From an email sent out earlier today:

Hello friends and colleagues!
I’m writing to invite you to participate in a Counterfeit Crochet opening night event at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on the evening of Friday, March 28! As part of the exhibition “The Way That We Rhyme,” the Counterfeit Crochet Project will have an installation and workshop area that will be active during the opening and duration of the show, and I’m seeking folks to participate in something akin to a “crochet army” of collaborators. See details below, the project statement, plus a plethora of your questions answered… Hope to hear from you πŸ™‚

WHAT: Invitation to be a part of the activated Global Counterfeiting Ring
WHEN: Friday, March 28, 2008, 8-11pm (opening night of the exhibition)
WHERE: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 3rd and Mission Streets, San Francisco, first floor galleries
AS PART OF: the exhibition “The Way That We Rhyme” curated by Berin Golonu
CONTACT: Stephanie Syjuco,

exhibition website:
counterfeit crochet website:
artist website:


What do I have to do?
Come sometime during the opening (8 – 11pm), sit down at a workshop table that will be in the main gallery space and surrounded by the installation, previously made counterfeits from all over the world, and work on your own “counterfeit crochet” project! Yarns and needles will be provided, as well as ample workspace tables.

What do I counterfeit?
The Counterfeit Crochet Project encourages makers to bootleg high-end designer objects like handbags, purses, wallets, etc., using the lowly analog medium of crochet. You can make a simple, basic project and just embroider a logo on it in the end (easy!), or try your hand at a more complicated handbag like the ones featured on the website I usually go online or flip through fashion magazines to find a designer item that I like, then set to work debasing it via crochet.

Why in god’s name are you organizing this? Aren’t you a “conceptual” artist?
Yes, I know. It’s complicated. But please scroll down to see the project description…

Do I have to know how to crochet already?
That’s always helpful, but if you really want to be a part of it and don’t already know how, let’s schedule some one-on-one time in the next week or 2 so I can show you. There’s also really great online tutorials that will help beginners, plus a plethora of books and websites. I’ll also have basic instructional flyers and how-to books on-hand during the opening and exhibition for folks to crib off of.

Some good online resources are:

Do I have to bring my own materials?
I’ll provide yarn, needles, fashion magazines for inspiration, theoretical texts on pirating and bootlegging (just in case you want to do some heavy reading, ha ha), scissors, etc. Unless you have a project you’re already working on or have specialty materials you want to use, just bring your sweet self!

Where can I see more images of what people have made in the past?

Do I have to stay the whole time? Will you work me like a slave?
No, of course not… Stay as long as you like, but it’s always fun to sit around and chat and be a part of the festivities! It’ll be awesome to get to hang out with you and also be part of the show.

Can you get me in to the opening for free?
Yep. That’s in the works. If you want to avoid paying the $10 entry fee for YBCA openings, join the project for part of the evening and get a free pass to see the rest of the show. Plus booze. Hooray! But please RSVP with me so I can make sure your name is on the list.

I’m a dude. Can I still participate in a show on collective feminisms?
Hell’s yeah! The more dudes the better. I’m not interested in enforcing gender stereotypes. Let’s all move beyond, people!

I can’t make it to the opening on March 28, but this sounds like fun. Are there any more opportunities in the future?
YES! I’ll be leading “workshops” on-site in the gallery every few weeks during the duration of the show and I really want folks to drop by and work on a counterfeiting project to “activate” the space. Just let me know and I’ll forward you the future dates.

I have a friend that could be really interested in participating. Can I forward this invite onwards?
YES, please do! The more the merrier…

This is awesome! Sign me up!
Shoot me an email confirming you want to be a part of it and we’ll take it from there πŸ™‚

In 2006 I created a website soliciting crocheters to join me in hand-counterfeiting designer handbags: Fendi, Gucci, Chanel, Prada, etc. Participants troll the internet and choose a design that they particularly covet, working off of low-resolution jpgs which they download. The final results may or may not bear resemblance to the originals, which also interests me.

The resulting “translations” are both homages and lumpy mutations. Crochet is considered a lowly medium, and the limitations imposed by trying to create detail with yarn takes advantage of the individual maker’s ingenuity and problem-solving skills.

I am also interested in how this project can be similar to contemporary manufacturing and distribution channels. As a collaboration it parallels the idea of “outsourcing” labor, but also adds a democratic and perhaps anarchic level of creativity–within the basic framework, participants have taken liberties with their translations, changing colors, adding materials (cardboard, hot glue, etc.) to suit their needs.

Makers are encouraged to keep and wear their bags, in an attempt to insert strange variants into the stream of commerce and consumption. I ask for people to send me snapshots of their items to share with others.

This is an ongoing global project, with makers from all over the world. I am always seeking more collaborators, so please contact me to join up! In 2007 the project travelled to Manila, Beijing, and Istanbul for exhibitions and counterfeiting workshops.

Thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks!
In counterfeiting solidarity,

Stephanie Syjuco