DIY Tutorial: Weaving a Mini Tapestry

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A direct result of my recent HGTV obsession, I have been (not-so) casually planning the decor in my future dream home. Throughout this process, I have stumbled many times upon woven tapestries such as this one from Urban Outfitters.

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They are exquisite, but expensive. I had been searching for one cheap enough to pull the trigger on for months. That is, until I came across this simple tutorial on Pinterest to make on my own.

Now, I am a knitter–but only of infinity scarves, so my knowledge is very limited. At first, I thought these tapestries were carefully knitted objects, not woven. I have never tried weaving, but I was acutely aware of one advantage I had from the get-go: lots and lots of leftover yarn. However, as a frequent visitor to Michael’s crafts, I also am unable to pass up the opportunity to add to my already overflowing yarn collection. So, yarn in hand, I set off to find the other necessary supplies as denoted by the tutorial to make the tapestry of my home decor dreams.

Supplies:

-Yarn (I ended up buying the blue and copper to go with the dark grey and taupe that I already had)

-Yarn needle

-Cotton string

-Wooden Dowel (I had to saw mine to be the right length later)

-Metallic Paint and paintbrush

-Masking Tape

-Loom (I bought a knitting loom kit, and had to improvise so that the pegs would be closer together. If I were to do this over I would keep this in mind from the start)

-Tool to remove weaving from pegs

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Setup:

Tie the cotton string around one peg, then wrap it around the peg directly below it, snaking up and down while moving across the loom. Tie when you reach the other side, making sure it is taught but not too tight.

To make the tassles at the bottom, fold an 8(ish) inch piece of yarn in half. Feed it into the two far-left cross-strings with the tail ends facing left, then tuck the tail ends under the cross string towards the right, pulling tight. Pull your finished tassle down to the bottom, under the peg. Repeat for every two strings, or each peg, until you have a tassle below each peg.

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Now that you’re ready to start weaving, start by doing a few rows at the very bottom, right above your newly created tassles. Starting from the back of the loom, weave your threaded needle over one of the cross strings, then under the next, repeating across the whole row. Pull the yarn through, leaving a few inches out the back, and weave back the opposite direction, making sure that the strings you went over before you now weave under, and vise versa. Do a few rows and then use your fingers to push the rows down so they nicely line up.

After creating a nice base, plan what designs you want to add. I chose to do a series of triangles. Repeat the over-under weaving, excluding one cross-string on each side every few rows to taper upwards. Continue pushing the yarn down as you go so you have an accurate image.

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This proved slightly difficult with my metallic yarn since it was so thin–I ended up doing a few rows of each length before moving upwards so it was taller and fuller. Once you have created all the shapes you want, pick your base yarn color and begin to fill in around the shapes. You can always start a new piece of yarn in the middle, as long as you start from the back. Remember to keep pushing the rows down as you go so you don’t leave holes or have a loose weave. I discovered, too late, that I had pulled some rows too tight, which warped my final product. Try to pull the yarn through so it’s taught, but not so tight that it distorts the straight edges of your tapestry.

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When you have filled in your whole tapestry, turn the loom over and tie the loose ends in the back, either to each other or to themselves.

Use the tool to remove the cotton string loops one-by-one, transferring them onto the wooden dowel. Since my loom was a bit wonky and uneven, I wrapped every other loop around the dowel twice. It looks a little messy, but worked well enough.

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Take the masking tape and wrap around the ends of the dowel, leaving about an inch of both tips exposed. Make sure they are even, and then paint the ends with the metallic paint. I did a double coat to really make the copper pop. Let it dry.

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Tassles:

Now, these are not totally necessary, but I loved how they added to the finished product on the Pinterest tutorial. To make a tassle, first cut a length of yarn that, when folded in half, is approximately the length you want your tassle to hang from the wooden dowel. Tie this piece at the bottom, making it into a loop. Take the same kind of yarn and fold it over itself multiple times, making a long bunch of yarn about 8 inches long.

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Fold the bunch in half and place it halfway through the loop you made originally, so it hangs over the knot in the loop. Take a third piece of yarn and tie around the bunch, about 1/2 inch to an inch down from the top. Tie the top loop as close to the bunch as you can, and then cut the bottom off of the entire tassle with a pair of scissors. Voila! I made 4 of these, but an odd number would look great as well. I liked incorporating my accent colors in the tassles as well as in the triangle designs, and I like the variation of length of the tassles as well.

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Once your paint is dry, remove the masking tape and hang the tassles on either side of the tapestry. Take the cotton string that we used for the weaving itself and tie a loop on one end of the dowel, outside of the tassles so that they stay on. Pretend that you are hanging the tapestry by this string, measuring how long it should be for it to hang the way you want. Once you have that measured, tie the other side of the string on the opposite end of the dowel, making sure the tassles are again inside of the loop so they don’t just slide off. Cut the excess strings and there you have it! A unique wall decoration to hang where you please and add a homemade touch to your dream home.

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Good luck and happy weaving!

A short essay on brand bravery

Defining what makes a certain brand “brave” is difficult. The problem arises from he fact that the line separating “brave” from “stupid” is so horribly blurred. What is definite is that both the brave and the stupid end up taking risks. However, I differentiate these two descriptors by holding that the brave brands, when stepping out on a limb, do it in a way that is calculated, purposeful, and intent on causing positive change through cultural discussion.

One of the more controversial risks a brand can take is to unreservedly include a minority standpoint in its advertising, regardless of the repercussions. This throws the brand into the spotlight—good or bad—as a topic of social and cultural discussion. Those brands that do this purposefully are fully aware that many—let’s be honest, most—may take huge offense to whatever is depicted or represented in the spot. However, they accept this wholeheartedly in exchange for the few members of the audience who will appreciate it—or at the very least, respect it.

The travel company Orbitz comes immediately to mind, and its campaign for “gay travelers.” In not just one, but multiple spots, Orbitz targets and highlights the LGBTQ community directly. It does not simply throw gay references in there for diversity—they are the definite center of the advertisements. Orbitz is unabashedly deliberate, and got the attention they wanted and deserved from the spots. Stephanie Blackwood, managing director of gay advertising agency Double Platinum in New York, said of the spots, “Hats off to Orbitz that it’s not a one-off but instead a whole mini-campaign to the gay and lesbian market. Too often, we’re expected to feel lucky if there’s one.”

This is bravery—purposeful, risky, beautiful bravery. Orbitz willingly takes the controversy head-on, promoting real cultural change and offering itself up as a scapegoat for any who don’t agree.

However, this is where it gets tricky, and where the brave/stupid connection gets murky. Chick-Fil-A, in June of 2012, took a strong stance against same-sex marriage through statements made by its president. It can be argued that Chick-Fil-A is brave for standing so steadfastly behind what the company believes in. I, however, think that Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy’s statements were purely brand stupidity. Praying mercy on a “generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude” was not a calculated move on the part of the brand. In fact, “word vomit” is probably a closer approximation to what came out of Cathy’s mouth. The idea behind bravery is there; he is standing by a position, regardless of the consequences. Unfortunately, it was executed in an unprofessional, blatantly offensive manner. Had Chick-Fil-A created an ad that supported heterosexual marriage, that could constitute a “brave” move and would unmistakably show the brand’s opinion on the matter. Instead, Cathy came out trash talking and generalizing an entire generation of chicken eaters. Smooth move, Cathy.

Regrettably, Cathy’s statements are not unrepresentative of a basic advertising goal. Advertising, in general, is very conservative; trying not to anger the consumer base is a main objective. The brave will scrape against this grain, placing diversity high above the need to keep the consumers happy in the hopes that the risk will pay off in the long run. In fact, diversity itself is difficult to find in advertising. Most spots still portray happy, middle class white families, because that is what we’re used to seeing. Making this family goofy is now the norm for a brand trying to get our attention. There is a slowly increasing amount of advertisements featuring minorities, but when is it diversity and when is it simply using a “token” minority?

Brave brands need to use diversity in a real, ballsy sense, including minorities because they can—not because they are obliged to. Tokenism is for the fearful brands, hiding behind “we put a black guy in there, so we’re all good with the diversity thing.”

One of the bravest things a brand can do, now that we’ve moved into a full-fledged social media world, is to risk placing trust in your audience to judge and support you. Now that brands are able to interact directly with their target audiences, they have the opportunity to step out on limbs like never before, with significant risk. Fans have the ability to tell brands how much they love them, or can viciously bash them in the very public space of the World Wide Web.

One of the most interactive brands is Taco Bell, operating mainly through its inviting Facebook page. In December, Ryan Klarner—A high school swimmer—reached out to Taco Bell, asking for a custom Speedo adorned with “Think Outside the Buns.” Taco Bell commented on the post with, “What size do you wear? And what’s your address?” Klarner was given two Speedos, one with his requested design and another with “Live Mas”—the new slogan.

This act, though at first glance silly and generous, is placing ultimate trust in a fan. Taco Bell made a high school kid an ambassador for its brand. What if Klarner is caught partying in the Speedo? Anything he does while wearing the banana hammock translates back to Taco Bell itself, possibly implying that they support underage drinking or whatever else a high school boy chooses to do. Taco Bell took this risk, proving that they, as a brand, will put that fan’s happiness ahead of any possible negative consequences.

In this same arena comes the risk of asking your fans, “Are we doing this correctly?” To publicly accept criticism and then address it is extremely brave, for most brands choose to discuss negative criticism in private, behind the closed doors of an online submission box or corporate email. Brands with enough balls to do so can now respond directly to complaints via social media, wide open for the public to see.

I applaud those few brave brands that take the big risks. Hell, I’ll even give a polite golf-clap for the brands that take the stupid risks that backfire in their faces. Brands simply must remember that the risks are only worth it if they are well thought out and have a definite purpose. Companies should push for positive change through their advertising, for ads reach a precious audience. Brands are a major part of our lives, especially those that grab our attention and keep us talking about them later; such an influence has an incredible potential for social and cultural discussion. So please, step outside of the conservative advertising box and shock the world into taking a long, deep look at itself.

“In-World” Advertising: Capitol Couture

I was reminded recently of the brilliant work of Lionsgate’s in-house digital team. Inspired by this Buzzfeed article, my mind has been wandering about the future possibilities of the “in-world” advertising surrounding the release The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Screen shot 2014-01-20 at 10.25.25 PMWe all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, something exclusive. Exclusivity defines luxury, and it is regularly employed by brands in order to spark desire. The brands found in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar play off of this exclusivity, creating trends that only the fashion-savvy will know and appreciate. Sure, this is a regular occurence in the world of fashion, but it is rare to find in the advertising for a blockbuster summer hit such as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. This only makes Lionsgate even more genius for their “Capitol Couture” campaign. Instead of using the familiar faces of Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, the Capitol Couture billboards aim to transport you into the superficial world of the elites who live in The Capitol of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian world. Someone who had not read the books or had not seen the first movie would see the billboards as real, albeit crazy, high fashion advertisements.

Screen shot 2014-01-20 at 10.24.40 PMThat’s the point. It is not designed to attract new fans, but to engage the current diehard Hunger Games fans and encourage them to interact further with the brand. The advertisements direct you to a gorgeous website that only hints at the main characters of the franchise–a curious move, seeing as celebrities are easy advertising when it comes to films.

The “Capitol Couture” campaign arose after complaints of the “cheap” portrayal of the dystopian city tainted the first movie. In a move to win back the dissatisfied diehard fans, Lionsgate chose to prove that they could do luxury, and do it well.

In further effort to make the city seem real, the website is home to actual fashion contributors, handpicked by the Lionsgate team to showcase their “Capitol worthy” designs. What better way to tie in the luxury of the fashion industry than to actually tap into the network of fashion designers themselves? Further interaction is available on the website, offering fans another medium to delve into the world of The Hunger Games.

What I find most interesting about this campaign is that it does not attempt to draw in the inexperienced. It makes no stab at bringing a new audience to the Hunger Games franchise, which, in Hollywood, seems to be a waste of time.The few main characters shown on the website are portrayed as just that–the characters, not the actors and actresses; imagine that the resident Capitol fashion house chose Katniss as the face of its new campaign, not Jennifer Lawrence. They could not have done a better job bringing the user into the Hunger Games world–or at least into the world of the rich and famous.

The “Capitol Couture” website is found on the traditional movie website, and has released three “issues” since its creation. I can only hope they reintroduce the idea in the promotions for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay!

25. Horror Movie Stunt

This is one of the funniest advertising stunts I’ve seen. It’s for a horror movie, so you can empathize with the women getting the shit scared out of them, but their reactions are priceless. The stunt is to promote “The Last Exorcism Part 2,” set to come out in March.

What better way to give your audience a taste of the horror than to bring it to life?

Heads up, the people being scared release quite the stream of profanities. Wouldn’t you?

Thinkmodo, a viral video marketing agency in New York City, set up a hilariously scary scenario for unsuspecting women in a beauty salon. A woman dressed as the dead girl in the movie is placed behind a fake mirror, poised to make scary faces at the ladies getting their hair done. After scaring them behind the mirror a bit, the girl comes out from the back of the salon in a full back bridge, eerily recreating the movie poster and sending the women in the salon running out the door, smocks flying.

What I like about the stunt is that they made a video about it, instead of simply word of mouth. In a viral world it is necessary to make something shareable. You can pull off something extremely effective in person, but if you don’t film it, it loses its ability to last through viral sharing on social media.

For the release of “The Ring Two” in the U.K., New Media Maze set up a system online where users could enter a friend’s email and cell phone number. The site would send an email, inviting the friend to watch the trailer, and simultaneously call their cell phone with the infamous “Seven days,” inducing a pants shitting.

Hilarious, yes; sharable, not so much. Had they made a video about it, it might have gained more media coverage than it did. It was a hilarious idea, but had more potential than it lived up to.

24. Hybrid Journalists

The world of journalism and advertising is changing, that much is for certain. We are constantly being told in class, “You are the ones who come in with the new knowledge regarding the newest technologies.” Joining the world of advertising is a daunting thing—the professionals who are in it now are incredibly inspiring, so much so that it almost gives me an inferiority complex. However, I strongly believe that I’m receiving training that actually pertains to the real world.

The journalism department at Oregon is set up in such a way that those who wish to succeed have the outlets and resources to do so, and those who are just doing it to graduate will probably struggle. The professors and GTF’s all have real-world experience and mind-blowing networks that we can tap into.

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The most important part of our training is that we are all being molded into hybrids, or “T-shaped” skilled people, as Deb Morrison says. Before we can specialize, we are thrown into “Gateway,” which forces us to dabble in multiple journalistic professions. Multimedia, photography, InDesign, interviewing—you name it, we do it. We even design magazine layouts for tablets, which remains a cutting-edge technology. This broad-based education, along with a specialized focus, allows us to enter the workforce as someone who can jump in anywhere that is needed, and as someone who can understand the other facets of the agency. Even if I end up as a creative, I will have a full understanding of how account planning and management works, for example.

As the world of advertising and journalism continues to develop in new mediums it becomes even more necessary for us to be able to adapt and step up to new challenges. For us to be that jack-of-all-trades type of entity not only makes us more marketable, but more helpful and willing to learn once something new arises.

I know that while I mix my curiosity for advertising with my love of magazines, I will have the best resources possible to graduate and do something I love.

23. Simplicity on a big budget

Simplicity is difficult to achieve. I myself am still in the process of perfecting my ability to edit my writing down so it’s more concise. Some brands, however, are experts on the topic. What is surprising is that two of the best brands at achieving simplicity have gargantuan budgets for advertising.

The Google Search Stories campaign is one of the most heartwarming advertisements I’ve come across. One of them almost brought me to tears in class (let’s blame the PMS for getting me halfway there, but still). There are no people shown in the ads, just a Google search bar. But that search bar is something so much more—it represents our curiosity, our needs—it is something we all relate to and understand.

Google is a part of us now; it is a part of our lives, a part of our stories. For Google to realize this is ingenious—nothing more is needed. Google has the multi-million dollar budget to create the most over-the-top, mind-blowing advertising spot known to man. And yet they stick with the search bar. Apple employs a similar tactic, but usually will incorporate people in its advertising. Apple ads are extremely simple: here is what you can do with our products, and here’s how to do it. Simple. Beautiful.

And yet both of these seemingly simple advertising strategies employ another aspect that makes them so successful: emotion. Scott Bedbury mentioned it in his lecture—advertising must tap into the illogical side of the brain. Logic gets you halfway there, but emotion controls the gut decisions that rule many of our choices. Both Google and Apple examine the human condition—how we relate to each other and what is most important to us. They then tie this into their products, showing us how Google and apple help us relate and communicate with each other; how apple and Google help us live better lives.

22. Nimble Thinkers

What do you think of when you imagine someone in advertising? Creative—yes. Strategic—duh. Mad Men? Sure. And yet, there is a component to the creative world that is often overlooked, and that is being very nimble.

Being nimble has many facets. One obviously must be able to adapt to various situations—say your equipment malfunctions, sudden scheduling conflicts arise, or your client changes his or her mind without warning. What do you do? You must think on your feet, assessing the situation to quickly solve the problem. Quick thinking leads to quick resolution. People who work in management and strategy do this on a daily basis. However, this nimble nature does not only apply to the strategic/management side of the advertising world. It affects the creative side as well, in a very different way. It has to do with ideas.

In the creative world, you must be selfless—the most nimble are. As I’ve quoted before, from 72andSunny, “Ideas over Ego” must come into play. People in the industry must be able to lay their egos aside for the advancement of the project and of the team, letting their ideas go if it isn’t “the one.”  There are times where you need to contribute, knowing that your name may not be cited on the end result. Generosity of ideas is a necessity in a team environment, and ultimately leads to better results.

With this nimble lack of ego comes the ability to take criticism and get right back to work without taking that criticism personally. The enthusiasm to learn and to create the best work possible must override the love you may have for what you have created or what you’re imagining in your head.

Thirdly, there is a level of risk with being nimble, which comes with a quick decision. Once you’ve reached the perfect idea, run with it. During the Superbowl, Oreo showed the world how nimble its creative team truly is with an ad put out right as the power went out in the stadium.

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The ad was put out on Twitter and received extremely positive feedback, mostly for how quickly it was made and published.

As a creative, the work you do is extremely important. However, the way in which you do this work is equally important.