Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Great Java Jacket Debacle

Crafting Liberally NYC has been around for several months now, with our merry band of crafty liberals taking over The Tank (in Tribeca) one Sunday a month. We have knitters, crocheters, scrapbookers, jewelry makers, quilters, needlepointers, generally creative people, and folks who just enjoy stopping by for the conversation.

The knitters are working on a group project of sorts, and we decided to try something new for folks who want to sew: making “java jackets,” or reusable cloth sleeves for paper coffee/tea cups. H/T to my friend Robyn for introducing us to the idea and sending the pattern! It LOOKED easy enough…..

I trekked over to my favorite quilting store and eagerly picked out supplies, including some nifty fabric of cartoonish New York City icons.

And then the fun began.

First, I’d had to reschedule our May meet-up from the 4th to the 11th- Mother’s Day. I knew that was risky, but hey, my kids and I had had an early brunch, so I was free! But sadly, turnout was lighter than usual (although I have high hopes for June). On the other hand, it meant that we had enough supplies (cutting mat, scissors, etc) for everyone to use easily.

But then I discovered that I hadn’t actually bought and paid for the nifty NYC fabric, which I’d assured everyone was perfect for this project. We only had a limited selection of muted, solid color fabric (that I’d bought to use as backing, actually). But we decided that we could use the blue, gray and black as our test run anyway, even though our finished jackets wouldn’t be likely to turn any heads as a fashion-forward must-have accessory.

Cutting the fabric (teaching folks how to use a rotary cutter and quilting ruler) was OK, but then, real disaster struck: I’d bought impossibly small needles! There was no way that even the folks with much younger eyes than mine could thread them, so I promised to bring some better ones for June, and we all turned to watching the SNL Hillary Clinton intro from the previous night (thanks to Matt having thoughtfully brought him laptop for us). Of course, now that we have the hang of it, finishing up our java jackets should be easy peasy….. I think!

Moral of the story? First, it’s great to be with a group of folks who can laugh about and forgive small sewing needles – that’s one of the reasons I helped start CL, actually. The Living Liberally community comprises some of the warmest, smartest, happiest, funniest, most committed people I know, and it’s great just to be able to regularly hang out with them, even when things don’t always go according to plan.

Second, I hope that other CLers will start to bring in their own project ideas; please!

And finally, I WILL remember to bring some new fabric and needles for June. I really don’t have any excuse not to pick them up: see, when I went to the quilting store, I also signed up for a quilting class that starts today! Can’t wait to show folks my progress---


UPDATE: Ah... now I remember how handy those needle threader gizmos are! See y'all in June!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Crafts & Camaraderie

No need to craft in the shadows! Bring your needlework, jewelry, scrapbooks and whatever else you're putting your hands to into the light, and join a circle of fellow left-leaners for craft and conversation.

In New York every month, and a tip to our sibling Knitting Liberally in Northampton, MA.

Email Claire Silberman at claire (at) silberman (at) gmail (dot) com to get more involved.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Outcrafting the Opposition

Justin Krebs, Living Liberally

Bill O'Reilly claims he has beaten back the dark forces that declared war on Christmas.  Despite his best efforts, he may be surprised to find what a pack of proven progressives are saying about "his" holiday.


Witness the gathering of Crafting Liberally that took place last Sunday in New York.  Far from the heathen celebration you might imagine among self-identified liberals getting in touch with their handiwork, these quilters, jewelers and assorted other crafters were looking forward to Christmas.  Lisa, teaching the art of folding an origami crane, even suggested using her creations as tree ornaments.

Is it any surprise that liberals enjoy the Christmas season?  Giving, sharing...changing course (Scrooge), finding one's heart (the Grinch) -- lessons Bush and Cheney would benefit from.

And after all, what neocon ever gave a damn for a Middle Eastern boy born to a poor unwed mother?


Liberals should never run from Christmas just because O'Reilly wants to claim it.  This season is too full of strong symbols to cede to the other side. 

But we don't need to out-argue him...we just need to out-craft him.

On this last night of Channukah, and in the full swing of the seasonal spirit, Happy Holidays.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Drinking Liberally Shot Of Truth: One Stitch at a Time

by Justin Krebs

Pick up your knitting needles and let's get political.

If that command sounds to you as though it suffers from multiple-personality disorder, than you might not want to check out Crafting Liberally, the newest project of Living Liberally, which debuts Sunday afternoon in New York City.

If, on the other hand, you want to get crafty with your comrades, stitch together some solid progressive narratives, and prove that liberals aren't afraid to work with their hands, then welcome to the club.


We could get all high-minded and make some claim that Crafting Liberally is an homage to Betsy Ross, but we're actually just taking a community-building phenomenon that's already happening around the country and crafting a political identity around it.  To cite just one well-known example, the Stich-n-Bitch network, which hosts groups around the world, is just one reminder that people want to be social.  People are already gathering as they work on ther quilts and their scrapbooks...because working together is better than working alone.

While we'll spare you the obvious clever lines about quilts and scrapbooks as metaphors for America, there is something truly progressive about these groups.  It's not just that company is nice (though it is) - you learn from your peers, share tips and resources and help reaffirm for each other that this activity is an important part of your life.

And if we believe that a progressive agenda will move forward when our politics are fully integrated into our lives, then we need to bring liberal conversations not just to blogs and bars...but to sewing circles as well.

This is the first gathering, organized by New York activist (and crafter!) Claire Silberman...but who knows how else it will grow?  We'd love to hear your ideas on what other crafts we want to be sure to include, what other activities we should infiltrate with liberal charm, and what you plan on making at the first CL meeting.

Now get out there and start promoting stitch at a time.