Go on, Jenna…

The other night, my good friend r.r. summoned me outside Gather Here, one of my favorite stitch lounges owned by friend Virginia; it was to be a covert journey to a new space upstairs which Virginia was feverishly working in that night, while we were downstairs at her Thursday night pints and purls event we attend for just that–beer, knitting, nerdery, happiness, and maybe even, if we’re lucky, a pretty decadent interpretation of the Tracy Anderson Method (look it up, fools, if you were as unfamiliar as I was a few weeks back). Virginia is creating a genius little handmade empire and I swell with pride to think of it all.

And as we walked down the shadowy street toward the stairwell that would lead us to Virginia’s new Annex–artist in resident space, class space, and finally, a real office for the lady at the helm of it all–I broke down in tears as r.r. grabbed me in a rare embrace. I couldn’t decide if I was frustrated that I’d been swept away mid cable and the mess I was about to head back to annoyed me, or if I was just feeling generally overwhelmed like I always am this time of year. Either way, she comforted me, and we began laughing hysterically as V. greeted us, me with tear-stained cheeks, in utter confusion.

I don’t know if its a nip in the air, fall finally being right up on us, the pure mania that comes with starting the school year and all it entails, or any bunch of other things, but I’ve got clarity, now on one thing:

As we admired V.’s new space and reveled in the excitement of how brilliantly she’s delivered such a transformative, inspiring place for art, creation, experimentation, a little council of ladies emerged on what we do, how we do it, and most importantly, how and whether we’re even sharing it.

I used to travel the scope of the internet picking up inspiration from millions of blogs just like mine. I admired, drooled, and immediately bookmarked things I wanted to do. I followed creators all over the globe willing to share and I looked forward to the daily little handmade moments in their life–dinner, a finished baby sweater for a close friend newly with child, and for instance, a cheeky way to organize your spice drawer.  I felt a part of their lives, even when I wasn’t, and it inspired me to share the things I made, the ideas I had, the photos I snapped.

And amidst the stress of designing and building a brand new space, V. told us about late night visits to our blogs–she read and read old posts, she found the original expression of r.r.’s first crush with Gather Here, and she craved more. But what had happened? Both r.r. and I have pretty much abandoned these spaces for more attractive and quick expressions of our work–instagram, that ever enticing way to quickly create, reigned supreme.

But as the weight of all that stress was let out of that ever-tightening balloon amidst ladies with power drills, bolts of fabric, and the anticipation of creative greatness, we made a pact: create, but really share that creation, with each other. Because as I find myself still making, the real desire to keep pushing on feels watered down, washed out. If I’m not sharing and looking at what others are sharing, I feel alone on a little island, and with that, I feel less impressed with my handmade endeavors.

And its not about showing off your work and hoping for “oohs” and “ahhs”. Its the photographing of the process, the writing about the ups and downs, and the contribution to the collective ethos of handmade nation.

So, I pledged that evening to create more again. To push myself like I used to. To spend more time working on my craft and being proud that in this ever-tempting “pick one of our filters” world, I will use my own lens, my own unique filters, and I will again document it here.

Here’s to you r.r. and V. May you continue to inspire me with your gorgeous work when I’m old (because we already know I’m gray).

relief for japan.

The tsunami in Japan is devastating. And like my participation in Hearts for Haiti, I want to help again. Besides making relief donations of my own accord, how about you do so, and get a unique gift from me?

I have created an etsy listing; purchase this flat-fee surprise package and I will email you and ask you a series of questions related to your likes and dislikes. From there, I will use my creating skills to make you something with my own hands. It might be knitted, it might be sewed, it might be something else, but trust me, it will be something you want!

Please help. If you don’t want to buy through my shop, please email me at wolf.jenna AT gmail.com to get in on the action anyways.

buy handmade nation, 9.14

I pretty much buy exclusively on etsy now; not only do I adore supporting my fellow handmakers, but there’s something so incredible about not only purchasing something you wanted badly (and can’t find in regular shops) but also receiving a hand written note and discount card from the proprietor herself!

This one comes courtesy Janny’s Girl, where I purchased a gorgeous pumpkin ruffle scarf.

Do-It-Yourself: Just Read This.

The New York Times has a really excellent piece on “The Ambassador of Homemade”, Faythe Levine, who has come to represent the epitome of handmade crafting in America.

Levine, who has her own crafting shop and gallery, is widely considered the “expert” on the phenomena that is reimergence of handmade goods here in the states and has been quoted in scholarly material up and down the river, plus, she’s the prime documentarian of D.I.Y. Nation. Drools!

The article discusses her beginnings–a felted owl and some sock monkeys–and how, at just aged 30, she’s come to represent all things Handmade Nation.

If you’re into crafting, or just New York Times profiles, this is surely a read for you.

Levine has recently completed a documentary on the crafting culture, Handmade Nation, which you can check into here, and a companion blog that goes with the film. She’s also got a really cool personal blog “I Was Born in 1977”, which I highly recommend.

And as if she couldn’t get any cooler, Faythe’s also in a band, Wooden Robot, and plays the musical saw. Golf, freaking, claps.