Friday, December 9, 2011

Textiles, Art and Culture: A Personal Reflection

I have resolved to start taking pictures regularly and blogging them. But right now is finals week so I just thought I'd copy/paste a paper I wrote for one of my classes that I want some of my friends to read.

When I attended the reception for the recent exhibit of Ghanaian textiles and art at the Common Wealth Gallery, I was struck by the beauty of the cloth, prints and paintings on display. The primarily geographical curatorial sensibility brought to this exhibit was unusual, as this is a more common approach with older art rather than artists that are working today. Juxtaposing these very different works from the same culture, produced in different contexts and different mediums, along with the work of Pamela Clarkson, who has adopted the Ghanaian culture rather than grown up in it, gave a sense of context to this art that I found incredibly valuable to my own aesthetics and ideas about what art is.

I don’t like to define art; in fact, I have a lot of problems with dictionary definitions for the vast majority of words in common usage. In How the Mind Works, evolutionary psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker describes what he calls a “fuzzy category”: “whenever one tries to program a set of criteria to capture the members of a category, the category disintegrates.” Fuzzy categories are ultimately bound up with the human cognitive faculty we refer to as “common sense.” Ever since I read How the Mind Works, around my freshman year of high school, I became a lot less interested in the question, “What is art?” I simply say that some things are definitely art (Van Gogh paintings); some things are sort of art (runway fashion looks); and some things are definitely not art (my beat-up water bottle).

Mary Hark’s choice to exhibit paintings and textiles in the same space not only underlined the influence of textiles on African art but also showed us the African respect for the textiles of everyday life. A fundamental tenet of my aesthetic sense is that things are for using, which puts me in direct opposition to the Western art world’s insistence that art is separate from everyday life. As a result of this odd dichotomy, so-called “real art” gets more respect than the artful things of daily life, even from fiber artists. Fiber Revolution, a group of artists who work in the medium of quilts, ask to be respected despite the fact that their work has its origins in a practical art, rather than because of it, saying on their website, “Although the art is constructed from fabric, it is not meant to lie at the foot of the bed, but rather to hang on the wall like an oil or watercolor painting.” Although they are trying to “educate the public about fiber art as an exciting art form,” they have not themselves moved past the assumption that a painting is “real art” and a quilt on a bed is not, a barrier that stands in the way of even so-called “art quilts” to be taken seriously.

I was raised in an environment (the near west side of Madison) that placed a very high value on intellectual pursuits, and a low value on material ones. As a person who likes to think and got good grades, I was considered not only “smart enough” to be a lawyer or an engineer but occasionally “too smart” for even the liberal arts. In order to get onto the life path I’m currently on, one which I do believe is the correct one for my life, I had to overcome my own ingrained snobbery. As a kid, I took a few weaving classes, and I actually bought a drop spindle when I was in middle school, but I didn’t have any examples of how to integrate textile making into my life so I gave up asking my parents for a rigid heddle loom and took up a lot of my time with ballet classes. (I still have some of the wool roving that came with the spindle in my craft supply stash.)

Obviously, I have spent years thinking through some of these questions. stepping outside our own culture even a little shows us just how weird the snobbery that has infused Western aesthetics over the past few hundred years really is. In acknowledging the ways that textiles are alive and important in African culture, we see the ways in which they are dead and disregarded in our own. To me, this is in some ways a call to action. Seeing art, craft and design as opposing rather than overlapping pursuits does ourselves a disservice as we fail to integrate our lives. This exhibition, where batik yardage was displayed as art, does not work within this disjointed Western paradigm to “elevate” cloth to the level of painting and printmaking; instead it celebrates cloth for what it is: material. Rather than continuing as precious pieces to hang on the wall, this cloth will be sold as yardage; I’m thinking about buying a few yards to make into curtains, or for some other sewing project.

I keep coming back to Pamela Clarkson’s artist statement: “Moving from one country to another is like passing from one age to another: one’s own and that of the host country.” Her work, with its very personal sensibility and diverse inspiration, is inspiring. And the conflation of traveling through space with traveling through time illuminates the way that our notions of modernity can never be disentangled from their cultural context. It took a long time for me to figure out why these words really stuck with me, but now I realize: it’s because I want to run away so I can look back and see what insularities are inherent in my current perspective.

Fine art vs. craft

I had to cut this from a paper because it was too tangential, but I also wanted to hold onto it. So hooray for copy/paste!

From my perspective, the bias of fine art against craft has its roots in patriarchy as well as the women’s liberation movement. In the 1950’s, the acceptance of the idea of a certain kind of domesticity as a path to personal fulfillment proved extremely harmful to the psychological health of many women. However, the feminist movement reacted by saying, “Domesticity is bad and boring. Let us into the club of things men do, those things are interesting and fulfilling.” I, however, would draw a different conclusion: that fulfillment does not come from playing the role that’s expected of you, but from from making right choices for oneself. In many ways, the role that men were expected to play in the 1950’s, that of careerist and breadwinner, has become the expectation for all individuals, instead of being rejected as a limiting and repressive aspect of our society. Indeed, the chauvinism of the 1950’s has been preserved in the idea that “masculine” fields—academia, law, business—are the fields that make the best use of a person’s intelligence, while things that women were “allowed” to do are almost uniformly a waste of human potential. In other words, put down the repressive needle and pick up the liberating paint brush!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Knit together in the Network Society

Continuing my "lazy blogger" trend of just copy/pasting a paper written for class . . . I really need to actually start taking pictures, my goodness.
Knit Together in the Network Society: Ravelry and the Human-Centric Web

To those that do not practice them, traditional textile crafts seem incredibly old-fashioned, rooted in a pre-industrial past. But we cannot step in the same river twice; no matter how closely we imitate the creations of our foremothers, we cannot fully espouse the attitudes of a person who has no choice but to spin their own yarn, even if we have drop spindles in our craft bins or spinning wheels in our living rooms. And, more importantly, when we are connected to an information society—when we have reliable methods of transmitting and receiving information across time and space—our knowledge is of necessity organized differently. Rather than being masters of a few techniques passed down from mother to daughter, many knitters of today are adept pattern-readers (and modifiers), drawing from the compiled knowledge of experts and sharing their innovations and technical expertise not only locally but online. The website Ravelry, often called a “knitting social network,” is one of the major points of access to the world’s knitting knowledge to web-savvy knitters. With over 1,730,000 registered users (Ravelry: People Search), and many more registering every day, it’s clear that (although Ravelry does not gather any demographic data from its users) this is not just a phenomenon of young knitters. Indeed, when I was a new knitter at age 18, a friend of mine who’s now in her sixties pointed me to this invaluable source of socially-derived knowledge. By harnessing the collective intelligence of users and controlling data that is enriched by normal use of the site, Ravelry is profoundly changing the experience of knitting in the modern world.

Ravelry, founded in 2007 by Jess and Casey Forbes, a husband-and-wife developer-knitter team (Jess is the knitter and Casey the developer), exemplifies the “Web 2.0” paradigm as set out by Tim O’Reilly. O’Reilly explained Web 2.0 as he saw it in a 2005 article, two years before the founding of Ravelry. O’Reilly gives a list of seven characteristics he sees as key to the Web 2.0 experience, though he qualifies this list, saying, “excellence in one area may be more telling than some small steps in all seven.” Ravelry is outstanding—indeed pioneering—in two of these areas: the effective ways that it harnesses user data, and its utilization of the collective intelligence of its users.

Ravelry contains two key features for users: user “notebook,” where projects can be entered, with information about the pattern, yarn, and needles used as well as pictures; and the forums, where users discuss anything from a favorite designer to a favorite TV show to a lifestyle choice. When looking up a pattern on Ravelry, you can not only see the designer’s suggested yarn on the main page, but you can click on a “yarn ideas” tab and see about 30 yarns most commonly used to knit a given pattern. Clicking on that yarn will in turn take you to projects made with a given yarn, so you can see if it looks good (a big concern with color-changing yarns), as well as comments written by users which may alert you to a yarn’s unsuitability. Conversely, from a yarn’s page you can browse some of the most popular projects made with that yarn. All this information—what yarn is used for a pattern, what people are saying about it—is made available because everything on Ravelry is linked. Instead of just writing the name of the yarn used, users actually link to the yarn’s “page” (maintained by either the yarn’s manufacturer or volunteer editors). Pattern pages and yarn pages can also be linked directly in the forums, and that link is “two-way,” as you can go from any yarn or pattern page to a list of forum posts about it. By providing an extremely useful service for individual users who just want to keep track of what yarn they used for what knitting project, Ravelry is building a massive collection of data that is helpful to its users.

Ravelry also uses data gathered from users as well as information provided by pattern designers in its “smart search.” Using a wide variety of social, personal and factual data, a Ravelry user can search for patterns (and yarns!) meeting a vast range of criteria. For example, browsing for patterns for “women’s sweater” (or any other criteria that might be interesting or relevant) I can choose to sort by “Hot right now,” “Most popular,” or “Most projects,” among other purely social criteria, as well as aggregate criteria (like “best result”) that take socially-derived data into account. Ravelry is not only useful to users that enter their own data—giving them a personal record of their own knitting—but also to “freeloaders” who use Ravelry’s search capabilities to find a pattern or yarn without entering data. But anyone who browses the Ravelry databases is taking advantage of data gathered through individual actions that are both useful and fun—a cornerstone of Web 2.0.

“In the past, knitting traveled by artifact.” So wrote acclaimed knitting designer Anna Zilboorg (2011) in a brief introduction to a sock pattern published in Piecework magazine. She goes on to detail the processes by which knitting traditions (and indeed, all textile traditions) have evolved locally and cross-pollinated geographically in the days before mass literacy and printed knitting patterns. But now, knowledge of knitting travels in the heads of people on airplanes as well as in books, magazines, and online. As Zilboorg says, “Today, . . . we have access to all the ways people knit and the things they make. We can engage in World Knitting, a genre that does not depend on the whims of the moment but draws its inspiration from many traditions, melding them harmoniously.”

Unlike many traditionally intellectualized domains, knitting was not a part of any information society until comparatively recently. According to Richard Rutt (1989), the first knitting patterns published in the English language appeared between 1835 and 1840. For at least the first century of their existence, too, knitting patterns primarily served to align the handwork of middle-class and wealthy women with mainstream fashion. It is only in the past fifty years or so that Zilboorg’s “world knitting” has even come into being, with knitting books and magazines bringing the knitting of the world to the West rather than just disseminating Western information. (Zilboorg, by the way, is not young and not active online.)

Information and conversation about knitting has been on the internet as long as there has been an internet, but before 2007, this information was scattered, not synthesized. Podcaster WonderMike (2011) sums up Ravelry’s revolutionary networking of the global knitting community: “If you’re a relatively new knitter such as me—and I started in 2004—it’s hard to remember life before Ravelry. How did we organize patterns, find errata support, and interact with our fellow fiber junkies?”

A microcosm of the internet’s potential, as well as its utility, Ravelry shows us how powerful and useful the innovations of the Network Society can be. We are coming back around to the old ways of knitting from the other side, bringing all the baggage of the last 170 years of receiving knitting knowledge from strangers to this new mode of networked, repersonalized communication. Knitters are an older demographic, according to surveys conducted by the Craft Yarn Council of America, and Ravelry’s nearly two million users represent only a small fraction of the many millions of knitters around the world. What will happen when all of us are truly networked? What innovations from the next technological revolution bring to the crafting world? And what will be the next stage in the development of true “World Knitting”?

Works Cited

Craft Yarn Council of America. (2011). 2009 Research: 5,000 Passionate Knitters & Crocheters Speak Out. Retrieved from

O’Reilly, T. (2005, Sept. 30). What Is Web 2.0. Retrieved from

Ravelry: People Search. (n.d.) Retrieved Oct. 26, 2011, from
Rutt, R. (1989). A History of Hand Knitting. Loveland, Colo.: Interweave.
WonderMike. (2011, Aug. 9). Ravel-ution [Episode 22]. Fiber Beat. Podcast retrieved from the Fiber Beat website:
Zilboorg, A. (2011, Jan./Feb.). Firework Socks. Piecework, 19, 10-12.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yo dawg I herd you like networks

Hey guys, this is a paper I wrote for a class called "The Information Society" which I wanted to put on my blog for various reasons. I had a lot of fun writing it.

Networks within networks tangled with networks: Mechanisms of human connection in and around the World of Warcraft

In a virtual world, “importance” and “reality” are constructed in the same way they always have been—socially. So we must keep in mind that although networked computers allow the existence of these virtual worlds, it is the human networks within and surrounding these worlds that gives them their true significance. As Edward Castronova has stated, “Everything that happens in a synthetic world is the consequence of the interactions of human minds” (2005, p. 48). It can even be argued that virtual worlds are much more a “meeting of minds” than the physical world, as rather than being governed by the laws of nature, a virtual world is governed by a mind—a developer. Just as human minds are unpredictable, the networks we form online are chaotic and fractal, as one network, like those in the game World of Warcraft, can generate subnetworks and metanetworks through its importance to players.

One goal of the developers of a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG), such as World of Warcraft (WoW) is to tell a story, a story which is the world that players inhabit. Within this story—the story of Azeroth, a world invaded by demons, corrupted by malevolent influences, attacked and defended by dragons—players form social networks, often joining formal organizations called “guilds” in order to find players with similar play styles as themselves, or perhaps creating a guild in order to play with real-life acquaintances. These are formed by members of the same basic in-game network, i.e., the same realm (or server), and the same faction, Alliance or Horde. The guild is the most common persistent subnetwork found within WoW. Guild members have in-game methods of communication and incentives for grouping together rather than with strangers. As discussed by Williams et. al., guilds can generally be classified as belonging to one of four types: social, raid, PVP (player vs. player) or roleplaying (2006). In addition, guilds vary in size from very small (it is possible to have a guild with only one player) to very large (due to various game mechanics, the maximum number of players in a guild is 1,000 (McCurley, 2010)). Guilds facilitate gameplay chiefly by providing a group to play with, but their importance to players is largely social. Williams et. al. conclude that a major factor in the guild’s importance to players is as a source of social capital, similar to a civic organization where individuals may have close friends in the organization but also take advantage of a formal organizational structure to meet strangers and interact with casual acquaintances. It is, by the way, important to note that I have classified guilds as a “subnetwork” because all the characters in a guild must be a part of the same in-game network. The players, however, are connected to each other by more than just their WoW accounts; guilds often have websites with forums, use VoIP services to communicate by voice, and contact each other by email, instant messaging, or even SMS and telephones. It is also not precisely true to say that these subnetworks draw from preexisting realm/faction networks; it is not unusual for guildmates to have met in real life or elsewhere online before choosing to play WoW together, and an individual may choose a realm and faction because of a guild they want to join.

In-game, players cannot communicate with their enemy faction verbally or group up to accomplish in-game goals, and not many kinds of groups can be formed across realm boundaries. WoW players who are not necessarily able to connect in-game have connected out-of-game in a wide variety of metanetworks, whether centered in discussion forums, informative blogs, or even derivative creative works. Many of the metanetworks of World of Warcraft stem from a desire to be better at the game. For example, the forum Elitist Jerks describes itself as “a WoW discussion forum targeted towards topics regarding high-end raiding and analysis of game mechanics” (“Welcome”). It is very clear from the site’s FAQ that this is not a place to joke around and have fun; in this particular network WoW—and mostly just raiding in WoW—is serious business. Other WoW metanetworks facilitate the kinds of fandom interactions common to many popular intellectual properties, including fanfiction, webcomics, and speculation. But any game as big as WoW—with 11.1 million active players worldwide as of June 30, down from a world record maximum of 12 million (Cifaldi, 2011)—is big enough to generate what can rightly be called major online media outlets. WoW Insider, a blog about World of Warcraft, hires writers and editors to cover many aspects of WoW, from news about upcoming game content, to how to play your class, to discussions of the in-game lore (or story), to humor, to features about the fan community itself.

It could be argued that subnetworks and metanetworks come about because of game mechanics (and, in some cases, a profit motive). But there are many video games—indeed, many Massively Multiplayer Online Games—and their game mechanics don’t all generate how-to sites, let alone enough pageviews to generate ad revenue. Players who don’t care about the game world or community don’t stick around long enough to form guilds. The importance of a network to individuals is crucial to the ability of that network to successfully generate other networks. Metanetworks to WoW can even generate subnetworks. The guild AIE (Alea Iacta Est), for example, is described on its website as “a casual Horde Guild that was started by the creators/fans/friends of The Instance/ELR/Buzz out Loud/Jawbone Radio/Mahalo Daily on the Earthen Ring (RP)-US Realm of World of Warcraft” (“Charter”). (The Instance is a World of Warcraft podcast whose listeners and fan community are another WoW metanetwork.) Tracing the “network generation”: First, some guys that play WoW started a podcast. As the podcast grew in popularity, it became the focus of one WoW metanetwork. The members of this metanetwork created a WoW guild: a subnetwork. This WoW guild has in turn generated “co-networks” in other online games. The podcasts only thrive because of the importance of WoW to hosts and listeners; the guild came about because the podcasts were important to many people; and the guild became so important to its members that they not only communicate out-of-game but have created a formal mechanism to create subnetworks within other virtual environments. It’s now possible to regard AIE: Azeroth as just one subnetwork of AIE as a whole as well as a subnetwork of the World of Warcraft.

If we participate in any information society, we presume we are and will continue to be able to communicate at a distance. With the infrastructural revolutions of the network society, we have a previously unparalleled ability to communicate across human space and time. Many see this as an intellectual paradise and a breeding ground for social change. Yet amidst this tremendous potential, we are more likely to use the internet to tweet at writers we reference in our papers and kill dragons with friends in Omaha than to exchange intellectual or spiritual ideas with strangers. Some consider this a waste of the internet’s potential, but what else would we use it for? Social connection—staying connected with our loved ones, making connections with like-minded individuals—is a basic human need that has always driven the revolutions of the information society.


Castronova, E. (2005). Synthetic worlds: The business and culture of online games. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Charter. (n.d.) Retrieved Sep. 20, 2011, from

Cifaldi, F. (2011, Aug. 3). World of Warcraft Subscriptions Continue To Decline, Though More Slowly. Retrieved from

McCurley, M. (2010, Oct. 8). Cataclysm: Guild cap revised, now 1,000 members. [Weblog post.] Retrieved from

Welcome to Elitist Jerks. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Williams, D., Ducheneaut, N., Xiong, L., Zhang, Y., Yee, N., Nickell, E. (2006). From Tree House to Barracks: The Social Life of Guilds in World of Warcraft. Games and Culture, 1, 338-361.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

World of Warcraft, Fashion History, and so forth

It's been forever since I posted anything, I'm terrible I know. But I have realized recently that a lot of the comments I end up actually leaving have enough substance in them to be a "response" blog post. A couple weeks ago this nice lady Carol came over here after a comment I'd left on a blog we both read (and I really should start a series of posts on the things I discussed there), and was nice enough to be disappointed about my dearth of recent posts. And there's nothing like a total stranger believing you have something to say to make you believe you've got something to say. So I'm fleshing out a comment I recently left on WoW Insider, World of Warcraft blog I've been reading as I'm getting more and more into the game.

WoW Insider has a regular feature called "Breakfast Topic," and this morning they asked:

At what point does modern technology in World of Warcraft go too far? How far can gnomish technology really go? Is the game becoming too "steampunky?" Is that even a word?

Do you feel that introducing items from modern-day Earth into Azeroth interferes with the immersion of the game? Is it impossible to properly roleplay when someone just roared past you on what appears to be a Harley-Davidson with a sidecar attached to it? Or do you just shrug it off as gnomish eccentricity? Are the items properly introduced with a logical argument for why they exist, or are they there for the sole purpose of giving engineers something to do (and a way to make money hand over fist)? Do you personally own one of the mechanical vehicles, and, if you are a roleplayer, how do you work it into your storyline?

There was a lot of interesting discussion in the comments, with a not-insignificant number of people complaining that they didn't like to use guns as a "medieval-looking" character and so forth. I think that those people are fundamentally silly for thinking that a fantasy game somehow "has to be" medieval, so I told them so, armed with some Facts I've learned in my design classes and through my interest in design history over the years. Discussion of female underwear leans heavily on Elizabeth Ewing's Dress & Undress, a history of women's underwear in England which I'm currently devouring--highly recommended.

(Blockquote is things from my comment; non-blockquote, brackets, etc. are my attempt to explicate what I'm talking about for a non-WoW audience.)

So of course I thought of this response as soon as I left for work and didn't have time for WoW Insider at lunch . . . Anyways, my $.02 on the whole "Medieval" thing--the aesthetic of WoW is not really so much based on the actual Middle Ages here on Earth. At all. I am not a total architecture expert, but the cities and buildings we see are either completely imagined or drawn from a hodgepodge of historical times, it's not a dichotomy between medieval and steampunk. Even Stormwind, with its Gothic cathedral and crenelated walls, doesn't look much like any actual historical time/place combo.

Stormwind is the human capital city in the game. Below, a screenshot of my "main" (i.e., the character I play most), Syringe. She's a level 23 human fire mage, and yes that is her parrot. She's in Stormwind in the cap--as you can see, there's a bit of an old-timey vibe but the roofs are blue. There's also a player with googles, but that's not really anything to do with city architecture.


And if you're basing this assumption on clothes, well, speaking as a "clothes nerd" (I have the same major as aspiring fashion designers), let's just take a look at cloth-wearing human females (which I am and my main is), who wear close-fitting bodices over a natural torso--that is, we can pretty safely assume no corsetry of any kind, just some sort of bosom support. (No jiggling.)

Here we've got a nice head-to-toe shot of Syringe, in a simpler outfit because sometimes I like to dress my characters pretty, not practical. Notice that even she is not immune to the problem of blinking when her picture's being taken. She's just like me you guys! Except for she's a natural redhead. And she knows magic.


This is actually a very modern idea--the defined waist and fitted bodice first came into fashion in England in the twelfth century, but did not establish themselves firmly on the fashion landscape until the fourteenth--meaning that for most of the time period thought of as the Middle Ages, women in Western Europe (which I know is what you all mean when you say "Medieval") all wore loose-fitting robes, shifts or skirts. Because the fitted bodice was so closely associated with corsetry, it was not worn by women who needed to run or lift things--as our player characters do--for many hundreds of years after it was adopted by fashionable women. During the nineteenth century, women who performed physical labor sometimes wore restricting undergarments, but that didn't last. The "prom-dress" silhouette of a human female in a robe is very, very twentieth-century.

Look look! I'm doing magic!


As far as the combinations of armor and guns--this is a world with magic. In the real world, we don't bring a knife to a gunfight, and we stopped wearing plate because once guns are in the picture it's just too encumbering and not protective enough; also because why would you spend that much money on cannon fodder? Whereas in WoW nearly everything the players use--our guns, our knives, our armor--is enchanted. When your toon [this is another word for "character" but it takes less space to type] puts on plate armor it can actually make you MORE agile than basic, close-fitting cloth, but somehow I still wear cotton/spandex blends when I do yoga.

I've only rolled one Horde character (I'm pretty much a total n00b) so I have less to say about their areas; but in a world where the Plains Indian-styled Tauren and the quasi-medieval Humans and some goat-inspired hotties from outer space with holographic technology are all in contact with each other isn't any less medieval than a world where gnomes build awesome shit out of gears.

Phew! A lot in there definitely would have been a bit over my head just a week or two ago. So let's unpack:

This is Ysylya. She's a level 20 Draenei frost mage. (Shut up. I like playing mages.) The backstory of her race is that they are from a different planet--Outland. (Most of the game takes place on the planet Azeroth.) But as you can see, the model for the race is pretty goat-y. She's currently in a human area, but the space-shippy background she's in gives you a good idea of the spaceship interiors that are very common in lower-level Draenei areas. (I can't go to Outland yet, I need to actually level instead of blogging.)


It's a little easier to see the goat-based styling in this cap--look at the legs. Speaking of the history of underwear, wow is she working the Gibson Girl s-bend--I think it's got something to do with the way the cape interacts with the tail, but I think you'd even see the line if you took the cape off. The main difference between Ysylya and the ideal Gibson figure? The separated bosom.


And finally, my Tauren:


Not sure if I'll keep playing her--she's in a different faction (aka "side") as the other two, and can't be in the Alliance guild I play in with my boyfriend and his siblings and sister-in-law. We also all made a Horde guild but there's a limit on the number of characters you can play on any one server and at least one person was running out. Also the more literal animal-based races look kind of awful in the female form, so even if I wanted to play through all the content exclusive to that race I might want to be less scary-looking, aka I'd be a dude.

Now I'm off to go level Syringe's tailoring, and run a dungeon or two with the guild. I hope to keep up posting--I've got two jumping-off points for rambling on "women's work and the nature of making" not even COUNTING books I'm reading, I've got a lot more to say about WoW which I think would still be interesting to a non-gamer and some of which intersects with my identity as a maker, and of course if I've made quite a lot of things since last time I posted but that would require actually, you know, taking pictures.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

. . . Anybody here?

I don't actually know how I'd know if anyone even reads this thing. I miss Livejournal, where commenting was the easiest thing in the world and super common . . . but anyhow, I thought I'd give NaBloPoMo a shot. Which probably makes no sense at all considering how much time I manage to waste *without* trying to blog, but eh.

Got way too much homework to do today, so here's a few flickr pics of summer knitting and I promise to whip out the camera and start telling stories soon!

Colorado Ishbel

Colorado Ishbel

This is my Colorado Ishbel. Actual color of the yarn about halfway between those two pics. First lace I actually blocked on wires, and it was such a delight I'm planning on casting on an Estonian lace scarf soon, so I can encounter some actual challenges.

A lot of stories go with the knitting of this shawlette/scarf/thing, but I don't have time to tell them at the moment. If anyone comments and asks, I'll share a few, maybe try to get some of my dad's pics of me knitting it all over Colorado, but for now, here's the notes from the project Rav page:

9/17: So I finally blocked the thing (there was this whole saga where I ordered blocking implements, patiently waited until I knew they totally should have arrived because I didn’t want to be That Customer that complains because things don’t show up immediately, only to find I’d had them shipped to the wrong address), and pictures will be forthcoming–I just realized I was wasting away my Saturday editing them when there is all this beautiful weather out. Soon!

8/7: This is my souvenir of my family vacation to Colorado! I bought the yarn on the first full day, in Boulder. I knew I was going to use the yarn for Ishbel, but thought I’d wait to get home–but when I was getting my yarn wound, I decided to buy needles (I hadn’t thought to bring any extra) and get started right away. I knit in Boulder, in the car, in Rocky Mountain National Park, in Denver, and all the way home. I had to pause when it was time to bind off–I needed a larger needle (I actually ended up using a size 10), but despite the high stitch count and the slow going needed to keep the bind-off loose it only took about an hour, and now I have a fabulous shawl/scarf! I’m ordering lace-blocking equipment to keep things classy, but this project is done!! Now to work on those projects I thought I would make headway on in CO …

Happy November, everyone! If you read this, let me know in a comment: What would you rather see, WIP posts or FO posts?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Thinking about doing Tour de Fleece this summer. Not that I'll be watching the Tour de France, but I have two spindles and two hibernating spinning projects. How embarrassing! So my goal would either to finish both projects, or to finish the spinning for Urchin completely and achieving some good solid progress on the red fiber. Or to spin every day on those two projects as well as finishing Urchin spinning Or something. Hmm . . . I'll keep thinking about this.