Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Who's got two needles and a scholarship?

<----- This girl!

I'm very pleased to be able to share the news about the scholarship I was just awarded from Jimmy Beans Wool and Vogue Knitting. Now in its second year, the Beans for Brains scholarship program is providing some much-needed tuition support for the many college students out there who also happen to knit and crochet. It's the first program of its kind, and JBW and VK deserve a big pat on the back for coming up with it.

I'm pretty sure I'd think that even if they hadn't awarded one of the scholarships to me. (But they did, so a huge THANKS to you, Laura, and all the great folks at Jimmy Beans!) Having paid off the loans and debt from two college degrees myself before heading back for a third, I'm a big fan of scholarships--and ones that take care to recognize special talents and well-rounded students are just the berries.

It's nice to see the link between craft/creativity and academic achievements being made, too. I've grown considerably as both a knitter and a scholar since starting the degree program I'm in now, and I think those two pursuits have informed one another in some interesting ways. For one thing, practicing and communicating about both knitting and information science was radically transformed by the Interwebs, which continue to have an influence on trends in both fields. (Examples? Ravelry. Google. Discuss!) Absorbing difficult new ideas can be discouraging, but as I plowed through the really dense articles and books for my introductory doctoral research and theory class, I'd tell myself that if I could learn to knit lace, then the theoretical traditions of information science should be cake.

Perhaps most importantly, though, I've been publishing knitting patterns pretty regularly for the last few years, and that has definitely made me more comfortable with the idea of publishing in general--one of the imperatives in academia ("publish or perish," they say). Whether it's a journal article or a charted lace design, you're putting yourself out there when you publish. You know your readers are going to be a bunch of people who have a keen interest in the subject, often know waaaaaay more than you do about it, and won't hesitate to call you out--publicly!--on the bits you get wrong. The work ultimately has to stand on its own, and you have to stand by it. Scary, right? It really can be...but for me, having a sort of alter ego who publishes knitting patterns (and has to push out the occasional revision-with-apologies when a sharp-eyed knitter finds one of the goofy errors that are entirely my fault, and occur despite, not because of, the efforts of my fine technical editors) keeps the academical me more philosophical about the peer-review process, and the inevitable setbacks and rewriting that good, responsible scholarly publication entails.

For Jimmy Beans and Vogue to be sponsoring an award that recognizes students who knit, then, means to me that there might be a lot of people out there for whom knitting (and crocheting, of course!) is more than just a retro hobby. It's a true creative outlet, an intellectual challenge, and maybe a way of working on something that engages the "play" part of your brain while the "school" part is chewing on something tricky. It's also what I do on the bus to and from campus, and with my best non-school friends here in Texas, so it's a way of staying sane and grounded and having something other than my research interests to discuss at cocktail parties.

BTW, the nice photo that I grabbed for this post appeared with the front-page article on my receipt of this award that my school paper ran (slow news week, I guess!). It's by Tamir Kalifa, who is clearly a very talented guy. He gets extra points for somehow minimizing the infamous Knitter's Double Chin...but someone gets points off for naming the image file "DOM2010-09-01_Knitting_Lady." Yowch--apparently, even though I'm a student, I'm a lady now, and my girl days are behind me. In all fairness, though, I think I have underpants that are older than the reporter who interviewed me for the article. I may in fact have been wearing them when that picture was taken.


abackus said...


Thea said...

I must stop laughing about the underpants comment to type, but I just can't. Congrats!!

Your designs are great, and I completely agree with the publish or perish - whatever it is we do, it is hard to put it out there for the public, but your patterns are lovely and I'm so glad you've shared them! Can't wait to see what you do next.

twistedspinner said...

Congratulations Snowden! I am impressed!

Yarnhog said...

Hey, congratulations!

I think I'll teach my older son to knit. ;)

Rina said...

Congratulations! It's a great article, although they skipped over your LA years. I also saw the news on the Vogue Knitting Facebook page.

TT820 said...

No kidding...the article makes it seem like I just graduated from college and went straight to grad school. It also said I was right-handed and thought of knitting as a "tactical" activity...whereas in reality I'm left-handed, and it's TACTILE.

Although I must admit I do think knitting skills will come in handy after the Zombie Apocalypse comes. We'll all need warm clothes then.