Handmade Conversations — Feminism & Crafts with Debbie Stoller

Posted by on Jan 22, 2013

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Debbie Stoller offers traditional crafts with a fresh, somewhat irreverent voice. Her best-selling "Stitch n' Bitch" series hosts some of the most popular knitting and crochet books, inspiring knitting circles around the nation. Debbie is also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the feminist pop culture magazine "Bust," which has incorporated crafts for several years. In this interview, the strong-minded creator and co-author of "The Bust DIY Guide to Life: Making Your Way Through Every Day" tells us how crafting fits into modern feminism, trends in creating and more.

journal from "The Bust DIY Guide to Life"
Why did you begin including crafts in "Bust," a strongly feminist magazine?

When we first started writing about crafts in "Bust," we wanted to give crafting or the traditional women’s work that was looked down on and undervalued, devalued — we wanted to increase its value in culture. We started publishing a craft project in 1997. Every issue after that, we've had a craft project, sometimes more, sometimes less.

What are ways that crafts can empower women? 

The more we value the crafts women choose to do, the more we can value everyone. The book "The BUST's DIY Guide to Life" has lots of DIY crafts like how to fix your own bike and other life skills so that women are less reliant on others.

What ways can it rob them?

For people who don’t enjoy crafts, they shouldn’t do it. There was a time when everybody had to learn it. For me, crafts are like meditating. It feels good. I am still, and I can think when I do it.  I don’t like sports, so I don’t play sports. Same with crafts.
debbie stoller
What are some of your favorite trends in knitting or crafting in general right now?

I think food is the newest trend in crafts — canning, drying your own herbs, pickling your own vegetables, pickling anything that doesn’t run away.

I see a lot of people doing things that are more practical than decorative, things to organize a house or refinish furniture. In knitting, learning to knit lace is a popular trend. It’s not really that complicated and it gives really fabulous results.

What projects are you working on now?

I have a tale of woe that will break your heart. A year ago two women friends got married, and the wedding present I wanted to give them was two pillowcases both embroidered with "Mrs." I worked for months on them, even crocheted a border.

Finally they were finished, but one went missing. I tore my whole house apart but couldn't find them. I went on a wild goose chase to find the exact same brand of pillowcases, and I actually found them several days ago. Now I need to try to piece the pattern back together.

Image credits (from top): STC Craft, STC Craft and Workman Publishing

cover of "BUST DIY"
Debbie Stoller is the co-author of "The Bust DIY Guide to Life: Making Your Way Through Every Day (Bust Magazine)," published by STC Craft.

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