Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Craftsman, artisan, or hobbyist?

Hooray! The last knitting for money ended today! I feel a little like I'm selling my soul or something when I say it that way, but I'll have a couple of weeks now for my own knitting. I got a last minute order for another pair of mohair slippers and had to spin up two bobbins of mohair to make it work. I read accounts of people who spin as an art form and for the relaxation of it, but that's a pipe dream for me. It seems to me that I spin mostly out of necessity--in short, I need the yarn!

How wonderful to sit and enjoy the colors playing against each other and feel the texture of the fiber as it slips between my fingers. NOT! Lately, when I spin, it's because I have an order for yarn or a project that needs a certain fiber. When the yarn is for felting, I don't even bother to ply or finish the yarn. I just knit it straight off the bobbin and slog on. I'd like to be creative and all that, but business is business, even when it frustrates the creative spirit. My mother once told me that if necessity is the mother of invention, frustration must be the father of progress! Amen to that, sister!

It's wicked cold here. I slept in until 8:00 this morning and it was -3 degrees Fahrenheit when I got up. It only got up to a whopping high of 12 degrees at around 2:00 this afternoon. Wasn't it in the 70's only a few weeks ago when we were trying to sell sweaters and mittens at the show?

I was called crafty at the library a few days ago. I've been called that before and it sets my teeth just slightly on edge. Visions of lunch buckets made out of bleach bottles with crocheted drawstring tops and rugs made out of plastic grocery sacks float before my eyes and I feel a little nauseous. The lady at the library said that she was certainly NOT crafty, but described herself as intellectually creative. I smiled benignly and moved on.

I think I know what she was trying to say, but it made me think about what the term "crafty" really means. To me the word "crafty" conjures images of school children making log cabins out of pop sickle sticks and glue. I think back to making reindeer out of empty thread spools at Christmas time and turkeys out of pine cones and colored paper. Perhaps I need to think differently.

So I looked up the word "craft". My old dictionary from the 70's says that a craft is a "skill or ability in something, especially in handwork or the arts; proficiency; expertise. " I like that. A craftsman is "an artist as considered with regard to technique." I like that, too, but I like the word artisan better for some reason, although the definition is quite the same as all the others. It seems to speak of creating beauty and purpose at the same time, rather than favoring one over the other. It also seems to suggest something greater than a hobbyist mindset.

The biggest problem I have with the word "crafty" is that there's an awful lot of hard work that I have to do before I actually get to be creative. I don't think people realize that when they use a word like "crafty". Daily chores, cleaning pens, hauling hay, shearing, skirting and sorting fiber, running it all through the picker, carding, combing and a host of other tasks take up a lot of time and really make the word craft seem silly and meaningless. If you ask me, it's really more a lifestyle than a craft. It never ends. It's not a hobby and I don't just pop down to the local Hobby Lobby and pick up something to knit with.

OK, so I don't see myself as an artist and I sometimes think that people who elevate their activities to the level of art are a little stuffy and fussy. I don't want to be like that. I guess I just want others to realize that what we do is not just a flash in the pan or a pastime. We're serious about what we do. Maybe too serious. Maybe that's the problem I have with the word "crafty". I probably need to take my own advice, so liberally handed out to my children---"Get over yourself!"


Blossomcottage said...

I love to come to your Blog, there is always a beautiful photograph, talented work and interesting words.
From the word "Craft" we must also remember that it involves a great of "Hard Graft", but never forget that out there people do boring jobs that involve little or no talent because they don't have what you have got an ability to earn your "yarn" "Grafting" at a "Craft" they are VERY VERY good at. Keep, CREATING to earn you crust each day and tell us all about it.
Blossom x

Casdok said...

Its a shame you arnt able to spin as an art form and for the relaxation.
Love the socks!!

Elizabethd said...

Are those little booties? They look asa though they should be running around squeaking, little kitteny things!

Anonymous said...

Well there's one thing. Crafty or not, you are talented. I think to do what you do you will have to be very creative. I know I wouldn't even attempt it!

Crystal xx

Faith said...

I can't knit or sew for toffee, so tink you are very clever!

Kathleen said...

I prefer the term "artist". I can't honestly say that I can make a living with my fiber work,but it is much more than just a hobby to keep myself busy. Every piece that I create reflects some part of me. I consider it to be art, and each piece that does not reflect accurately some inner expression of myself is torn apart and remade as it is meant to be. It is a passion, not a hobby.

Cait O'Connor said...

What a lovely blog and it was so interesting reading about the word craft. I love the word artisan but I also like craft, the key thing is being creative ie artistic with the skill of your craft I guess. I am hopeless at anything with my hands I'm afraid and really admire you.
Have you been to the Bag of Olives, kathleen's blog, I think you will like it.
I wonder where the crafty/devious connection came from?

Kathleen said...

Woohoo! I'm looking at Abby's matching hat and mittens...they look warm and soft. And the hat-gloves-socks set...that's the hat that Bethy made, isn't it? They's beautiful!

Wooly Works said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
goddess in the groove said...

What beautiful pictures! The blue wool is fabulous!

You have been TAGGED :).
Go to http://goddessinthegroove.blogspot.com/2007/12/fridaysaturday-meme.html

Have fun! :)

goddess in the groove said...

oopsie ;).

Just click on Friday/Saturday Meme.


Fennie said...

This is the first time I've dropped in - and loved your blog. I'm not sure that I can relate to kitting, fibres, yarn - except as a customer or admirer but I love the laid back way in which you write - that sort of prairie wistfulness. Over my desk here there is a photo I took of the Albertan prairie one April with the last of the snow just lying in pockets and a dirt road stretching straight as far as the eye can see and a single house in that vast ocean. I love that flatland. Mountains get in the way of the landscape - or said Constable - and I think I know what he meant. Do hope Dash is recovering now. And I look forward to reading more blogs from Colarado.

Happy Christmas, Fenniexx

Kathleen said...

How is Dash? And how was Christmas?