Saturday, November 2, 2013

Meet the Crafty Academic

Hey there everyone, welcome to my new blog! To introduce myself a little, I’m a 29 year old spinner/knitter/designer/dyer/wife/martial artist. Like many of you, there’s a life outside the crafting world, and no matter how you try, some nights you just fall asleep with a ball of yarn (or fiber!) in your lap. We have so many daily demands that our creative spirit just disintegrates, leaving an exhausted husk behind. Drastic imagery, but you get my point. While we’re waiting in line at the grocery store, at the bus, or during our lunch break, we whip out our smart phones, tablets, what-have-yous and veg out for a while. Among my sparse ‘veg-out’ time, I look at what other people have made and try to design my own version. Sometimes, I have a vague idea for a new kind of this or that, then I spend the next hour or two slopping through the creative phase. Sometimes it works, sometimes I have no idea what I did wrong (or need to learn how to do) so I turn to the internet for help. Let me be one of your many go-to places for inspiration, ideas, and troubleshooting.

A Cloudy Day - Expertly Dyed Batts Limited Edition Colorways
But I’m getting ahead of myself--there’s more to me than that. We're all complicated people, and I’m an academic at heart. I got into spinning initially by doing it for my master’s degree. No, no, it wasn’t in something you’re probably guessing--it was for my museum studies dissertation. I did the whole spinning, dyeing, and weaving thing to create surrogates for real, archaeological samples. Why? Well, I was going to shoot lasers at them to specifically damage them. So, no museum would let a grad student without funding destroy something irreplaceable--which brings me to my current obsession.

Because of my innate spirit to teach, I began making youtube videos and blog tutorials to help fill a void on the internet. When I first began searching for videos on spinning yarn (back in January 2010), there was only a small handful of videos that were worth watching. Many of the videos were short. And hard to see. And some played _terrible_ music in the background. After gaining two years of spinning proficiency, partially under the guidance of a master spinner, I began sharing my knowledge with the beginners out there. And the soon-to-be-beginners.

Now, how does this fit the academic connection? Disseminating information is one of the most important attributes of being a professional academic. Who cares if you’re full of revolutionary or controversial ideas if you never share it? Or worse, some grant-giving agency has given you funding for research/excavation/etc., and you never publish--that’s a huge thorn in everyone’s side. I see myself as a budding expert in spinning and dyeing, so my academic background urges me to disseminate this information to the rest of the world.  I want to share what I know about these crafts to keep the spirit of the handmade movement alive and thriving. In so doing, I have instilled in several others the desire to spin and dye.

Handfelted Alpaca Triangle Shawl - Expertly Dyed
And as with any good academic, I realize that I’m presenting opinions (albeit, based on experience, science, and research) which can conflict with others. If I have presented something on this blog which you think I have wrong or haven’t explained properly, by all means, please let me know. It’s an opportunity to grow as a person and learn something new about myself and others.

This isn’t my first blog experience. In fact, I had a website once, with a blog and everything. It was created by my husband from scratch, but over the last few years, my business has grown and changed. And with that, so did my needs. Over the next few months, I’ll be re-posting some of my more relevant blog posts from my former site, in addition to posting new material. Some of the tips and tutorials I created on that site were too good to be lost to the internet! I'll be back with tips, tutorials, and large-scale projects soon. :)

Thanks for reading everyone,
Happy Crafting.

Jennifer Beamer