One Solution, New Years Resolution

I struggle making New Years resolutions, or sticking to any kind of structured regime, however, I’ve decided to be a little more proactive with the meaningfulness and usefulness of what I make, so expect feminist zines and a bit of crafted political fun among other things. I’ll also be a bit more regular with this blog……

So it’s the 1st of January and like all non-resolution resolutions, today’s got off to a cracking start. I’ve posted the first installment of my January project for my friends (I’ll post the whole project at the end of the month) and I’ve made my piece for The Craftivist Collective and Save The Children’s Race Against Hunger campaign.

The project is designed to highlight child poverty across the world by firstly creating a giant jigsaw made by crafters and campaigners across the world (that’s what the piece is for) and also to support individuals to lobby their own MP’s to make sure Cameron to stick to his promise for the UK to lead the fight to tackle world hunger.

Here comes the stats…

In a world where we know how to solve hunger we still have 2.3 million children across the world die because of hunger every year.

If world leaders invest in life saving interventions that work (like supporting small-scale farmers, teaching people about healthy eating etc) it could save 1 million lives each year.

And why you need to get involved now…

The UK and our Prime Minister David Cameron are hosting the G8 Summit in 2013 where world leaders meet to discuss international issues.

Cameron has already said that he will put hunger at the top of the agenda of world leaders – we just need to make sure he sticks to his word & commits to the UK giving more international aid (a tiny 0.7% of our GDP) and championing the small and brilliant projects across the word already tackling hunger so more projects like them can be created and sustained.

So the deadline for getting your piece done is Feb 28th, and check out some of the jigsaw pieces made by some of your fellow crafters & download our pattern and easy instructions here (http://imapiece.craftivist-collective.com). You can also sign the Save the Children petition here, and spread the word online through Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc using the hash tag #imapiece because everyone loves a hash tag.

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drinking straight gin makes you batshit crazy

So, all the good freehand fun I promised myself in the post below for the weekend didn’t happen. This is mainly because I received a text at 2am on Saturday night from Lou telling me she was going to come to mine on Sunday and make Cheese and Leek Pie. True to her drunken word that is exactly what happened, predictably followed by 3 bottles of wine, a trip to the Fort (bumping into and collecting a variety of strays) then some gin and a lock in at Chams.

Needless to say, today was a creative write off. However, last night Lou has decided we’re going to make a little feminist zine called ‘Wise Crack’ and I tried to harass Carly into helping start up an all girl playlist club night…..maybe do it monthly, like a period.

And as with all great hangovers comes great ideas, and so after a steady stroll and a bit of caffeine in town with Craig, I decided that it was well and truly time to sort out the ‘craft room’ (it’s basically a walk in wardrobe, this is not a Design Sponge post).

So this is what it looked like before……

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and this is what it looks like now (the big gap will eventually have an assembled knitting machine in there, however that’s a whole other adventure I need to have with people who know what they are doing)……

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What is quite worrying is a) just how much pastel coloured stuff I own and b) how many plastic knitting needles I have. Who needs that many?!? Seriously!

So, this activity was mostly powered by Bangers, John K Samson and lots of Japanese Green Tea and Toasted Rice Tea 

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It’s a bank holiday weekend, it’s Saturday night and I’m still hungover and feeling rubbish from Friday night. Excellent.

Today has been a creative write off (which seems to be a running occurrence if I’ve been working away during the week), but Monday is a plan free extra day! I’ve got a freshly serviced sewing machine, a fuck load of fabric and some neon thread……it’s going to be a freehand machine embroidery day *whoop whoop*

I need lots of practice before I’m even half as good as Gillian Bates, Rosie James or Marloes Duyker   

No idea what I’m going to make but I guess it’ll be band themed.

Here are some embroideries I made earlier……ImageImage

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The Shit Sandwich

The best thing about my job is the fact I get to work with some incredible, passionate and socially conscious individuals. Peoples politics are diverse and their methods for attaining their aims are just as diverse and varied, but at least everyone’s kind of aiming for the same thing. And through democratic structures and, more importantly, a respect for collectivism and the power that has, we’re slowly chipping away and starting to create the society we deserve. And when trade unions say ‘an attack on one is an attack on all’, well it’s true. We don’t operate in silos and every action you take means something, whether it’s creating something to make people think about the choices they make (like some of the wonderful work of the Craftivist Collective) boycotts, theatrical stunts against dodgy companies and their policies, mobilising for large scale strikes, it’s not just your own corner you’re defending.

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And I suppose it’s because of the stuff above that got me into punk rock when I was younger. Everyone singing along with the bands, picking up handmade merch, pay what you can on the door, recognising faces at shows, lyrics that weren’t vacuous, sexually oppressive and actually about things we cared about. When I first started regularly going to shows (after college) it was with a small, tight group of friends and we’d hang out and talk about changing the world.

So what I love about now living in a large city with an active but compact scene is being able to keep doing all those things I loved doing with that group of friends at uni. And probably quite naïvely on my part, I always assumed that if you were into punk rock and DIY, you were into collectivism and trying to create your own community. I don’t like every band I go and see, in fact some of them are really really shit, but I know that friends will be at the show, friends will be promoting the show and friends will be running the venues. Plus I like leaving my house. So when you put on an event and you find out that one local promoter popped their head round the door just to see how busy it was and that local bands who got in contact wanting to know if there was space on the bill didn’t even bother to turn up and be part of the crowd, well it’s really fucking crushing.

I don’t really need to reel off a list of things that are excellent about the Plymouth scene, there are many….and I’m not just talking about shows and bands, I’m talking about the newly formed Womens Activist Group, the door knockers trying to get the Tories out of our wards on May 3rd, the little pockets of activism and art around the city. And what’s really exciting is that there is a concerted effort to keep growing this collectivist ethic so it’s not just all about how we spend our drinking time. So when Give Up Your Day Job happens on May 3rd go and treat yourself to something nice and handmade, and when Muirs opens his record shop, pay a bit extra so we’ve got some choice on our high streets. 

The 21st century eventually got me

At  one of the last shows I went to I bought a couple of tapes from the array of 7″, 12″, zines and other assorted merch at the back of Voodoo Lounge. I still have a hi fi system with a double tape deck, it’s a beaut.  I still play tapes, I still have tapes people made me 10 years ago. So for Armagedd’on! Festival we have decided to have a travelling mix tape exchange where people can bring along their own mixes, put them into a box and take away something nifty made by someone else. I’ve made 3 little cd’s for the event and with the last of my blank tapes I thought I’d make someone a bit of old school pure post hardcore and straight up punk rock joy. Polar Bear Club and Hot Water Music  down, I go for the 3rd track ‘A Song to Ruin’ by Million Dead and the machine makes a noise, stops and now the deck won’t open. I think my 14 year old stereo has finally given up.

But like I said, I’ve made some mix cd’s  for the event, one through and through punk rock party, one putting the rad into radical feminists and the other, well it’s a bit of a crier, as you can see from the first 9 tracks……

“sad songs for dirty lovers”

  1. San Francisco Courthouse Steps – Sundials
  2. Out of Reach – The Get Up Kids
  3. Not Superstitious – Chuck Ragan
  4. Go West – Austin Lucas
  5. Boeing 737 – The Low Anthem
  6. Yesterdays Lunch – Lemuria
  7. Why Did We Ever Meet? – The Promise Ring
  8. Fast Blood – Frightened Rabbit
  9. Sweet Avenue – Jets to Brazil

You get the idea…..it’s a bit maudlin, but still with lots of guitars and sweet american 90′s vocals. I’ve written the number of the Samaritans inside the sleeve for whoever ends up with it, just in case.

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Not that I’m going to follow the formula of ‘craft project, shit book review, bands’ for this blog, but there’s a real good book I read recently on mix tapes called ‘Cassette From My Ex’  which compiles loads of  vignettes from musicians, artists, writers etc telling tales of certain mix tapes that have been given to them, followed by the playlist. It’s a real treat.

I’m moving rooms in my shared house at the weekend, which means that I will probably need to alphabetise this soon……..excited!

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So I’ve just tried my tape deck again and it seems to be working, so perhaps I don’t have to enter the musical 21st century just yet.

Lists, good books in an argument and rad women

Right, well the intention for this blog was to use it as a bit of encouragement to actually finish my craft projects so they don’t just sit in a box/my cellar/under my bed……but as I set it up weeks ago and this is my first post, I’m pretty sure I will be my usual undisciplined self about the whole process.

Over the last couple of years due to spending so much time on trains for work, the nature of my craft activities have changed a lot. I’m doing way less knitting now (mainly as there is not enough elbow room, lets not even talk about leg room, on most trains) but a lot more smaller hand embroideries, which are much more portable but means I’ve got to be a lot more creative in terms of coming up with a design/colour scheme as opposed to just following a pattern…..which is annoying.

I’ve also started reading again, which is nice, as my degree pretty much put me off, so obviously that’s now eating into my craft time, however the last book I read was incredible. It’s called ‘Making is Connecting‘ by David Gauntlett and it’s all about craft, DIY ethics and the positive outcomes for both self and community craft brings. Annoyingly I could really have done with reading this book a few months ago before a really frustrating conversation with my ex about ‘why do people bother making stuff especially if it looks shit anyway’, as it much more eloquently expressed my retort of ‘because capitalism sucks and the actual process of making something is fun and better than sitting on your arse watching TV’. Turns out he never kept the stuff I made him anyway.

So, craft! Next to my bed there are 2 distinguishable piles of stuff, one is books/magazines (craft, feminism, Alan Partridge) and the other is a variety of craft projects. I am going to list the projects so I can mentally tick them off and give myself high fives when I eventually get round to finishing them and uploading here….

  • Sad hankies (hand embroidered with miserable lyrics to give to miserable friends)
  • Crepe paper flame bunting (for Armagedd’on Festival)
  • Mountain Range embroidery
  • 1 of 4 baby booties for 2 not so newborn babies
  • Orange and purple wool to turn into a very garish knitted blanket
  • 113 rectangles to make my first ever patchwork quilt
  • 1 almost finished pair of knitted socks for Mel

As this is supposed to be a craft blog, I should probably upload some craft……so this is my hand embroidery of the shipping channels around the UK because a) important information should look good and b) the shipping forecast gives me warm feeling of nostalgia.

 

This post was written while listening to a mix cd I’ve made for Armagedd’on Festival -a 2 day punk rock/DIY event in Plymouth at the end of March. The mix is full of female bands/artists including The Donnas, Kath Bloom, Lemuria, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and others and it’s pretty kick ass. Whoever ends up with the mix is a lucky lucky individual.