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.