New media is combining with old skills on the internet, where an online community ready to learn and share is giving crafting a whole new groove. “The craft bug is definitely caught more easily online,” says Pip Lincolne, founder of The Brown Owls craft group and blog (brownowls.blogspot.com) and author of the craft project book Meet Me at Mike’s . “You can see what people are making on the other side of the world, be inspired by crafters, and see pictures of their projects in real-time.”
Newcomers are welcome: in fact, the amount of online help for novices is staggering – and mostly free. Podcasts, blogs, and photo and video websites such as Flickr and YouTube make it easy to share ideas and skills. Then, once your skills are up to scratch, sites such as etsy.com and madeit.com.au let you sell finished products from your lounge room.
The new blood has brought a humorous and socially conscious edge: think sassy embroidery and sustainable materials. Brown Owls members – who come from countries as diverse as Australia, the US, Finland and Mongolia – can earn downloa \dable Girl Guide-style badges for activities such as stitching, crochet, socialising and cake eating.
As well as sharing skills within the group, Brown Owls stages a “softies” drive twice a year, making soft toys for the Mirabel Foundation children’s charity.
The website crafthope.com also rallies crafters for social good, making dresses for orphans in Brazil and creating projects to raise money for Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.