Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It Wasn't Garbage.

I love this so much. A collective dedicated to repairing things instead of tossing them! So much of what ends up in the waste stream is entirely useful, and from what I can gather, the Fixers Collective isn't settling for repurposing so much as restoring to the original purpose. I want to see one of these in every town! #bigdreams

Monday, December 27, 2010

Meat Quilt

A couple years ago I found this beef chart / diagram in an old cookbook. I thought it'd be a really interesting / beautiful thing to enlarge and embroider, much like my cuts of meat napkins, but more involved, on a larger scale. This large embroidered piece could be a quilt, which would make it easier to manage, just carrying around small squares at a time. Realizing that I'm free to bring With Hands wherever I want it to go, it dawned on me to pick this project back up. I've talked about it before but I think it's important to reiterate: I think that we (westerners, really) have a huge disconnect from our food. I know myself that if I shop in an Asian grocery store, the foul and rabbit shrink-wrapped with heads still attached is really off-putting. When I was in Spain, the fact that the heads were left on the shrimp really disturbed me in a way that ripping their legs off never did. In as much as I often cook delicious meatless meals (have you tried Moosewood Cookbook's lentil mushroom walnut burgers? Sooo good.) I am a meat-eater. The way meat is sold in grocery stores across America definitely separates Food from Animal. I like things like this beef chart because they bring everything together, sort of ground our concept of food, of meat, in a sense. It's interesting when I make work about meat, I get a few different reactions, often a visceral one from the vegetarians I encounter. Thinking about where meat comes from seems to remind them why they don't eat it. Non vegetarians often comment about how they didn't know where in an animal a given cut of meat was located. I am fine with either of these reactions. I just want to reinstate the connection between food and source. Also: I really like that this chart tells the best way to cook given cuts of beef. I've ruined many a steak due to ignorance.

While working on this particular piece I've gotten a lot of questions, not so much on the imagery, but on the object itself. I don't like to make a big deal that I see With Hands as Art. I don't care if someone else sees it as Not Art, and I really don't want its artness to turn anyone away, so I typically just refer to With Hands as my project. Somehow, though, embroidering a meat quilt is just too bizarre for comprehension. I never got so much confusion when I was embroidering little animals with cuts of meat diagrams on them onto vintage cloth napkins. It seems that I need to break out the 'a' word for people to feel OK with a meat quilt. Will it be used? Most likely. Will it be art? Absolutely. It will be functional art, because I'm into that, and that is really a core value of With Hands. This is a little deeper into art theory than I had intended on getting here, but it seems that it is necessary to address. The meat quilt functioning will give it more opportunities to act as a catalyst.

Friday, December 24, 2010

What I'm Working On

After making far too many produce bags, I asked my friends Beth and Andi to show me how to do the single crochet (which my mom couldn't help me with) so that I could make a jar cozy. I recognize that such an object seems mostly for frills, and maybe it is...but to be fair, I've started using jars in lieu of travel mugs and not burning my hands would be convenient.

So begins the awkwardness that is trying to explain what I'm working on, when what I'm working on seems ridiculous. The jar cozy is a little bit easier for people to wrap their heads around than the...fingerless glove? See, the problem is, I'm not even sure what to call it, but the fact that I'm sort of just making it up is helpful when people express that they wish that they too could make whatever-sort-of-thing. "Oh, you totally could do that, because I just sort of made it up, so if you found some sort of directions you're probably better off that I am straight away."

This past weekend I took a trip to central PA to visit some friends, and before I left, I began embroidering presents for a few of them. Unfortunately, I didn't really have enough time, so I found myself embroidering while I was there. This in itself was fine, but I didn't really want them to see what I was working on until it was nearer to finished, seeing as it was for them and all. It was a different experience than my usual show and tell, but I did indeed finish everything and was able to give it before I left.

I'm not sure what it is, but there is something that for me is far more satisfying in embroidery than with knitting or crocheting. The process is somehow more enjoyable, and I think I even like talking about it more. I'll have to consider this further.

I've also picked up a sizable project I had wanted to do a few years ago, but that really deserves its own post. If you've seen me recently, and you've seen me EMBROIDERING recently, you might have an idea of what I mean by this.

*ALSO, I was subbing the other day and I had to read some first graders a book about Kwanzaa. Apparently all the gifts associated with this holiday have to be either handmade or educational. I love this, of course. Maybe I'll start celebrating Kwanzaa.... after all, they say we all came from Africa.

Friday, December 10, 2010


The other night I asked my mother to teach me to crochet again. She taught me when I was younger but I couldn't get the tension right and gave up pretty easy. I can't actually knit in the round, and it seems that with crocheting, doing circular things is no issue at all. I had seen a couple things on the internet recently that I wanted to make that required crocheting. I've been working on one of them, which is actually a pretty quick project. A crocheted produce bag, which I think is a cool thing to work on, because not only does it reduce waste and keep my hands busy (which helps me focus), it also provides a catalyst for conversation about (obviously) the handmade as well as that of waste.

I deviated a bit from the pattern. Here's the link of my inspiration.
I previously had been knitting the mate for this fingerless glove, which I made many years ago and didn't even remember I hadn't completed the other until I went to wear it. It's somehow more difficult to explain what I'm working on when I'm knitting this, but people generally guess the terms right when I'm doing it.

Let's be straight here. People always ask: "are you knitting?" whether I'm embroidering, crocheting, tatting, or actually knitting. I feel like knitting is seen as more of a catch-all term than it actually is.