Saturday, 23 February 2008

digital and fibre : additional words

The paper DiFi: Digital and Fiber talks about words shared between fibre and technology.

Words that I remember from my time working as a software developer, which have a strong resonance to textiles and fiber are:


Even the 'soft' in software makes me think of tactile and flexible textiles.

traditional crafts : repetitive trance

Are crafts such as knitting things that women do when their minds are on something else? Repetitive action, meditative, trancelike?

digital crafts : digital codes/digital mofits


People in my office at work have have been looking into qr codes/data matrix/etc... these are essentially 2d barcodes - short messages stored in a grid of squares.

There are instant resonances between these and quilts and the previous mentioned article on Digital Crafts.

Online code generators can be found in many places. E.g.

The codes are in many ways like a small knitting pattern and one company Office Lendorff already produces qr code knitted scarfs

Since I heard of these codes, I have noticed them in so many places. I love the idea that there are secret messages all around me, just waiting to be decoded.

[aside: ... code readers can be downloaded for many digital camera phones, but there are several different standards for these codes and i have been, as yet, unable to find a universal code-reader for my phone]

digital crafts : pixel patchwork and irc art

I have just read a paper from Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture entitled Pixel Patchwork: "Quilting in Time" Online.

It is about the online activities of 'pixel' quilts, the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) art group 'rainbow' and - a collaborative art project which refers to it's work as 'quilts'.

The article talks about the concept of digital crafting and whether digital/web/software development could be thought of as a craft. And whether rainbow quilting could be thought of as a digital folk art.

In it there is a quote from Abstracting Craft by Malcolm McCullogh, 1996:

'In digital production, craft refers to the condition where people apply standard technological means to unanticipated or indescribable ends. Works of computer animation, geometric modelling, and spatial databases get "crafted" when experts use limited software capacities resourcefully, imaginatively, and in compensation for the inadequacies of prepackaged, hard-coded operations ... To craft is to care ... to craft implies working at a personal scale - acting locally in reaction to anonymous, globalized, industrial production.' (pp 21-2)

The paper also talks about a 2001 exhibition at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico: 'Cyber Arte: Traditional Meets Technology' which she describes as 'the first public presentation by this museum (or any other, as far as I know) of digitally produced phenomena that museum staff members called "folk"'.

Links referred to in article:

Monday, 18 February 2008

what is creativity : wikipedia

I've been thinking about 'what is creativity', and a good a place as any seemed to be Wikipedia:

(or "creativeness") is a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts.

According to, creativity is:

the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

what is craft : modern craft

Since finishing the book Zeros + Ones, I have been reading some papers around the subjects of online communities and craft.

In the Editorial Introduction to the new journal, Modern Craft, I found this about this interesting and pragmatic discussion of 'what is craft?':

'...This is an old problem within the study of craft - is it art, or isn't it?... We intend to treat such categorical dilemmas as historical phenomena in their own right, rather than as conundrums to answer definitively. In some art historical contexts... the relation between craft and art is not problematic but productive. For the artists associated with Die Brücke, materials and process were to be put into the service of avant garde objectives without hesitation. Indeed... the Expressionists owed a great debt to the craft movement of the turn of the century... But many other movements in modern craft stand in vivid contrast to this genealogy; as other articles and several of the reviews in this inaugural issue argue, the rhetorical distinctions between craft and art can make all the difference. Together these articles suggest that the oft-posed question of art and craft is best seen not as a dilemma to resolve, but rather as a malleable historical structure in its own right.'

Monday, 11 February 2008

digital craft : folk art

Folk art:

Art originating among the common people of a nation or region and usually reflecting their traditional culture, especially everyday or festive items produced or decorated by unschooled artists.

(American Heritage Dictionary)

[digital] folk art:
nation := online
region := anywhere with an internet connection
traditional := 'western' knitting
culture := digital

why craft : craft manifestos + 2.0

The Hobby Princess craft manifesto investigates the question 'why craft?'

Others have expanded, commented and quoted ...

Thoughts from the Bus Stop
I am yer Grammar
Edge Perspectives

Other sites talk about the Craft 2.0 and the Slow Craft movements.

There is a commen thread throughout that technology, whilst not the primary cause, is certainly an enabler of the movement.

J Meredith Warner talks about the way in which knitting can metaphorically knit communities together. The internet allows these communities to be knit in new ways with threads from far-reaching people and places uniting. Is the internet creating a new folk art/craft for digital natives?

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

why craft : sharing + inspiration

One thing I've noticed since I've started this research is that I've been spending more time buying fabric, yarn and planning what I will make next. Of course, this is a bit unfortunate, as this MA will surely eat into my time I have to spend doing such things... but it's not an insurmountable problem!

I have also noticed that I'm tending to focus more on craft that digital in this blog, so I thought I would try to bring the two together in this post.

One reasons why I have an increased urge to create is the inspiration derived by seeing other people's work whilst researching this project.

The web allows people to share their creations to a wider audience and across larger geographical areas than ever before, exposing the work of many home crafters to a potentially vast audience. Seeing other people's creations inspires and a virtuous circle is created.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

arts & crafts : thought v/s knowledge

One theme that keeps recurring in my reading on craft is the concept of thought v/s knowledge.

Craft is concerned with knowledge: shared knowledge... learned knowledge... ancient knowledge... kinesthetic knowledge... historical knowledge...

Whereas art, to me, is thought... it is like a language, where each artist contributes a new word, pushing the ways art is understood. By association, our underanding of the world around us also progresses. I supose to me it is almost a visual philosophy.

Knitting is a craft that can be done in conjunction with something else. Your body has kinesthetically learned, yet your mind is free to do what it pleases. It can induce a trance like state or leave the mind free for other tasks... personally, I like to watch TV, listen to the radio or read a book whilst knitting.

Knowledge is acquired through time and patience, the ability to think is more inate... Is knowledge the femenine to thought's masculine? There is always a symbiosis between thought & knowledge - you must know how to think... and think to acquire knowledge.

When thought and knowlege combine, something wonderful can happen.

Perhaps this explains why I was so much in awe of the objects in the Collect and the Out of the Ordinary exhibitions.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

notebook : ideas to explore

I have had many thoughts of topics I would like to explore in this blog...

- Why I craft
- The cyclical nature of craft's popularity
- Knitting & craft blogs I read and admire
- Ravelry knitting community
- The Hobby Princess blog
- Open source crafting & the economics of copyright and growth
- Relevant academic journals
- What knitting meant to me as a young child... as a teenager... & what it means to me now
- Knitting during the World Wars
- Knitting 'geeks'
- Knitting to be different... knitting to be cool
- Craft manifestos
- Crafting without community
- Men who craft
- Craft and knowledge... craft and thinking
- The language of knitting... the language of software
- Knitting patterns & software code
- Digitally crafting
- The popularity of knitting blogs

So many things...

I intend for this blog to impose some order on my developing ideas.

Some may be deadends, others may lead to more. I shall only find out by testing them out.

why craft : material things

I was recently out with a friend when he asked me:

'are you still making material things?'

I questioned him on what exactly he meant. His response was…

'you know, things with fabric and knitting'

I wondered if he also intended the other meaning of material… and with it the implications of being 'materialistic'?

Craft is material in many ways... it frequently results in a material, physical object - a possession.

I like owning things, especially things that are unique and made just for (and by) me. I enjoy being complemented on something I have created... I could be said to be 'materialistic'.

I sometimes think one of the attractions of craft is because it is anti-consumption/anti-consumer connotations.

Yet... craft today can be an expensive hobby. Many knitters and sewers have a stash larger than they would ever have time to use. The ‘new wave’ of craft involves boutique shops, artisan yarns and exclusive accessories.


skill + time = money -> ‘high end’ craft objects are very expensive (and desirable).

book : zeros + ones digital women + the new technoculture

I have just started reading the book Zeros + Ones by Sadie Plant, as recommended to me by one of my course tutors.

Will this book help me understand the resonance between women and the digital?


As a female software developer, I felt excluded from the digital culture I was working in...

Will this book hep me understand why this was the case?

The chapters I have read so far on on Ada Lovelace are intruiging.

She appears to be a precocious genius - perspicacious, confident yet difficult.

I am left with more questions… and a desire to find out more of what she was like as a person.

[aside: Ada Lovelace makes me think of another headstrong Ada - albeit a fictional one- from Nabokov’s beautiful 'Ada or Ardor']

what is craft : collect

I have recently been to the V&A’s Out of the Ordinary craft exhibition, and the Craft Council’s Collect - 'an art fair for contemporary objects' - also at the V&A…

The following questions came to mind:

what is craft?


where does craft reside in relation to art?

Is the craft of say ‘knitting’ the same as the craft on display in these exhibitions?

In the exhibitions, I experienced no sense of ‘I could do that’, we were in awe of the skill and knowledge involved in the creation of these objects.