feature and not a bug, in a climate where carpet beetles and silverfish are a regular nuisance: I'd rather make a floor covering  out of something inedible to insect life than invest my time and effort in a wool rug and then find after a few weeks of inattention to it, it's been munched on)

And yeah, I can see that: I do think there was sort of a sea-change during my young years. It's something my mom has mentioned: "Years back, the 'women's magazines' used to be so good; they usually had craft patterns and more-elaborate recipes but now they don't." I chalked that up to the rise and easier availability of special hobbyist magazines (my mom subscribes to three or four quilt magazines and a couple of knitting/crochet ones, as well as several cooking-oriented ones), but maybe the rise in minimalism (which still has a foothold here, and is perhaps becoming even more with the tiny-house fad) and also the fact that most women work for a salary outside the home (and yet, still do much of the housework they once did), means people don't have time for that sort of thing any more.

(My mom also mentioned how, I think it was Good Housekeeping? used to regularly have abridged versions of novels or long short stories in it, something to read, and how she enjoyed that. I don't think they do fiction any more....again, I'm sure it's a change in both the time people have, and the availability of such things - if you have a Kindle you can download stuff, or you can listen to books-on-tape during your long commute). 

But also, I think the disposable-housewares trend is a thing here. I know I'm amazed at the volume of cheap decorating gew-gaws places like Hobby Lobby seem to have on sale....I don't have ROOM for any more gew-gaws without getting rid of some, so I choose very carefully (and generally haunt the antique stores for decorating stuff, because that's more how I roll). But I guess some people do change out their decor every couple years or so, and just....I don't know, sell everything at a yard sale? I don't know. I don't have the energy for that kind of thing, and also I get attached to stuff and would feel bad selling my candleholders to some random stranger (also, a lot of the stuff I own has sentimental meaning: I have candleholders someone gave me as a gift, or ones that remind me of somewhere I traveled....)

I do wonder if the "disposability" thing is hurting us: poorly-made clothing, not designed to hold up longer than a season (so you have to drag out and shop for a new one). Also the fact that it's cheap means it's probably made somewhere where the workers are not paid well for their labor (even discounting that in some parts of the world costs-of-living are lower than they are here). And I think it does discourage people from taking care of stuff....I was raised, for example, to take care of my clothes, to treat stains promptly, to wash things carefully, to sometimes do things like turn t-shirts inside out to avoid fading the design in the wash or hang things to dry to avoid them shrinking or being damaged by heat in the dryer. And I'm SURE that's a holdover from my mom's youth, where she had relatively few clothes, and so they had to be cared for. (And also: her mom, and later on, she, made many of her clothes, and when you know the labor that goes into something, you care for it more). That's partly why I was sad when my Deva dress finally wore out, though I'd been wearing it steadily (maybe once every 10 days) for 10 or 12 years. (The fabric HAD got very thin, I didn't realize that). It was a good dress; it fit well; I liked it. So I felt sad when it wore out....

I wonder if many other people these days feel that way, or if it's just another opportunity to go shopping. Sometimes I enjoy clothes shopping but not that often and it does seem when I "need" a particular item, I can't find it. (And sometimes, for some things - like dresses and skirts - it's almost faster and easier to go to a fabric store and pick out the fabric and pattern I want, and sew it up myself, than to go to 20 different stores on a search). 

But I do wonder - now that "wasting food is really bad" has become a thing, are we going to tackle next the concept that "stuff that's so poorly made you throw it out after six months and buy a new one isn't exactly a sustainable model"? Because I could get behind that, having been raised with the mentality of "buy good quality, take care of it, use it for a long time, try to fix it when it breaks"

1 comment:

Lynn said...

I have a latch hook kit that I bought from a catalog in 1982. It's about half finished. It's a huge Indian chief so it's probably politically incorrect as well as being tacky and out of style and to be honest I really don't want to hang it on my wall now but I really hate that I haven't finished it and I keep thinking I WILL finish it someday.