Fiber Art vs. Other Types of Art

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Dear everyone who is unaware:

Fiber art is just as valid an art form as sculpture or painting or photography. Just because you don’t think so, that doesn’t make it so. It’s not just picking up any old yarn and one or two sticks and going at it. You have to know color theory, you have to know how to pick the right pattern for the job, you have to be able to differentiate between fibers to find the right one, you have to have the skills to do it. Sure, it can be learned in an hour or two, but it does take a good long time to master the different techniques.

I’ve been knitting for almost nine years. It took about an hour to learn and get comfortable with the feel of the yarn and the feel of the needles. Over the last almost-nine years, I’ve learned how to make cables, how to make glorious lace, what makes people “ooOOOoooo…” over a project, how to tell the difference between silk, bamboo, wool, and cotton by look and by feel, what a colorway is and how to pick the right one for a specific pattern, how to tink what I’ve just made without having to frog the entire thing, how to read my knitting, how to do three or four cast-ons and a couple of bind-offs, how to read a chart, how to speak in knitting code. There are still a zillion other techniques that I’d love to learn that still scare the glitter out of me: intarsia, fair isle, entrelac, just to name a few.

Perhaps you didn’t know that this much went into knitting. That’s part of why I’m saying something. Saying that knitting and crocheting are the same thing is like saying that Lichtenstein just made comics, or that a Van Gogh and a Kinkade are equal, or that Jackson Pollack just flung paint at a canvas. Yarn sold at Joann or Michael’s or Walmart are not the same thing as yarn sold at a yarn shop. You can get modeling clay and watercolors at those places, too, but you wouldn’t.

You’re going to sell a painting that took you 20 hours to paint for $1000? Good for you. You’re going to sell a photo you took and developed and printed in about three hours for $250? Congrats. Why do you think my knitted garments shouldn’t sell for what they’re worth? Let’s take a pair of socks, shall we? Just plain socks in a colorway you love, no fanciness to them at all, just plain stockinette stitch. A good yarn for socks will cost anywhere from $12 to $25. Then it takes a knitter anywhere from 12 to 16 hours to knit them. And you want to say that paying me $10 is fair because “you can go to Walmart and get socks for $8”? That doesn’t even cover the cost of the yarn, let alone my labor and my skill. This is the reason why, when people say, “You should sell your knitting!”, I say no. There is a scarf that I make that I pay $40 for the yarn and it takes me about 12 hours to knit. And it’s an easy knit, a boring knit. But there is exactly zero way that I will sell it to someone unknown for less than $90. Because my time and skills are worth that much. Banana Republic has scarves that sell for $110 that are machine knit and identical to every other scarf that they sell. And people eat that shit up.

When you put down my creativity because it’s something that only old ladies do, you’re insulting the hell out of me and millions of other people. Sure, we have older women in our ranks. We also have women of all ages. And men of all ages, for that matter. Doctors, lawyers, administrative assistants, musicians, fashion designers, housewives, football players, ballet dancers, dog enthusiasts, cat enthusiasts, we’re all kinds of people.

Telling us that we’re “less than” because it’s something anyone can do? That’s a bunch of bullshit.

The Fiber Artists

Adrift. Again.

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Forgive me. It’s been four weeks since my last post.

Not a lot has changed since last I wrote, O Great Internet. I’m maintaining my weight (still ~250 pounds); I’m not losing, but I’m also not gaining. I’ve tried making better food choices, and that seems to be going well. I’ve been snacking on healthier things (oranges and strawberries lately, with some popcorn if I crave salty snacks). Hell, I even had a salad with dinner tonight. I haven’t been to the gym in two months, and I probably won’t go this week, since the Resolutioners are there, and I hate the thought of being seen as one of them.

I’ve been doing a lot of sitting on the couch and watching Netflix. I went through the entire run of White Collar and Hot in Cleveland. We’ve also watched the full first season of Game of Thrones and all of Star Trek: Enterprise. Fun shows, for very different reasons. I need to get the first part of this season of White Collar so I can catch up very soon, and I need to get the second season of Game of Thrones in a format I can watch on my large TV from my very comfortable couch instead of on my good-sized computer monitor from a mostly comfortable computer chair. I’m working my way through Burn Notice right now; I’m not completely sold on it yet. Though, honestly, I do love the glitter out of Ms. Sharon Gless. She makes me happy; I’d listen to the woman read the phone book. (And, dammit, I can get Cagney & Lacey on Netflix DVD but not streaming. WHY DO YOU HATE ME, NETFLIX??)

I haven’t just been sitting there, though; I’ve been knitting like a crazy man. I finished a double-sized (meaning ten repeats instead of the five in the pattern) Citron in a gorgeous pewter and amethyst for The Sister, and I’m just a bind-off away from finishing Anna for the same Sister. The Citron was mindless and made for a great traveling project, but by the final increase section, I was over 900 stitches, and knitting or purling that many stitches makes you want to stab your eyes out with the needles. Anna, on the other hand, takes a little more paying attention, and it’s paying off. It’s gorgeous, it’s in a 70/30 merino/silk blend, and it’s a fantastic deep blue-green colorway called Kenai. I’ll admit that part of the reason I picked that colorway was the name. Kenai was the name of the main character in Brother Bear, so it’s appropriate that it’s going to my sister. (And yes, I know it’s also a city in Alaska; there’s no emotional attachment there. Yet. One never knows, I may end up on a trip there at some point.)

There hasn’t been a lot of movement in the last month on my video game alter-egos. I haven’t been in the mood to play much, sadly, but I’ve got a ton of screenshots from before the end of City of Heroes (though, warning, that link makes COHers very sad), and I’ll turn them into blog posts at some point, I hope. I’m also still doing some hellacious rep grinding on World of Warcraft. It takes FOR.EV.ER. but I’ll get what I want. OH YES I WILL. Guild Wars 2 is fun, as well. My little Asuran Engineer hit level 40 a while back, and my Sylvari Elementalist (named Shadow Glitter) is also a hell of a lot of fun to play.

Not much to report on the job front. I’ve had a few interviews, but nothing’s come of them. I’ve got one on Monday, and I hope that it goes well. It could be a very large turning point for us if I get it. I’ll ask for more job mojo and leave it at that. I also think I need a new interview outfit, but we’ll see what happens with that.

Aside from that, O Great Internet, there’s not much to report. Same goals from last year stand: eat better, exercise more, lose weight, read more, pray more, blog more, be most smartest (though, if you need to click that link, how are we even friends?), be more authentic to myself. I realize that there are a lot of people out there who really couldn’t care less about me because they’ve made up their minds about me without, y’know, really getting to know me or caring if I’ve even changed who they think I am, and that’s their own issue, one that I refuse to make mine. There will be no shoving me into their molds; if someone doesn’t like who I am, well, they can waltz themselves right out of my life.

Here’s to a massive ass-kicking to 2012. You deserve it for sucking so badly. 2013, you’ve got a pretty low bar to get over. Perhaps you should get to it.

Much love. Blessed be.

Workin’ it

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Three times in the last week, I’ve made it to the gym. GO ME. I’m pretty damn happy about this. I’m doing a strength-foundation workout that I found on RealJock (link is so very not safe for work; you’ve been warned). It’s kicking my ass. Tonight, I added an extra set on most of the exercises I’ve been doing and holy shit, do I hurt. I’m gonna sleep VERY well. I’ve also been keeping up (and, well, surpassing, because I’m an over-achiever sometimes) the Morning Mile Challenge from NerdFitness, and it feels awesome. I’m not always doing it in the morning, but I’m getting at least one mile in a day. Kinda proud of myself.

Still working on getting my food choices smarter, and that’s still not easy. I’m kind of a picky eater, and some foods are more challenging for me than others, but I’m doing what I can. I have asparagus that I’m going to make this weekend, I hope, and we have some orange cauliflower that we’ll be mashing up, too. Kinda looking forward to them. There are ways to make this easier and better, and I will do my damnedest to find them and make this happen, because I need to make it happen.

I finished a pair of cabled fingerless mitts this week, and I have a pair of kicky red cabled gloves on my needles to finish next. It’s kind of nice that I don’t have gigantic paws; most glove patterns are made for women’s medium or large hands, so I’m pretty safe with most of them. I hate sizing patterns, mostly because I suck at it.

Still nothing on the job front, but my unemployment kicked in this week. That will help until I get something. Help, because it’s not a lot. It’s not supposed to be a living, and I can’t wait until I can tell them to stop it. In the meantime, I’ve been working on a church program for Mom (link to Mom’s blog, which needs to be updated, hint hint hint), and I’m pretty proud of the way it turned out. I used my Mad Office Skillz, and it’s pretty awesome. I also have a hefty data entry project on which I’m working, and I’m designing some office documents for a friend’s new business. Those are heavily on the agenda for next week, I think.

Still reading Evolutionary Witchcraft with JaguarMoon. I’m not as enamored of it as I want to be. It’s nice to see another path, but I don’t know that that path is for me. I’m a little skeptical of it, but I think that has more to do with it being out of a book. I deal better with the experiential side of it, and the Feri rituals I’ve seen or of which I’ve been a part have been amazing. I’m pretty sure that that’s what the difference is for me.

I’m also still working my way through the Wheel of Time series. I’m on book five, The Fires of Heaven, right now. The final book, book fourteen, A Memory of Light, comes out in January, and I hope to be caught up by sometime in February or March so that I can get the final book on my Kindle and finish the series. I know that there are a lot of people who pooh-pooh this series because it’s so freakin’ wordy and loooooooooong, but I bough the first one, The Eye of the World, when I was working at Jack & Jill in high school, and it’s been with me ever since. It’s one of those things that I give my sister Sarah shit about, because there is crayon ALL THROUGH my copy of EotW, thanks to her little four-year-old self. No, she’ll never live it down. She knows why she doesn’t get to borrow my books. I don’t care that she’s almost 28. No.

People keep asking how I am. My standard answer is, “I’ve been better. I’ve also been worse, and I’m getting better.” The anger is mostly gone, though it spikes every once in a while, but that’s to be expected, I think. At some point, it will be gone, with little flares of bitterness and cranky-face. I’ll move on to better things, I’m sure, and life will move itself inexorably forward. It will take me along, as it always does. I will bounce back. And until I’m bouncing again, there are video games, there are rockin’ hot workouts, and there are good times with good friends.

And I will take this life, and I will make it my bitch.

So mote it be.

Derailed…a little

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Editor’s Note: Anyone on my Facebook knows what happened on Friday, so I’m not going to rehash it here. I am still searchable on here, and there will be no discussion of it here. If you have questions, well, send me a message over there.

I’m a week late in my update, but hopefully I’ll be able to add a second update this week. We’ll see what happens.

1) I haven’t started walking yet. Meant to this morning, but it was rainy, and I’m kind of whiny, so I didn’t go out. The sun is out now, so as soon as I’m done with this post, I’m taking the dog out and then I’ll head out to the streets for a while. On the weight front, two weeks ago, I was at 253.6, last week I was at 252.8 (a loss of .8 pounds, woo!), and this week I’m at 253.8 (a one pound gain, boo!), which means that in the five weeks since BTW, I’m showing a net gain of 2.6 pounds. I want to revise my goal of “lose 25 pounds”  to “be at or below 225 pounds by next BTW.” I’ll edit the original post to reflect that. That puts me at 28.8 pounds until my first weight goal. I can totally do that in a year.

2) My coven and I are reading Evolutionary Witchcraft together. We’re doing it in a book group kind of format, and we’re taking it slow. Prologue and first chapter are due by the 22nd. I also need to talk to a covenmate about helping with the rituals. She said she’d help, and with Samhain just around the corner, we need to get on it.

3) So not sure where to start with the podcast. Need to talk to Scott and see what I can get away with. I know that there are places that host on the cheap. Will need a new domain. Will need the right software. Will need a format, themes, music, and quite possibly a co-host or two. I have Ideas. Now just need Follow-through. Yeeeeesssssss…. The power of the airways!

4) Blogging: I’m doing it! Woo, go me! Or, y’know, something…

I finished a shawl. It’s beautiful and orange and geometric. I could have made it bigger, I think, but I didn’t and now it’s too late. Sad cowboy. I’m working on two sweaters and a blanket that have been hibernating for a while. They’re not portable, but I’m not going anywhere, and I have Netflix.

So, yeah, things got a little sidetracked. It will get better. I will make it better. And to those who doubt? Yeah, I don’t need you in my life.

Goals: Let Me Show You Mine!

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My close, personal friend and world famous author, the ever-fabulous Michael Thomas Ford, has started something on the Between the Worlds Facebook group. He asked for volunteers to be grouped up together. My group got all of their goals for the next year in last week, but because I suck at timeliness, mine came in today.

1) Lose 25 pounds before BTW. This is going to lead into subgoals of:

  • Start walking at least twice a week, for a minimum of 10 miles per week.
  • Make smarter food choices. Learn what that means and how to do that.

2) Live my spirituality. Again, subgoals of:

  • Meditation
  • Studying (Lord and Lady, but I hate reading non-fiction books)
  • Write at least one new ritual.
  • Write an article for publication, either online or in print.
  • Rewrite the JaguarMoon rituals for continuity

3) Start a podcast. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years. Time to do it. And along with that goes…

4) Blog more. I’ve got a damn high writing skill; I just need to get my shit together and get more motivation to start writing more. Minimum of once a week.

What does this mean? Well, I’m most likely going to be blogging my weekly check-in sessions, because that will at least get me writing, right? I’ll be able to post progress on my ritual and on my article (though the JMC rituals will only be accessible to coven members). I’ll also be posting my weigh-ins (because that will be fun for me) and probably distances. At some point in the next year, I’d like to get back into running, but I don’t want to set that goal and not be able to achieve it.

Anyone who knows me will notice the lack of anything knitting related on this list. Knitting goals are meaningless for me, simply because I will always knit. There are a few projects to finish and get sent out, but they’ll get done and get sent out. I’m not afraid of that. I don’t have to push myself to do that.

What I’ve got, though, I can set my mind and energies to. Here’s to a good year.

Crafty Love

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Note: I wrote this three years ago, about two years after we moved to Ohio. If some of the numbers seem a bit off, that’s why. There’s a website, The Family Trunk Project, that has the option to pay for their patterns with stories instead of money. There was a pattern I wanted, but we didn’t have the money to spend on things like patterns. So, I wrote this story instead. A few days later, I had the Jessie Lambdin shawl pattern. This is my story.

I come from two families of crafters.

When I was born, one of my paternal great-grandmothers gifted me with a handmade quilt. It was a simple patchwork quilt that was hand-stitched. It was my blanket, something that I took with me if we were going to be away from home for more than a couple of hours. I had that blanket, threadbare as it was, until I was eleven, when my younger sister was born. By that time, I no longer needed it, and she did. There were places where it was slightly torn and my mother sewed it back together. It eventually moved on to my youngest brother a few years later and then, after him, to my youngest sister. When she was six, it was so ragged that it had to be thrown away. I was 22 by then, and wasn’t interested in such things anymore. More the fool, I.

When I was nine, my mother taught me to cross-stitch. She and my aunt Heidi, her younger sister, had been sitting together, stitching, when I asked to be taught. Mom and Heidi both smiled and indulged me. For Christmas that year, they both got small samplers, not very detailed but still handmade by me. My mom still has hers, and I assume that Heidi has hers as well. I cross-stitched as my sole crafting outlet until my mid-20s, when I ventured into other crafts. I remember spending hours during the summer, poring over my mom’s collection of Cross Stitch & Country Crafts magazines, wanting to make some of those patterns, never having the money or ambition to sit down and actually do it.

When I was fifteen, my paternal grandmother asked what I wanted for Christmas. I had a twin-sized quilt that she’d made when I was about seven or eight, and I had grown into a bigger bed since then, so I asked for a quilt. She got very quiet and asked why that. I told her that my favorite blanket was the one she made me when I was younger, but I was outgrowing the clowns on it. She smiled and got a little teary-eyed. For Christmas, I got a patchwork quilt in dark blues. My younger brother got one in light blues. Last week, when my partner and I were going through boxes to consolidate things for our upcoming move, we came across them. For some reason, I have both of them. I couldn’t bear to get rid of them, so they’re coming with us. He understood.

When I was 21, my mother ordered – mail-ordered, from a catalog – a circular knitting needle so she could knit my dad a Voyageur hat for Christmas. The hat was made of bright red Red Heart yarn, and he still treasures it. I remember vividly watching her knit it, but never having the desire to learn to knit.

I moved away from home at 21, and it was a few years before I started doing other crafts. I learned how to etch glass. I learned how to clean and prep greenware to fire, and how to decorate the ceramic product. I made imitation stained glass with Gallery Glass. Every trip to a craft store turned into a “what if…” trip that left me wanting to do more.

My friend Scott could design and make clothing seemingly by pure desire. It was a very useful skill for a drag queen to have. Between Scott and our friend Dan, who made jewelry, the three of us were dressed to the nines whenever we went out.

When I was 30, I was on the bus, riding my way to work. In the seat in front of me, a middle-aged Chinese woman had two wooden knitting needles and a skein of yarn. She was doing some arcane cats-cradle looking manipulations with the needles and yarn. For twenty minutes, I was utterly fascinated. I called a friend who I knew knew how to knit and told her that I’d like to learn. She took me to get a set of needles and some yarn and we sat down and I learned how to cast on. Then I learned to knit. Then I learned to purl. Then cast off. It was an afternoon that would shape my life to a degree I’d never imagined.

A year and a half later, there was a call for submissions for a new online men’s knitting magazine. I decided to try my hand at it, and my first (and to date, only) pattern was accepted and published. My mother was ridiculously proud. I would later go on to teach a shadow knitting class at my local yarn shop.

A couple of months later, I joined a knitting group in San Francisco that ended up being my Monday Night Family. I learned techniques, I learned about things going on in the City that I wasn’t part of. I learned how to converse and knit at the same time and later, to read and knit at the same time.

Then we moved from California to Ohio. I was leaving my crafting family behind. It was difficult, but I knew that we had friends waiting for us in the Midwest. I searched for three months to find a group of knitters to which I could belong. I found the Mid Ohio Knitters Guild. To date, I am the only man in the group, and I’m okay with that. I also found a knitting group that has a similar sense of humor to me, and I greatly enjoy knitting with all of them.

Someone on one of my groups on Ravelry brought up just today that the board that we’re both on is more than just a group of people; we’re more of a tribe, our own little (sometimes dysfunctional) family. As I was reading posts this evening, I clued in to what she was saying. Everything from wedding favors to organ transplants to gay marriage to hypothetical comical ass-kickings for people in the group from people in the group was portrayed tonight. Our conversations wander like some polluted stream of consciousness that only other people in our little creepy tribe can follow. And that’s okay. We all get each other. It’s a sense of belonging.

In the last 36 years, handmade things and crafting have been a very strong part of my life. From quilts from my grandmothers and gifted cross-stitch samplers for my mom and aunt, up through my knitting a shawl for my mother that won a blue ribbon in the Ohio State Fair and a beautiful lace scarf for my grandmother’s 80th birthday, I can’t remember a time when there weren’t amazing things being created for my family and from my family, both genetic and chosen. There are dozens of people in my chosen crafting family who I will probably never meet. That doesn’t make them any less special to me. They’re my tribe and they get me. And I get them. That makes it all pretty damn nifty.

LQ Day 2: I gots class!

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I’ve got my COMM200 and Spanish 101 class today for the first time. I’ve got everything for my online classes, but these two are in person, and they have nothing posted on Blackboard. I like having Blackboard stuff even for in-class classes; without it, I feel a little lost and somewhat mistrustful of the teachers. We’ll see how that goes. I may also decide to take either my Quickbooks book or my Publisher book and go in early (which is a very distinct possibility). Hm. Maybe not; I’ve gotta pick up my portfolio from my adviser (HI BETH!) and I’m not sure that it’ll all fit in my backpack with my computer and such in there. We’ll see. I may just sit around and knit before class, too. That’s also an option.

I should also do a knitting update. I’ve got a few things to talk about and to show off. Maybe this weekend. It’ll give me time to photograph and block at least one project that I finished.

You missed me. I can tell.

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Sorry about the radio silence. It’s been A Month At School. Suffice it to say that I barely had time to scratch my ass, but I’ve got a killer portfolio and only a week and a half of classes left.

It seems that I’m being published. Just a short essay (maybe two, I forget) in the back of Barbara Bretton’s next Sugar Maple book. It just blows my mind that four years ago, I didn’t have any idea she existed, and now, because she’s awesome and I’m awesome, it’s a major confluence of awesome. I wrote up my bio for the wordiness that I wrote:

JEREMY BREDESON is a professional administrative assistant (who has very strong opinions about certain fonts — I’m lookin’ at you, Comic Sans and Papyrus), the high priest of one of the oldest cybercovens on the Internet, knits like a fiend, and plays video games like a teenager in his copious spare time. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his husband Leon and their very spoiled pretty, pretty princess dachshund, Belle. You can find him at (though, you may want to turn off your judgements; he has very few filters and has a mouth like a sailor) and on Ravelry as technocowboy.

Sounds about right, yeah?

Let’s see, what else?

One more quarter of school. If things go the way they should, I graduate on September 9. I CAN’T WAIT. I tossed in a random for-the-hell-of-it class (Elementary Spanish 1), because heaven forbid I stay with a 12-credit quarter. No, has to be ELEBENTY BRAZILLIONTEEN. I went in to talk to one of my teachers (well, okay, not talk; I went in to FREAK THE HELL OUT on her and nearly start crying) yesterday and was told that I’m one of the department’s best students. That’s an amazing feeling, to be honest. I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and I don’t need the recognition. It’s nice to hear, but it’s not needed. I’m in a couple of classes with people who are either graduating next week or with me, and the sheer amount of crazy talent that these people put out is daunting. It also makes me proud to be in school with them. We will rule the world, you know.

Speaking of, have you seen this commercial? Yeah, exactly. Because this is something that admins have known FOR.EV.ER.

I’ve got a few knitting things going on: a mystery shawl-along, three pair of socks (YES, SCOTT, YOURS, TOO), a hat (THIS ONE, TOO, SCOTT), a red hood thingy, two Christmas stockings, and a couple more market bags. I’ve got a few things in the wings, too, that OMG I’M NEVER GOING TO BE DONE KNITTING. I have to get a couple of bags done for a couple of my favorite teachers as thank-you gifts when I graduate.

My running has fallen by the wayside, sadly. I’m going to try to kick myself in the ass about it, though, after the quarter’s over. I’m moving on to Week Two in C25K, and hopefully, I’ll be able to keep it going. I have faith in myself to get it going.