Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Joss Whedon on Crafts and Craftiness

(crossposted at BlogHer)

It's the small touches that transmit unique style to something. Perhaps it's a hand knit hat or lacy shawl that defines a wardrobe. Maybe it's mid-century flea-market finds that make a home unique. Sometimes we consciously recognize these items; other times they are simple subconscious cues. As it is in real life, so it also is make believe.

That's one of the things I learned while I enjoyed CrochetMe's Kim Werker interviewing Joss Whedon. Whedon is the creator of Buffy, Firefly , Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and the current Fox program Dollhouse. Turns out he also knows a thing or two about crafts.

In the interview, Werker asked about the crafty elements in Whedon's sets. He responded:
The crafty part was more– for me was more Firefly. Because in Firefly we were really trying to evoke the idea of things you make for yourself, of a life that you create with your own two hands. It was all very pioneer spirit, and so it ended up just looking really '70s in the decor, which was not exactly the original intent, but that said, that was very deliberate.
Personally, I was a bit blown away by the thought that Werker scored this. Then I read the story behind the Whedon interview. Another strong example of the power of the internet and the crafty community:

See, back at the end of July the Wired blog asked Whedon how publicity was going for his new internet short movie, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and he replied, "Fact is, there's been some buzz, but it hasn't reached the places it would normally. Where's our write-up in Crocheting Monthly?"

Knowing how much the crafts community loves them some work by Whedon (work including creating the television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly; the movie Serenity; the trailblazing Dr. Horrible; and more), and always up for what seems to be an impossible challenge, I thought it might be fun to see if we couldn't deliver him that crochet write-up. I had no contacts in Hollywood, so I asked the online crafts community to help try to get his attention.

Ask, and ye shall receive. The crafts world erupted in blog posts providing the equivalent of Jayne-hat-wearing fans standing on street corners in sandwich boards reading, "Joss! Do an interview with Crochet Me!", jumping up and down and waving their arms. Additionally, crafters, being everywhere—possibly hiding in your boss's office this very moment—are of course also well connected. By several routes, someone knew someone who knew someone that could pass our formal request to Whedon's assistant.

At the end of August, I heard from said assistant who told me Whedon definitely wanted to do the interview.
Maybe more surprising was learning that Whedon learned how to knit and crochet when a boy, was learning that he understands the often unbridgeable gulf between knitters and crocheters:
I'm aware of the desperate rivalry between the knitters and the crocheters. And, you know, first of all I have to say: can't there be peace?

It's an age-old war. Like the werewolves and the vampires. I think Underworld was actually originally about crocheters and knitters but they thought it would be too controversial so they changed it to vampires and werewolves.
As a Firefly fan, I am well aware of the impact one item from the show had on the knitting and crocheting community. The iconic Jayne Cobb Hat (worn by mercenary Jayne Cobb, played by Adam Baldwin):

jayne hat
If ever an item from home seemed to conflict with the known character, it was this. Cobb slept with his favorite gun and often held himself apart from the other characters. He often acted in a "each man for himself" way-though his thoughts occasionally betrayed his actions. Whedon explained:
My whole thought was that Jayne was your classic bad-guy mercenary type, and I thought this is the one guy who does not have a tortured past, who has a decent, hard-working family, who just, you know, this was his career choice and the idea of him getting a letter from mom that he struggles to read, and the knitted hat, was— it just felt so right. It felt very, very him and very human and then of course I saw the hat with its flaps and its pom pom, and I just couldn't have been happier.
The hat exploded across the internet appearing in blogs, on ravelry and on flickr.

You can find a variety of the Jayne Cobb Hat patterns online; Allison MacAlister, published The Knitting Ninja version. I think it's a pretty good copy of the original.

Other Sci-Fi Inspired Crafts:

How about Thea's knitted Centurion cap?

Or at Our Big Earth, they are currently holding The Craftizmos ROBOT CHALLENGE. Make your own recycled robot costume to enter.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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