Month: May 2014

Freya’s Fieldtrip (or, If You Never Teach, No One Ever Learns)


Dude, there are two social attitudes that I run into online that make me twitch:

1. “I’m ABOVE social norms”

2. “The younger generations KNOW NOTHING and worse, THEY DON’T WANT TO.”

Both are dependent on the n=1 mentality. Because you do (or in the case of number one, don’t do) something, or know someone that does or doesn’t do something, the rest of the world must follow this model.

The problem with number one is that you’re not above norms, you’re functioning under differing norms. Everyone has norms. If you’re human, you exist in society, and if you exist in society, then you have norms. Humans are social creatures that create a series of social expectations. You don’t have to follow dominate norms, but you’re still following a social script.

And now for number 2…this one really bothers me. Nothing makes me see red faster than telling me (in a normally self-righteous and/or grumpy tone) ‘your generation doesn’t care and it’s only us and those older than us who actually care’. Um. Have you spent much time in our actual social space lately? You are aware of things like the urban canning revolution, the way that Ravelry has sparked a knitting Renaissance, and the Make movement exist, right?

We want to learn, and if you have these skills that you’re so worried about, part of the problem is that no one taught us. There was a social revolution during the 1970s that lasted probably well into the early 2000s that convinced us, right or wrong, that we didn’t need those skills. Add in the way that the technology shifted so radically, and you have a situation where skills weren’t transmitted. If you have an item, and don’t share that item, it’s not the fault of the person who doesn’t have the item, for not having the item.

If you don’t like that the generations below you don’t have a skill set, teach them. Show them by doing. If one person doesn’t want to do it, that doesn’t mean that no one wants to do it. Part of the problem, admittedly, is that my generation (I’m old enough to be pre-Internet society but not so old as to not be ingrained in it) communicates differently than probably any other society in history. That’s not a bad thing, but it is a social reality that has to be taken into account. If you mourn our lack of socialization, then you should try to find our space. It’s a harsh social reality, but if you’re not going to try to connect with us, then we’re probably not going to try to connect with you-welcome to one of the nastier aspects of social interactions that makes conflict theorists like me squee.

An exhibit-

I took Freya, my Kromski wheel out to camp this weekend. I set her up outside. Within five minutes I was swarmed with people. All under the age of 10. Touching her, watching her-and letting me teach them how to use her. Maybe they won’t be like me and spend 15 years teaching myself how to drop spin and then finally getting a wheel-but maybe they will. Maybe I planted a seed. Who knows.

What I do know is that I remember two types of people in my childhood: the ones who taught and the ones that didn’t. I remember the way that my grandmother sat me down and taught me how to cook, sew, and knit. I remember the way that my great-uncle (the rocket scientist) sent me Russian novels and the textbooks to try and decipher them (I didn’t, and it took me decades to finally figure out what he was actually saying to me with that gift). I also remember the people who wouldn’t engage with me, the ones that told me no instead of talking me through a process, the ones that shut me down because I was too young.

Kids want to learn. People want to learn. You have to find their language, you have to let them play. You have to let them find the things that they want to do and encourage that desire. You have to tell them that what they want to do, is worth doing.

Don’t be angry that other generations don’t know what you know. Teach them.

Inspired Weekends #21


Inspired Weekends #21


I have two exciting things today!

1. Hey look, code! This -should- work for a button. Or your sidebar or link up page.

<a href=””><img src=”; height=”200″ width=”200″ /></a>

2.  May’s Second Week giveaway! I have goat’s milk soap and handspun this month. Open through the 25th, the post is pinned to the front of the blog. Preview-


All entries are pinned to the Inspired Weekends Pinterest board.

You are also invited to join my new blogger group board- Make Me, Bake Me, Craft Me, Inspire Me. Please make sure to read the joining instructions!

This is a free for all style link up-there are no rules! The only guideline is that each entry should be your own content-but feel free to link up round ups, link parties, giveaways, diy, recipes, tutorials, favorite entries from your archives, recipes, anything that you would like to share!

Featured Links

I had to go to the DMV this morning to get a new non-driver’s ID. Fun times. I barely have time to get this post together, so double features next week.

Click on the button that looks like a blue frog at the bottom of the page to view the collection.

Please link to entries, and not your blog main page.

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Baba Yaga, Part 3

Of  course, just then, Baba Yaga came home. She was so very, terribly excited because she knew that soon she would be feasting on children.

In a splendid mood, she sent the children to a cold bed without a supper after she had feasted and crawled into a warm bed next to the fire. The children shivered throughout the dark night, but held onto the hope that the cat had given them.

The next day the children were given two tasks: collect firewood and weave linen. However, the children had other ideas and decided to escape. They took up the items the cat gave them, the towel and the comb, and ran into the woods around the hut. Many things tried to stop them and many times the children outsmarted them.

When Baba Yaga returned to her hut after her duties, she was incensed to find that the children had left.

“Cat!” She cried “What is this?!”

“Well,” the cat said, “you never fed me and they did.”

“Dog!” She cried. “What is this?!”

“Well,” the dog said, “you mistreated me.”

And so on until Baba Yaga had asked everything that aided the girl and boy-and heard their answers.

Baba yelled and yelled and finally flew-flew into her mortar, and grabbed her pestle, and flew into the air, after the children.

Hearing the witch coming, the girl cried

“Oh no!” and threw down the towel-and there sprang a river. But the witch flew over a narrow patch.

Hearing the witch coming, the boy cried

“Oh no!” and threw down the comb-and there sprang a heavy wood. But this time it was no use, and Baba Yaga had to turn back, cursing the children the whole way.

And thusly the children returned home to their father, who was overjoyed to see them and promptly sent their unloving stepmother away.
Part 1

Part 2

Based on Russian folktales, including this one collected in 1903



DIY: Dyeing Yarn with Koolaide (Part 2) {Spring Through Your Stash}


Part 2: Color Theory

…And not just the ‘normal’ color theory.

There are certain things to consider with Koolaide dyeing when thinking about color choice:

1. A solid or semi-solid dye is going to be easier to start out with, and see if you even want to continue with this. You may find you really hate the way that hot Koolaide smells.

2. While there are some tips and tricks to working with Koolaide and other food dyes, there are some limitations to what you can do with it.

3. It’s a fairly volatile process, so make sure you’re willing to either re-dye or be satisfied with ‘odd’ results. Some of my favorite yarns came from weird results.

4. Dye in big batches, because you may find it hard to replicate a yarn. Even skeins in the same pot will shift slightly, as a general rule.

Tips with working with color:

Koolaide, and even cake dye to a point, are generally pretty saturated, bright colors. Wilton’s and liquid dyes will have a wider color range, and liquid and gel have the added benefit of a black. If you only get one jar of a liquid dye, make it a black.

Blacks have a tendency of doing what’s called ‘breaking’, which is when your color seperates out and dyes into its component colors. Some people really hate breaking and will either overdye or dye another batch in hopes that that one won’t break. I actually love breaking; I want my yarns to look like they’re not machine dyed.

Getting familiar with a color wheel will help adjust the range of colors that you get. Adding a drop or two of green to a red batch will take it from Elmo red to something closer to blood, for example. But don’t overload with contrasting colors or your colors may go rusty or too brown-leaning muted. Which may work out too.

One of the easiest ways of toning down a bright dye pot is by overdying something other than plain white. I rarely dye stark white. You can successfully overdye any color with another color if you keep two things in mind: you have to be dyeing darker, and you have to be willing to take your results.

Finally, for this part of color theory: saturation point. There will come a point where you just have to live with the yarn as it is. You can generally almost always overdye a dark yarn darker, but eventually the yarn will take all the dye it can handle and you’re not going to get anymore color into the fiber.

spring through your stashThis year’s spring Knit-a-long is actually a Craft-a-long. Whatever your favorite craft is, it’s welcome!

The only requirement is that we’re trying to work down stashed materials. Every project that you work on for the CAL should incorporate stashed materials, the more the better. You can purchase materials as necessary, but the majority of your project(s) should use materials you already own. Beyond that, have fun! Knit, spin, crochet, paper craft, sew…whatever moves you! You can follow along in the comments or link up on the Spring Through Your Stash posts up every week. The Craft-a-long will run through the first day of summer.

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends!

Linked to-

sunny simple life

little house in the suburbs

Shutter (2007)

I think that the reason that Americans take such an ambiguous stance with ghosts and hauntings is that we don’t have a long standing history with them.

There are many, many cultures in the world where people have been working with the dead in one form or another for thousands of years. Relatively speaking, American culture as most people would recognize it is completely new. We’re still working with other people’s scripts, so to speak. We have the memories of the cultures that we pull from but we still don’t really have anything to point at yet that’s ‘ours.’ The closest thing I can think of is the practice of the drive through funeral home. We’re getting there-and I would even argue that it’s getting stronger, but we’re still not there yet. There’s not much that we can point at and call purely American without it actually being Polish or Irish or Japanese. Maybe some day.

The point that I’m getting at is two fold: one, that our media doesn’t really know how to work with ghosts yet which is why a lot of American ghost films are not that effective because we’re still not terribly familiar with the tropes yet, and b, that foreign media seems to frighten American viewers as much as it does because it is both somehow more honest and more developed.

When you take a film like Shutter (the original Thai version, not the American remake) part of the reason that the film is effective for American audiences is admittedly the Western lens of the viewer. Our death culture looks nothing like this, so we see something that is both admittedly terrifying just because it’s scary as all hell, and terrifying because it’s so foreign to us. We’re looking at a completely different set of cultural understandings and we wonder what it is that we’re overlooking.

Note that what I’m not trying to get at is the audience exoticfying the material, though that’s certain a risk with foreign media of any form. It’s just that we’re dealing with such unfamiliar waters in a nation that has so completely sanitized death that most the closest most people are going to come to it is a 30 minute visit to the funeral home once or twice a year, if we’re lucky. Americans are notoriously bad with death and Shutter is a film that takes death and reminds us that it literally can follow us around. And we have to wonder if this is actually going on, but the language is so different from ours that we wouldn’t understand it if we had to.

We wonder as Americans what it is that we’re missing. And the interesting thing about it is, this is a function that occurs even within our own media. I really don’t know what mainstream pop culture would do with, say, Pagan death rites when it still doesn’t seem to know how to think about Catholic rites; the Catholic rite of exorcism and Mass are still exoticfied in American culture and arguably that’s a lot closer to home than Thai death practices.

Interestingly, there’s something about this film that has really struck a cord across cultures. The movie’s been remade multiple times, including in Thailand, and across a wide range of countries. The Americans, unsurprisingly, have gotten in on the act and while that version could be entertaining in its own right is a little too sanitized for my tastes.

Sunday Legends-The Beautiful Ones: The Red Gnome of Detroit


Most of the faerie lore you’re going to find is going to be European, and for good reason-that’s where most of it originated.

However, the States do have their faeries-at least in random isolated pockets. And some of those pockets may not be where one would think to look.

According to urban legend in Detroit, the Red Gnome or the Nain Rouge was first spotted in 1701 when it began to attack settlers. Descriptions from the 1890s describe it as a furry little man wearing boots, and possessing terrible teeth and horns.

What the Gnome is supposed to signify is up to debate, because he is primarily seen at sites of battle, riots, or before natural disasters. This has lead to a double interpretation-he may be warning people to protect them, or he may simply be a warning or harbinger that danger is coming.

He has been spotted as late as 1996 and the city now has a Marche du Nain Rouge to attempt to drive the gnome out of the city. Ostensibly this would protect Detroit from whatever it is that the gnome is warning of. It should be noted that this mentality that the gnome is warning (or creating) of terrible events seems to be a fairly modern addition to the story; the earliest sitings may place him at the site of tragedy but many of them do not actually link him to a fire, major crime, or storm as he would be in later years.

The event is not without controversy, however. There are those that argue the gnome could be native to the region and could be a type of natural protective spirit and that running him off could be doing more harm than good. The gnome does sound like spirits described in pre-existing local legend, or he could have synergized from local and French beliefs regarding hearth spirits and other entities.

Nain Rouge

Le Nain Rouge

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