This post is half book review and half ‘ooh, I got to play dress up with the trunk show!’. Gale Zucker, who I regularly sit & stitch with on Tuesday nights, is the photographer for Craft Activism. So, when she had a book signing at Knit New Haven (my LYS), it was super-awesome. Which was fitting, because the book is, too!
Craft Activism by Joan Tapper and Gale Zucker is one of those fabulous rare-breed of craft book that you actually want to read cover-to-cover. It’s a tour of crafty folks who use their crafting skills to raise awareness of an issue, spread a message to their community, or in some cases, as a vehicle to create a community itself (yup, Ravelry gets a shout out!).
This book really satisfies my crafting-ADD: the crafters and projects cover quilting, embroidery, sewing, knitting, crocheting, and even tin-can cutting! The beautifully written stories of these awesome artists make the book worth buying… but, the part that makes me (the one who will attempt anything crafty) completely giddy is the projects! Each awesome artist-feature is accompanied by a project that reflects the spirit of the artist’s work. For example, the book showcases Ruth Marshall, who knits biologically accurate pelts of endangered animals. The pelts are time-intensive and a true labor of love… but the book provides a pattern for an ocelot-inspired knitted scarf… now that’s a project you and I can tackle!
What project am I dying to start next?
At the book signing, I tried on the Sun-Tea dress, which I had seen in the book, and already had in my mental queue:
The second I tried the dress on, I knew I had to make one!
It’s cute, flattering… and as a novice sewer, actually doesn’t look too hard to make! Since it’s sewn with old t-shirts (which don’t frey when cut), the seaming is much easier than with regular fabric. And want to know my favorite part? If you pick a t-shirt with a pocket, you’ll get… a pocket in your dress! Awesomeness!
What’s my favorite cause?
I absolutely love the Red Scarf Project! It’s a small component of a group that sends care packages to foster children who have aged out of the system and who are in college… and otherwise have no family to lend support.
As part of the Red Scarf Project, knitters and crocheters from all around the country make red scarfs. Then, on Valentine’s Day, each former foster kid in the program receives a hand-made scarf in their care package with a note! How awesome is that? Can you imagine how incredible it must feel as a college student with no family to receive a handmade scarf… and knowing that someone is thinking of you? Incredible! That’s why it’s my favorite cause!
What’s the most ambitious project in the book?
I nearly fainted over the artwork by Lisa Anne Auerbach, who creates knitted sweaters with witty and politically-fueled messages… incredible statement pieces in wool! Inspired by her work, the book contains a project for a cardigan that promotes the ‘Share the Road’ message frequently touted by urban bikers:
(Yup, that’s me trying the real thing on!) As an urban biker, myself… I’m in love! But, I’m not going to fib- there’s some serious colorwork going on!
Who needs to run out and buy this book?
Well, obviously, it was me!
Seriously, though, this book would make a great gift for any crafter who’s mindful of social issues and the impact of craft in the world at large. The projects in the book range from simple to pretty intricate (like the cardigan, above).
While this book contains well-written patterns, it’s not a ‘how to book’… so don’t expect to learn how to knit or crochet or quilt. But, if you have remedial knowledge of the crafts, you’ll be able to pick up and get started on a great project!
If I hadn’t already bought it, I’d be putting it on my Christmas list!