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New Year, new look

While I planned to post something today – a catch-up post – I didn’t actually plan to give the blog a whole new look. But you know how it goes… the theme I was using needed updating, and so I did the auto-update, and as a result it went all wrong. I could have stuffed around and fixed it (the problem was the widgets, I think), but I’d been planning to do a new theme, and I now have a great little program called Artisteer, so I played around on that and voila! – we have a new design!

So, what have I been up to since last I posted? Not a lot in the way of knitting and crafting, as I’ve been flat out teaching, marking, finishing a book and revising it. I have a number of wips languishing or receiving only occasional attention – two top-down cardigans, a lace shawl, some mittens for Gordon. But I did finish some red socks for my sister for Christmas:
Handknitted red socks

There was also a little Christmas sewing – a roll-up shopping bag for a batty friend who likes bats – the print isn’t really bats, but it looks a little like them so we call it bat camouflage:
Roll-up shopping bag

Shopping bag

I was in a secret santa swap with the local Ravelry crew, and I made an apron for my cheesecake-baker extraordinaire friend, Amanda:
Handsewn apron

They’re not made from yarn or fabric, but I’ve also made quite a lot of these in the past few weeks:
Sourdough crumpets
Sourdough crumpets – delicious toasted and spread with a little butter and honey! I stocked up my parents’ freezer while I was in Canberra for Christmas, and restocked ours yesterday.

Knitting-wise, I’m currently working on a lace doily:
Knitted lace doily in progress

…because I need some lace doilies for the lovely china teacup sets my sister gave me for Christmas:
Hitkari tea setting

Ashdene Kensignton tea setting

And the last thing I should mention is that we have a new puppy – 9 month old Skye, who joined our household two months ago, after we had to euthanise our beautiful, beloved Princess Dog. Skye loves toys…
Skye with her toys

… and is a fibre enthusiast…
stuffing from a cushion pulled out by puppy!
She especially loves the fluffy stuff inside her cushion, and often pulls it all out – it’s one of her favourite games!

So, that’s my catch-up post for this last day of 2011. I hope you like the new blog design – I do! I’m hoping that 2012 is a great year for all my friends – may there be much making of beautiful, practical things, for all of us, and companionship in the making and sharing 🙂

 

Connections

Lately, I’ve been contemplating the connections and overlaps between my various areas of interest. Until recently, I’d thought of my textile work and my Honours thesis on 18th century British Worsted Textiles as being quite unconnected to my writing interests, and my current PhD research interests on the romance genre, genre readers and their perspectives. But underlying these diverse interests are common themes for me – I’m interested in people, in their everyday experiences, and in the relationships and connections they make. Far from being irrelevant, my first degree in history (predominantly social history) is a good grounding for my current work – both my own writing, and my research. There are overlaps, too, in that textiles, knitting, romance reading (in fact, most reading!), and many informal book discussions, online and offline, are places where women’s voices are heard – which has me also contemplating, across all these areas, feminism, the feminine, and the domestic spheres.

I haven’t formed coherent, easily articulated thoughts about all these overlaps yet – but the overlaps are interesting me! And I came across another one yesterday: I’ve returned to the local university this past week as I have a 5-month contract to teach a course in Digital Media and Interactive Entertainment. In 2009, I had a similar contract to teach the same course – then, it hadn’t been revised for ahem some years, so I did some quick revising on-the-go as I taught it. Now it needs not just revising but an overhaul, and I’ve been doing some work on it since late November, when I knew I’d be teaching it this year (assuming my surgery went fine.) I’m still madly trying to pull together resources, and in my researching yesterday, I came across this video from David Gauntlett, a social media researcher, which again weaves together a number of things I’m interested in – including knitting!

I don’t quite agree with everything he says, but there’s a lot to think about in there, and I look forward to reading his book when it comes out next month.

I’m a tad more positive about TV watching than he is, although I do very little of it myself these days. However, if one equates TV watching with reading as forms of entertainment, then he’d have to be just as critical of readers as TV watchers. I do think there’s an important role for Story and Storytelling in our lives, a role that books, TV, films, even video/computer games can contribute to.

I do agree with the notion of ‘Making is Connecting’. I’ve long believed (although not researched to find evidence for!) that making things – whether fabric, wood, metal, digital – contributes to a stronger sense of self: I make, therefore I am. I’d love to see children and young people more involved in hands-on creativity, in a far deeper way then the standard 40-minute class lesson in school can accomplish. And I suspect those who have experience in making things that take hours, days, weeks to produce are more likely to respect others’ work and property, and far less likely to vandalise things.

Lots to think about – but with a course to write, a book to finish, a PhD to progress on, a loom needing a warp, and a pair of socks 85% complete, my brain isn’t equipped for more than a brief rambling blog post at present!