Act 16

April 29, 2008

The Real Open Source Boob Project

There has been a lot of discussion in the feminist blogosphere about an incident at an SF convention that the instigator has called ‘The Open Source Boob Project’ (link to the original live journal post).

While I totally understand that many of the participants had a profound and positive experience–I really do, realization of freedom of sexual expression can be euphoric, I understand that, and I am all for the autonomy of consenting adults, and I have to admit I am totally fascinated by the way that what was essentially a love in at a party has become so huge thanks to the weird private/public liminal space that is the internet–there are several things about The Ferret’s ‘experiment’ report that make me bristle.

Many of them are covered here in an excellent analysis from Jeff Pack at Bookworm, particularly the lechery and victim blaming attitude displayed by specifically targeting women/girls who were “obviously putting [their] assets on display”, and there is a great round-up by lauredhel over at Hoyden. In general it appears to me that, while it was a good experience for some, it shows an enormous lack of understanding of the wider culture and conditions most people with breasts (in western type cultures) live in on a daily basis.

However, aside from the lechery and the inherent sexism and the cluelessness, there is something else that has been bothering me–the name of the endeavor. As someone who is rather passionate about open source culture the misappropriation of the term is annoying me a lot. My thought process went something like this: Open source boob project? Hardly. Now if they were handing out instructions on how to make your own boobs then maybe…

And thus I give you The Real Open Source Boob Project. Free (as in speech) crochet boobie instructions under the cut. (dial-up warning–image heavy)


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Act 15

April 24, 2008

Your Granny’s Art—An Adaptable Wrap/Shrug/Cowl/Pixie Hat

This is something I came up with last week as I was re-learning how to knit for Act 14. I was really just making it up as I went along, but I thought the result was pretty cool so I have put it up here, with instructions for those of you who share my love of flexible, adaptable, body friendly clothing.

wrap instructions 12

More images and instructions under the cut

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Act 14

April 8, 2008

One Row Purl, One Row Plain–The Personal as Political, Art as Craft–Secret Message Scarf Pattern

This weeks offering on the alter of art is an interactive blog based knit art project. This week I wanted to do a project that made specific use of the blog format in the creation of art, and I was inspired by recent discussions amongst my friends to revisit the idea of differing value perceptions for craft and art. My definition of art goes something like: art is a creative piece of work that is intending to explore an idea or to convey a message, I guess the key to what makes something art for me is that it is idea driven (but of course this is not always the case, but such is the contrary nature of art). The big mistake that I think is made when discounting craft as being different/less valuable than ‘hand of the master’ art, is that we appear to assume that just because it is not overtly idea driven (by a singular focused idea), that it is not exploring ideas or conveying messages. And doubly if the ideas that a piece is communicating are of a domestic rather than a more outwardly focussed nature.

Another way that craft is devalued is in dismissal of the value of replication. The nature of craft is to be replicated. There was a very good editorial–titled ‘copy this’ downloadable as a pdf from here–about replication and craft in issue 2 of craft magazine. But to dismiss craft because of this is not only to be only looking at its value in simplistic monetary terms, it is to misunderstand how extremely valuable replication itself is.

And of course it is also hard to ignore the fact that craft is primarily seen as women’s work.

I think that these reasons make the denigration of craft a feminist issue. Both for the fact that it is a dismissal of women’s skills and ideas, and because it highlights a different, but no less intellectual, way of thinking about and approaching the world. A way that is not exclusive to, but more common amongst women.

My playful contribution to this debate is One Row Purl, One Row Plain. A blog where I will upload 10 rows of a pattern for a scarf with a secret feminist craft message to be worn by anyone who would like to take part in the project and knit along.

As my skills are basic beginner level it is a very easy pattern, and I have linked to instruction videos for the techniques used, so anyone with a pair of needles and some spare wool can have a go.