Technological breakthroughs are just that, breakthroughs, because they upends old rules. They create obsolete gadgets and obsolete ways of thinking. Even though new technology is made by us, it can nonetheless baffle us. Think of all the early iPhone apps, for example — apps that made it look like you were drinking a soda from your phone, aquarium screensaver apps, flashlight apps. Those apps have nearly disappeared, and the apps we use the most now — social media apps, video streaming apps, food and taxi apps — didn’t even exist until the App Store was a few years old.
Jenn Williams, founding member of the Northern Kentucky Crochet Guild, thinks that crochet and knitting is one way we can get ahead of new technology. “Makers are engineers with fewer rules,” she says. We don’t know where technology will take us next, but we do know that we’ll need creative, artistic thinking in order to write and understand the new rules of the game.
Turn-of-the-century computer scientists understood this, says Williams. Weaving machines were some of the first programmable computers, and the rules those weavers wrote were picked up decades later by IBM and Hewlett-Packard, early electronic computer backers. Williams says crafts like crochet and knitting gets us in the practice of thinking creatively. They can directly produce wonderful things, like sweaters, socks, hats, and nearly anything else that keeps you warm, and they keep us in the habit of thinking both systematically and experimentally.
Williams learned to crochet from her grandmother, like many crocheters. As a crochet educator, though, she has learned that not everyone had a grandmother like hers. Though her grandmother wouldn’t have ever used terms like this, she thinks crocheting allows you to “hack” your clothes. If you can’t build it, fix it, open it up or make your own, you don’t really own it, says Williams. While knitters and crocheters save money, because they can mend and create their own clothes, she thinks the recent spike in interest in the textile arts stems from a desire to truly understand one’s own belongings. When national politics or the economy make you feel out of control, it can be comforting to reclaim some control by starting with the clothes on your back.
Williams and the Northern Kentucky Crochet Guild will be at Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire on September 15 and 16. Come learn the basics, and, if you already know how to crochet or knit, she guarantees she’ll be able to show you something new. You can also follow the Crochet Guild online at Facebook: facebook.com/NKyCrochet/.