Saturday, April 16, 2011

craft or art

In a recent video, Teresa Richardson asks if we consider crochet a craft or an art?

I thought I'd explore that thought. You know I can't just give a one word answer on such a wide reaching subject. *grin*

So what is a craft? Wikipedia says "A craft is a branch of profession that requires some particular kind of skilled work... the term is usually applied towards people occupied in small-scale production of goods." Well, that certainly fits the crocheter. Since it takes a good many hours, days, weeks, months, to complete some projects, it is certainly a small scale production and it certainly takes a particular skillset.

At under "craft" (as a verb), "to make or manufacture (an object, objects, product, etc.) with skill and careful attention to detail." As a noun, it has "an art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill, especially manual skill." It also notes "the members of a trade or profession collectively; a guild."

Well, you'd better be paying careful attention to detail if you are working from a pattern and the skill you have to have is how to crochet. There is also the Crochet Guild of America. Tada! A guild.

So I don't think there is any doubt that crochet is a craft. But is it art?

You'll note that in the definition above, it says "an ART..." etc. But let's not just take a word out of definition and call it done. *smile*

What is art? Let's go again to Wikipedia first. "Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression..." "Traditionally, the term art was used to refer to any skill or mastery."

When I first read that definition, I thought of freeform crochet where various crocheted pieces are joined together to make a unique piece of what I think of as art.

Art can be practical as well as aesthetically pleasing (or displeasing). This idea can be visually demonstrated through the various episodes of yarn bombing. Remember the knitted trees? Trees in their own glory are pretty neat to look at, each one being different and with its own unique properties. The colorful, yarn covered trees brought smiles to many faces. Happiness is an emotion in this case brought about by the use of our sense of sight. We see trees wrapped in beauty and we smile. Pretty sight = happy.

If we move to
Let's look at a few of the definitions given for art. I just pulled a few that seemed to fit the topic.
1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
2. the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art; an art collection.
3. a field, genre, or category of art: Dance is an art.

7. the principles or methods governing any craft or branch of learning: the art of baking; the art of selling.
8. the craft or trade using these principles or methods.
9. skill in conducting any human activity: a master at the art of conversation.

I was just saying the other day that even if I never make the items inside it, I love to have bunches of crochet books, particularly of afghans, just to look through it at all the beautiful pieces in it. They are aesthetically pleasing to me and I enjoy looking at them. Not just the crocheted afghans themselves, but the artistic layout of the photos in the publication.

I have seen many collections of crochet work. In fact, I actually was part of a crochet display at our local library (well, not ME, but my work). I also recently read about the display of crocheted coral. You can read about the hyperbolic crochet coral reef here. I have, in fact, a book called Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes on my lap right now. It is not "light" reading, but very interesting. I would consider the coral reefs to have artistic quality, so why not crocheted coral reefs? :-)

I often hear the term "the art of crochet" and also "fiber arts". That seems to indicate that there is no doubt in the minds of all those who matter (me!) that crochet is both craft and art. I think this is true of a lot of other crafts as well. The crafter makes a piece of art, each uniquely made, every time he fashions a product. Even if you make 100 butterflies - which I have done - each one is individually crafted and whether you mean it to be or not, each one will have minute differences.

I think most crafters strive for a certain uniqueness anyway. Though I have used the same pattern many times, each item I make uses different colors, different yarns, different hooks, different assembly methods. They end up not looking the same.

I have made several breast cancer ribbon afghans and those are close to the same. I have used different edgins on them though, so I guess not. :-)

There is value in the unique. One of a kind will get you more value than one of a hundred or one in a thousand.

But I digress.

All this to say that crochet is not either craft or art, but is rather both craft and art.

Happy crocheting!

Friday, April 15, 2011

another chevron

Here's another narrow ripple scarf worked with Vanna's Choice yarn. The blue is actually not as blue as it looks in the photo. It's more turquoise. It's called Sapphire. Very pretty color. The contrast is white.

The finished size of this one is 7" x 63". You might recall from yesterday's post that the Wool Ease scarf was 6" x 60".

This one was made exactly the same - with an I hook, a foundation chain of 22.

Here you can see both scarves side by side.

Never one to be satisfied, I'm not working on a version with a deeper ripple. :-) We'll see how I like that one. Not that I don't like these. These are fine, as was the wider ripple scarf. Just like to try different variations.

Happy crocheting!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Granny Square video

Here is a narrow ripple scarf. Finished size is 6" x 60". Yarn used was Wool Ease Fisherman as the main color and Avocado as the contrasting color. Beginning chain was 22 as the pattern is a multiple of 11. I had this scarf on the web site way back when. It was removed when I took my patterns off the web site and added it back when I put a few patterns on my charity page.

The original used a chain of 33 and was about 9" in width. This one was adjusted to be narrower. I'm thinking of adjusting it again to use a deeper ripple so the "V" portion sticks out more.

I'm presently making this same scarf with Vanna's Choice just to see the difference in yarn amounts. Then I still have the seaman scarf to work.

The past two days I didn't get a lot done because I made a video. Well, I DID get a lot done. I made a video. LOL It took all day to make the first three parts, edit them, upload them, and annotate them. Then I didn't like the way part 3 came out, the next day I redid it. That took most of the day because the Internet was just slow and I did other things in between. I'm pleased with the final effort though.

The videos feature the Granny Square, which is one of my most popular pages at Crochet Cabana and the thing I get the most questions about.

Here is part 1. You can find parts 2 and 3 at my YouTube channel.

Happy crocheting!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

dc striped scarf

This is the Double Crochet Striped Scarf worked in Avocado and Fisherman Wool-Ease yarn. Finished size is 7" x 62". The pattern is very simple. Ch 24, work every row in dc. The first 6 rows are avocado, then alternate two rows of fisherman with the avocado. The middle section goes to Row 95 then on Row 96 you start alternating again with the fisherman. Easy peasy.

The scarf took not quite a full skein of Avocado - I guestimated 5 ounces - and a small amount of fisherman. I did weigh the skeins on my postal scale after I was done. Not sure if that was accurate or not, but judging by that less about an ounce was used of the fisherman, perhaps less.

I had enough fisherman left to work a dc striped ripple scarf with plenty left over, using the remaining avocado for the stripes of the ripple scarf. More on that later.

Happy crocheting!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Victory Scarves

I finished the Victory Scarf made with the Vanna's Choice Scarlet yarn. Finished size is 8" x 63". The Wool Ease scarf was 7" x 60 1/2".

Both scarves were made using the exact same procedure. Same pattern (which you can find here).

Here's the info on the two yarns. Wool Ease is a thinner yarn which weighs less than Vanna's Choice, even though both are worsted weight #4 yarns. Wool Ease comes in a 3 ounce, 197 yard, 85g skein (for the solid color I was using). Vanna's Choice comes in a 3.5 ounce, 170 yard, 100g skein.

If you look at the gauge ...
Wool Ease - Crochet: 13.2 sc + 16 rows = 4" (10 cm) on size J-10 (6mm) hook
Vanna's Choice - Crochet: 12 sc + 15 rows = 4" (10 cm) on size J-10 (6 mm) hook

As you can see, you get more stitches with Wool Ease than Vanna's Choice. Of course, your project will be thinner, but it does have 80% wool so it has the properties of wool if you need that.

When I made these scarves, I had about 50 yards of the Wool Ease left and used the entire two skeins of Vanna's Choice plus a little from a third skein. So this same scarf took not quite 6 ounces of Wool Ease, but it took a bit over 7 ounces of Vanna's Choice. Good to know, eh?

Here are the two scarves, side by side.

I think both will warm a neck quite well!

Happy crocheting!