The Crochet Liberation Front’s Annual Flamies Crochet Awards are coming live to Georgetown, TX April 18th, with classes from Crochet Liberation Front founder, Laurie Wheeler and designer Karen Whooley in the Austin area all weekend. This is part of what’s been keeping me busy lately! I’m really excited! Some of you are probably going to wonder what all this is about, so I’ll try to explain and tell a bit of the story. Go to http://CrochetLiberationFront.com to register for the event though!
What on earth did Julia get involved with?
Well, here’s the back story - as told by me!
If you’re here, then you already know I’m a crochet designer/artist. My main work is in the arena of One of a Kinds (OOAK). And though each year I tend to make mainly what I’m asked to (more hats than anything else), I don’t really align myself with any one specific crochet medium either. Clothing, throws, jewelry, miniature, free-form or tapestry crochet (not to mention my fascination for spider webs and love of hook carving) – whatever catches my whim is what I work on.
I have one main rule, that crochet is a love for me and it’s gotta stay fun, because honestly, that’s where the creativity comes in. If my heart and passion isn’t in it, then frankly, it won’t be nearly as good and I don’t want to burn out on something that I find largely meditative and expressive. It’s one of the few escapes I can take with me just about anywhere. So no – I don’t really want to lose that. The fact that my crochet creations ever turned into something people were interested in buying was a complete surprise to me and as far as I’m concerned it’s a bonus. Like any art, you have to do it for love, in spite of everything else. I crochet whether anyone buys it or whether I donate it for cancer or not, and so if someone loves what I make enough to buy it, kudos to me for being able to justify my obsessions. I say we all have a “madness” or two of some sort, and crochet just happens to be one of mine. All that being said, no where in all my talk about loving the creative process am I supporting under-valuing one’s work, time or expertise. Better believe I charge for my skill and time. I’ll save more about this sad occurrence of under-valuation for a future blog post.
“What is the Crochet Liberation Front – some sort of hook wielding terrorist organization?”
I hear such comments from time to time when I mention The Crochet Liberation Front. And I just chuckle, because it’s nothing of the sort and all in fun.
There was a time it would never have occurred to me to look for crocheters online. Largely because I’m not a joiner by nature. Oh I’m social, but just not into memberships and clubs much. I spent a lot of time at shows lecturing and demoing about crochet and expanding the horizons of the masses when it came to the possibilities of crochet. Some of you met me that way. Maker Faire Austin was my absolute favorite experience, setting up a nook for kids and adults to just hang out to learn and crochet or finger knit with each other. I was there both years it came to Austin and really missed it when it couldn’t come back. That perfectly suited my personality, being absorbed by the simple joy of making. No labels, no judgments, no “right” way. (I’m really not into drama and politics. As far as I’m concerned it gets in the way of true creative joy.)
However, three years ago I found a group that worked for my individualistic personality. I became a member of the Crochet Liberation Front (CLF) about six months after it began, helping to promote and preserve the last fiber art left that cannot be replicated by machine. They shared the same passion for innovation and preservation I already had and I found friendly camaraderie without expectation or labels. I had spent a lot of time feeling like a lonely voice when it came to education and pushing the boundaries of expectations in crochet. It was amazing to find others “like me.” How could I not?
At its heart and intention, the CLF is a bunch of crocheters who just want to have fun, complete with a sense of humor to go along with it. We do however seek to broaden the horizons in our industry, and promote the beauty and innovation present everywhere in crochet. Many of us have felt general dissatisfaction with attitudes, industry dynamics, treatment of crochet designers and patterns available, especially in the US. I’m not super in touch with the common industry at large because it usually fails to supply much of anything innovative, technical or unusual enough for my tastes. Not to mention the fact that I do not use patterns. And besides, after all, I AM Aberrant Crochet and it wouldn’t be much in keeping with my personality to be keeping step with the Jones. That makes me a little different, because personally, if everyone else is doing it, I’m much less interested. Even if I started it. Seriously, if the world starts obsessing over crochet spider webs, I will be the first to lose interest.
However, all that being said, even I have noticed what seems to me an odd perception that crochet is only beautiful if it’s from somewhere else, like Russia. As if the only thing that exists in the US are granny squares, shawls and doilies. Don’t get me wrong, I have a very healthy respect for the history of crochet and its development. And granny squares, etc. can be awesome. However there is so much more to our fiber art. And I know I don’t appreciate being pigeon-holed as to what my art is supposed to look like. If you’ve seen photos of my work, you can totally get where I’m coming from. I’m pretty proud of the fact that customers at shows so often marvel at my creations and the fact that they never thought crochet “could look or feel that way.” Education at its finest!
Die-hard crocheters seek to preserve this art and promote its continued genius and development. Crochet is the very last fiber art left that cannot be replicated by machine. At all. Not one iota (yet). I kid you not. Google “crochet machine” and you will find machines made in China that knit a chain, but they use the term “crochet” interchangeably. However, crochet is purely and always created by a hand and a hook. No machines. There is always a cap on just how much one pair of hands can create at any one time. Even that mass produced crochet you see at the store? All of it was created with a human hand and a hook, and all too often by children. (I’ll save the subject of repetitive motion injuries in children for yet another blog post.) You can see a bit of where our passion for our craft comes from.
OK, what’s the deal about the “Flamies?” How does that fit in with crochet? Did it simply catch fire?
“The Flamies” are a grass-roots (I almost typed a grass-fire!) style annual crochet awards that we started some three years ago, and their popularity has grown by leaps and bounds. The CLF itself was started somewhat as a joke by Laurie Wheeler (we call her Fearless Leader), looking to provide a fun home for crocheters around the world to commune, talk shop and celebrate crochet. Something different and outside of the usual boxes available to folks out there. And BOY do we have fun! Well, the group took off. And not too long after, due to disenchantment with the yarn industry’s lack of support or celebration for innovative crochet (in the US in particular), it was decided to create our own awards – the Flamies.
The Flamies, you ask? Umm, yeah. Kind of a long story, but it’s a reference to the Flaming Crochet Hook of Justice, which has been waved liberally over the years. And yes – the Flamies are a nod of fun to the Emmys and Grammys as well. In fact, my tapestry crochet charted pattern for my Flaming Crochet Hook design was published in the Crochet Liberation Front: First Ever Book.
Long story short, a bunch of us decided to stop waiting for the industry to provide what we wanted and we began creating it ourselves. We even created our own crochet awards. And you know what happened? IT TOOK OFF! Today, yarn companies, magazines and designers are competing for the Flamie crochet awards and this year a whopping 30,000+ turned out for voting! The winners will be announced live this year! Talk about becoming the change that you seek in the world!
The event? It’s happening a bit on the fly, but the Flamies are coming LIVE to Georgetown on Monday, April 18th. The editor of Interweave Crochet magazine, and designers from both coasts are flying in for this event, including Mary Beth Temple from Getty Loopy, along with Fearless Leader kicking off her US Tour here in Texas! Nothing like this has ever been done in our niche industry before. It might be just crochet to everyone else, but this is big for us!
Tickets are being sold to the live event held at the Landmark Tavern, (wonderful neighborhood wine bar) on the Georgetown Square where we will have a red-carpet event with photographers, April 18th 7-11pm. And I’m so lucky it’s right here practically in my own back yard. If you want to come and hang out with crochet creative types (you don’t have to crochet, but you must be friendly), it’s $25 a ticket which includes a drink ticket and snacks.
This is a semi-formal event! Wear your best crochet if you have it! If not, wear your favorite fiber thing! We’ll be walking the red carpet at The Landmark, so it’s a chance to dress-up. Businesses also have the opportunity to buy tickets to this events in blocks. For a minimum of 5 tickets, the price drops to $20 per ticket. Go to http://CrochetLiberationFront.com for more details on registration for the event and about the CLF in general.
I hope we’ll see you there!
Calendar of Weekend Events:
April 16: 11am‐ 2pm Meet & Greet in Georgetown, Texas at Dukes BBQ (right on north bound I35): This is a family friendly event, free for crocheters to attend to meet up, admire each others’ crochet and organize local meetings and relationships. We’re expecting a lot of people to attend this event.
April 16: 7‐9pm Fearless Leader & Friend’s soiree at The Knitting Nest in Austin, Texas. A more adult evening of wine and song. Promoting all that is crochet in one of the leading yarn destinations in Texas. So far at least 25 people confirmed.
April 18: 7‐11pm The Flamies LIVE! Red carpet event in Georgetown, Texas at the Landmark Tavern (a gorgeous wine bar). This year’s awards ceremony will take place as per tradition on the Getting Loopy Podcast with Mary Beth Temple, and at the live event which will be web cast so the millions of crochet fanatics around the globe can see the best of the best! Party goers will receive a drinks ticket, nibbles, goody bags and prizes! We have room for 120 guests!