Thursday, December 20, 2012

Herstory and Technology

Today a customer came in who was making a scarf that when rolled up would look like Sushi! I LOVE IT! It was fun helping her pick out the colors that she needed to match the ingredients of sushi. I am amazed at how "advanced" South Dakota has become in the last few years. At least in Rapid City we now have several Sushi Bars and sushi served at several more restaurants. What used to be considered "foreign" or for the "elite" is now commonplace.

That can translate to technology also. A customer came in over the summer months from out of town to look at our yarn. She had her ipad with her and she kept referring to it as she looked at yarn. I was curious so asked her about it. She said she had a pattern on the ipad that had a picture and she was comparing yarn colors with the picture of the pattern to see if she liked the color of the yarn for that pattern. Then she showed me the pattern with the yarn specifications, the needle sizes, etc. It was so wonderful that she could take her pattern with her on the same device that she had used to find our store with!

I had another customer, a husband, that came in and took photos of the yarn and sent them to his wife, who was at work, to make sure he was getting the right color and brand. Later, she came in with him and they bought different colors also, because she had seen them on his phone photo and our web site.

Just now I visited with a lady about tatting. We talked about the hankies she had gotten from her mother that all had tatted edges. I remember seeing older ladies, when I was a child, tatting with that little shuttle and being amazed at the delicate edgings that they were adding to their knitted items. We just don't see much of tatting anymore. I know where to buy a tatting shuttle, but I am not sure if I could find someone to teach me how to tat.

Fiber arts: knitting, crocheting, tatting, embroidery, spinning, weaving, bobbin lace are all part of Herstory. Our female relatives from ages ago all had to do some if not all of the above in order to be clothed. We take so much for granted these days of WalMart, Target and Sam's Club. Back in the day of our ancestors there was much time spent in knitting socks, underwear, outerwear, mittens and hats. Before we had factories to manufacture our cloth we spun the yarn from our sheep, wove the cloth and then sewed it by hand. Many women were seamstresses and made clothes for others besides their own families.

Much has changed since the Industrial Revolution. Now we have the Technological Revolution. However, Herstory continues on in that we are using the Technological Revolution (electronic devices like ipads, computers, cell phones, internet) to connect us with the women of our past. I can go to the internet and get a copy of a magazine printed in the 1900s to the 1960s and read it on the computer or maybe purchase a digital copy and load it on my ipad or smartphone to read later. I can find the patterns that my Yarn Aunty knitted or crocheted for me 60 years ago. I can see how the weavers in England differed from the weavers in Asia by "googling" the information.

But the best part of all is that I can sit down and knit, crochet, spin or weave by myself or with a group and be connected to the past women in my life.  There is a connection, almost spiritually, almost physically, with the women of the past when I pick up my shuttle at the loom and weave. I can imagine what the lady of the house in long ago times must have woven. Did she sing as she wove, did she pray, did the children gather around the loom? Questions that run through my head as I weave. When I knit, I remember my Yarn Aunty Gladys and think about the 1950s and 1960s and how drastically things have changed in my lifetime. But I am still connected to Aunt Gladys, Grandma S, Mama, Grandma G through my knitting. I am also connected to my friends at the yarn shop that gather to knit or crochet once a week.

Connecting is what social media, via technological devices, is all about. However, knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, quilting are all about connecting too. Sit outside on a nice day with your knitting in a public place and watch as people ask you questions and want to see what you are doing. Try spinning on a wheel outside your local yarn store and watch as the foot traffic slows down to watch you. People are fascinated with these arts of ours. They are fascinated with the tools, the process and the end result. And for however long they watch you or ask questions they, too, are connected to the past and to the present.

Keep sharing our Herstory with the world. We need to preserve the ancient arts of knitting, crocheting, spinning and weaving and pass them on to the next generation, especially if they are knitting a sushi scarf!

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