When I tell folks I "craft," I generally draw a vacant gaze or a quizzical cock of the head. Then, as I give some examples like knitting and crocheting, I see a misty-eyed look cloud their face as they remember grandma, knitting scarves on cold winter nights, or the delicious smells of her cooking as they cuddled in her crocheted afghan.
A quick Internet search of "craft" pops up the words skill and art - then something about a British rock band from the 1980s - and then a link to CRAFT magazine, a newer publication devoted to "the renaissance in the world of crafts."
Online craft sites range from the traditional like www.knitty.com (which shares free knitting patterns quarterly) to www.threadbangers.com, geared for a young DIY crowd with weekly webisodes guiding newbies with words like "rad" and "futuristic."
Then there is the craft blogosphere, almost too huge to touch on here, that links crafters worldwide via sites like www.whipup.net, whose tag is "handcraft in a hectic world."
On the local scene, a small sampling of traditional crafts includes embroidery, quilting, carving, and scrapbooking. Local contemporary crafters often take these traditional forms and add a new twist, such as wool-felted anemones and ceramic slices of toast. Both locally and nationally, much of this craft movement has been propelled by the green ideas of re-using and upcycling (giving something old and worn a new life), which is particularly poignant in Southeast, where everything must be shipped in when new and barged out when trashed.
Now is the time of year to dive into your local craft scene or to learn a new craft. Classes, retreats and fairs have crafts to learn and goods to buy as we prep for the holiday season. Check your local calendar (just a few pages away!) for local crafting events. Find crafting classes through local community schools and the University of Alaska Southeast.
Local crafting shops are great places to look for beginner and intermediate courses in everything from knitting, paper crafting, quilting and more (In Juneau, try Skeins, The Creating Place, Raintree Quilting and JoAnns).
Community studios can help lower costs of expensive machinery. In Juneau, the Canvas has just expanded with a new pottery studio and courses to accompany. Learn a new skill with some camaraderie (and no fees) by volunteering at a local theatre where every skill is needed, from sewing and painting to pinball machine making (depending on the show). And in every town the local library is an endless resource for learning new crafts.
Remember, when you pick up this winter's cozy cap (or make it yourself), be sure to make grandma proud by joining the new revolution - the revolution of craft.
Tanna Peters is a crafter and designer from wonderful, rainy Southeast Alaska. View her latest creations at suiteliving.blogspot.com and her shared crafting sitecraftaddicts.blogspot.com. Send local craft inquiries and info to firstname.lastname@example.org.