Thursday, November 26, 2009

my creative space - kiss*

"Enjoy the process, expect some disaster, shout out loud at the wins, embrace the happy accidents, see the curve balls. Learn."

... because I have a creative disaster to share with you.

A couple of weeks back Gina @ Clutterpunk posted about the Warm Women project, making scarfs for Karen women on the Thai/Myanmar border as they head into winter. I thought it sounded like a great idea.

But how to make the scarf? I cannot knit. My grandmother gave up trying to teach me to knit when my younger brother "got it". Apparently I am a lost cause to knitting hence my great pride in now being able to say I can crochet. However my crochet skills are perhaps not up to producing a scarf on a deadline. I'm enjoying taking my time with the crochet - it is a way for me to relax.

Sewing a scarf seemed like the obvious solution. Perhaps it was even as early as this that the project started to go awry, for it struck me that I had no idea what the scarf would be worn with. Surely these women would want to be warm and co-ordinated! So my typing fingers quickly trotted off to google and some pretty simplistic research was undertaken.

I learnt that Karen women typically combine the Hse with a longyi. Good good, I thought to myself, a scarf will work well with that.

I learnt the symbolic significance of colours used in Karen clothing. Red signifies bravery, blue represents faithfulness, and white symbolises purity. Great - I can work with this.

I learnt that images of serpents representing evil are often worn on clothing in order to damn Satan. Oooo yeah. This is good information I thought to myself bobbing my head up and down as I read. I am going to make one cool Karen scarf!

So the time has probably come to share with you the scarf to date:

And this is when I should have stopped. It is a warm and tasteful scarf with a simple zig-zag motif common to Karen culture. The colours in the embroidered motif are blue, red and white.

But no... I had to take it just a bit further.

Having undertaken my initial research I was taken with the idea of the blue, red and white. But I was horrified at the idea of how these same colours are so synonymous with the United States and in turn the west. So it had occurred to me that if I mixed the colours then I'd be making hues that were blends of the key elements: bravery, faithfulness and purity.

Out came the mixing spoons...

... a wax crayon and a screen ...

... and this is the result... the reverse side of the scarf:

(too long to get it all in one shot & yes one end is yet to be sewn closed)

The maroon colour I bought on a whim because it reminded me of the colour of female monk's robes.

This scarf is a disaster. So busy. So ridiculous. Possibly an insulting appropriation and abrogation of another culture's traditions. I wouldn't wear it, unless of course I was really really really cold... so that now raises some questions: Can I/should I send this scarf on to Warm Women? Or should I send them a scarf that I do wear? (There isn't really time to make another)

It is perhaps possible that there is one positive. I think my zig zags must be a good representation of serpents because Raja can't stop attacking the scarf:

... or is it that because he is so horrified by this fashion disaster that he wants to rip it to pieces with his claws?

I've learnt ... to take my own advice.

*keep it simple stupid

To see some creative success head on over to Kirsty's to check out the action.


  1. Sometimes stopping ourselves is the hardest part. Believe me I know ... and you do have time so long as you keep it simple.

  2. You. Are. HILARIOUS!!!
    First, I must say how amazing you are to have done the thoughtful and thorough research... to have actually thought about being culturally appropriate when I just blustered on in and made something which potentially represents all manner of evil things in Karen culture (an entirely condescending approach which assumes they'll just be grateful for whatever I give them)!

    Beyond that...I wouldn't call it a disaster! Busy, yes. Not your personal taste, maybe. But I like the design ideas, the circles and zig-zags, and the contrast between the sides. It's certainly not an insult of a scarf! (that Swans number, however... he he, just kidding, my team too).

    Love ya Sal.

  3. You did make me laugh!!! I think it's great that you are so thoughtful! And caring. x

  4. I agree with all of the above - it is the thought that counts and your scarf will be loved regardless - it is a designer original after all!

  5. I agree- someone else could love it!!
    I think our western culture worries too much about what it look slike rather thanits actual function- which is to keep the neck warm. whihc it will. I reckon send it!

  6. With all of the caring and thoughtfulness involved in the making, surly this is the warmest scarf ever!

  7. i'm agreeing with everyone else - it's the thought that counts. and really, there is definitely going to be someone out there who absolutely loves that scarf and teams it with some other equally loud pieces.

    if its not too late i have got a suggestion..

    i found this at the end of winter and filed it away for something to make next year - looks super quick and easy!

  8. So much thought Sally - I would never have thought to check what was culturally appropriate.
    Definitely send the one you made regardless of how busy you feel it is, far more appropriate than that other sorry thing!!

  9. Sally you have put so much thought, time, preparation and creativity into this scarf - send it. Someone will love it.

  10. Wow to the thought and research you put into the scarf Sally. It should definately be sent as it will either be very loved or make the women laugh! Either way, while it didn't turn out as planned you should send it off as it will do the most important thing, and keep a cold woman warm.

  11. I concur with everything above- very thoughful. It's definitely a busy scarf, but these are busy women, and the most important part is that the women stay warm. As a side note though- I really DID enjoy the simple version before the mixing spoons came out. Next time you should make another version of that. Love it! xoxo Meagan.

  12. Hilarious post! But it is the thought that counts isn't it, hehe :)! I think someone will appreciate it much more than you think :)


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