Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Decisions, Buttons, and Gender Neutrality

  I'm still working on that super-secret project that I shared a while back (hint: It's the purple one)... It would be done if not for a small mistake on my part. But before we go into that little problem, let's see what just happened to jump into my arms yesterday at the craft store:

crafts, crochet, yarn, buttons, WIP, Simply Soft

  Okay, not the buttons; they were the only reason I was there! With the help of The Kid, we found the right toggle buttons for the project. That's all we needed. Then, we went exploring in the yarn section. (The Kid has never been to out-of-town Joann's, so of course I had to show her where it was.)

  It's not like I need more yarn, but I have to find the right one for the project I asked for your opinions on. I've been undecided for awhile, and your perspectives helped me get closer to my conclusion: It has to be a solid color. But what color? What yarn? Many of you noted that the design has a Celtic knot vibe. This helped me decide that the project should be made in a green, blue, or bluish-green, keeping it close to the tones in the multicolored yarn I used.

  But the thing I've been fighting: It was also suggested to use a lighter weight yarn. I do think that wold be a good idea, but it will also reduce the size of the project... Something I already had worked out and I don't feel like re-working it. So, I made the next-best decision: Keep it worsted-weight, but find a softer, more drape-y yarn. Simply Soft to the rescue!

crafts, crochet, yarn, WIP, Simply Soft, Pagoda

  But here, I ran into another roadblock. The color Pagoda above seems like a great choice; it's a little bit blue and green. Sorry, it mostly wants to look blue in the pictures. (I know it's not my screen settings, because it looks that way on camera.) I'm quite partial to darker tones, so I was leaning towards picking this one at first... But maybe such a bold design deserves a bright color?

crafts, crochet, yarn, WIP, Simply Soft, Cool Green

  So I picked up this Cool Green, too. Again, I'm getting something wrong with lighting or settings, because that "green" is a lot more like teal in my eyes. Think: Bright peacock. It's bright. Really bright. I think Joann's has some sort of trick lighting that makes you like yarn colors more when they're in the store. It looks gross in my lighting.

crafts, crochet, yarn, WIP, Simply Soft, Soft Green

  And just to be safe, we need to a nice, gentle, soft color into this mix of bold and bright potential choices. Please keep in mind: This heavy-metal loving crocheter likes dark colors. I come from the darkness to live in the darkness and become the darkness. My darkness will eat your darkness to become darker. That said: I'm picking the lighter color.

crafts, crochet, buttons, coat, WIP,

  Now, let's get back to the whole reason I made Dad stop by the craft store: Because the Michaels here doesn't have toggle (or any?) buttons. I had ordered some online, but they're not here yet. I'm ready to finish the project and I'm tired of waiting! Surely they'll be here tomorrow now that I've made another purchase.

  Last night was supposed to finish the project, but it ended in a mistake that I hate. I have to rip out the final part that made the buttonhole loops, just because this garment is for a female. Anybody know why that is?

crochet, WIP, buttons, gender

  I almost want to leave it like it is. I would prefer for clothing to be gender-neutral regarding the side that buttons are on. I find it ridiculous that we've held on to such an antiquated tradition for so long. I get it if you're not comfortable with peeing alongside a man in a gender-neutral bathroom. But does it really matter which way your coat fastens?

  There's many theories on why it's this way: From high-class women being dressed by servants to Napolean not taking a joke. Whatever the reason, I think it would be easier if it just didn't matter what side the buttons are on. But, I fear the person(s) that will notice it. Are you wearing a MAN'S coat? The buttons are on the wrong side! I can hear it now...

So, can you hear that frog? Rip it, rip it, rip it.

Happy Crocheting!


  1. Oh, wow. You are much more sensitive to people's gender sensitivities than I can be. In my formative years a series of events intersected in my life: My college years, when I had very little money but a lot of design aspirations; the realization that off the rack men's clothing was generally far better made than women's clothing; Annie Hall and Diane Keaton's look therein; and my grandfather's retirement from his city job and subsequent pruning of his fancy pants work wardrobe.

    I got very good at remaking his fabulous suits into fabulous clothes for me, which expanded to haunting used clothing stores and garage sales for other old clothing to remake. I was an equal opportunity remaker, I'd use any gendered item, so long as it had good original workmanship and fabric. Now my 20 year old daughter wears some of those clothes, and my seventeen year old son wears some, too (retailored again to his ultra slim build).

    I mostly crochet these days, but when I can be inspired to get out my machine, the last thing I would consider is what side the button holes are on, or how the fly opens. When I'm designing crochet garments, I use the closures as a design element, so they go wherever I think they look/work best. If the recipient of a handmade gift had an issue with which side the fasteners were on, it would probably be the last thing they received from me. I make items to fit, not to make a gender statement.

    You are very kind to go to all the work of frogging a design that worked. I hope the recipient is duly appreciative!

    1. Kathleen, you're making me think... Sometimes I think to much. :) I'm having trouble re-working the design in the opposite direction, and what I had done was working perfectly! The exact thing I'm angry about: Why does it matter what side they're on? So maybe now is the time to start changing whether it matters or not.

      Honestly, I prefer to wear men's coats because they are easier for me to button. (But I don't have the sewing skills to remake them to fit.) The kind of people that are worried about pointing out button sides would probably be too distracted to appreciate something handmade, anyway.

      I may have frogged it already, but I can remake what was working. Thank you so much for your insight!

  2. Hi, Jenny- I'm glad my thoughts helped. My husband is reading over my shoulder, and wants me to tell you, after 25 years of living with me, he no longer knows which side the buttons (or the fork and knife) are supposed to be on (though he has learned how to properly make a bed), and he's still a happy and secure dude. Maybe there are more folks like him out there in the world? I do think gender-rigid thinking decreases with each generation, at least in some things. I'm pretty sure my son and most of his friends wouldn't think twice about what side the buttons are on, so long as the item was sufficiently cool.

    1. Well then... Also thank your husband for me, please!
      It's been about 20 years since I wore a man's coat to school, and my home-economics teacher was the first one to point it out - To the whole class. I had almost forgotten my embarrassment until the memory hit me while making this coat. The ridicule made me hate the coat I loved (and home economics, too).
      This coat is for my daughter, who is about the same age I was when that happened. I think that's why I worried about it... But the world is so much more accepting nowadays! And for those that aren't, it's time to change.

  3. Interesting to learn all of this, never paid much attention to that. I wouldn't care which side the buttons are!
    Poor you, almost finished and then have to rip that piece. Good luck on finishing again.
    PS: Lovely yarn colours! Thank's to the kid ;-)
    Cheers, Sigrid

    1. Thanks, Sigrid! I've decided to re-work what I had done, buttons wherever they work best... Which is on the "wrong" side. But we're just going to call it a gender-neutral coat. ;) All that ripping back isn't for nothing, though. I've found a little adjustment I can make to make it fit even better. :)

  4. ARGH!!!! The ominous button-dilemma. Truth be told: (1) I do care about the buttons being on the "right" side (my mum would go bananas if I did it wrong) and (2) I am absolutely incapable of remembering which side is the "right" one (I always have to go to the wardrobe and check on the suits and shirts of my husband and counter-check it with my blouses and by the time I get hold of my hook again I have to return to the wardrobe cause I've already forgotten which side is which...) and thus(3) I try to avoid buttons...
    Don't let buttons give you sleepless nights!
    P.S.: My camera doesn't like greens either, even sometimes has problems with the right shade of blue. Or maybe it's the computer? Hmmm - haven't figured that out yet nor have I found a solution...

    1. LOL! Marjan, I hope you understand I'm only laughing because it's exactly the same for me... Mom was the first to teach me button sides DO matter, but I never really cared until I suffered some embarrassment over it. And I still can't remember which is the right side until I go check - Which is why I also try to avoid buttons. ;)
      But, my way of thinking is changing. Why should it matter? Why should this thing pose such a problem in finishing my project? It's time to change... The buttons are going on the "wrong" side. And that's perfectly alright with me. :)

      Cameras, ugh! My old one did this with blues and greens; this one is slightly better (but still not good). I even had Rip the Colorblind double-check for me... He says yes, the yarn is much more green than in the photos. It shows that way on the camera, too, so I don't think it's the computer. Colors in nature seem to come out pretty true; I think there's something about yarn and fabric (perhaps the way it reflects light?) that makes it hard to capture in pictures.

  5. Such pretty colors! Everytime I walk into my local JoAnns, I always oogle over all the pretty Simply Soft colors. I just wish I liked working with that yarn more! I got rid of all mine two years ago because I just did not like how fuzzy it got and so quickly. It made me sad.
    Love the toggles you picked, and I'm excited to see the final project regardless of which side the buttons are. ;) I will admit, though it really doesn't matter, I know I'm used to doing things a certain way, and which reach for it as such. I do have one pair of pants that zip the other way, and it threw me off at first, but now I'm used to it, and I love those pants.
    Good luck!

    PS There is a very small button collection at Michaels in the back by the hooks and such - the notions, but if you blink, you'll probably miss it. Lol.

    1. I think it's possible that they have improved Simply Soft over the years... I remember fighting with splitting and also being disappointed in the fuzz that developed on some of my older projects. Newer skeins don't split nearly as bad, but some of that fuzz is still there. Because it doesn't shed or pill, I've learned to see the fuzziness as a character of the yarn. I made a blanket mixing SS and One Pound, and the Simply Soft looks the same after multiple machine-washes and high heat in the drier, too.

      I had to wear men's uniforms at my old job, and I never thought twice about the way they buttoned. I actually find it easier to fasten clothes from the "wrong" side! I've also been accused of wearing my belt backwards... Lol, I never realized it mattered and I still don't care. ;)

      I've got to get some pictures of the Michael's store here! They have buttons... Sometimes. There's only about ten varieties to choose from, and none of them are toggle buttons. :( I think it's a location thing: Small town, in "the middle of nowhere", where none of the stores seem worried about keeping their supply stocked for their customers. It's the same from Walmart to the stores in the almost-dead mall. The lack of choices is frustrating everywhere I go around here.
      Seriously, if you ever drive about two hours south you'll find a different world. I went to Starbucks here and ordered a coffee with cream... They told me they didn't know how to make it because it's not on the menu. I don't blame the stores... Just the people that run them.


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