Saturday, May 28, 2011

Selling Your Knitting (The Contentious Issue), and Bettering Yourself as a Knitter

Knitting for "profit" is an apparently contentious issue. The biggest issue that people seem to get their hackles up over is pattern rights... if it's free can someone limit the use to just "personal"? If it's not a free pattern, are you buying the rights to use the pattern for what you want, etc? How much do you have to modify something before it's original enough that you can sell the finished object guilt free?

Anyway, this post isn't about the moral economy of knitting.

What I've found useful, especially if you don't want to be paying for patterns, but want to sell your FOs, is that, well, you gotta make your own pattern. Which sounds daunting, but it doesn't have to be. It's a learning experience for sure, and your skills as a knitter will grow.

So, this is what I do. Say I want to make hats to sell. I look up a bunch of free hat patterns similar to what I want to knit. I read through them all, looking at cast-on stitches, decrease techniques, etc. I just read, read, read, til I have a good idea of the basic construction... and then I wing it. I should probably take more notes than I do, but whatever, you can do that or not. Once you have a good idea of the number of stitches that it takes to make a hat that fits, and even a basic decrease technique under your belt, you're basically in free territory.

And, like I said, it helps your skills as a knitter to grow. What you're doing when you do this is learning how to construct an object, rather than just how to follow a pattern. When you start doing that, you can start getting so much more creative with your knitting, because once you know the rules, you can bend them to your own whims.

It's a lot more work than just knitting up a free pattern and saying to hell with it and selling the FO anyway, but for me, I feel so much better being able to put something up for sale that I actually created from my own understanding of how things are constructed. I would like to consider myself some sort of textile artist, at some point in the future, and for me, this is how I can get there...

Wooden Bird

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Student Poverty (CASCA Pt 2)

So, the second big thing that I ended up coming away from CASCA with was research ideas. What I've decided to look at for my honours and subsequent master's research is student poverty.

(The irony being I'm not sure how - or if - I'll be able to pay for school next year, my graduating year, the year I'm supposed to be doing my honours research... on student poverty.)

Everybody talks about it, but I don't think all that much research has been done on how students survive... and I mean, as someone living the situation, sometimes I'm not sure how I manage to do so myself.

I think it will be a really eye-opening research project, for me at least, and I think it's got some real-world relevancy.

Here's to understanding poverty, and figuring out how to change it.

Wooden Bird

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Being a Being - Some Thoughts (CASCA, Pt. 1)

CASCA was an amazing experience, on multiple levels. I met some great people, saw some really interesting presentations, and had a couple epiphanies to light my way through my next stint of academia. I think I may separate all of that into a couple posts, however, rather than inundating you all with everything in one big heap.

So my first installment of the CASCA archives (I like the sound of that) is this idea of what we are, as people. Who Am I? Why Am I Here? Two separate conversations with different people filled this out for me.

The first was a conversation with one of the students in my lover's graduate programme. I can't remember exactly what the topic of conversation was anymore, or what exactly this fellow said that triggered this thought in my head - there was a lot of alcohol imbibed at this conference (I think this helped with a lot of the 'meeting new people' parts). But what came out of this half-remembered conversation was this idea:

We are not. By which I mean, we are not any particular state of being, but rather the process of being. The way it first formulated in my mind was "We are not anything. We are what we have been, and what we will be." After some more conversation and thought and contemplation over the course of the three days, I reformulated it as "We are becoming." So, the answer to that question, "Who Am I?" seems to be to be "I am everything I have been, and everything I will be, and the ways I engage with my relationships, and interpret myself in the context of my world... That is who I am."

A dynamic, changing, complex, and fleeting being, which itself is a verb - a word of action, not a statement of existence the way a noun is. We are much more than a thing that exists. We are change and growth and experience and a million moving parts constantly reevaluating their place in the universe. It's mind blowing in a way. It astounds me and makes me value all my experiences because it's not that they made me, but they are me.

So, let that roll around in your brain a bit... but, wait! There's more!

The other question... "Why Am I Here?"

The Big Three religions have an answer for you. God's Will. I think that pretty much covers it. But the rest of it have to find meaning on our own; we don't get a vaguely articulated document, poorly translated and even more poorly interpreted, to tell us what we're doing here.

This is something that I've thought about a lot previously, but a conversation at CASCA with another student from the same grad programme as the previous bloke brought it out of me in a more articulated fashion than I'd previously attempted.

I've been slowly working my way through "Living With Honour: A Pagan Ethics" by Emma Restall Orr for a while now, and something she says at one point or more, is that people aren't special. There's nothing significant about us that makes us better or more worthy than any other thing on this planet, "living" or not.

So, this is a thought I've been rolling around my noggin for a while, and I think about it a lot, and what that means for our place, and where we stand, and how to integrate this into my udnerstanding of purpose and meaning.

Well, this conversation I had, once again, I can't remember exactly how it started, but I put this idea out here, mentioning Restall Orr's comment, and then I further articulated my own expansion on the idea.

We aren't special, inherently. There is no purpose for us to be here, other than that we are simply all cogs in the universal machine. We play a role the same way the wind does and the ants do and everything else does. We act and interact and react. And so, we have to create meaning, for ourselves. The only way we can do that, really, is through our relationships, with other people, with other beings, with our environment. We have to make our lives meaningful by making our experiences and our relationships meaningful. By respecting their place in the creation of our being, because without them we simply wouldn't be.

It's our relationships and our experiences that make us who we are, as I said previously, and so we have to make them meaningful. That is the purpose of our life. To create meaning in it.

In sum, my mind has been blown. If you couldn't tell, haha.

Wooden Bird

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Socks and Anthropology

I leave in about 45 minutes for the Canadian Anthropology Association's annual conference. A few of my profs are presenting, and I'm really looking forward to the experience! Three days in New Brunswick to schmooze with anthros? What could be more exciting?

I'll tell you - my first sock!

Sock it to me!    

I'm planning to knit its sister-sock while in New Brunswick, so expect a pair when I get back! I'm so proud of myself over this thing. And I love the colours of the striping! And it's so cozy holy smokes!

Now, I'm off for New Brunswick!

Wooden Bird

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Am So Sick of Rain!!!

Really, I miss the sun. Go away rain! Yuck.

Going to go meet someone for coffee in about an hour, and the rain is going to make the walk really gross. Yuck.

Started my first pair of socks! Not yuck.

Anthropology conference next week! Excited. Wee!

I have a couple of things to list on Etsy, but need some sun to come out so I can photograph them! Jeez, sun, you're ruining my business!

Started spinning the Jacob - I think it'd make a really nice hat when I'm done with it? We'll see if there's enough.

And, in uber-yuck news: the election results have pretty much trampled my spirits. I'm sad for my country and scared for what Harper has in store for us. Some dark days ahead, friends. Some very dark days are ahead.

Wooden Bird