Nanatech helps out Lyttleton

Nanatech has been very quietly lately, none the least due to travel, the ensuing health problems and then some recent earthquakes keeping everyone busy and distracted.

Being from Christchurch and living in Wellington it is really hard to feel useful and like you can help out. Lyttleton is one of my special places, pretty much one of my favourite places in Christchurch where I spent 8 years growing up. Today I saw this blog post a…nd I would like to help out this community group that has been decorating the fences in lyttleton with sewn hearts and bunting.

I think this is a great way Nanatech could help out in Christchurch.

So this group need fabric, spare buttons, old pale blankets, thin wool or fairly thick needles?

Lets do a fabric drive for lyttleton! For the next week please drop off any blankets, buttons etc for the group in lyttleton and a donation (even a few coins) to pay for the shipping.

So you can drop anything they need around to 22 Aro St, if no one is home you can leave it round the back underneath the awning🙂

Thanks so much guys, this could make a big difference to Lyttleton as it tries to recover!

The blog post is here FYI
http://watchingkereru.blogspot.com/2011/03/what-we-need.html

FB Event with details here

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=131720176899924#!/event.php?eid=131720176899924

House sitting and other community-minded things – A post from Zack

For the last week, Raven and I have been having somewhat of a staycation, but not in its truest form. A staycation is really meant to be about staying at home and relaxing, but we’ve gone one better – stayed at other people’s much nicer homes.

First up was my mother’s house, a really lovely old sunny villa, with one skittish black and white cat and a small veggie garden to look after. It’s always a bit of a holiday looking after the place, giving us a break from our usual student squalor.

Second, where I am now, is one of Raven’s friend’s place, by the beach on Wellington’s sunny south coast. Though we must depart tomorrow, we’ve had a lovely time watching the southerlies role in, feeding the cat and the chickens. And I’ve learnt how to handle and feed chickens, which is a great skill for a city boy to have.

While people are away (including at green events like ReGen) those still at home can have a lovely time in their houses, or atleast learn some new skills. But most importantly its about community. Helping each other out.

Sometimes helping others may be an inconvenience and feel like a burden in our busy lives, or at least not seem like it’s in our narrow self interest, which our modern economy so tells us should be our main motivation for everything we do. This has meant we really are becoming separated from one another, and that’s to our detriment when we need help ourselves, and for our happiness of spending time with others.

So, especially now when you should have extra time, make sure you help those in need, or ask for help if you need it. Just remember to say please!

Orginal post on Zackarate Island.

Nanatech in India

Hey everyone!

Well, it’s been awhile since you’ve heard anything from the Nanatech front lately! Mainly because I’ve been in India for the past four weeks and prior to that I was running around organising everything as Zack had the unfortunate experience of having exams close to our departure! Well the trip has been full of ups and downs and i’ve had some requests to blog about my experiences over here but really it all gets a bit hectic and in between being sick and bad internet connections and I just haven’t gotten round to it. Much like I haven’t managed to write anything but numbers and budgets in my diary!

So to rectify this situations somewhat I thought I would write a couple of posts on what I’ve seen of Nanatech in India. I’m not so good at personal blog posts so I thought this would be a neat way to share some of the things I’ve seen and learnt.

So Nanatech in India. Well it sure is a hell of a lot different than crafts and gardening is in NZ. While we often like to think of these things as a neat thing to do, something to pass the time or even something to lower our impact on the planet. Over here it is often for survival that these crafts are carried out. While most of us know that there is this distinction becuase it is only logical, it is another thing entirely to see it and experience it.

A tailor in Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh. Foot powered singer sewing machines are absolutely everywhere in India, laregly utilised by the male dominated tailor industry.

 

All over the place there are women knitting, this seems to be the most popular craft especially in the mountains where we have been based where it gets reasonably cold in winter. Women also knit things to sell and in Dharmasala where there is a large community of exiled Tibetans there are Tibetan Children’s Villages where children are taught crafts and skills in order to give them a step up and the ability to earn money. The crafts are beautifully made pieces of clothing and toys. I stopped to try and talk to one of the Tibetan women who was knitting while minding her stall of scarfs but she didn’t understand any english, I did try and show her my own knitting but I think she thought I was trying to find directions somewhere or something, all I really wanted to know was how she got her wool, it looked home spun but I couldn’t be sure and I have hardly seen any wool for sale here, I tried to express that her knitting was beautiful but as one might expect she didn’t understand!  Anyways I left feeling a little bit worried I’d some how offended her but to my surprise the next day when walking through the market she gave me a big smile and I knew that she hadn’t been upset! When I get computer access that allows usb connections I’ll add a photo Zack took of us both with our knitting.

I also got the real pleasure of being able to give away one of my circular knitting needles to a woman at a train station. I will be honest, the trip has been at times very challenging and jarring and often I have felt guilty for my position in the world. It is very hard because you are told not to give anyone money because you’ll attract the attention of other people that may follow you for days. I hate this paranoia and it seems like everyone is just as suspicious of us, and fair enough. But on this occasion we had just nearly died (no exaggeration) in a harrowing taxi journey down from the mountains and i was still shaking from it all. I didn’t want to draw attention but I didn’t care I had to calm down so I pulled out my knitting and started concentrating on the stitches. Well soon I did draw attention especially because of the technique I was using. Quite a few people stared which I’m very used to know but one lady and her elder mother came up to me and started talking in Hindi, she had a good look at it, talked it over with the elder lady and gave it back intently watching how I was switching the sides. I then remembered how I had bought some spare needles in case one broke in my cabin luggage or got confiscated by the tight Indian airline security. I gave it to her and tried to explain how it was like the four points using my fingers. Quite hilarious really, she was really rapt with it and it was just really awesome to have a conversation in two langauges with another women who liked knitting!

Well my internet is fast running out, I wanted to just share some of the craft related stories from India and convey that while there are huge differences in why and how there is still huge similarities, and I was so happy that having something like a craft meant that I could communicate on some level with the women I talked to.

Climate Change and Craft

HYPERBOLIC CROCHET CORAL REEF at Dublin's Science Gallery

“One of the biggest problems in trying to engage people about climate change is that it’s a very abstract idea. Apart from all the controversy at the moment that is distracting attention and understanding from the very worrying facts gathered by thousands of the world’s leading  scientists, it still remains very far removed from people’s everyday lives” – Cathy Fitzgerald of ‘An art and ecology notebook’

For those of you that know me, you’ll know that i’m pretty into the “environmental” kinda scene. Connecting my love of crafts with my passion for the environment is a bit of a no brainer for me as I see a low impact lifestyle as one of the easiest things we can do to ease environmental pressures. But other people have made much more complex connections between craft and things like Climate Change!

Here’s a wonderful article about grass roots activism and craftivism using the example of a “travelling crochet coral reef”. It’s an absolutely wonderful display of craft representing the beauty of coral and crafts with the message of the danger of global warming impacts on our oceans and ocean life. This sort of craftivism, following of from Liz’s coloumn last week really illustrates the ways in which we can use our crafts to raise awareness about issues that are really important to us.

Article on craftivism and coral

And to supplement here is a great TED talk about the coral display, enjoy!

Craftivism: A featured column!

Here is a fantastic column written about craftivism by the awesome Liz over at the VUW Salient magazine! Enjoy!

“Once I started knitting a scarf for my boyfriend’s 22nd birthday. This didn’t end well. We broke up three years ago and the half-formed scarf is still sitting belligerently at the bottom of my wardrobe. That was my sole foray into knitting. In third form (that’s Year 9 for you young’uns) I would stagger out of sewing class, covered in thread, fingers needle-pricked and bleeding, miserably attempting to hide my malformed, homemade cardigan behind my school uniform.

My background in craft is obviously not strong. Give me a vegan cupcake recipe and I’ll fatten you up in no time, but crochet hooks give me an uncomfortable feeling that someone—hopefully the person that handed me said crochet hook—will soon lose an eye. This ineptitude is a shame: craft is now socially desirable, just like Doc Martens and oversized, horrendously patterned jerseys.

If we travel back a few decades, craft wasn’t considered that cool. Store-bought, plastic-wrapped and seen-on-TV items were lusted after, not the flawed handmade-with-love variety. Real art got stuck up in huge galleries and real artists learned their skills at art schools and academies. Next there were skilled craftspeople making functional (and beautiful) woodwork, pottery and textiles. Then, finally, you had ‘women’s work’, activities like knitting, making clothes, weaving, crochet and the like. Never given value in economic systems, this important work was marginalised and often used to reinforce traditional gender roles. For feminists of my mum’s generation, handmade craft was considered a tool to keep women downtrodden.

But craft has come back with a vengeance. The ‘Stitch and Bitch’, Etsy.com and increased art-world interest has meant that handmade is not only appreciated, it’s also economically profitable. ‘Craftivism’ is the feral grandchild of this revival. A patchwork-Frankenstein’s Monster of craft and activism, the term was created in 2003 by writer Betsey Greer to describe “a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper and your quest for justice more infinite”. Which, um, sounds really good, but leaves me questioning what a craftivist actually does?

A quick rifle through the internet throws out these suggestions: knitting pink blankets for tanks; guerrilla art; and ‘knit-ins’, where knitting circles take over a public space. Feminist, anti-capitalist, anti-war, environmentalist… craftivism can be all these things. For more clarification I had a chat with local crafty-lady Raven Cretney, who is part of Nanatech, a group “passionate about reinvigorating the skills of the past and present”. Raven was unsurprisingly enthusiastic, saying “Craft can be used for all sorts of purposes: to make a statement about a political issue through knit tagging, to brighten a public space, to make clothes for someone in need or to learn and build community.”

This was encouragement enough for me. While I have no plans to finish knitting my ex’s scarf, I do have plans to knit a tea-cosy covering the Beehive, or perhaps Gerry Brownlee.”

Thanks Liz for lending us your column!

-www.salient.org.nz/columns/craftivism

Nanatech takes on the economy….

This morning I was greeted with this image on the front page of stuff.co.nz

Headline: Global Stocks Sink on Economic Fears

Economic fears? I don’t know about everyone else but it seems like every few months we’re meant to throw our hands up and go oh no the economy is crashing…again. Since the crash of 08 we have been plauged by waves of economic fear, from the eurozone, to america what on earth is going on, what is the fear?

Well to start with in little old New Zealand our unemployment rate has just gone up again and it’s looking like all over the world the economic recovery aint going so well. Pesimistic speculation says that we may be heading for a double dip recession (important to note though many also say we are not!).

What’s a double dip recession?

Well I wish it was about ice cream. A double dip recession is put very simply cause i’m no economist when the economy seems to start “recovering” but well doesn’t quite make it and falls drastically down further than below. In other words, not much of an economic party time.

So what does this have to do with craft or is this me just writing a seemingly unrelated post? Well it does have something to do with craft and skills in my opinion. If we are unfortunate enough to experience a double dip recession then many of us may need to revert back to the skills people utilised back then that allowed them to survive without jobs and without much money.

All sorts of skills would be needed if we didn’t have enough money to buy things. For example:

Gardening!

Gardeners in Berlin during the war…

Check out your local community gardens here.

Knitting:

Check our ravelry to find free paterns and information on how to knit!

Frugal Baking:

Exclaimer: I haven’t tried this recipe but will do so soon! I found it on a “depression era cooking” website so heres hoping it’s light on our shopping budget and tastes good too!

Quick, Muffins

1/2 cups of flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup of butter or butter substitute

Mix into a bowl the flour, and baking powder, salt, sugar and egg. Add milk, pour gradually into the bowl with other ingredients, beating with a fork as it is added. When the mixture is smooth, add butter or butter substitute melted. Beat until the dough is smooth and creamy; this takes but a moment. Grease the tins and only fill them half with the batter.Place in hot oven 400 degrees F. Bake 25 Min.

So there you go folks, a couple of things you can learn to do to save yourself money now and possibly keep you healthier, warmer and more sane if in fact we do have another recession. And keep up to date with Nanatech for more tips and skills to see you through rain and shine, or just to have a bit of fun!

Nanatech gets it’s craft on…in the real world!

Hey everyone,

Long time no see, I’ve gotten buried under papers about ecological and feminist economics! Yay!

But in more exciting and crafty news, the week before last Nanatech in Wellington held our very first “Learn to Guerila Knit” workshop!

A fun time was had by all and everyone came away with a wee flower to place somewhere around town. Guerila knitting has erupted onto the world scene in the last few years with all sorts of blogs and websites popping up devoted to sharing images of knitting that beautfies the urban landscape. Hopefully our colourful flowers around Wellington will help brighten up the greyness of winter and help get us through to spring!

Our inspiration came from a similar project in Christchurch that was carried out last year in the Cathedral Square. Check it out here.

Here are some of the ones I made up for the workshop:

If you’re looking at making your own crochet flowers for guerila purposes or not I’d highly recommend their pattern which is located here.

Pics of the flowers around and about will be coming soon🙂