Saturday, May 21, 2016

Drop-preventing a 2-strap bag

Have you ever grabbed a bag with two straps, thinking you had both straps – and the whole thing slipped out of your hand and dropped, because you actually had only both sides of one strap? 

Clearly, this isn’t as bad as a real problem, but it IS frustrating, because what happens is that the bag drops, and that’s what I DIDN’T want to have happen.  And I was going for two straps because I knew that if I grabbed only one strap, the bag would dump, also not desirable.

While I can’t fix this in bags other people make, I can prevent it in bags I make.

The thing to do is to cross the straps, like an X, so each strap attaches on opposite sides of the bag, like this:

That way, even if I grab only one strap, the bag won’t dump. 

Caution:  This isn’t a good solution for short straps.  Each strap needs to be long enough so it is out of the way when you’re going through your bag.  Short straps would just get in the way.

Companies that make bags wouldn’t design them this way because it looks weird – but it sure is useful.  

That’s the great thing about making the stuff I use:  I can add design elements that make sense in my life.  Even if I'm following someone else's pattern, I can modify it with my own ideas.  It's all good.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Crochet at the Santa Cruz Mini Maker Faire

At the Santa Cruz Mini Maker Faire recently, I had a booth to display my crochet and invite others to come play.  I also had a chance to see what fun stuff other makers demonstrated.

Just as at any other convention, I came away with insights.  Successful demonstrations at the Mini Maker Faire each had a succinct, targeted message, with an activity that required minimal audience engagement - something a child could grasp and do in a few minutes - to produce a tangible result or experience.

My booth and exhibit was a contrast to that model.  Crochet takes time to learn.  Most people can learn to chain stitch in a few minutes -- but their chain stitches are awkward and uneven.  Besides, there are machines to do that. You can chain stitch without a hook.  And what can you do with a chain stitch, anyway?

Crochet, like many traditional crafts, is impossible until the concept clicks in your mind and in your hands - then, it is suddenly intuitive, even easy.  You have to crochet badly before you can crochet well.  And crochet is complex at a basic level, with five basic stitches, so it hasn't been reduced to binary steps that can be mechanized.

Weaving and other crafts have come up with equipment that does most of the work, so the human engagement can be simplified and minimal.  Crochet hasn't done that.  My body is the crochet machine, using just the hook to channel my understanding through my hands to turn yarn into the fabric I want.

Lots of people attended.  Quite a few even stopped by my booth, learned to chain stitch or finger knit, or even ask questions about technique samples on display.  I, along with the other makers, planted a lot of seeds.  It was a good faire.