Month: November 2011

Time Capsules, Part 1

I came across a bag of knitted goods when I was upacking my apartment recently. Yes, this is becoming what amounts to the longest move in the history of renting.

In the bag were these five scarves. I knit them all while I was in high school. Oddly, I remember most of the yarn details for all of them except for that purple one and even then I remember some of them. I’m not certain if everyone can do that or if that’s some sort of strange fiber quirk I have.

The red moss stitch one is a handspun wool that I picked up at a commissioned crafting place in Rhode Island. I don’t remember the name of the farm but I remember that it was a really grey, dark day when I got it. I know I got it home and had no idea what to do with the yardage I bought.

The next one over is a 100% alpaca that I got the first year I went to Rhinebeck. It’s a lace pattern that I don’t remember the name of but I’m assuming came out of one of the vintage books I was using at the time.

The third is a white wool that I got at Rhinebeck the second year we went. It’s a candlelight/flame style lace. I love this wool. It’s rugged without being rough.

The fourth scarf is Lorna’s Laces superwash but I don’t think I’ve ever actually tested that. I got it at a yarn store in Conneticut one summer before I graduated.

The purple one on the end is a handpainted wool. That’s all I remember, that it’s handpainted. It’s the same lace pattern as the white wool one.

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nightmares in red white and blue

when i was in college i was invited to hear one of the top sociologists writing on the culture of fear. honestly, i can’t remember why i was invited to the talk and the dinner afterwards. i suppose it’s irrelevant.

anyway, one of the things that i remember him talking about was how the culture of fear developed and the role of emotions within it. the culture of fear essentially says that modern western culture is controlled through the manipulation of emotions, especially fear. fear is used to convince people that they have to act. otherwise something horrible will happen.

oddly though part of the reason it’s effective is that people like fear. they like to be afraid. one of the points that the talk made was that people are drawn to fear because the act of scaring one’s self gives you a sense of control.

personally, i feel that fear is a necessary part of the human existance. i think that whitewashing it out of culture is extremely naive. there was a controversy on ravelry last year about halloween decorations. one probably well meaning poster had commented that she never wanted their child to be frightened because it was cruel. i think that the problem is that fear is a learned reaction-perhaps being afraid is natural but we have to learn to process those reactions.

my major issue with their argument was that they wanted fear to be stripped out of halloween entirely. it’s cruel.

i agree.

it’s cruel to deny americans their desire to find fear.

nightmares in red white and blue is definitely not the most in depth review of horror in the american cinema. it is however one of the most accessible. it is especially interesting to hear legendary directors talk about the influences on their work as well as their impressions on their own work.

i think that one of the most interesting aspects of the documentary is how adament each director is that horror is a natural part of american culture. people want to be afraid. they have always wanted to be afraid. it doesn’t matter what’s going on in american society, horror will be there to help people process their fears.

(interestingly, in talking about September 11, Romero essentially gives a pop soc definition to the culture of fear).

i think that one of the things that i would have liked to see out of the documentary is a deeper analysis of what’s going on with the tropes. it’s touched on and it’s especially interesting to hear what the directors think about the imagery they rely on. Romero’s discussion on what his zombies mean is especially interesting in light of what pop cultural studies say they mean. obviously though a documentary can only do so much and i’m actually greatly impressed with this one.

Sunday Folklore-The Beautiful Ones, Part 2

One of the reasons that I love horror so much is the way that the genre relies on traditional imagery. There are so many folkloric stories that influence popular culture, but they sometimes receive so little attention. Sundays will be the day where I pick one story or one image and examine the history and variations of the legend.

Faeries in Folklore and Popular Culture

Last week I touched (very) briefly on the history of faeries and faery like creatures in European folklore. This week I would like to look at one particular legend and its impact on popular culture.

Red caps are an interesting race because they fall into a range of species depending on locality. Regardless of whether or not they’re seen as faeries or dwarves, they are a particularly violent bunch. The term red cap stems from their habit of painting themselves with the blood of their victims-which in some cases is the only thing keeping them alive.

Red caps are said to be extremely fast and avoiding one is almost impossible once you attract their attention. Oddly, red caps carry iron. Iron is suggested to be a traditional faery ward but in this case, red caps make weapons out of it. Red caps are often portrayed as shorter, older men.

Red Caps in Popular Culture

Most likely due to their violent nature, red caps have been used as villians and montsters with some frequency in modern popular culture. Ranging from video games to rpgs, red caps are often linked with goblins and other ‘dark’ fey. Wikipedia lists at least eight book series reliant on this one faerie as character races.

It would require more citation and research than this blog is able to currently reflect, but red caps in popular culture may reflect a wider trend in western popular culture with regards to faerie like species. Television shows ranging from Grimm to True Blood are beginning to rely on more traditional faerie imagery. It may be that pop culture is attempting to reclaim the darker aspects of faerie lore, but it may also be a short term trend that won’t stand the test of time.

a decision

after a long (several years long) thought process, i have finally decided what i want to pursue for my doctorate- assuming that a lot of hurdles are jumped and requirements are met.

when i was at oswego there was a girl in one of my classes that was pursuing a soc degree with a track in death studies. she wanted to get her masters and then open a funeral home with her family. it’s steady work.

even with my own degree track being as strange as it was, i thought that she was insane…but the more i think about it the more i think that i see the appeal of the thought.

i have always wanted to do something to help people. and i’ve always been…drawn…to…death? i don’t know how to phrase that without sounding…scary. but i want to help people heal and i think that if i’m honest with myself i’m going to be happier doing death studies for a doctorate than gender studies.

there’s still a lot that i have to do before i get this plan off the ground. there’s finding a school. there’s finding funding. there’s the tests. there’s getting the paperwork going. there’s deciding on a research path…it’s a process.

Haunted Western New York-Zoar Valley (Cattaraugus County)

no-buy check in: i’ve used 8 skeins in the past week, either through projects, cleaning out partial skeins, or gifting. the only skein i bought was part of a commissioned project and some gift yarn. so…i’ve earned a balance of 1 skein that I don’t intend on using soon.

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Laying on the edge of Erie and Cattaraugus counties, Zoar Valley is a bit of a mystery.

I became aware of Zoar Valley recently, and through a minor twist of fate. I was planning on writing something else for this column but I noticed that my entry on the Van Horn Mansion was getting a lot of traffic from people looking for information on haunted woods in western New York.

Okay. I’m game. The problem was that I’m not from here, and most of my time has been spent in very specific locations. It’s only been in the last 6 months or so that I’ve started venturing out of my comfort zone. But! Most of my friends are local to the area. When I asked about the haunted woods, the first name that came up was Zoar Valley.

Supposedly, Zoar Valley is heavily haunted. It’s made at least one national list for paranormal activity.

However, it’s hard to find information on anything more detailed than, Zoar Valley is haunted. The one story that I did keep hearing was about the crab or clawhanded people. In the early 20th century, a large amount of individuals were being born with birth defects that left them with fused fingers and toes. The reasoning behind this ranges from curses to contaminents, but legend has it that the town voluntarily died out rather than continuing to pass along the birth defect.

The theory that I’ve heard first hand is that the area is known for being exceptionally dangerous- there seems to be a higher than average number of accidental deaths in the area. That may make it haunted in and of itself.

If nothing else, it may be an interesting day trip. It looks like an attractive area.

A Rare Double Post- My Grateful List

50 things i’m grateful for this year

1.  my health
2. my spirituality
3. my family
4. my mate- mark is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me
5. my job
6. that this year was relatively drama free- this year has made me realize just how bad the last two really were
7 housing- finally having my own place
8. we have never, perhaps by the grace of the gods alone, had to worry about having enough to eat one way or another this year
9. tofu-sounds strange, but i’m saner and more balanced than i have been since pre-puberty since discovering tofu
10. my talents- the abiity to keep us warm and provide small sparks of beauty
11. the ability to start helping people again
12. new friends
13. old friends
14. finances- we are nowhere near being in a good place financially, but we are so much better off than where we were two years ago
15. cooking skills- being able to feed the people around me gives me so much joy
16. online communities- finding people with similar interests has made me feel so much less…strange
17. new skills
18. new communities
19.my blog- horrific knits is starting to get a real readership, which makes me feel…loved. or something.
20. scarves- my hazeltine pattern seems to actually be popular?
21. small kitchen appliances- this sounds strange, but my keurig, my rice cooker, and my hand mixer has let me feed so many people and save so much money
22. coffee- aka liquid sanity
23. living in buffalo- i never thought i would say that
24. seasons- living some place that has all four seasons
25. acceptance- for the first time in a very long time, i feel like i’m with a group of people that may not accept or approve of everything i do, but they accept me as a whole and want to be around me through my ups and downs


26. self acceptance- i’m not perfect and i’m not perfect in accepting my faults but i’m getting there
27. growing maturity
28. personal safety
29. hope
30. a walkable neighborhood
31. public transportation
32. camping
33. trees
34. music
35. living in a place with affordable food
36. living in a place with major social freedoms
37. my educational background
38. awareness
39. koolaide
40. warmth- an apartment with included heat
41. furniture
42. water
43. yarn
44. sweaters
45. my fish
46. chocolate
47. netflix- we’re saving so much money with our netflix subscription
48. frugal blogs and bloggers
49. ravelry
50. the military and their families- i’m a navy brat. there are things i’m always grateful for.