Knitting Clio is now on Tumblr

Hi readers,

As if I didn’t have enough social media accounts, I’ve set up a Tumblr account as a gallery for my actually knitting projects.  It shows my latest RFO (recently finished object).  It’s called the Sublime vest because it’s made with Sublime organic merino wool.

Think Before you Knit-a-Boob for Breast Cancer Awareness

via Bust Magazine blog, which announces that on May 6th, Oak Knit Studio (OKS), “a learning and making space devoted to textile arts in Brooklyn, NY, announces the first-ever “Knit-a-Boob” special event in partnership with Breastcancer.org. Knitters of all levels from novice to expert will gather on Friday, May 6th, to knit actual, wearable prosthetic breasts for patients and survivors of breast cancer, who have lost their breasts to the disease.

Breastcancer.org, the world’s leading online resource for breast health and breast cancer information, will lead live information sessions throughout the day, briefing participants on the latest in breast cancer treatment and prevention.  The organization will also be accepting the knitted prostheses, and will distribute the handcrafted boobs to those in need.”  The pattern for the boobs “was inspired by Beryl Tsang, a knitter who developed the pattern for herself while undergoing her own treatment. Beryl found her knitted prosthesis to be a much more comforting, and light-hearted alternative to other prostheses that she was offered, and it later inspired her to start the website www.titbits.ca, which offers custom knitted breasts.”

When I first saw the link to this on the Ms. Magazine blog I was all over it — I’m a knitter, I like nice yarn, I’m a feminist, I have boobs, what’s not to like?  If I hadn’t already planned to go up to Vermont to visit my Mom for Mother’s Day I’d be tempted to go (except that I also have piles of papers to grade — I hate it when work gets in the way of my hobbies!)

I still think this a worthwhile event since the boobs will be donated to survivors, but let’s reflect on what kind of “awareness” is being raised.  In a guest post at Breast Cancer Action‘s campaign  Think Before You Pink™, Anna Rachnel describes “The Dark Side of Pink Awareness”:

The color pink and the pink ribbon have become the ubiquitous and saleable trademarks of breast cancer awareness and the associated pink fundraising machine.

Through canny marketing, cutesy slogans, pink imagery, and campaign after campaign, we hear the pink awareness messages loud and clear.

Early detection saves lives.

Education saves lives.

Pink ribbons save lives.

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS SAVES LIVES.

But what is breast cancer awareness?

According to Wikipedia, breast cancer awareness is defined as

“an effort to raise awareness of breast cancer and reduce the disease’s stigma by educating people about its symptoms and treatment options. Supporters hope that greater knowledge will lead to earlier detection of breast cancer, which is associated with higher long-term survival rates, and that money raised for breast cancer will produce a reliable, permanent cure.”

Rachnel asks, “Is this the definition of breast cancer awareness the public learns about through pink ribbon awareness campaigns? ” Her reply is a resounding “no”:


Women and men with Stage IV breast cancer are not the happy-happy-joy-joy-Sheroic survivor stories portrayed in the popular pink culture.  As a community we continue to fight; not only for our lives, but for official recognition by a mainstream breast cancer movement caught in a dangerous rut of pink unawareness. We are tired of our deaths being used by marketers to sell emotionally charged displays of pink, designed to generate both fundraising dollars and profits. Fundraising that the metastatic breast cancer community continues NOT to benefit from.

Breast Cancer AWARENESS? I think not.”

She points out that “this nation’s largest breast cancer fundraising organization, which was largely responsible for the instigation and rise of the pink awareness machine, contributed less than 19% of its total resources to actual breast cancer research in 2010.”

I don’t know much about Breastcancer.org but if you click on their corporate sponsors link, you will find a long list of drug companies and shopping sites where you can buy pink stuff.   How much of the profits raised from pink consumption do these companies donate to breast cancer research?  Can a website so heavily supported by drug company marketing be considered a neutral source of information?  These are the questions we should be asking ourselves.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a bunch of prayer and comfort shawls I need to finish.


Who Says Real Men Can’t Knit?

via WSJ.com.   Like other occupations, long-haul trucking has seen a decline in demand.  So, in their down-time, some truckers have taken up stitching.  At left is Kevin Abraham-Banks, a Sioux Falls, S.D., trucker, with tattoos and shave head,  who likes to pass time at truck stops by knitting — here he is making a sweater for his wife.  According to the article:

“Creating something tangible beats sitting around the truck stop “talking about who has a bigger radio,” he said. He’s finished a scarf and socks, and is working on a sweater for his wife.

“The fact that you can take strands of thread and basically make something out of it, that’s awesome I think,” he said. “It’s pretty cool stuff, man.”

Comments on the article range from “this is pathetic” to observations that knitting by men used to be (and still is) common in some cultures — e.g. 19th century Scotland:  according to one comment, “only men were allowed to knit in public as it was their winter livelihood. Women were only allowed to knit in their own home and for personal use. The men knit the Royal Army uniforms. They don’t seem to have found it ‘funny’ to KIP their WIP (Knit In Public their Work In Progress). Even well into the 20th century, knitting was a required class in British schools (my husband attended in the 60s).”

So men, don’t be afraid to KIP your WIP!

Join my team for Ravelympics 2010

Join Knitting Clio and other fiber addicted academics for Ravelympics 2010.    This is a  “competition” organized by the online fiber community Ravelry to  coincide with the Olympic Games. The first one was held in conjunction with the 2008 Summer Games  in Beijing.   [in between, Ravelry held the World’s Works-in-Progress Wrestlemania]   The concept: cast on or start your project during the opening ceremonies on February 12, and finish the project by the end of games on February 28th.   Official rules are posted here.

NB: Ravelympics is separate from the Knitting Olympics organized by Yarn Harlot, which also looks like a lot of fun.  I wonder if I can enter both?

Knitting Clio really does knit, doesn’t feel guilty

My colleague Aimee wrote a great post on creativity and academic work at ProfHacker.com.  This reminded me of a book I read about ten years ago called The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron.  [she also has a similar book called The Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon].  The book describes how to get in touch with one’s creativity by working through various “road blocks” — especially self-critical thinking.  One of the recommendations is to make an “artist’s date” at least weekly, preferably daily.

Reading this book helped me give myself permission to do something creative that didn’t have the high stakes and stress of the creative work I do for my job.  This helps me decompress, recharge, and be more productive during the times I am doing research and writing.   I even know of another women’s history scholar who knits while she writes (she must do it while waiting for ideas to perculate — can’t see how you could do it and type at the same time!)

Knitting Clio Goes to Stitches East

Last weekend I went to Stiches East, a large knitting/crochet/fiber expo at the Connecticut Convention Center.  I started my day by taking a class on standed color (aka Fairisle knitting) with Beth from See Jane Knit.  This really got me hooked on Fair Isle — and I can see myself doing more of this in the future.

I then spent several hours wandering around the market floor.  This was truly overwhelming.  Since I’ve put myself on a “yarn diet” (i.e. am limiting yarn purchases until I finish more projects), and took the advice of someone on Ravelry to go in armed with specific projects in mind, I kept my spending under control.  I wore my completed February Lady Sweater, and received lots of complements.  I also met the author of the comic book, Handknit Heroes, who also gave me a great idea for a Halloween disguise.

Stitches East will be in Hartford again next year at the end of October.  Here is the preliminary information.