Back at the beginning of the summer, I let you guys know that my crochet hook experiment was going to be at Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire (just outside Austin). And then soon after MMF, I raced off for my summer road trip across country with the kids to go visit Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front (and a few places in between). But with breaking my ankle at the end, and the long recovery from surgery, I never did give you guys a recap of how Mini-Maker Faire went! So here it is! Let me go back in time and fill you in.
As you know, I’ve participated in the only two large Maker Faires hosted in Austin, back in 2007 & 2008. And I absolutely loved it! The experience was beyond my expectations and for once in my life, I really felt like I’d found more than just a handful of “my people.” It was like finding your roots in a tribe. Unfortunately though, Maker Faire was not able to come back to Austin in 2009, which was a huge disappointment to me.
Then sometime last year, thanks to the work of Austin Tinkering School, a 2012 Mini-Maker Faire in Austin was born. However, the timing of it crashed into the same time we were putting our house on the market. So I didn’t even get to attend, much less present.
Thankfully, TechShop rolled into town. They are a very cool community workshop place that I want to buy into. I learned about them through the KidBot work my kids and I were doing with The Robot Group during the summer of 2012. Interestingly enough, TechShop’s concept was inspired by Maker Faire out in CA. So it was super cool that they decided to host a Mini-Maker Faire here in Round Rock less than a year after they opened. As soon as I learned about it, of course I jumped at the chance to participate!
The Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire was crazy and awesome. And though I thought I had a plan, yeah – that went out the window. None of the site setup or traffic flow was according to plan either. And I did not get any photos as planned either. But it all worked out fine. Some other folks took pictures and told me they would contact me later to share them, but I haven’t ever heard from them. It’s somewhat disappointing to have poured so much into doing the event for free, only to have no photos or visual record that we were there or even a part of it. But that’s what happens when you are too busy to be able to take photos. However, TechShop did put together this little video and you can catch a tiny glimpse of my booth at about 11 seconds into the video! So there you go, flash proof that crochet was represented!
Because I chose not to do a for-profit booth (I really did not have time to get merchandise together) I was set up in the big main room not far from the entrance. I was also right next to a working Tardis Console display, complete with buttons to push and sound effects, which you will also notice in the video. It was awesome! Though pretty loud in the echoing room. We had to do a lot of shouting to communicate while all the kids went crazy for it. And of course, I loved that all these kids are so educated in the ways of Doctor Who today.
See, I grew up watching Tom Baker as the 13th Doctor way back in the 80′s in OK, where no one else I knew ever did. I was such a geek even then. Seeing all these excited kids was just…. sweet. In fact, one of the reasons I really stuck with crochet was due to my fascination with Tom Baker’s scarf! Which I have yet to replicate, btw. But I’ve made many, many long scarfs just because of him. Anyway, so I guess we can all lay some blame on Tom Baker and his writers for at least a little of my extreme fascination with crochet. Even though yes – I know his scarf in the show was knitted! Hey, I was a kid – the modality doesn’t matter. Simply the long scarf. That is all. That and the awesomeness that is Doctor Who. And Tom Baker.
(Speaking of, I finally got to watch the 50th anniversary Doctor Who Special tonight, and I loved it. Last cameo scene brought me to joyful tears. Tom Baker, I still love you!)
Back to Mini-Maker Faire! One of the fun things TecShop did was create an allocated chalk-board wall for everyone to write their answer to fill in the blank of one simple question: “If I could make anything in the world, I would make ____________.” The answers were quite fun! Here are just a few photos we caught. Notice how many Doctor Who references there are!
Finger-knitting was insanely popular at my booth at this Maker Faire – again. I have taught this to kids in the Austin area for over a decade. Usually, I tell every kid I teach – OK here’s the catch – you have to go teach others. Go infect your friend with yarn love. I do this in crochet too, but little kids love finger knitting and all that requires is yarn to keep them busy. I used to work in special education in college and we used activities like finger knitting with children of all types and abilities. It’s amazing how even a child with ADhD can calm and focus during this activity. And even the parents seem more peaceful. I used to tuck an extra ball of yarn in the hands of mothers and say – here, keep this in your purse for the next time you’re at the store with the kids.
Anyway, this year my daughter Jessica taught the kids finger-knitting while I taught crochet and talked about hooks. She also brought her giant wooden sword she made for Halloween last year, which gained loads of attention. At one point, we were working at separate tables when I turned around and realized cameras were on my daughter and she was being interviewed for some sci-fi crafty internet show thing. I still don’t know how I feel about it. I quelled the urge to run over and ruin everything by asking – don’t you think you should ask her mother for permission before you film my child? Hopefully they were responsible interviewers, etc.. Supposedly they were going to contact us if they used the footage, but we have not heard anything about it. (If anyone out there sees footage of Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire 2013 out there somewhere, please tell me??)
I didn’t have time to finish all the hooks for the experiment as planned, so I also brought my own personal collection and let people play with it. One lady crocheted a swatch using every (smaller) single hook in my collection. Awesome. A lady from Brazil came by and chatted a while. She talked about crochet yarn as fat as your thumb and as tiny as a silk sewing thread and how crochet is something *everyone* does in Brazil. She also talked about a street in Brazil paved in yarn and fiber classes. It sounded amazing. She said fiber crafts for them there is like car lots are for us here. Tons of them line the streets. Which was kind of a weird/sad thought. I must go see this someday. I wish I remembered what town she said she was from.
People who were interested in knowing more about how to read patterns came by, including some who were talking about wishing they could get more Japanese patterns in the US with symbol crochet maps. I concurred.
There was one main thing that helped me out with the giant crowds of people that I’m really happy I did. I decided to make a “science fair” type presentation board with photos and reports on it about Jimbo’s and my crochet hook experiment, plus diagrams and photos of various hook shapes and extra information. A lot of photos were taken of my board and lots of people came by to talk to me because they read my board. Very cool. However – I forgot to put Aberrant Crochet or Jimbo’s or my name on that board anywhere. It was on the report sitting in front of the board, but no where else. (sigh) Well, what can you do.
I ran out of business cards and fliers though, so here’s hoping that somehow, somewhere out there these people will get in touch or something. Who knows? But then again – how may people do you get in touch with yourself after taking a business card? Yeah. So you know what I mean.
Still, all in all it was a fascinating day of people who were fans of crochet, or fans of yarn or who were just fascinated by my experiment. I really enjoyed it and I was hoarse by the end of the day. Much of the content that I spoke about is what you see printed in my articles in the 2013 Fall and Winter Interweave Crochet magazines. (Speaking of which, the winter issue should be available in a couple weeks!)
So there you go, a Mini-Maker Faire Recap, albeit a late one! I’ll try to catch you guys up on my road trip here soon.