Tuesday, 24 March 2015

HISABATI: Crochet Bodycon Dress

Crochet Bodycon Dress
Front View
Crochet Bodycon Dress
Back View

A few years ago I was feeling disillusioned about the direction my life was taking, so I decided to do something brand new. I started studying carpentry. The opportunity presented its self at a time when I was searching for anything that would renew my sense of self fulfillment. I needed to be outside of my comfort zone, networks, and base of knowledge to challenge myself and explore new possibilities. Among many things that come with starting something brand new, lurking in background was mounting apprehension about entering a male dominated field of artistry I had never had any exposure to...but more pressingly was my terrible fright at the level of math that would be demanded of me. I have never been good at math. Maybe it is from a lack of interest or that it just is not my strong suit, but in all of my schooling years I avoided it when I could and never excelled at the subject. Mostly, I was terrified that math would be an inevitable downfall in my pursuit of self fulfillment.

The most challenging project we undertook in my carpentry class was installing trim and finish detailing in mock houses. Our task was to install crown molding and baseboard
on a series of different angled walls that would ideally fit into each other perfectly at the corners. We were all equally given the exact amount of materials needed to get the job done, and were not allowed to use any more than that. Our rule was always measure twice, and cut once. Hurriedly I rushed through my calculations, adding and subtracting fractions, and got to work. This project nearly drove me out of my mind. No matter how carefully I measured, how precise my cuts were with my mitre saw or how steadily I angled and cut with a copping saw, my angles wouldn't fit and my lengths of molding were either too short or too long. I struggled wasting my limited resources cutting and copping, until I realized my math was all wrong. After deciding to revisit my rushed calculations things just worked. Were they perfect? No, far from it, simply because it was my first time fitting molding. I did however come out with a renewed sense of process that required  patience and practice to get the work that we want to see done.

I love dresses that flatter my figure and show some shoulder in the process. They make me feel super sexy! I was inspired by 90's strappy dresses and bodycon dresses cause they do just that! I was inspired by
 a few different things when thinking about how to get this project started. First was a super easy to follow YoutTube DIY Crochet Halter Top tutorial by Krystal Everdeen, but to get the 90's vibe I was looking for I made a few minor tweaks to her pattern. Instead of having a tie at the back and neck, I crochet a full back and made two straps instead of a halter, similar to my DO EIT crochet tank top. Since I have juicy thighs and a thick booty I had to figure out how to make sure the skirt part hugged my curves perfectly. This is where the math came in. After doing a bit of research, I found that most crochet clothing patterns are not made for curvy or fluffy bodies. Surprising? Not really. No matter how much I looked, the patterns showed no adaptation for varying body shapes, types or sizes bigger than large until I came across these well written instructions by Jodi Hannon Madera on the perfect pencil skirt. The author gives detailed instructions and techniques on how to have perfectly tailored crochet clothes that don't end up a bulky formless mess. It required measurements, multiplication, addition and subtraction, and a calculator which was new because I have never strategically and intentionally used math while crocheting. To my surprise, math and my ability to do it was everything in facilitating this dress being a fab as is it! Fusing these two techniques came together into this final product that I am soooo proud of and excited to wear!

HISABATI means math in Kiswahili. Math like crochet, takes a lot of practice, and patience (and as I have recently learned sometimes even a calculator!). Sometimes along the journey we fail to realized just how integral each stumble and hardship is until we come out with a final product. Still to this day any time I finish a project I say "shit, I made that". It blows my mind every time because I remember how overwhelming, tiresome and hard the process was. I am still not a math expert, but I am coming to accept that its application and practicality is everywhere...even in my crafty little universe!

Hisabati ni mikakati yetu!
A song about math from Ubongo Kids, a kids show created in Tanzania!

Smiles :)
Tuly Maimouna

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Do Eit: Crochet Tank Top

Crochet Tank Top
%100 Wool

My mantra for this year has been Do Eiitt. There are so many things I always tell myself I want to do, but somehow never get around to doing them. Whether it is from doubting my own capabilities and strengths, being held back by fear or being told I can't, sometimes I find myself lacking the confidence to act on the things I decide are of value to me.

It has always been along lived fantasy of mine to have a head of purple hair. When I cut my locs off all I longed for was to have a bald purple head. Wavering in confidence about acting on the idea, I remember speaking with a good friend of mine looking for some consultation on the matter. I found I was discouraged. I was told that "it wouldn't suit my complexion" and when I asked why I was told that "it would look better on someone who was lighter skinned." Hum. For a while I truly believed the misplaced judgment of my friend because they are someone I trust. Despite so desperately longing to have a bald purple head, for months I walked around with the idea that I was too dark to rock it. Too dark...I thought about that for a long time, how could I be too dark to do something? I also wondered, how could I let someone else perspectives, values, and beliefs shape and subdue my own?

I made this crochet tank top because I saw a shirt just like it that I couldn't afford, but being held back my financial restrictions most def wasn't gonna stop me. I told myself "I can make that, so do eit!" It took a while to get it just right, required starting over, many hours and a lot of trust in my crochet abilities and imagination, but finally I came out with a project I am really proud of! And just like my (now) purple bald head, having the confidence to act on what I decide to do is a part of honoring my mantra.

Whether it is because I choose not to shave my armpits, choose to cut off my locs, have purple hair, live a budgeted lifestyle, my choice of clothes or whatever, I decided that I wouldn't allow people to police me, my body or values. Hence Do Eiitt. Sometimes it is scary to act on the things we truly want and believe in for ourselves for a number of reasons: there may be a threat of violence in our lives, we may lose friends or loved ones, fear of the unknown, regret and so on. What I have learned on this journey so far is that working towards fostering trust in ourselves and having people who support us goes a long way in helping us to be who and how we want to be. Be brave, be you!

Breathe. Remember you can do eit!

Smiles :)

Tuly Maimouna