Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ho Ho Ho! A giveaway - Insanity by Cameron Jace! And a Grand Prize Drawing!

Things have been kind of heavy around here lately, so I want to lighten things up a bit.

My favorite author since discovering the Kindle app on my phone has been Cameron Jace. His deliciously twisted versions of fairy tales and children's characters are wonderfully turned stories that delight and enchant in a wicked, fun way. They're like beach reading - only instead of crappy, formulaic stories, they're light, fun, and keep you enthralled until the big finish.

I mean, look at his bio:

"Wonderlander, Neverlander, Unicorn-chaser, enchanter, musician, survived a coma, & totally awesome. Sometimes I tell stories. Always luv the little monsters      I write young adult paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and science fiction mostly. The Grimm Diaries series is a seven book saga that deals with retellings of fairy tales from a young adult POV - it connects most of the fairy tales together and claims to be the truth about fairy tales.      I live in San Fransisco and seriously think circles are way cooler than triangles."

Does that sound like a guy who writes every day stories? I think not.

He just released a new book called Insanity about Alice (of the Wonderland fame). Yes, we've had some Alice stories before, but this one is different. Just read the synapsis to be sure:

"After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll’s paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland’s real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamond, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science."

Brilliant, right? A different stage in the Alice story, and a fun version of the life that Alice leads. And yes, it is different than Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, I can assure you! Read the Goodreads page if you don't believe me: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18910286-insanity?ac=1 those folks don't lie!

So to celebrate Christmas and my favorite author, I'm starting a giveaway. Anyone who comments below is entered to win a free copy of Insanity, provided graciously by the Author, and I'll use a random number generator to make the winner selection. 

And, you can also get an entry into the grand prize drawing by filling out the info below. The author is giving away a Kindle Fire, more free ebooks, and $10 gift cards from Amazon. How cool is that?

Now to add the legal details: yes, I was asked to do this blog entry and provided with a copy of the ebook to give away, but that in now way had any effect on me, because I already thought Cameron's writing was kickass and would have done one about the release anyway. And I love giving other people's stuff away!

So whether you be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Jedi, Wiccan, something different or none of the above, I'm hoping you enter the Insanity contests and have something merry to celebrate this Christmas! Don't forget, anyone who comments below is entered to win a free copy of Insanity, provided graciously by the Author, and I'll use a random number generator to make the winner selection.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Strong Emotions

I normally follow the rules of academic writing when I write. I don't quote more than a sentence, sometimes two of someone else's source. But this...it *moved* me. I know exactly what this blogger is saying, because I've often thought it myself.

From Momastery.com:
"You just need to hang out at the post office or Twitter for a little while to learn that folks only feel comfortable speaking out when they’re happy or angry. In our culture, anger and happiness are considered strong emotions- solid fortresses from which to come out swinging. Sadness, confusion, and loneliness are seen as weak – houses made of straw – things others might feel uncomfortable witnessing and thus might feel the need to blow down. To fix. And none of us – not one last one of us- wants to be fixed. We just want to be heard. So we hide. We stay quiet about our “weaker” feelings until we’re happy or angry again – at which point we feel safe coming out. This is a shame because the world ends up feeling like it’s made up of nothing but manically angry and happy folks, since they’re the only ones talking.  Since we only share “strong” emotions, the world becomes but a stage – made up of folks offering their most solid, bullet-proof, black and white sound bites instead of real grey people, trudging through- figuring things out slowly. That world gets lonely for a real live grey trudgy person."

Wow. I know the rest of the article goes back to the religious stuff, but what a powerful description of sadness, grieving, and the tough side of our lives as humans. Its often said that those of us who can embrace the "other" emotions along with happy and angry are the "creative" ones. That we are empaths, more in touch with our emotional state and the emotional state of others.

I think I want to challenge that. I think that anyone can get in touch with their emotion. Whether they want to or choose to express them, and whether they choose to express them in a manner similar to ours, is something that they choose, not us. And that's where bewilderment to the emotional condition of others happens. We don't understand their reaction, so we assume that they are hiding and not expressing their emotion properly.

There are shades of gray everywhere. You just have to know where to look for them. (And the answer is NOT in a poorly written, poorly conceived popular book series). 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Conclusion - the Addict and the Allergeniac

taro, looking hopeful
Taro, Looking Hopeful by Taro the Shibu Inu on Flickr

What would I like you to take away from this? There's always HOPE. Even when the situation seems the darkest, there's hope that you can make things happen for yourself, get out of a bad situation, or make a move to value yourself more. You can find resources locally, or internationally via the Internet. You can find connections that can grow into something more on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites.

In the end, sometimes it seems like there's nothing you can do but get out of a situation. It's sad, you're going to grieve for the lost friendship or family relationship, but given the chance to grieve vs. endangering myself, I would rather work my way through the grieving process than spend more time doing damage to myself. I think that's the major thing I have learned over the past years of dealing with trying to figure out what I was allergic to, what I am sensitive to, and what I need to remove from my life in order to make life better.

But at the same time, working to move your outlook over to being positive and keeping your resolve is key. It helps to focus on what you do have, versus what you don't have. Nothing will ever take the place of the original memories in your brain (I am dang happy that I got to do trips to Italy pre-gluten free and China as well!) but the connection will fade (wheat pasta = sick, headache, issues rather than wheat pasta = healthy and happy) so that it can make room for new equations (Schar pasta = healthy and happy). The same thing happens for addicts, from what I'm told, but the original memories make the connection more persistent.

Some days you will fail. Its inevitable. Some days you will want to explode in anger. Some days you will weep in frustration. That is why it is so important to find your people. Your people (friends, family, neighbors, avatars on a screen) can help you get through the bad moments and come out the other side. They can help give you the strength you need in a moment of doubt.

What stunned me the most about learning about addiction and supporting people with addiction is that so many of the issues they face are the same as folks with allergies, yet the addicts and alcoholics have many more resources built up around them that aren't necessarily available for people with allergies, intolerances, and dietary conditions. We need to focus on building up resources so that 20 years from now, the allergeniac diagnosis process includes help from the very start with a built in network of resources and rich knowledge base that doesn't rely on fraud science to help them. Do we need a 12 step program for allergeniacs? Maybe not, but I could easily see a regimen being created to help people get through the beginning of the diagnosis process, and ongoing support for issues along the way.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Part 2 - What Allergeniacs and Alcoholics Can Do (Fix 3 and Fix 4)

I've split this up into two posts because that first one got to be SO long! But I keep telling myself that this grouping of knowledge into one place will help people along the way, so here goes part 2 of part 2 :-)

Fix 3. Working with denial.
Denial can be healthy. It can help people deal with traumatizing information, such as major life changes. But when it starts to drag on beyond a brief step in the grieving process and coping process, then it becomes a problem. If its you that's in denial (I see you, celiac, with the McDonalds bag!), its a process of figuring out what you are afraid of and then seeing if it is really all that bad. For some folks, trying to live life as an allergeniac 10 years ago was horrible. They had to make all their own flours and cook all their own food, and never go to restaurants because no information was available about what was in the food. That's what they remember, and rather than go back to that life, they continue to make themselves sick. Encouragement for them to try it again, that you'll plan the week with them, can do a lot to help them erase that memory and stick with it.

There's also that "seed of denial" I talked about in the column. The recovering addict in the meeting said he woke up every morning and said to himself "I am an alcoholic" to keep that seed locked up tight. For the allergeniac, it might be waking up every morning and telling yourself "I will make good choices today" or "I will eat healthy today". Waking up every morning and giving yourself that resolve, before you make any choices and your willpower used, will help keep you on the right path.

Fix 4. Telling people how you feel OR Stand up for your rights
So here's the most tricky one, and its not the weapon I prefer to use most often myself. As a person who has been chronically ill my entire life, I'm used to working around other people. I'm used to putting their needs first. I'm used to just denying that certain problems exist and that I can work around them to be in the situations that I want to be in. The truth of the matter is that you can't do this to yourself, as it will burn your health to the ground, get you into unhealthy relationships, and make you make decisions that lead down dark paths.

At every meeting I go to for various events for charities, work, etc, I always remind the organizers to think about people with food allergies. Building an event with food as the only reason to get people there is a sucky way to sell something, in my opinion. I've patiently done this over and over again, and eventually, they started to get the message when I wouldn't eat anything other than what I brought. Constant, gentle education is one path to take.

Another path is to give them a firm warning. What they are doing is hurting you, and you can't meet there/meet them/allow them within 1000 feet of your children/etc. Tell them you're leaving the relationship. This is probably the best option because it gives them firm guidelines and puts the onus on them to make the decision. Is it the bar or you that they want more?

The last path is to break out the big guns, especially if you are having trouble at work - make an ADA claim. A lawyer can work with you on this.

Just in case you need the reminder the ADA law says: "Disability means, with respect to an individual, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.

(1) The phrase physical or mental impairment means --

(i) Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine;

(ii) Any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities;

(iii) The phrase physical or mental impairment includes, but is not limited to, such contagious and noncontagious diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, specific learning disabilities, HIV disease (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism;" 

An ADA claim is specifically helpful in cases where you are working and there is a reasonable accommodation that CAN be made but hasn't yet been made. For example, if you have your work meetings in a bar. Can that be moved to the office or a local restaurant? More than likely, yes! Another one: you are being paid and required to attend a lunch meeting with lunch served. Can they get a gluten free meal for you? More than likely, yes! If not, perhaps they could label and/or segregate gluten free foods vs. non-gluten free foods? Again, more than likely, yes! Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself in order to get people to see that you are serious about your health.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Part 2 - What Allergeniacs and Alcoholics Can Do (Fix 1 and Fix 2)

Sorry this got delayed folks, Blogger has been having trouble with my account all weekend and has deleted the draft several times. So in the first part I really talked mostly about the negative sides of living as an alcoholic or allergeniac. But there's hope, even for the most remote folks out there, and it partially has to do with the magic of the Internet.

If you're in any of the situations that I mentioned in part 1, I sympathize, empathize, and am working through the same thing you are. Understand that this isn't just Pollyanna advice for a Disney-fied world, its what I have seen and heard about and/or done myself to get through these situations.

Fix 1. Find your people.
What does this mean? Alcoholics and other addicts have the benefits of a 12 step program of some kind, be it AA, SOS, NA, PA, etc. They have after care options and other support groups.

Allergeniacs are more limited. We have support groups. Depending on the group, though, this can range from serious, discussion groups to party groups that make fun food and try need things all the time. But there's also Meetup for groups of all kinds. Parents of children with peanut allergies? Gluten Free Singles? You name it, its practically available everywhere. But what happens if you live in the middle of nowhere? See 1.5.

1.25. Find your people - Starting your own group!
Yep, that's right. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to just drop the folks that aren't treating you well or relegate them to "Facebook Friend" status until they get their act together. So then the onus is on you to start a group of your own. I've tried it and met some wonderful people, but this does take time, and sometimes money, to get a new group of friends started.

I've also seen some parents have to forbid their kids from going to other houses because they can't trust the parents to not serve their child foods that they are allergic to, or expose them to drugs or alcohol. The transition is much easier when you have replacement places for them to go and people for them to meet.

1.5. Find your people - "Meeting" People Online
What does this mean? There are SO many resources out there for people to do online that it helps make the distance question less of an issue. These are three of the best options for internet based meetings and groups where you can actually SEE people and make a real connection with them.
In the Rooms - virtual support including video meetings, chat rooms, and Facebook-like status pages. Wonderful resource for any type of addict in any location.
Google Hangouts - regular events for allergeniacs and addicts of any kind. Find a community on Google Plus, and watch for announcements. If there isn't one for your allergy, start one! People are amazing at finding these resources when they need to.
Meetup - they also have virtual meetings available on their site. Often these use other tools like Skype or Google Hangouts, but they'll at least post a schedule on there for you.

1.75. Find your people - The Rest of the Internet
There's a lot more internet out there, and not everyone is trying to sell you Rachael Ray's Acai Berry Supplement for $19.95. There are great message boards and chat groups all over the internet. For example, for celiacs and gluten intolerance there are:
Celiac.com - forums and blog. Lots of resources here and places you can ask any question.
Knitting is Gluten Free on Ravelry - wonderfully supportive group of women and men of all ages.
Gluten Free Recipes 24/7 on Facebook - not a lot of chat but a great source of regular inspiration. 'Cause some days all you really need is a good recipe to get through the day.
Gluten Dude - a community of folks rallied around the Gluten Dude. Things can get a little, well, blunt and angry here, but its well worth reading because he's a normal guy who's living with an allergeniac condition that isn't all sunshine and puppies.

Fix 2. Working with a "White Knight" situation
What do I mean by "White Knight"? Your family or friends are used to swooping in, as the hero to "save" you whenever you get into trouble. They're lost when you're not sick, addicted, using, and otherwise freaking miserable.

There's a name for this: codependence. They need to rebuild how your relationship works in a healthy way, because it is not a healthy relationship right now, whether you are an addict, an allergeniac, or psychologically traumatized in some way. There is a great group for this called Co-Dependents Anonymous. Yes, its got the ___ Anonymous name, but its for people who want healthy relationships, not just addicts. Family members and friends of allergeniacs often suffer from the same issues as addicts and in many cases, need their own recovery program to help them deal with a major life change such as a gluten, dairy, or peanut allergy.

As a part of this, sometimes there need to be boundaries set. Often this means cutting off the very people you love, because they will continue to "sneak" the substance into your food OR tell you "It's okay to have one while I'm here". Controlling the situation to help save yourself is key - telling a parent or friend that they can only visit at your house, they will need to be inspected at the door for banned substances (substances of any kind, whether illegal or allergens), and that they will watched at all times can seem hurtful, but it will do one of two things:
1. They'll get their crap together and realize you're serious about living a safe lifestyle from any allergens or substances.
2. They'll stop coming.
If they stop coming, the friendship will naturally recede and if they are family, you might find someone else who can fill their role in a healthy way. Remember: family isn't necessarily blood related. Its whom you value in that way.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Part 1 - What Celiacs and Addicts Have in Common


Yes, I think I made up a word for the title "Allergeniacs" meaning: one who has an allergy/health condition/intolerance of some sort. If you like it/don't like it, comment and I'll try to make up a new one. This is the negative portion, part 1 of 2. If you have anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, I urge you to wait to read this until tomorrow, when the positive portion, part 2 of 2 is posted.

I was recently at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, supporting people I know. At this particular meeting, a gentleman was up at the front of the room and talking about his journey from a child, to a teenager, to an adult, to a father and how his alcoholism affected him. What struck me is that I've had and seen many of the same examples in the celiac/gluten allergic/gluten intolerant community and we have a lot more in common than I would bet most people would think. We really should start to band together and support each other!

Here are some of the issues that struck me. I'll probably write more about them again as I encounter them myself:

1. Allergeniacs and Alcoholics are surrounded by danger and temptation. There are liquor stores, grocery stores, restaurants, friends houses, and even gas stations with booze available in them. The Allergeniac suffers a similar woe - practically anywhere you step has something associated with food. Even the freaking library often has cookies. The waiting room of the car dealerships often have flavored coffees and cookies or doughnuts that the allergeniac likely can't eat. Both the alcoholic and allergeniac has to remake their life in order to work around these temptations and deal with going to these facilities without the substance.

2. There is a "seed of denial" that exists once you get better. If you are seeing no symptoms of addiction or side effects of your disease/allergen, you begin to have thoughts that say "You'll be fine if you have one drink" or "You'll be fine if you have one slice of pizza". The next day, you have to face yourself in the mirror and if everything goes okay, one drink or one slice becomes 2. 6. 20. And then you wake up and realize that you hate yourself, the world is awful and that the universe hates you. And you need help to get back to even get to "okay" again. Or just as bad, things go okay, but you have this nagging feeling that things aren't right or your health isn't a-ok and you start to think that is reality, that things will never quite be right for you.

3. The paranoia of the situation starts to eat at your soul. For alcoholics, its always wondering - did they get the wrong drink at a restaurant? What if you accidentally drink from the wrong glass? Will my friends accidentally use alcohol in my food? What if my friends accidentally get booze in my drink? For allergeniacs, its always wondering - did they use exactly what they said to make this food? did they change their gloves? what if my friend drops crumbs on my food, can I still eat it? what if that family member didn't believe me about my allergen and snuck some of it into my food? You begin to realize that eating and drinking anything becomes an operation worthy of D-Day, and full scale wars when you start to have multiple intolerances, allergies, and health conditions.

4. When you make this change to not include the substance in your life, the people you know and love place their food and drink above including you. That's right - they get mad at you for your "food issues". They tell you that you don't love them if you don't eat or drink with them. They hold important things like meetings and social hours at places you cannot go.

Both the alcoholic and the allergeniac have the same problem. We can't go there. Then they force us into re-evaluating friendships and relationships and thinking we've lost our sanity for placing health over eating food that makes us sick or drink what destroys lives.

What's sad is that this makes us sad, feel like we're 5 again and not picked for Red Rover, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it, because these folks will always value their own happiness over ours. Their booze or their fried tortillas or their cream based soups are more important to them because it triggers a chemical reaction in their brain that they associate with positive feelings, and they have less of a "buzz" when they help others achieve this same chemical reaction and make them feel good.

5. The last issue, and by far the hardest issue, is dealing with people in denial or not willing to accept the situation. Many family members and friends just don't believe that their alcoholic has a problem. Or they think "Their dad was alcoholic, and he was fine". Or they think "they just need to drink less" and everything will be fine.

On the flip side of things, family members and friends treat allergeniacs similarly. Many family members and friends just don't believe that their allergeniac is "really" allergic. They sneak the substance into the allergeniacs food and "test" their allergy. They believe that removing a substance from the allergeniacs diet is a "fad" and a little dairy or gluten won't hurt them. Or they think they are self-diagnosing and they really don't have a problem. Or that maybe if they ate less McDonalds, everything would be fine and no one would have to change how they do things.

Both the alcoholics family and the allergeniacs family are in denial about the major change in the life of their addict/allergeniac. They don't have the mental capacity to sift through the information at their disposal and figure out that this person is really suffering and that the fix is simply to remove the substance from their life. They don't realize that what the addict and the allergeniac needs are the same: support.

Unfortunately, the problem with these issues are that they are ongoing. Family and Friends can be in denial forever - it may never end. And the alcoholic and the allergeniac both have to learn to deal with this, and it again will eat away at their soul - some of these folks will never again be able to enter your life, or you have to put such constraints on them that it makes the relationship strained.

But there is a positive side to this. There are SOME ways to help deal with these situations. Stay tuned for Part 2.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Is an artistic workforce being misconstrued as selfish?

This lovely picture of the Louvre's famous lions is brought to you by dynamosquito on Flickr.

Before the thread got shut down on Ravelry for discussing non-knitting or crocheting, there was a fascinating post by Izzie1356 that has had me thinking all day today. We were discussing the Millennial generation and the interesting in knitting, crocheting, and other visual hobbies. One of the things that always comes up is that Millennials are supposed to be lazy, selfish, narcissistic and quite frankly, annoying. Yet no one I know in the age range is THAT bad. In fact, most of the people in my age range seem pretty darn selfless most of the time - they freely give their time, money, and advocacy to causes that they believe in, large and small. 

Back to the post that Izzie1356 made - one of the things that she said was that the view of the "selfish" generation didn't start until after the Baby Boomers. When those Boomers, well, "boomed", the number of people "boomed" and so we lost our need for a solely "technical" labor force and create more "service" and "artistic" driven people. I'm paraphasing along the way because the post was quite long. But the most interesting part of her post was this:

"...since there isn’t much call for art (as a visual something in a museum) it creates a class of individuals that may be very talented artistically, but useless to produce needed products. Not many in our generation would be willing to work in a factory to produce things that others are using.

Having talented people without jobs creates resentment towards those who produce or supply a needed service..."

If I were to explain this to someone small, I'd tell them that this means "The people doing the chores don't like the people who don't do their chores". Yet is that true? I don't know. I think an awful lot of people are being construed as selfish when they think differently, think at a different pace, and think about consumerism, the environment, and their technology in a different way. And the reason I say different is important - no viewpoint is better or worse - we need artists and we need service workers and technical workers - and that the focus should be on working together and not conflicting with one another. 

There was a good example of this the other day that I saw - I'm anonymizing the story because I feel its important to protect people in a fixable situation. I was in a meeting, and a young lady made a suggestion about trying a different format for the meeting, breaking the large group into small groups and having each of them work on the same problem at once. She was scolded by the much older leader of the organization for making the suggestion because the older leader did not believe that they would achieve the same result if they did not all slog through the problem as a part of the large group and that this young lady should "know her place in the meeting". 

She was devastated. I could see in her face how taken aback she was that she was scolded for speaking up and that the message was clear for her to take her seat and not say another thing. And she likely would never have spoken up again. But then some other people in the meeting started to pipe up that she had a good idea. And some other people piped up. Finally, the older leader of the group thought for a second and decided to relent and try her idea. The group was done with their assignment in half the time scheduled for the meeting, so much that they all had the opportunity to report on the results and time to discuss the project as a whole.

At the end of the meeting, when I was in the hallway, I chatted for a bit with the older leader of the meeting and she admitted that she had not thought of what the design of the meeting should be and that she thought the young lady was criticizing her ability to plan a meeting, when in reality, the young lady was trying to practice collaborative design - a bit of artwork meant to help achieve efficiency in the work product. 

What does this mean? It means some of us artists are trying to make it in the corporate world. We're trying to make it work in a world that doesn't think the same way we do and we're trying to provide something of value to the corporate world in the best way that we can. All we need in return are people who are willing to try and meet halfway - hear the thoughts and try out the ones that the older folks think might be valuable. Do I think all my ideas are brilliant? No, but I'm going to try and argue for them as if they are if I come upon resistance because that's what artists do - they defend their artistry, whether it be a stroke of a brush or an elegant new payments system or a nicely formatted report. Are these people selfish because they defend their artistry? I don't think so (well, some are, but most...) In fact, I think most of them are very self-realized because they understand what they want to fight for versus what they don't. Importantly, they are not ALL Millennials. They are of every age range, willing to work together but at the same time, defending what they think is important. That's collaborative design in action, and I hope someday it will be commonplace rather than a nice thing that I see in around half of the people around me. 

So drawing this to a close - why are so many people starting to go back into the visual arts and hand arts? Its because they see more of the stereotypical "older leader" in the workplace than the more open risk takers who are willing to appreciate a bit of new art in the workplace. They are going back to the arts because there's less of a chance that people are going to reject their artistic thinking there (and for the most part, they're right...though I draw the line at vaginal knitting). There's more to art than just "Art" and an artistic workforce needs to put their art and creativity somewhere people will appreciate it, even if it costs more and takes longer and drives them to drink copious amounts of wine.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Deducing a Movie Knit (or Store Knit) for a Hand Knitter

I've been interacting fairly frequently in the "As Seen on TV" forums on Ravelry, especially with so many great movie knits coming out lately, like the one above from Catching Fire (aka Hunger Games #2).

I get asked a lot - what do you do when you want a movie knit (or crochet, or whatnot)?

1. Squee a lot over the AWESOMENESS of it.
2. Start looking for large, high resolution pictures. You want something where you can take it and find the smallest details possible. For example, from the above Pinterest post, I was able to get details like this:

See how you can really see those stitches? You can then tell its a combination of stockinette and rib stitches stretched to a large gauge going in multiple directions, and from the look of things, whip stitched together.

3. Start analyzing. This is where forums and other social media come in. For example, there's now 130+ posts on Osgood on Ravelry's Who Knits discussing "the scarf". Stockinette? 1x1 rib? There's lots of debate. So far, I'm waiting on the yarn to come in so I can start swatching. 

I often post on Facebook, especially if its a movie knit, as the people who have SEEN the movie can see what they can offer. For example, for Katniss' sweater I wasn't entirely sure if its a pullover or a cardigan worn backward.

4. Start looking for the original. Here's where looking for interviews with the costume designers and other movie staff help. In Katniss' case, we looked at a few mentions of knitwear designers for the movie - Maria Dora, Nicholas K, and Alice Lemoine. Eventually, someone found a near copy of the sweater in grey, and that led me to the photo of the exact model from the movie:

Now, this particular sweater is an older model, so it wasn't easy to find, and there's no photos of the back. Often newer pieces will have photos at Getty, Style.com, or blogger fashion sites where you can find MORE detail of the piece. Here we've got to go off of this photo and the photos of Katniss from the movie (often more come out as the movie goes from screen to DVD).

5. Discuss with people online some more. Often things you discussed at first (significant details) will force you to miss looking at something else, like an edge or smaller detail. Keep looking at that pattern. For example, Katniss' sweater is under discussion as to whether its two strands of bulky weight or worsted weight yarn OR a super bulky yarn. Both details have their pluses and minuses.

6. Start looking for suitable yarns. A lot of the time will be taken up here, because you have to make two decisions:
     ----Do you do it in the same color?
     ----Do you make modifications? i.e. do it in the super bulky yarn, or use two yarns to get a tweedy effect?
 From there, you start to make estimates.

7. Look at the forums some more. Often, at this point, people start linking like patterns, or giving structure advice. Compile it into a file and see what you like and decide if you're going to use a pattern or not. If you are going to use a pattern, look for modifications you'll need to make (size, darts, yarn weight, gauge change, etc.). For Katniss' sweater, I'm thinking of doing some colorwork to something like Wenlan Chia's Nimbus Sweater:

See how the lines are the same? The neckline can be altered to fit the Katniss design, and the ribbing can be done separately in the other color. But the important part, the middle, almost mirrors the chevron of black yarn in the middle of the Katniss sweater.

8. Start knitting, or crocheting, or whatever technique you think your project is. This swatching can help you decide if everything's going smashing or if you made a critical error and have to rethink.

In this case, I think I'll keep thinking about it before I start one. It's likely other people will catch "Katniss Sweater Fever" and start posting their ideas.

Eventually, hopefully, come out with something that makes you happy and you are thrilled to have! I know I saw many beautiful Doctor Who scarves as a part of costumes at Chicago TARDIS this past weekend. This sort of cosplay is like play time for adults - fun, innocent, and silly, giving you a visceral connection to other people who enjoy the same fandom you do. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Entitlement and Genealogy Research

© The Sherlock Holmes Museum 

221b Baker Street, London, England  

James Tanner often writes interesting columns, and I think he keeps a very positive spin on things. I imagine him being this inquisitive lawyer, looking to folks like Sherlock Holmes or Clarence Day or Thomas Hobbes for his inspiration in practice.

But today's column really got me thinking about the nature of entitlement in the changing world of genealogy research, especially the last comment that he quoted:

"To be honest, FamilySearch has changed so much that I no longer use it anymore. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Hope you can gain enough new users in your expanded target groups to make up for the ones you’ve lost."

I'm shocked that something like that would come out of any user's mouth when it comes to a site that has done more to help family historians and genealogists around the world with more and more data sources, images, direct access, and FREE services run with a minimum of paid employees and mostly volunteers. Why would you cut yourself off from access to such a wealth of sources?

In this digital age, it is easy to grumble about change - I think Facebook changes their site every week at this point and does *something* to screw it up. But FamilySearch is like an old friend - its never NOT been there when I needed it, its always got something fun and interesting to look into, and its always got something new to teach me. There's so little time it takes to tell someone "Screw you and put the old version back." Poor IT folks get a lot of that attitude, I fear, and its not their fault (in many cases) that someone decided to release some new feature on important software. Stepping back, allowing yourself to breathe and think about the changes isn't always an option, but on a site that I choose to use, like FamilySearch, I relax, I explore, and I play.

I've been doing genealogy since I was 10 years old. There's always things that I'm finding I don't know, or a better way of presenting something I did know on the network of FamilySearch sites.

I understand that sometimes it can be hard, and sometimes frustrating, but being open to change (even if you disagree with it) can unlock a wealth of resources that we are incredibly lucky to have. Instead of taking the time to write such a negative comment, the commenter could have taken the time to do a 5 minute video course and see all the wonderful new features that they have access to and have some FUN! If you allow yourself to pour your energy into positive growth about changes, you will find that change can be incredibly fulfilling and sometimes even exciting. Literally, the whole world opens up to you.