Sunday, March 15, 2015

Halifax Spring Geek Markets

I'm back in school now for my level 3 Automotive Service Technician courses.  I love being back in school.  It is great because not only am I learning new things every day, I get to knit in class!  I'm the type of person who can't sit still when paying attention to something.  If I didn't have my knitting needles then I would be fiddling around with my pens, doodling, fidgety.  All of my teachers know that I can knit and still learn, so in between taking notes and testing engines I'm tinkering away with my projects.

There have been a few orders that I had been finishing up, a Harry Potter scarf and a Police Box purse.  The Trekkie drink cozies now come in a 3-pack so I spent a few days making some extras.  The cat toys have been so popular that I have been working on a few new designs.

School comes at a perfect time as I'm getting ready for all the spring craft shows that are popping up! Last year I started attending geeky markets and conventions as a vendor.  It was an entirely new perspective on both attending conventions and what I am aiming to do with my knitting.  It was amazing fun to experiment with designs, table layouts, photography, etc.  I feel like I've expanded so much since then, mostly due to the massive year-end convention for me with Hal-Con 2014.

I can't wait to show you what I've been working on and learning!  Check out these upcoming events:

Cape and Cowl comics is a wicked comic book store in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia.  They have a huge collection of comics and are really enthusiastic about getting people to read.  There is even a safe space in the back for people to hang out and read or play games.  Shortly before Christmas last year they hosted a pop-up craft fair.  It was such a success that there is a spring craft fair coming up in a few weeks.  This is going to be my first market of 2015 and I'm so excited to share some new patterns as well as new table designs!  

More about the Cape and Cowl Spring Craft Fair - March 28

The Spring Geekquinox was the first market I did last year.  It was a really big stepping stone into the geeky craft scene for me.  I had so much fun meeting all the people that came through the door.  The other vendors were great to check out and I ended up seeing many of them at other markets throughout the year.  The geekquinox last year was a big opportunity for me to bring my knitting from simply being a hobby to something that more than just my friends and family would be able to appreciate.  It was all about stepping out into the larger community and interacting with people with similar interests.  I really can't wait to do it all again!

My table last year at Spring Geekquinox 1.0
More about the Spring Geekquinox - April 25 and 26

Aubcon was another market that I started doing last year.  It is a comic/gaming convention set up by the students and teachers at Auburn Drive High School.  They had rooms set up with video game and board game tournaments, panels on cosplay and costume design, as well as the whole gym and surrounding hallway being set up for vendors.  There were a few new patterns that I had out for this market.  There were Punisher and Deadpool wristbands. There was even a suggestion box with a chance to win a knitted item. I had so much fun going through all the suggestions, my notebooks were filled with cool new ideas!  I'm very excited to announce that I will have a table again this year at Aubcon.  

You can find out more about Aubcon - May 23

I will provide more information for the markets as they become available.  Please keep your eye on my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds for updated information as well as sneak peaks for new projects!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

History of Men Knitting

Me and my toolbox (first year of apprenticeship) 2012
It always amazes me how much we make assumptions about other people.  Usually I run into people at work that are very excited to see a female working as an automotive technician.  Most of the shops I have worked in were predominantly staffed with males.  Eventually the knitting comes up, either I start talking about it at work, or I work on a project at lunch.  It seems to blow people away.  It's as if knitting is a hobby that is way too feminine for someone who works on cars.  Well guess what, just as the automotive world is not exclusively male, the knitting world is not exclusively female.  In fact, this stigma of knitting being too girly for men is a relatively contemporary idea.  Men have a very rich knitting history dating back hundreds of years.

Around the 1400s knitted items were becoming increasingly popular.  With the Renaissance there was a large advancement in metalworking.  This means many wonderful things for society including the invention and mass-production of knitting needles.  This helped transform knitting from an exclusively luxury item to something more accessible to the average person.  Both men and women were knitting at the time but it was men who began to knit as a profession and all-male knitting guilds began to appear.  They worked much like a labour union; established to protect secrets of the craft, improve the quality of the profession, and to create business. These knitting guilds were for serious knitters only though.  To become a master knitter one would have to undertake a rigorous apprenticeship of three years training from master knitters as well as three years travelling to learn the craft and various techniques.  Once you returned you would be subjected to a thirteen week exam knitting various garments to prove you were worthy of being allowed into the knitting guild.  Sounds like some pretty tough stuff!

To gain full membership to the Hand-Knitters’ Guild of Strasbourg, knitters had to knit a wall hanging patterned with flowers, like this one. Adam and Eve appear beneath a central panel depicting Jacob’s Dream. France, 1781.
Photo found here. 
Skip ahead to the 16th century and the invention of the knitting machine by William Lee.  This revolutionized the craft, being able to crank out about 7 million stitches per minute.  This ended up making hand-knit items obsolete and found its way into the home as more of a domestic art typically practiced by females.  

Men began to return to hand-knitting with the first and second world wars.  People everywhere would pick up the needles and yarn as a wartime effort to aid the troops.  There was a large need for socks, bandages, helmet liners, mittens...etc.  Young boys and girls were even taught how to knit in school.  

In May 1918 the Seattle School Bulletin printed this patriotic knitting song:

Boys knitting socks; Seattle, 1918

"Johnnie, get your yarn, get your yarn, get your yarn;

Knitting has a charm, has a charm, has a charm,

See us knitting two by two,

Boys in Seattle like it too.

Hurry every day, don’t delay, make it pay.

Our laddies must be warm, not forlorn mid the storm.

Hear them call from o’re the sea,

‘Make a sweater, please for me.’
Over here everywhere,
We are knitting for the boys over there,
It’s a sock or a sweater, or even better
To do your bit and knit a square."

Now knitting has come back as more of a recreational hobby then a necessity.  Men of all ages and walks of life are picking up the needles for the same reasons as women do.  Knitting has even been introduced into male prisons as a way to help rehabilitate the prisoners.  With knitting comes a wonderful community of fellow crafters, and a fantastic outlet for creativity.    It is a relaxing, meditative craft that has been proven to relieve stress.  

This pretty well brings us up to modern day knitting.  I'll wrap up the history lesson for now but keep your eyes peeled for further blog posts and I will talk much more about current male knitters.  

More on the history of knitting: