Crafting Your Personality

comments (9) February 2nd, 2009     

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Jen_W Jennifer Worick, contributor
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Even knitting a scarf in a chunky yarn and a seed stitch makes me feel as if Im creating heirlooms, or at least an accessory that will stick around for a few years.
I love that I can accessorize any outfit by whipping up my own jewelry in short order. How cool is that?
Sewing up a simple, flirty apron makes me feel connected to tradition as well as cutting-edge.
Even knitting a scarf in a chunky yarn and a seed stitch makes me feel as if Im creating heirlooms, or at least an accessory that will stick around for a few years.

Even knitting a scarf in a chunky yarn and a seed stitch makes me feel as if I'm creating heirlooms, or at least an accessory that will stick around for a few years.

Photo: Jennifer Worick

After spending a few days working the CHA show, I got to thinking about what your chosen craft says about you. After walking through aisle after aisle looking at tools and materials for any and all crafts, I realized that there are a whole passel of crafts I have dabbled in or embraced, as well as a load that I haven’t tried.

This got me to thinking about the stereotypes I attach to different crafts and how I think my own chosen pursuits cast me in certain lights. I feel that all of us are defined in large part by our actions, so what do our craftions reveal about our personalities, or the image we want to project to the world?

I’ve always wanted to be hip, which might explain the giant aqua cube earrings and bilevel haircut in high school. I love making a fashion statement, and in a Catholic high school, the only way I was able to express myself was through jewelry. My blackwatch plaid skirt didn’t quite cut it. So, when I started making jewelry in my early twenties, I thought myself mad cool wearing my own creations and giving hip gifts to friends. I wanted to be regarded as stylish and urban, and I thought being a jewelry designer amped up my cool factor. I still do.

A few years down the road, I took up knitting and found it fed my soul and my ego. I was creating heirlooms rather than trendy crafts, and the process was as satisfying as the result. At the CHA show, my fellow CraftStylish bloggers and I were talking about how lame it is to describe knitting or embroidery or other skills as “not your grandmother’s craft.” I think it was Kayte who said, “I like my grandma! What’s wrong with my grandmother’s crafts?” Word to your grandmother, my friend. She was on to something and I think being a knitter marks me as a thoughtful gal who’s creating a legacy.

If I didn’t have enough to keep my hands busy, I took up sewing last year; it seemed a perfect blend of fashion and tradition. I can make girly shirts with the newest Amy Butler fabric (i.e., the top in my profile photo) or I can make old-school aprons for my mom or my nieces. I can’t wait to check out the huge Sewing & Stitchery Expo at the end of this month and confirming my suspicions that sewing (and yes, quilting) is becoming more popular and cutting-edge every day. Just imagine what my former classmates would think at the next class reunion when I show up in a hand-sewn LBD.

I recently went down the rabbit hole buying rubber stamps from Craft Pudding on etsy. I had thought rubber stamping was for kids, something not to be taken seriously. My bad. My mind has totally expanded, seeing the clever art and patterns that can be combined and layered to create one-of-a-kind cards, gift tags, and artwork. I find it totally charming and dear to make customized cards for friends and family. I now regard myself as sort of sweet because I’m a stamp collector.

I haven’t dipped my toe into the world of scrapbooking. My kinswomen in Michigan love it. The CHA show—maybe 70 percent of the booths were devoted to scrapbooking and its kissing cousins—indicates that most of America digs this paper craft as well. As I ponder the profile of the scrapbooking enthusiast, I think it’s for folks who like to bring order to something and create a perfect world even if their lives are chaotic and messy. Come to think of it, I could use some order. Cue the jones for acid-free paper…

The opposite of pristine and controlled, silk screening seems gritty and radical. I desperately want to try it. It seems counter-culture, very Haight-Asbury in the '60s. Maybe I’ll grow my hair out to look like Ali McGraw in Love Story and start silk-screening revolutionary, limited-edition tees and hoodies. With a Yudu machine, I could start whipping out message tees in a hot second.

After seeing Erika Kern transform a T-shirt in a couple of hours through the magic of embroidery, I view embroidery fiends as not only traditional and elegant but also meticulous with a side of inventive. Or maybe that’s just Erika.

I know this is the short list of crafts, and I’d love to hear from all of you.

Is it just me, or do you think that your craft defines you? How do you regard your favorite craft and how does it make you feel? Does it make you more soulful, homey, earthy, connected, country, rock 'n roll, or just plain cool?

In the future, you can find me at my website or blogs, Things I Want to Punch in the Face and Prairie Tales. My new book, Backcountry Betty: Crafting with Style, is in stores now.

posted in: fabric, paper, beads, yarn, thread

Comments (9)

TarheelCraftyGirl writes: This post made me think again. I loved that...

As a crafter, I have looked several times at what I love doing, and how I have changed because of it.

Crafting makes me a better teacher, I know that for sure. As I deal with little people ( k-3rd ) I bring my skills to them and give them (hopefully!) a different way of looking at learning.

I design and make jewelry, knit, and do papercrafts. The last two have translated nicely into the classroom.
Posted: 9:50 am on February 22nd
iHanna writes: Thanks for a fun read!

Of course you could extract the personality out of your craft - if you yourself is the interpreter. I wouldn't let anyone else do it... I think they would come to the conclusion that I'm crazy and lock me in! :-) I do lots of things and play + experiment a lot. It doesn't make me an adventurer or explorer in real life, coz' I'm a stay at home gal. It might be craziness now that I think about .... schyy, don't tell!!!
Posted: 4:12 pm on February 16th
turning_turning writes: I love this entry like crazy. I blogged a response to it here: http://turningturning.com/media-and-meaning/
Posted: 5:56 pm on February 12th
Jen1964 writes: Knitting, crocheting, sewing, embroidery, making dollhouse furniture, macrame,, quilting, kitchen crafts - with food, painting on wood, ceramics or canvas, refinishing furniture, ALL makes sense to me. It's my key to never being bored. I CAN'T STAND boredom! I tried it once as a kid, and never again. Not if I can help it. Not that I was high energy, or any lucky thing like that. Curious, yes. Observant, sure. I love hearing people look and say "I can do that!" It's fun to inspire someone else. I love trying new things... doing things with my hands... going for old favorites.
It's all part of who I am. If it wasn't there to start with, it sure is now. I love the old fashioned ability to be reasonably frugal... to make something wonderful out of "next to nothing" -and then make someone's day with it. Better than magic! I think it's in our wiring to create. Each one who answers that call puts her own stamp (or his) on the world of creativity. Together we make something that will be worth handing down for generations. We continue the chain of wonder that our grandmothers & mothers gave to us. It's like being part of a club -unofficial though it is- or a secret tribe of really great people.
O.K. so I have an imagination, but isn't that what makes this work?
Posted: 12:49 pm on February 7th
paperrain writes: This is a great post. I have always had eclectic tastes and have been a late-bloomer in everything, so I am currently engaged in everything I can get my hands on, with the exception of pottery and sewing, so I guess this makes me a hyper? scattered? curious? enthusiastic? restless? artist/crafter?

hmmm...

This makes me want to start something new...
Posted: 3:19 pm on February 5th
MichaelaMurphy writes: I am definitely a take craftion kind of girl. Usually, I see something that I absolutely love and then I'll think, "I can make that"
Then I'll think, 'How hard can that be?" It has been when I discover for myself just how hard, or simple the creation of a certain something might be that I have accumulated my craft skills.
I'll take the craftion to make and then learn the actual how-to later. This has led to many spectacular failures and a few glorious successes--but that's just me.
Posted: 1:49 pm on February 3rd
Sister_Diane writes: I loved this post! I've been thinking for a couple days about my crafting personality, and have come to the conclusion that the only answer is: I am something of a crafty multiple-personality. And I like that. :-)
Posted: 1:40 pm on February 3rd
erika_kern writes: Oh, thanks for the kind words! You're the sweetest.

As for my crafting. . . I'm not sure if it defines me or if I define my craft. I've always been a sort of improvisational person who bores with rules given to her. The way I sew and stitch follows that improv style.

My embroidery patterns are just lines and then I fill them however I see fit. I even like to doodle stitch sometimes.

As for sewing, I have a hard time following commercial patterns but I can sew the most difficult items if I design them. My friend Nikki, an amazing seamstress, often teases me about this. I can't sew a Simplicity dress to save my life yet I can design and put together a robot plush with over 50 pieces! What can I say. . . I'm a nut.
Posted: 12:02 pm on February 3rd
BeadStyle_Stacy writes: I absolutely agree that your craftions reflect your personality! I like to dabble in all kinds of crafts, and I especially enjoy finding ways to combine them. That's because, in any area of my life, I don't like to be pigeonholed or typecasted. I need to be free to create spontaneously in whatever medium I'm in the mood for without having people say, "But that's not what you do!" I also love creating functional items that serve a purpose in my home. That reflects my practical mind and my tendency to nest.

So I guess the moral of the story is keep creating, because no matter what you make, your craftions speak louder than words!

Stacy
www.BeadStyleMag.com
Posted: 9:45 am on February 3rd
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