Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Interview with Miriam of Crafter By Night

I really admire people who maintain vast resources on their web sites. The Craft Calendar is really an homage to people like Miriam of Crafter By Night because these resources take time and are no easy thing to maintain. I would eventually like to make Craft Arsenal a better resource, but then I though why bother when Crafter by Night is such a GOLDMINE of indie shops and craft charities. By day Miriam works for the People's Community Clinic in Austin, TX (posted a couple of weeks ago), which works to provide individual and families with high quality medical services at a reasonable cost. Not too shabby huh? I got a chance to interview this keen lady and talk about her perspective on the intersection of indie, craft and charity.

I guess I should start by addressing the fact that I posted about a benefit for an organization you work for AND contacted you for an interview about five minutes later, without knowing that you worked there. It makes the world feel like such a small place, but then the craft community is kind of like that.

It was fun to see my workplace referenced when I went to look at your blogs. The world in general is a small place - 6 degrees of separation! Cause for Drinks was pretty successful, too, by the way.

Tell me about yourself...your crafts, your blog.

I've been a crafter forever … I enjoy figuring new things out, and I enjoy the process. Most of the time I like the end result, too. It's been fun watching more and more of what I make take over my house. But mostly, when I find something to do that I enjoy, something that really captivates me, I can get lost in the feeling of creating, and I love that feeling.

I blog for a lot of reasons. Mostly I'm something of a computer nerd and I love writing. I write about crafting because it just makes sense … it's what I do. The idea of "craft" is a big part of my life in many ways, aside from the obvious – the crafts I make. But it's also the idea of learning a craft, of honing a skill. Craft as artistic expression. A craft as someone's professional pursuit. Also randomly, the Arts & Crafts movement, which I love.

You write about and work for charities. Can you tell me a little about your causes, professional and personal?

Yes indeed … my professional "cause" is the People's Community Clinic, where I work in development – fundraising, public affairs, etc. The Clinic provides healthcare to people in central Texas without health insurance. It's really an amazing place to work. I'm impressed every day with the dedication and compassion of the people I work with. Our patients get better care than many people who have insurance. It's definitely work I'm proud of, and committed to.

Despite that, thinking of myself as a "cause" person is funny – I don't think of it that way. I do this work because in my life, what I do has to have some kind of meaning. I am not a person who can work only for a paycheck. Leaves me feeling empty, burned out and depressed. Maybe it's my background? My family has a number of social workers and teachers in it.

I choose the nonprofits I work for carefully - not all are great. I find that working at places that are really making a difference in the world spreads the enthusiasm for that kind of work to all areas of my life – my blog posts, for example. Being around passionate people is incredibly inspiring, and it lets me hold onto the idealism and passion that, I think, too many people lose. The people at the Clinic believe they can help relieve suffering and care for people in their community. Being in an environment like that makes me believe that anything is possible, and that cynicism is just giving up, accepting the way things are, accepting your own limitations and your own lack of ability to make a difference. What fun is that?

What's the best thing about what you do? And the worst?

Making myself be creative at work and at home, every day, all day – that's the best AND worst. Sometimes I just want to be a vegetable. Sometimes I get burned out. Sometimes it's too much work. But I think I'd go nuts without so many outlets for creativity, probably start making trouble! I like being busy and having so much stuff in my life that means something to me.

I love your Index of Indie! Suuuuch a good resource. You write on that, "Indie means lots of things, but mostly it means being out there on your own, doing it yourself, being creative, doing what you love, and if you're lucky, doing it for a living."

Supporting indie crafters/artists/designers/etc and supporting charity causes seems to go hand in hand. Certainly people have been knitting socks for the troops for quite some time, but lately there seems to be a proliferation of these craft for charity opportunities. How does Indie figure into all of this?

Let me see, indie and charity is not the same thing, obviously. How do they go together? First, I think lots of crafters like to support charity … don't know why! But it's true. Look at the Crafters for Critters website, for example, or Etsy for Animals …

For me, they go together because my interest in charity work and my admiration of independent artists both stem from an unwillingness to accept the status quo, and the belief that anything is possible. Independent artists, crafters and designers are following their dreams, they're doing the impossible thing. They're out there on their own being one woman/man creating, producing, selling, managing machines. It's impressive to even do it, much less succeed at it.

So, that's what the Index of Indie is about – supporting the artists. The Index was a natural sort of development as I got into being a consumer of handmade creations. I plan to keep working on it, making it better. I originally put it together because I had a hard time keeping track of stores and resources …

Really, "indie" anything can be overwhelmingly confusing and intimidating, whether that's indie art, crafts, music, film. With independent artisans, all the sales venues are decentralized, there aren't huge marketing budgets to appeal to consumers, and there are a huge number of artists and makers involved. To the casual observer, getting into buying indie is overwhelming. Maybe I can provide a resource to help wade through it all, maybe help encourage people to purchase from independent artists and designers. That's the idea anyway.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Swap-O-Rama-Rama...with a twist

I'm completely wiped from an awesome birthday weekend at the Madonna Inn (Thanks baby!), so forgive me if I sound a little sad. I've been rummaging through my emails, and while this sounds fun, it reminded me that the craft world maintains such a tightly knit community online, but geographically, it's almost impossible to participate in most of the opportunities I find. And I guess I am still a little high from last week's Los Angeles Craft Mafia meeting which only awakened my appetite for in person meetups without bedding it down. Sigh.

Anyway, may this opportunity brighten your day...from Kim Schenck:

Hi all!
I am planning on putting on a Swap-o-rama-rama (SORR) with a twist. The SORR will actually be one of many activities planned at week long camps for youth who are in foster care. The youth participate in lots of activities at camp with the ultimate goal of developing leadership skills, creativity, independent living skills, teambuilding, etc. I thought a SORR would be a great way to teach youth about sustainability, diy movement, etc.

We are a local non-profit in Austin who has been providing youth development/leadership events for youth in foster care for over 20 years. I'd ultimately like to get several local designer/artists/seamstresses involved – hence this email. This wouldn't be a traditional swap-o-rama-rama, but a shorter version. We're also focusing on re-designing/restructuring *only* t-shirts. They can choose to make them into whatever they'd like – bags, hats, shirts, skirts, whatever. The evening will culminate in a fashion show.

Each youth 16-18 years old from around the state attend camp with a counselor or caseworker. We typically have around 75 total participants at each camp – 50 youth and 25 adult sponsors. Dates for camps are March 12-15 and March 16-19 with the SORR scheduled from 6:30-9:30pm on Thursday, *March 13th* and Monday, *March 17th* in Wimberley (about 25 miles southwest of Austin) where the camp is located. If you are interested in participating,
*please* reply to this email. We are able to compensate folks for their help – around *$100* for each camp. We'd love to have you!

I'm also looking for anyone with expertise in airbrush painting and/or screen printing.

For more info, contact, Kim Schenck ( LMSW ofTexas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) and visit the site,

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My good friend Renee of Wolfie and the Sneak is looking for donations of handmade goods for her Bleeding Hearts Benefit:

Recently I was reading about the impact oil drilling will have on Alaska, should the US pass legislation to begin leasing drilling rights in the Chuckchi Sea . Environmentalism is a cause I feel very strongly about, and couldn't sit back without doing something to help out. Especially with Valentine's Day coming up, I believe there is no better time to show the world a bit of positivity through loving actions.

If you, too, feel this is an issue close to your heart, I will be hosting a benefit sale, for one day only on February 1, 2008. Items should be handmade (arts or crafts) and will be mailed directly from the maker to the buyer, shipping costs will be reimbursed. I will be accepting donations through January 26, 2008, of any value you are generous enough to give. 100% of proceeds will benefit the Sierra Club.

If interested, and want further details, please email renee at nobiting [at]

Also, please spread the word!

No matter what your beliefs, I hope you will feel compelled to use your talents for changes you believe in!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Not So Crafty Charities: FreeRice

I spent a lot of this morning beefing up on my vocab playing FreeRice. A sister site of, FreeRice aims to provide free access to English vocabulary, and to provide free rice to hungry people world wide by donating 20 grains of rice for each correct word you chose on their quiz. I like vocab and I like causes to end world hunger, so this site is the good way for me to wait on hold and as writer in real life, this can be a VERY helpful way to stir up the word juices in my word maker, when that, uh, stops working.

But to be honest, I don't know how much good it could be doing. Neither FreeRice or are listed on or (disclosure: neither are the Wild Animal Park or CREF, which I vouch for). Some of the words seem awfully tough for a site that donates 20 grains of rice for each correct word in the quiz, however much that is, and I am not sure that lording your high scores over your friends is in keeping with the charitable spirit.

But that's really for you to decide. I don't think FreeRice is any where near being a solution, but it doesn't bill itself a one. If I have filled you with suspicion about the site, think of all the warm fuzzies you'll get from feeling smart, charitable and more verbose than your friends and check it out for yourself.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Craft Jobs

Aside from going nuts on the craft event calendar, I am compiling some crafty jobs over on Marimello, because, well sometimes giving time/energy/fluffy pink bunnies just doesn't fit into the budget.

Here's one I posted today for One Good Bumblebee:

Craft Job Post: Assistant--One Good Bumblebee

**INTERNSHIP (or part-time assistant)**
Location: Dallas, TX
When: ASAP!
Pay: negotiable / to be determined

Job Description:
I’m looking for a super creative, friendly, enthusiastic, crafty type of intern who loves to create but also wants to know more about the business side of being an artist or designer. All work is done at my home in my studio/office located just south of Lakewood / Highland Park in Dallas, TX. Your job would be to assist me in production of products, managing sales and stock, and other various tasks including the creation of new products, customer services, etc. I imagine I will need you for at least 4 days a week from 9am to 4pm or whatever works best for you. My schedule is very flexible so exact times are negotiable.

Specific Responsibilities and Tasks:
- Preparing & completing products: cutting, gluing, trimming, labeling, printing, stuffing, packaging, lots of measuring.
- Shipping and receiving: packaging orders / unloading received packages.
- Keeping track of stock of both materials and finished products.
- Placing orders to re-stock sold out items: calling, emailing, & faxing vendors.
- Communicating with clients and customers via email. Lots of email!
- Running errands (coffee break!) - You must have access to a car, please!
- Helping me with day-to-day decisions, problem solving, creative ideas in terms of invention and design, as well as choosing new products to carry (the really fun part!)
- Organizing the studio, keeping everything tidy and manageable.
- Adding new products to the website: web skills including HTML and blogging are a plus.
- Taking product pictures for both website and print catalog - photography skills are a huge plus.

Most importantly you should be interested and skilled in craft, art and design. A good sense of aesthetics and design are a must! The ideal intern would be honest, dependable, drama-free, friendly, focused, eager, meticulous, enthusiastic, organized, detail oriented, neat, and tidy. Photoshop skills are a plus.

Application Instructions:
If you are interested in working as an intern at One Good Bumblebee, please contact me at mail@onegoodbumblebee and include a little bio about yourself and tell me why you want to intern at One Good Bumblebee. I will get back to you and we can set up an interview and we’ll go from there! I hope to hear from you soon. :)

If you have any questions, please contact me at

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cat Mazza Interview

There is GREAT interview with Cat Mazza of microRevolt up on We Make Money Not Art. Go read it and catch up on sweat shops, micro revolt, and her various projects: the Nike Blanket Petition, Stitch for Senate, Hackers and Haute Couture Heretics, and general crafty activism.

Cat is big craftivism hero of mine mainly because she's better at keeping up with the things I wish I was better at keeping up with, ahem, politics. But projects like the Knitoscope Testimonies, are more within my realm of knowledge and completely floor me with neato-ness. Knitoscope make video look like sweaters by lowering the resolution, pixelating, and translating the pixels into stitches that look like knitting. It's kind of like microRevolt's knitPro, but cooler and all the testimonials up on the site right now are from activists against sweatshop labor.

Three Cheers for Charity

Hungry for good? Check out All Day Buffet. Part social network and part event planning, All Day Buffet bills itself as a social awareness brand for the cool kids. The idea behind All Day Buffet is simple, "Inspire Action. Change the world. Have Fun. Because doing good shouldn't feel like a chore." Being a bit of a hedon myself, but at the same time knowing not everyone is in the same position, I couldn't agree more with a cause like this.

Says the site, "Our purpose is to connect the things we like with the things that matter most. Our concept is open participation. Our network is a family of likeminded people around the world working towards the same ideals. Whether it’s drinking for a cause, curating an art project, or stripping for charity; we want to get you Full on Good."

If you're in the Austin area, why not toddle down to Ninety Proof and raise a glass or two to improve healthcare in Austin. $2 from every drink will support the People's Community Clinic. Who said that drinking only produces a hangover?

People's Community Clinic
Provides high quality medical, counseling and health education services at reasonable costs to individuals and families in the Austin area.

Ninety Proof
333 East 2nd Street
Austin, Texas
Don't worry, alldaybuffet will be back in full force on February 20 in major cities across the country. Stay tuned for details on our website.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Save the Date: Knit for the Cure

In my eyes (and in my hair), pink will never be over done. And it never will be, thanks to Breast Cancer Awareness.

Over the last three years Knit for the Cure has earned a LOT of support within the knitting and crochet community. This year, save the date,
March 15, 2008, and whip up something pink for the cause.

Founded in 2004, the Knit for the Cure™ Campaign recruits knitters & crocheters from all over the United States to make handmade scarves, hats, purses, pins, etc., all incorporating the color pink. To date, over 700 items have been collected. The hand-knit and crocheted items have been sold at Komen Foundation events raising over $17,000 to support breast cancer patients and to fund breast cancer research and treatment through the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Los Angeles County Affiliate. Twenty-five percent of the total funds raised is donated to Komen's National Office for research and the remaining 75% stays in the local community and is awarded as grants to treatment centers and hospitals.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

More Craftivism

Causes with crafty efforts behind them are near and dear, my dears. This weekend, put your needles together for the Sock-Monk-a-Thon, and make a monkey for a South African child:

Saturday January 12th is the Second annual Sock-monk-a-thon, a craft- for- a- cause event where you can learn to make a sock monkey and donate your firstborn to a small South African. All materials are provided- though donations of materials are always appreciated! Funky socks, stuffing, buttons and embroidery thread are all ingredients for monkey making. Join us from 1-4 pm for good crafting and great karma. For more info, please contact or check out

Visit the Facebook event.


Operation Sock Monkey is an initiative created to raise money, support and awareness for Clowns Without Borders South Africa, (CWBSA). CWBSA is an organization providing laughter, hope and healing to children in South African communities affected by HIV.

Handmade sock monkeys are sewn with love and sent on a trip to South Africa where they will find new homes in the arms of orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV /AIDS.

OSM needs help in the form of crafters and sponsors- the more monkeys made and sponsored, the more smiles will be sent across the miles. If you’d like to make a sock monkey to send, please contact for upcoming workshop details. If you’d like to sponsor and send a sock monkey, or for more information, go to

Image above is of therealgiganator's Craftster challenge winning monkey.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Football: over and out

That's right. I'm talking about football. I'm really going to miss knitting through a football game once the season is over. Knitting is to football, like chili is to mac'n'cheese. Last year, we heard about the DIY Network's Knitty Gritty Knit In to benefit Warm Up America with Vicki Howell which aired during the Super Bowl. (Technically, last year this time, we didn't have cable, so actually watching was out of the question.) But this year we won't have the chance. Here's the scoop from Vicki's blog:

I just got word that DIY nixed the Knitty Gritty marathon (aka the Knit In), 2008 in favor of a bathroom renovation they're calling, the Toilet Bowl. Soooo, I know I told a lot of people that the KG special would air on Superbowl Sunday but that's apparently no longer the case. I'll keep you posted on any new developments but in the meantime, if you're looking for more Knitty Gritty love and want to tell the network(s) about it, here's where you can send your comments:
DIY Network Viewer Comments
HGTV Viewer Comments

Toilet Bowl? That's inspired.

Another problem is that the Warm Up America project has concluded. [correction: NOT concluded. the only thing that concluded was the baby hat project.] In any case, there are obviously a lot more projects to donate your Super Bowl sit in projects to. The San Diego Wild Fire Blanket Project is still going strong as I mentioned yesterday and I am encouraging you all to send a square there. Since there are still a lot of play off games, why not knit a few up before then. Not into football? Just flick on the TV. You've probably already noticed, there are plenty of inane shows to put on in the background.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Witch Fire Project updates for 2008

It's about time we started setting some goals around here. Personal, ahem and for the Witch Fire Project. What with the holidays and everything, I've been a little lagging both in the shop and on this here blog, so while I am not a resolutions person, I am still going to tie a little string around my finger and promise to step things up this year. New projects which have been on the back burner will be shoved front and center.

First off the shop needs a little refresh. I will be posting new items in the next week. As I post them up I will be entering the gracious donor into the raffle and kicking that back into gear.

Next it's off to the writing cave, where I will be working on a short book about crafters and how crafting currently and historically is used to benefit communities in need. A lot of those ideas will be bounced of the lovely readers here and on Marimello, so keep your eyes peeled and let me know what you think.

I was perusing other similar projects over the break and was happy to see that San Diego Wild Fire Blankets has been doing really well. To date they've done 73 blankets and this year they're launching a whole new Web site to reach their goal of 1588. They've so far reached everyone in my home town, Poway.

Seeing the efforts of other projects always makes me happy, so this year I'd like to team up with some other similar efforts and see if we can't start a disaster awareness/preparation awareness type effort for crafters and the people who support them by buying handmade. If you're interested comment or email me marimellodesign [at] gmail

2008 looks like it's going to be a good year. The Witch Fire Project made news of it's own this morning when Naik Fur's Pom Poms were featured as an Etsy pick in the newsletter. If you didn't get it, that's ok. Go check them out right here.

So happy January! Keep spreading the good word.