Friday, August 15, 2014

FO Friday: The Lure of the Commercial

The only thing I managed to finish this week is this tea towel:

I picked up the towel and a book of iron-on embroidery patterns at Jo-Ann Fabrics last weekend when the store had its annual teacher sale. I saw the pattern booklet and just kind of grabbed it. It seemed like a perfect gift, one that wouldn't take weeks or months to finish. And the patterns really are cute:
Using 6 strands of DMC thread, I was able to finish this in two days. It went fast and it was fun. But it isn't original. And more and more, I want to spend my time on my own original work. (Knitting, for some reason, is an exception. I am totally happy to knit from other people's patterns.) It isn't that I think there is anything wrong with using patterns, but since I like to draw, it seems like I ought to be embroidering my own designs.

Still, these towels (yes, there will be more) are fun and easy. Very relaxing. I find it hard to resist the occasional plunge into commercial patterns.

 Along those lines, I found this book at Half Price Books earlier this week.

I am supposed be getting rid of books, not acquiring them, but I couldn't resist this one. It tells the history of the paint-by-number craze. Thanks to my iPhone, I was able to check our public library and confirm that it does not own this book. I've only read the introduction so far, but I can already tell this is my kind of book: art history blended with social criticism. Here's a taste:

"What is striking about paint by number's popularity is the speed with which it became a vessel for anxieties about mass culture's instrusion into the well-cultured world of taste and social class."

Yeah, I know, I'm a geek. And I'm fine with that.



  1. I understand where you are coming from - using pre drawn patterns is fun but isn't as unique. Knitting is different because you almost always have your own spin on it, be it random mistakes, or adjustments in size, etc.
    Also, I like that paint by number book. It sounds fascinating. I know I used to do those a lot growing up, but now I dislike them. But I despise those painting/wine party studios even more ! (have you heard of those?)

  2. Your tea towel is adorable! I can't believe you finished it so quickly. I agree with you - I like to knit other peoples patterns, but everything else (drawing, painting, etc..) I would rather use my imagination.

  3. I think that we all share a fear of failing when it comes to trying our own ideas and we don't trust our talents. I have this problem all the time, especially with my knitting. We should make a resolution to step outside of our comfort zones and hold each other to it!

  4. With knitting patterns there are just so many talented designers out there that why bother taking the time to design something new? Your choice of yarn will greatly influence the final project, that is how you put your own twist on it and that is exactly what you do.
    Hugs to you,

  5. Oh that embroidery project is absolutely adorable! I loved paint by numbers .. I think I like the way all those tiny shapes of a handful of colours come together into a greater whole :)

  6. Love the little faces on the tea towels. Adorable! And, so retro --- reminds me of the ones I learned on when I was first stitching.

  7. LOVE the tea towel! What a great gift.

    Wow--I'll bet that will be an interesting book. I love things like that. My husband and I were just talking about paint by number sets. He never did one as a child, which surprised me as I thought it was a pretty standard kid gift in the 60s & 70s. Mine never looked like anything recognizable--much less the picture on the box--but then again, neither did my normal paintings either...............:)