Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Knotty Knitters

I met Heather Sutherland at the the Blanton Museum's Knitted Wonderland meeting. She runs a MeetUp group in town called the Knotty Knitters (clever). After some last minute emails, she welcomed my filming with warm knitted arms.

Joe has been very eager to get shots of knitting as B Roll for the bumper. Even though I had a very long day bouncing between jobs, I headed over to the Hill Country Weavers on South Congress with John's Canon 60D to shoot.
I got there and was blown away by the atmosphere. I'll admit, I expected to see a bunch of grandmas making doilies. Instead, I was amazed by all the different women there, young and old, making different projects. Everyone seemed to be at a different level or had a specific strength. Some people were working on their tree sweaters, for the Knitted Wonderland project, some were just doing their own thing. Heather was crocheting a yarned arrow for the event. We would be carrying on a conversation about whatever (men, current events, movies etc) and once and a while someone would ask a how to question and everyone would be excited to give their input.

I grabbed some close up shots of fingers knitting and crocheting. I didn't give everyone enough notice to film their faces. They were a little bashful even though I can tell you they all looked beautiful. I used the 50mm and and got right up in there with the shallow focus. I didn't have a rig which worked against me. I tried to use my natural tripod (me crouched in a chair with the camera propped on my knees) which worked. I have to admit that I got distracted by these wonderful women and their stimulating conversation. I really wanted to be in there, knitting with the pros. I stayed for about an hour and a half, shooting and conversing before my hunger got the best of me.

I'm not sure how Joe will use this footage but I think I got some great cutaways. I really want to explore the idea of modern-day knitting circles. Making mental note...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

To knit or not to knit, that is the question

I've been knitting for almost a year now. I'm not very good but I'm getting better. One of my best friends, Julia, has been knitting and crocheting as long as I've known her and I've always been fascinated by what she does. When we lived together, I left one morning in a depressed funk and when I got home from my long day she had knitted me a stuffed turtle. She thought it would cheer me up (she was right). So that's what I love about knitting, it makes people feel good. One moment there was just yarn and the next moment there's a stuffed turtle that my friend made by hand while listening to NPR.

I've been reading quite a bit about knitting culture and history. I love how the government was pressuring women to knit for men during WWI as if it were their patriotic duty. What a great idea. "Well, you're sitting at home without your husband, you might as well be helping him over seas stay warm." I'm wrestling with the question of whether or not this is super sexist. Did this propaganda condemn knitting to always be synonymous with matronly women? Is there something wrong with that? If my boyfriend was fighting in WWII I know, propaganda or not, I would be knitting, mostly because know that it would brighten up his hard times.

Let's face it, knitting and crocheting is dominated by women. But why? Men are creative, why don't they want to knit themselves a nice sweater? I know I have the impulse to do wood work and jump at the opportunity to work with power tools but why doesn't my boyfriend want to learn to knit?

I rejected the idea of learning to knit for a long time because I did not want to become Suzy Q homemaker or June Cleaver. I already like cooking, gardening, and having a clean house, I didn't want to add knitting to this. I might as well start wearing white pearls and heals! But I saw how much fun people, like Julia were having with it. Julia got commissioned by someone to knit male and female genitalia, which turned out bad ass. Once I learned that people were using knitting and crocheting for street art and not just knitting socks for their boyfriends overseas, I figured why not. I don't have to be this stereotypical picture of "The Perfect Wife", I can still be me and like what I like. I'm still a feminist. I'm still the type of girl that likes doing things that are stereotypically associated with male interests and that's okay.

Magda Sayeg once told me that "We knit out of love, we don't knit out of hate." and this phrase keeps circling in my head. When I make something, there is usually someone in mind. I knit a scarf for my sister's boyfriend because he lives in freezing Cold Boston and I want him to feel like he's welcome in our family. I need to keep telling myself I knit for me; I knit for love. I don't knit for my country and I don't knit to embody some role that society thinks I should be.

FYI Wikipedia's Knitting History...

The word is derived from knot, thought to originate from the Dutch verb knutten, which is similar to the Old English cnyttan, to knot.[13]

One of the earliest known examples of knitting was cotton socks with stranded knit color patterns, found in Egypt from the end of the first millennium AD.[14] Originally a male-only occupation, the first knitting trade guild was started in Paris in 1527.[15] With the invention of the knitting machine, however, knitting "by hand" became a useful but non-essential craft. Similar to quilting, spinning, and needlepoint, knitting became a social activity.

Hand-knitting has gone into and out of fashion many times in the last two centuries, and at the turn of the 21st century it is enjoying a revival. According to the industry group Craft Yarn Council of America, the number of women knitters in the United States age 25–35 increased 150% in the two years between 2002 and 2004.[16] The latest incarnation is less about the "make-do and mend" attitude of the 1940s and early 50s and more about making a statement about individuality as well as developing an innate sense of community.

Within the 1940s, English knitting rose in popularity while Continental knitting fell. This is due to the fact that continental knitting originated within Germany and was spread by immigrants. During World War II, continental knitting fell out of style due to its relationship with Germany. It wasn't until Elizabeth Zimmermann publicized continental knitting in the 1980s that it again was popularized.[17]

Additionally, many contemporary knitters have an interest in blogging about their knitting, patterns, and techniques,[18] or joining a virtual community focused on knitting,[19] such as Ravelry, affectionately known as Rav to fiber-lovers around the world. There are also a number of popular knitting podcasts, such as the Manic Purl Podcast and the Savvy Girls Podcast. Contemporary knitting groups may be referred to in the U.S. as a "Stitch 'N Bitch" where a group of knitters get together to work on projects, discuss patterns, troubleshoot their work and just socialize.[20] In the UK, the term has been "knitting circle" since the early 20th century.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

knitted wonderland

Magda has been asked by the Blanton Art Museum, to knit 99 trees as a part of this Spring's Explore UT event. Because of the Blanton's limited funds, and her busy schedule, Magda thought it would be better to extend this project to the community. She put out a call for interested knitters and was blown away by the response. This is what they sent out:
"On March 5, The Blanton plaza will be turned into a knitted wonderland! All 99 trees between the Michener and Smith buildings will be yarn-bombed by internationally recognized textile artist Magda Sayeg, in celebration of Explore UT, the University's annual open house. To make this vision a reality, we need your help!" They thought they would get a 100 people, basically a person per tree and they got a little over double that.

Joe wanted to come help film this event in hopes that it will benefit the bumper. He also wanted to listen and make notes on what to shoot later. Plus he hadn't met Magda yet.

My friend, Evan Ho, came out to help Joe and I film the preliminary meeting at the Blanton. We had the Panasonic HVX, Canon 7D (Joe's) and the Canon 60D (John's). We kept the HVX static and ran the audio through it as well. We put Lavs on Magda and had a shotgun mic pointed at the speakers. Joe and I were on the sides, grabbing B Roll of the audience in the auditorium. I mostly cared about the audio because Magda explained the project. Joe and I share lenses and shot things here and there. The Blanton was really helpful and supportive of us filming. They even made a blanket release form that everyone who came signed. We got some good stuff.

I'm really excited to be following this project. The energy in the room was amazing. I think it will be more fun filming the knitters putting up their work and all the eager eyes watching.