Monday , March 31, 2014 - 9:45 AM
Two hundred and thirty years after the invention of the power loom, I laboriously knit myself a pair of (slightly lumpy) pale blue socks on a set of four double-pointed needles.
Not because I have no other option, but because I enjoy it, even when I have to redo one of the heels.
I am not alone. More and more, a generation that can purchase whatever items it needs is choosing to make things for the learning experience, for the community and for the sake of making. It can take many forms, from a sculpture of found items to a home-canned jar of applesauce.
Every year, the culinary ingenuity of my neighbors is strained as gardens up and down my street sprout with sprawling, ridiculously prolific zucchini plants whose fruits become pasta primavera, chocolate zucchini bread and whatever else we can devise before they rot. Though they may not have ever heard of it, my neighbors who grow tomatoes on jerry-rigged trellises are participating in the Maker Movement, the old hobbyist culture gone widespread with the advent of the digital age.
Even the Weber County Library is getting into the action. This year’s Teen Tech Week, sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association, was themed, “Do-it-Yourself,” and featured crafts as diverse as duct tape wallets and amateur podcasts.
Krista Dunham, a librarian at the Pleasant Valley branch in Washington Terrace, said that such events give teens “a chance to experience the library in a different, dynamic way” and exhibit the library’s non-print resources. Libraries are becoming not so much mere book storage, but community centers where people can share their skills and interact with each other.
I attended the Pleasant Valley branch event on podcasting, and one concept struck a chord: Podcasts are a way to share one’s interests and enthusiasms. They can be on anything from book reviews to gardening tips to original fiction — and anyone can make or subscribe to one.
Podcasts are entirely democratic and offer endless possibilities for originality, and I think this is the essence of the DIY community. The lone genius no longer has to work alone, nor for that matter, does the lone amateur.
Computers are the fuel of the maker movement. The Internet not only offered a whole new medium for engineers and techies to play with, but far more radically, a forum for the whole world to participate in. With such a wide demographic, some corner of the Internet caters to almost every subculture imaginable, and DIY enthusiasts have taken full advantage of this.
As exhibit “A,” I present Ravelry, the prime social media site for fiber artists which offers a massive database of yarns and patterns. If you want to crochet a hat that looks like a banana but aren’t sure where to start, Ravelry has a pattern for that. If you are a connoisseur of Faroese-style knitting, Ravelry has a forum for that.
Somewhere there is a site for nearly everything, whether popular or obscure — woodturning, Civil War-era fashion, minimalist composition, small engine design, PVC pipe sculpture or whatever might fall under the label of “making.”
Go forth and make things both beautiful and useful; it is easier to find people who share your passion than ever before.
Angelica Previte is a senior at Weber High School and an inveterate bibliophile. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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