Laying Low

Sometimes you just want to stay cozy. It was really cold this morning. So Anita and I are watching movies. I am knitting.

I am not doing well with gauge. Oops. Haven’t knitted in a while.

The knitting is less ugly than it was. It’s a table runner. It will block nicely.

It’s nice to just relax. Even though there have been some glitches today, I’m just chilling. Hygge. Yep. Peace.

Got the computer hooked up to the TV, which shows very pretty screen savers.

Life is boring! We’re staying out of COVID in Utah. That’s just fine. I feel lucky to have a vacation with peace and movies. It could be worse. Maybe Thursday we can get out and drive around!

And Now the Party Starts

Good news! Entertainment has arrived! I’d been expecting a package, so I went down and asked the sweet young man, who obviously just got back from his two-year mission, to look for it. No package. I thought, hmm, that money for overnight shipping was totally wasted!

But, when I finally went back to my room, I saw that there was a message on the phone. I admit it, I never look at actual analog telephones. A perky woman told me I have a package! Well, how about that? Another trip to the lobby (which had been deserted all week, but suddenly has (ugh) people in it. Lo and behold, the package had been right behind the earnest young man. He sure looked embarrassed.

She said, “package” (that was for Mandi).

I knew what was in it, because my friend, (f many, many years) Laura, realized I needed knitting on this long and soon-to-be snow-filled hiatus. She sent me random yarn and some needles!

There were bonuses, too, like needle holders and a darning needle (believe it or not, I needed one, because the scarf I brought with me needs a little repair). And there was a fun bag and a note!

Stuff! Thanks, Laura.

Since I had to stay up a long time waiting for the fun to arrive, I had fun starting what may be the world’s ugliest scarf or table runner. My idea for the pattern is, at least so far, not really pretty. But I’m not giving up on it. It made my obsessive watching of election results that do not change at all much less stressful.

Query to me: why did you start watching results on FRIDAY?

I got over an inch done plus got free exercise winding up the yarn, because my watch thought I was using an elliptical machine. Fooled that watch!

Does it look like barf? Be honest.

Then, suddenly, my cable news reverie was interrupted, and the door to the condo opened. Was it magic? No! It was Anita! I’m no longer vacationing solo. Anita immediately settled in and declared the fireplace good. Relaxation with conversation and wine has commenced.

She’s making a face because she has to look at my bare foot.

I guess today we have to run out in the newly brisk air and have fun before it starts snowing. I’ll be more substantive later. I have been substantive enough the past few days! And the world seems a little brighter!

It Would Be Funny If It Weren’t So Sad: Divisiveness Over Pandemics and Crafts

I’ve written before about how human cultures cannot resist creating in-groups and out-groups, us vs. them, and all that. The Behave book I read recently had a whole chapter about it. It talked about how half the humans are “wired” to react to life in one way and the other half in another, roughly corresponding to conservative and liberal points of view (called different things in different circumstances). In this, we ARE literally born that way, though our life experiences can certainly have an effect.

In my naively over-educated way, I keep hoping that there are at least some parts of life where we can come together and enjoy each other’s company or deal with important issues while leaving our artificial differences aside. But no.

Meadow pinks are not commie pinko flowers.

I’m truly disappointed that we’ve now degenerated into partisan camps about whether to take precautions against spreading the COVID19 virus. For goodness sake, it’s not stay at home and quake versus run around in big groups hug constantly. People need to take the precautions they find prudent, which may differ depending on their underlying health or risk aversion trait. And some people need to work to survive, so why can’t they do so and take precautions reasonable for them? None of this has anything to do with what color your state is or who you voted for in the last election. Sigh.

What actually got me going on how ridiculous our drive to make ourselves partisan and despise the other side is something I knew about, but didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. Even our beloved fiber arts have become divided. When the Ravelry fiber arts community site enforced their long-standing rule about not having hate speech in its groups (which applies to all members and topics), a sizable group of people left in a huff, so that they could go express their partisan hatred elsewhere. And as they did, they compiled a list of vendors and stores where they would not shop and teachers from whom they would not take classes.

This all made for fodder for analysis and raised interesting questions, for which I don’t have all the answers. Were their knitting patterns hate speech? Were the patterns produced in response hate speech? Hmm.

But the infighting in one of the internet’s most niche communities is about more than just politics and knitting. It’s a glimpse of how otherwise ignored populations—here, predominantly older women—are using online platforms to organize and make their voices heard. And the Ravelry falling-out highlights questions other platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have tiptoed around: What constitutes hate speech, and how should censorship work online?

Technology Review, March 2020

Okay, they had a right to leave and to be pissed off, just as others had a right to be pissed off at them. However, it was over a year ago. Some of these folks are still trying to bully teachers and others with whom they disagree, and in a turn that seems eerily familiar, they started denying they ever had a list and accusing people of making it up. What? Aren’t they aware of the concept of “screenshots?” Honestly, if I felt censored, I could see why I’d still be upset, but I’d figure going after people who disagree would not be a great way to further my cause.

I made this for someone I disagree with on some political issues. I still love that person!

Why can’t we knit and crochet (and needlepoint, cross stitch and weave, etc.) and share our love of those things with others without dividing ourselves up into warring factions? If someone makes a nice sweater, it’s a nice sweater. If someone’s cross stitch with the F-word on it offends you, don’t make one for yourself. And if you want to make tributes to your favorite president, feel free to do so without engaging in hate speech as well.

I have a relative whose politics aren’t the same as mine. So what. I still think she is an amazingly talented needlepointer. I still like her. If we get together in the future, we’ll probably talk about family matters and crafts, not politics. That’s not so hard.

I think this quilt is cute. I may differ from its maker on some issues, but I like her work.

Honestly, I don’t want to hate or fear others, and it really looks to me like we are being encouraged to do so, so that we don’t focus on actual issues we all have in common, like the need for adequate health care, enough money to feed out families, and a wide variety of educational opportunities for all.

When I find myself feeling a little afraid to go shopping wearing a mask, I need to tell myself that no, most of the people not wearing masks are NOT going to yell at me. I’d also like to be able to go into a craft store and not feel judged for buying rainbow yarn, a Franklin Habit book, or something ridiculous like that.

This rough-fruited buttercup hopes that having “fruit” in its name doesn’t make it a far-left flower.

I’m gonna stubbornly care about everybody, even if I get puzzled by choices some people make or beliefs they hold. Even, gasp, if they hold logically inconsistent beliefs. I want to live in peace with my neighbors and enjoy what we have in common, not get all worked up about differences.

So there. It’s sad, not funny that we can’t cut each other some slack and not call each other horrible names.

References

Us Versus Them, or Not Our Kind | Psychology Today: in society

Why a Culture of Us vs. Them Is Deadly | Forbes: in the workplace

How a ban on pro-Trump patterns unraveled the online knitting world | Technology Review March 2020- fairly neutral discussion of the Ravelry mess

‘Knitting Has Always Been Political’: Ravelry Bans Pro-Trump Content, and Reactions Flood In | NY Times June 2019 – article from when the Ravelry stuff started

Crafty? Have I Moved On?

This runner is in our house, so I still use it!

The UU Lent word for today is craft. Do you know me personally? Have you been to any of my houses? In that case, you know I’m pretty fond of crafting. It’s in my blood. I come from a long line of knitters, crocheters, embroiderers, needlepointers, and quilters. Oh, then there’s the great aunt who tatted for a living, because she was confined to her home (her fun mental illness was kleptomania). My mom and stepmom were both trained artists, too. This post has a lot more on this topic, with lots of photos.

Knitting was my favorite thing to do most of my life. It filled my little hands with motion, and my little hands love to be in motion. No wonder I type all the time, right? I also loved to teach people to knit, because I felt like I was giving people the tool they needed to end boredom forever! You can’t be bored if you have yarn and needles, well, at least in my opinion.

My currently almost-finished project.

I have to say that I knitted so many darned pairs of socks that I got bored with them. But, I could probably do it again, now.

I designed these.

Tainted Love

This was made in 2012. Still gets worn by the recipient!

Why did I stop knitting so much? Well, if you need to know, it’s not because of the Yarn Store Incident. That just got me to never want to knit in public again.

No, I realized that I valued my knitted products as precious representatives of many hours of my life and hated to lose them. I also got really sad when I spent hours knitting things, only to find them not appreciated.

Examples:

I loved this sweater.

Moths. My house in Round Rock had a moth infestation. Suddenly all those wool socks I’d knitted in complicated patterns with expensive yarn had moth holes. Let me tell you those are hard to fix. Worse, my rainbow sweater made of amazing Swedish yarn got yarn holes. THEN I found that my unused hanks of yarn were all holey. That just made me sick. I felt like I’d wasted a lot of time and money.

Shrinkage. I love my spouse. I don’t love that he repeatedly has washed woolen items in the washing machine and made them unusable. The one that killed me was a sweater in really precious yarn (organic, vegetable dyed, blah blah) that I hadn’t even worn yet. I sat it in the wrong spot, so he blames me. Then he machine washed my hand-woven placemats. My loom misses me.

The only time I wore it. It shrank real good.

Cleaning the Teen Pit. When the female teen who lived at our house for three years moved out, there was a huge amount of clean-up involved, since she only took a few things with her. When I found things I had worked really hard on for her all squished and stuffed under the bed, my heart broke again. Then I found more in my son’s room. They were both people who loved clutter, but wow.

The teen who received these wore them for years. I was really surprised.

And to be honest, most stuff I knitted wasn’t that good.

Luckily my needlepoints look fine. A dog did eat a pillow I spent $100 to have made. And it was a picture of a dog. I put it on a shelf.

This does not suck. My favorite needlepoint. The canvas was from Ireland.

But, I think crafts are good for you. You make a beautiful AND useful object when you’re crafting. And really, it’s more about process than product, at least for me. I do wish I’d finished more of my projects.

One of the placemats I wove. There were a bunch. It was fun.

Moving on. I WILL finish the thing I’m making for Kathleen.

Life Is Complicated: Fiber Arts Department

I can see why so many people I know are staying away from online communities, even though they provide such great ways to stay in touch, make new friends, and feel less isolated. It just seems IMPOSSIBLE to create a community where people treat each other with respect and dignity. Name calling and blaming seem to be the rule rather than the exception in today’s society in this country.

Case in point

I’m a member of a fiber arts community called Ravelry, which was founded in 2007. Back when I spent much of my time knitting, teaching knitting, and designing patterns, this was like a second home to me. I’m sure many of you readers feel the same, since I have so many knitting friends (before Ravelry we had some wonderful email lists, and some grumpy ones).

That’s right, I showed up early.

I’ve been very proud of the founders and their team, who have truly created a wonderful resource for fiber artists, and have continued to add features and branch out. It’s like Facebook, but with a focus…and generally with more kindness.

Continue reading “Life Is Complicated: Fiber Arts Department”

Arts? Crafts? All in the Family

This is the kind of thing my house is full of. It’s a very large needlepoint of pansies that I did when my kids were young, The canvas is from an Irish artist.

One thing my genealogy forays didn’t turn up is the fact that I’m descended from a long line of artists, mostly fiber arts, but many other types as well. What got me thinking of this was looking around my Bobcat Lair rooms and realizing that most all of the art is by someone I know, much of it by relatives. Granted, some of it may be “crafts” to some of you (needlework kits and such), but it’s all art to me, because the makers had lots of design decisions to make, even in a kit.

Let me introduce you to a few of my talented family members, then I’ll share some art by friends and acquaintances in another post. Note that most of the pictures don’t go with the text, since some of the things I talk about don’t have photos to go with them.

This is my prized tatted doily from Aunt Susie. It’s one of the larger ones I have.
Susan Canova

My maternal side in Florida was a bunch of crazed crafters/artists. The foremost in my mind was my great-aunt Susan Canova. Because of her mental health issues, she was mostly confined to her home (she liked to take stuff). But she made a living for herself by creating amazing table cloths, beadspreads, blankets, curtains and trim. I am happy to have a number of pieces of her tatting, a linen tablecloth with filet crochet borders, and other treasures. She was very productive, and I think it’s really cool that she made a good life for herself despite her problems.

Continue reading “Arts? Crafts? All in the Family”

On a Learning Spree, Part 1: Crafts

mccalls
Just imagine me spending hours combing through these 60s through 80s magazines, searching for fun projects to update for today’s sensibilities!

I’ve noticed something new about myself in the past few months. Coinciding with a general good mood and attitude towards life has been a giant uptick in curiosity. If there’s something I don’t know much about, I dive in and learn as much about it as possible (you might have noticed that in my long-ass articles on dog coat genetics). I read every book I can get ahold of, and if I can, I take a class.

I thank the Master Naturalist program for jump-starting me back to being my old curious self. My brain is so happy, though probably the people around me are growing tired of me spouting off about something I just learned. They’ll really get sick of me after the conference coming up in October!

Over the next few days, I’ll share what I’ve been thinking about lately, along with some resources.

So, What about Needlework and Crafts?

This is NOT a new interest for me, as anyone whose looked at my rather dormant Ravelry profile would notice. I have been stitching something or other pretty much since I could read a set of instructions. I even still have my second embroidery (my first was a sampler that seems to be lost). For years I concentrated on knitting, my favorite. I knitted a lot of garments, and then in the 2000s I got into teaching knitting classes, which was fun while it lasted. I had a pretty popular knitting blog and still have a lot of online knitting friends.

Continue reading “On a Learning Spree, Part 1: Crafts”

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