Film: Handmade Nation

Faythe Levine’s profile of the DIY art scene, from Etsy to Knitta, goes well beyond tea-cozy porn.

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In this appealing film, Faythe Levine profiles the knitters, embroiderers, printmakers, and latch hookers who have taken crafting out of your grandma’s sitting room and propelled it into the cultural spotlight. Handmade Nation (and a companion book of the same name) offers a colorful survey of the DIY art scene, but it’s not just tea-cozy porn. The crafters Levine profiles speak eloquently about what may be the least pretentious art movement since tie-dyeing. Seamstress Kathie Sever, who makes Western-themed clothing inspired by her home, Austin, Texas, says she’s happy to have escaped the art-school bubble. “It feels so much more purposeful to me to make something someone is going to wear or use,” she says. For others, crafting is a cheeky act of anti-consumerism. Members of the Houston collective Knitta (motto: “Knitta, Please!”) adopt handles like P-Knitty and Purl Nekklas and gleefully attach hand-stiched sleeves to signposts and traffic lights under cover of darkness.

The low-tech aesthetic occasionally clashes with crafting’s new status as a pop-culture phenomenon. Potter Garth Johnson worries that blogs and websites like Etsy have turned him into a “craft couch potato.” “I can consume craft just like I would books, DVDs, or, gasp, television,” he observes. Yet handmade items, by definition, are not meant for mass consumption. The craft site BuyOlympia.com got swamped when Rory on Gilmore Girls wore its “Reading Is Sexy” T-shirt. “Some people will assume that the shopping experience is just like Target,” site cofounder Pat Costello tells Levine. “‘How come you didn’t ship it right away?’ ‘Well, ’cause she’s still sewing it.'”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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