Monday, November 14, 2005

Not Your Grandmother's Crochet...

...Must we hear, read, see, be bludgeoned with this phrase and others similar to it day in and day out as we participate in the new, hip, exciting crafty revolution that is sweeping us all into a whirlwind of scissors, paper, yarn, paint, fun fur, tape, fabric, glue, buttons, thread, pinking shears, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, glitter, felt, trims, notions, needles, hooks, etc., etc.? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that everyone from tweens to teens, Gen-Xers to Boomers, moms, dads, kids, brothers, sisters, cousins, dogs, cats, llamas...okay I've gone too far...are using their hands, heads and hearts in pursuit of the craftier side of life. But how come countless individuals currently living the Life Craftique are picking on Granny? What did Granny do to deserve such derision?

Does the au currant hipster craftster really believe that all the myriad (and I mean myriad) scarves and hats and bags and sweaters and shawls and softies and blankets and pillows and handspun yarns and jewelry and scrapbooks and handmade soaps and candles and embroidered tea towels are new inventions? Does the current connoisseur of the Life Craftique really believe that he or she is the first being to ever recycle, reclaim, rework, rebirth, reconstitute, reassemble, revamp, remodel, retool, retrain, reinvent old objects and materials into fabulous craftier versions of their former selves? Is it possible that today's crafty revolutionary is that ignorant of the long and truly ancient history of human beings desire, need, compulsion to make objects from the bits and pieces of life's treasures as well as its detritus? If this is actually so, then that's just a shame in my humble opinion.

Guess what? I'll bet you significant cold hard cash that before many members of this crafty elite were old enough to hold a pair of scissors in their hands and fashion super cute A-line skirts out of funky, retro print fabrics, bust out their sergers and sew said future additions to their wardrobes together, that their respective Grannies or Great Grannies had already made enough of these to fill the equivalent square footage of the Roman Coliseum light years before their craftolutionary grandchildren were even a twinkle in their individual fathers' eyes. Only Granny's stylin' skirt? Yeah, the pattern and fabric she used to create her ready to wear addition probably wasn't thought of as retro, old school or vintage. No, in Granny's day, those patterns and fabrics were very au currant and young Eventually-To-Be-Granny was tearing up the town in her newly fashioned handmade duds without a thought to how hip, cool and groovy she was for making it with her own two hands.

Face it peeps, whatever we're all making now, whether it be herbal soap on a rope, a cell phone cozy, a pair of knitted socks or yet another freakin' scarf...Yeah well, I can pretty much guarantee you, some woman or man made one decades before it ever crossed your mind to make that thing you're working on now. Yeah, that thing. Okay, maybe Granny never made a cell phone cozy, but she made a cozy for some object in her dwelling. After all, Granny was human and humans are compelled to make crocheted or knitted covers for absolutely every item in their homes. It is unwritten law. Yes, it, is. Okay fine. Explain crocheted Santa toilet seat covers to me then...Ahem. I digress.

At any rate, I implore all of you to stop dissin' Granny. Instead, why don't you embrace your Inner Granny *employing your best Darth Vader impression when you speak this term*. You heard me. Acknowledge the fact that you sit in front of the tube for hours in your favorite chair, knitting scarf after freakin' scarf as your Granny and your Granny's Granny probably did long before you. Come to terms with the realization that you've knit so many of these long rectangular bands of fuzzy goodness that if all were tied together, they'd reach far beyond our borders to the earthquake ravaged region of Kashmir and could easily be used as a lifeline to extract a trapped Granny from the rubble that used to be her home, saving her from the jaws of death, enabling her to knit a few more scarves for her loved ones and in turn, catapulting you from mere connoisseur of the Life Craftique to INTERNATIONAL SEARCH AND RESCUE SUPER HERO, who selflessly spared a Granny so that she may live to knit again! All this because of you and your compulsive knitting thang. Can you see it? Go ahead, embrace the fact that your newfound fame, stardom and philanthropy is directly attributable to embracing your Inner Granny *Darth Vader voice* making those endless hours in front of the tube, knitting with abandon completely guilt-free and rooted in historical precedent. Now, how cool is that?

Okay, you don't have to become some fabulously philanthropic super crafter to get in touch with your Inner Granny *don't forget the Darth Vader voice*. No, channeling your inner geriatric crafty persona is as easy as acknowledging that doilies are not the thready devil incarnate. Conversely, they are amazing handmade wonders, each stitch made with loving care from size 50 or so thread and a blindingly small hook. Know that these luscious lacy goodies (and countless other handcrafted wonders that tell of the human imprint left upon our world) quite literally constitute the pavement that is the Crafty International Super Highway from its glorious handmade past to its fabulously funky present and hopefully will continue on long after we've left our crafty treasures to our children.

So everyone, I urge you to embrace your Inner Granny and in doing so eradicate the Global Granny Slander that currently plagues us. After all, each of us will be Grannies eventually and wouldn't it be wonderful to know that we will be just as valued in our society then as we seemingly are now?

32 comments:

Pam said...

One thing I really regret is not having started crocheting until after my Grandma's and great-aunt had passed away and not getting a chance to trade secrets. I have some of the projects that we think were made by some of them but we're not sure who or when or why or any of that stuff that makes a heirloom really cool.

Andy's Crafts said...

I definitely can agree with you. We need to embrace our inner granny. I find it fascinating taht we are doing a craft that all our relations will be able to relate too. This craft has been around for hundreds of years. Thanks for giving a voice to our inner Granny, and Vader too.

Micky said...

I don't ever remember seeing my grandmother crochet. My mother did, but not a lot. My first craft love was cross stitch. I still do it, but not nearly as much as I did. My obsession now is knitting. Within the last year I taught myself to knit and crochet. I had crocheted an afghan, but just from someone showing me how to do the granny square. I taught myself to read patterns and all those other crochet stitches. I was amazed to find out knitting was only 2 stitches, just manipulated in different ways. I didn't necessarily pick this up from my granny, but I hope I am still doing it when I myself am a granny.
My inner Granny however, sounds like Chewbacca.
:)

Jessica said...

Well said, Regina!

One of my grandmothers made the vast majority of her seven kids' clothes and there were some real works of art in there - and I should know, since I played dress-up in them years later. Sure, she did it because it was cheaper than buying clothes, but that doesn't make the work she put into it any less valuable. More so, maybe, since she was stretching a tiny budget to ensure that her kids didn't look shabby.

While I enjoy all manner of craftiness, I certainly don't think it makes me all that hip, funky, trendy or whatever. I just think it's fun and can't imagine not doing it. The born again "I'm so unique" craftsters out there pretty much need to get over themselves.

Sally said...

In my best Darth Vader voice....

"Sal.....I am your grandmother. Go forth and be seen hooking in public..make anything you like, even scarves....our family could use a super hero"

I thank my Grandmothers every day for teaching me to hook and an elderly neighbor for doing her best to teach me to knit. I have always embraced my inner granny and I always will, believe me...when I'm 90 I'll have some kick ass multi colored leg warmers on my walker, and I will have made them myself!!!

Amy said...

I was just about to post something similar. Today's crochet may not be "like grandma's", but it has roots in what she did. My grandma that crocheted never knew that I knew how I think (my aunt taught me). She used to make a whole bunch of things like the crocheted carnations, and ponchos and shawls for me and my mom. I LOVED her ponchos. Even at a young age, I appreciated that she made it with love.

What's with the backlash people? In 30-40-50 years, I guarantee that the "new" crochet will probably be a bit different from what we are doing now, but it will be "hip" to those who are just getting into it.

So grandma made doll cozies for the toilet paper. It's not much different than making iPod cozies or some less useful things that I have seen out there. It's what was popular at the time.

Would I make one? Probably not, unless I was in a particularly retro/tacky mood. And I'd make it as obnoxious as possible, just because I can.

Crochet is a form of individual expression and for every person that makes doilies, there is someone who makes afghans.....or turkey bags.

Heather said...

Damn straight! My great granny rocked! She supported her family as a single mom with her quilting and crocheting. How cool is that? I inherited some of her pieces and feel a deep bond there.

There's a rich history behind all these arts, so many stories of strong creative women, that shouldn't be neglected.

Cheers to the leg-warmer wearing grannies! I love that idea. :)

Squishybear said...

but but ... I want to be DIFFERENT! Just like everyone else. :-P hahahahha

Nancy said...

My grandmother and great grandmother rocked as far as crotcheting! I acknowledge them every time I pick up a hook, and curse the fact that I don't remember more of what they tried to teach me.

Soulknitting said...

I agree!! Embrace your 'inner Granny' and rejoice!! While my Grandmother didn't crochet, my Mother did!! I loved the Barbie dresses that she crocheted for me and wish I still had them!!

Ro said...

I only wish I could be a tenth the woman my grandmother was...great post!

rose said...

Both of my grannies are still around, and would probably get pretty PO'd if I tried to channel them (and they'd probably use the nasty Gollum voice)- although I enjoy embracing them whenever I can.

I think that some folks always need to feel that they are the sole interpreter of some "new trend" - be it crafting, home repair, parenting, the list is endless. I - on the other hand - belong to the "look, I can do this too!" camp. Great post!

krista said...

Hey Hey to the inner granny!

My granny made hideous sweaters, I remember. In retrospect though, she was quite a talented lace knitter, and how on earth she managed to knit lace sweaters with 5 kids desrves some kudos. So I agree. We should stop slandering the granny.

Michelle said...

I embrace my inner granny every. Single. Day.

Scifi series: the Hyperion series and the Ilium/Olympos books by Dan Simmons are amazing. There's a series by Charles Stross that I really liked, the first one is Singularity Sky. Ooh! The His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman, if you haven't read those yet. Just incredible. At the moment I'm reading Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, and so far it's quite promising.

Julie said...

I'm so very proud of the fact that both my grandmothers and I have this in common. The phrase itself is very offensive to me, and I'm not wordy enough to express just how much as well as you and others have. Thanks!

kawaii said...

I would kill to be able to crochet like a granny!

Ellen Bloom said...

Regina! Another faboo post! This one definitely deserves to be published....like in "BUST" magazine! Argh! Hopefully, the lovely Annie M. will read this post and add it to her next book!
Cheers to grannies everywhere!

lisa s said...

my sentiments exactly! i memorialized my grandma by making a granny sq. quilt that speaks in her voice.... she is such an inspiration to me!

thankfully i haven't really experienced the back-lash of anti-granny crafters.... hopefully they all read your blog!

mk said...

Wow. We were so posting about feeling the granny love on the same day!

Kimberly said...

Cheers to Grannies!! Eloquent post Regina - extremely well said! I am working my way down the yarn food chain *looks at my size 20 thread purse in the works and shudders* and can only hope that I can some day make a doily anywhere near to what my father remembers HIS great-granny crocheting! May we all channel the wisdom, knowledge and technique of those who have gone before us and passed on to the giant free yarn shop in the sky!

Vicky aka stichr said...

The only reason it's not my grandmothers crochet is because she isn't crocheting it. I think the use of non-crochet-type materials would surprize my grandmother a bit, but thats about all. {things like plastic bags, metal, ???}

Jessi said...

amen sister.

i'd say more...but I think you pretty much covered it :)

Vera said...

Right On!

What's wrong with our grandmother's crochet anyway!

SheCrochets said...

Well said! I have been getting sick of that phrase for awhile (and the slightly apologetic tone taken by some magazines when they discuss crochet at all, but that's a different rant!).

Tara said...

Personally, I have always preferred the older style of crochet. And I use my granny's old hooks and patterns.
P.S. I made you a granny present.
I posted it on my blog.

Vik said...

Thank you so much Regina for the e-mail exchange!
My blog's name is "Like Grandma", what else can I say?

The Shrone said...

It was my great grandmother Schmitt who taught my mom how to crochet, and my mom taught me, so her legacy lives on through me.

One thing that disturbs me about the current crafting trend is most, if not all, of us do it as a hobby, while grandmother and great grandmother did it out of necessity!

Personally, I feel we've lost something in not being as self-sufficient as we used to be. To think that women used to be able to know how to sew a dress (by hand no less!) and knew how to make cheese and whipped cream (also by hand) boggles my mind!

goldi said...

Gal, you took the words right out of my mouth! Well, maybe not those EXACT words, but something similar. Amen I say, and again: AMEN!

My mom, at 94, still crochets - and sews. I grew up in a crafty environment and can't imagine my life without it. It is a legacy I hope to be able to pass on to my daughter. Grannies rock! And so do you!

Embracing my inner Granny (but with a Minnie Mouse voice, sorry)...

stuffed said...

Well said!

When confronted with that crap, I put on a mellow facade and say all hippy dippy-like, "Man/Dude (depending on the occasion), that's misogyny talking." Then I watch 'em flip out. Good times.

Anastacia said...

So true! When I was growing up, we had no money, but my mother didn't want me to feel as if I never had anything new. so she'd take hand me down's from my cousins or from yard sales, and trace pictures from coloring books & paint the clothes. She'd sew a ton of clothes for me, too, especially when I was really little. She took apart adult sized dresses & reused the good parts of the fabric.

bama_belle said...

hey! I not only embrace my inner granny - I frequently let her shine at civil war reenactments and living hisory events where I am ALWAYS seen with a wooden crochet hook and a basket of homespun creating something. I've even been so lucky as to teach a young girl or two a basic stitch and sent them home with a small ball of yarn and a needle of their own to practice with.

Long live Granny and crochet!

Joanna Boyer said...

I'd just been thinking along these lines today and was gonna write about it myself when I found your post.

Nice blog!