August 20, 2012

On Braiding.

Filed under: On Creating. — Tags: , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 11:45 am

This morning on the bus, a woman pulled her hair to the side of her face and began braiding it while reading a book. Her hair was thick and dark and straightened. (Having curly hair myself, I can always tell when curly hair is straighted.) My first reaction was disappointment: she had clearly spent some considerable time making her hair perfectly straight, no bumps or ridges, no frizz.

Then I thought again. The braid was beautiful too–even more so was the way in which she did it. Swept it from her neck with one stroke, firmly divided the thousands of strands into three, and while she was doing something else–while her concentration was on the book in front of her–she created something entirely new.

I can braid; I do the same thing she does. When it’s raining or humid or hot, my hair doesn’t stay trailing on the back of my neck like some woolen blanket; it goes into a braid. I guess I just never realized how graceful and commanding the act was, how skilled one had to be to change the structure of your hair in fifteen seconds. Do I look that powerful when I do it, too?

Like braiding, crocheting takes strands and makes them into a context. Any project does this: sewing, knitting, beading, felting. We are changing the very structure of these items. We have the power to alter their makeup and how people perceive them. Yarn is just yarn until you, essentially, tie it in a million knots. Then it’s craft, or art, or a blanket, or a doll. We don’t personify yarn, but we do give faces and voices and personality to a teddy bear, or an octopus, or a rabbit. We make them matter.

That’s a daring thought.



  1. Great post and great eye for seeing something “ordinary” and realizing the detail and unconscious thought that go into it. Isn’t it crazy that that woman probably had no idea what was going on in your head while you watched her? I’ve always wondered what people thought about small things that I do. How they perceive and weave a story from behavior I no longer think about.

    Comment by Jamie "ChatterBlossom" — August 20, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

    • I know–I always wonder the same thing! If I’m watching her braiding her hair and thinking those things, does that mean someone else has watched me do the same thing and thought somthing similar?
      So many of us think the same way–it has probably happened.

      Comment by amandajocrafts — August 20, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

  2. Hi from the Etsy blogging team! Oh my goodness, I love this post. It’s so inspiring the way you talked about that woman braiding her hair. I graduated from FIDM, a design school and majored in interior design, and we often had to pick apart and examine very ordinary things that you take for granted. It makes you realize everything’s got a design to it, whether it be nature made or man made. Very nice post! 🙂


    Comment by Jamie Clugston — August 20, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

    • Thanks so much! As a masters student in writing, that’s just what we’re supposed to do, too–look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. It’s such a fun exercise, and so fulfilling 🙂

      Comment by amandajocrafts — August 20, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

  3. Lovely post.

    Comment by agujasblog — August 20, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

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