Throughout the past six months of the Holiday Handmade Crusade, a few of the crusaders have gone above and beyond to reach their personal holiday crafting goals. They have done this by crafting objects en masse or working on long-term projects. I am hereby referring to these folks with the honorable title of "Crafty Crusader All-Stars." Our second Crafty Crusader All-Star is Craftster user OneRedBoot. OneRedBoot's crusade has been all about socks, socks and MORE socks. Let's learn more about her below, shall we?
What is your real name?
Where are you from?
I’m from Oklahoma and Texas, but have lived in North Carolina for the past five years.
How old are you?
I’m turning 33 at the end of this month!
How did you come up with your username?
There’s a character in Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys who is described as “compulsively clad in red cowboy boots.” I always felt a certain affinity with her! I wear my red cowboy boots so often, there is always one lone red boot lying on the floor somewhere around the house.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a grad student in art history. I’m writing my dissertation on contemporary art and religion. When the semester starts at the end of August, I’ll have been in grad school for 7 years. I’m ready to finish this book!
Do you have any favorite craft(s)?
I love the process of knitting, and I love the products of sewing, especially dressmaking and garment sewing. With the combination of knitting and sewing, I’ve made almost my whole wardrobe for the past few seasons (with the exception of a few thrifted or sustainably-dyed items). I recently snagged some amazing wool suitings in a swap on Craftster and am really excited to use some of my collection of vintage patterns to make some cute winter dresses and this amazing 1930s Katherine Hepburn jacket from Eva Dress.
How many years have you been knitting?
My mom taught me to knit one semester in college when I got mono and had to drop out of school. Come to think of it, illness seems to really motivate me in fiber-related crafts...I taught myself to knit about five years ago, when an auto-immune illness knocked me on my ass! Since I learned from a book, it actually took me a year to realize that I was twisting my stitches in basic stockinette stitch!
My grandmother was a prolific knitter—I had all the electric blue cotton vests with hearts that I needed in the 80s! When she died, I received all of her crochet hooks, huge amounts of 1970s superwash wool, and a beat-up but very sturdy ironing board, all of which I am still using today. A wonderful, practical inheritance, if you ask me.
How many pairs of socks have you made during the Holiday Handmade Crusade?
So far I’ve finished 15 pairs of socks. Pair #16 is on the needles right now. Before this January, I had only ever made two pairs of socks. My decision to give socks as gifts for friends and family this Christmas was partly a challenge to myself to learn how to do it really well, and partly a way of economizing by using my stash.
Most of the yarns I’ve used for my socks have come from bartering on Craftster and Ravelry over the past year. I also found 4 pounds of apricot-colored wool at a thrift store, and I enlisted the help of my friend lapoli (on Craftster) to dye it royal blue and brown—perfect for men’s socks! Bartering and thrifting for sock yarn has meant that I’ve had to be pretty flexible: I’ve made socks with weights from fingering to worsted, and used needles from size 2 to size 6. Working with so many different variables has helped me to really understand the ideas behind sock construction.
I only have a few more pairs left to go! But I’m still planning to participate in the Holiday Handmade Crusade when they are completed…I still have to finish my Christmas cards (made of recycled holiday cards from last year), embroider some dish towels, and work on an as-yet-to-be-decided large knitted item for Mr. Boot, among other things.
What has been your favorite part about participating in the Holiday Handmade Crusade?
I love the motivation of habit. That’s how I’m writing my dissertation—I write every weekday—and how I get any long-term project done. Getting into the habit of working on something ensures its completion! I work on socks for a half hour or so most evenings after dinner, while Mr. Boot plays Mario Kart on the Wii. I keep a stack of completed socks in my craft room, and toward the end of every month, I take pictures and post them in the thread on Craftster. It’s a great way to keep track of what I’m doing.
Also, fellow Crusaders have helped me through various gift-related existential crises. When I was growing up, gift-giving was really fraught—a thoughtful gift was a sign of love (of course), but on the other hand, a gift that didn’t go over well or didn’t please the recipient would lead my mother to analyze and re-hash the relationship for hours. Even though I’ve renounced that kind of high-anxiety attitude, I do sometimes worry…I mean, I think hand-knit socks are a luxury, but who knows? Anyway, Geek+Nerd has created a great place for talking about these kinds of concerns—which can really derail your productivity! It’s been super helpful for me.
I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone packages their gifts and how happy we’ll all be in December when we are free to enjoy the holidays!!!
Lastly, but *MOST* importantly, what is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Peanut butter chocolate. Mmmmm…
Thanks for the interview, OneRedBoot! If YOU would like to learn more about the Holiday Handmade Crusade, visit this post. Otherwise, join me for more Christmas in July goodness tomorrow!