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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Love. . . the electronic revolution in fibrecrafts

Podcast Logo from Colleen AF Venable (via Flickr)

You know, when I look back over the last five years of crafting, it's amazing to think how far I have come as far as embracing technology goes! Even a mere four years ago I had never downloaded a knitting pattern from the internet, ravelry wasn't yet a daily habit and I had never heard of podcasts, let alone any fibrecraft ones. It wasn't quite the first, but the Cast On podcast started on 31st October 2005 and although it has waxed and waned in episode frequency, it has remained a constant favourite of mine. It is produced very professionally by Brenda Dayne, an American woman living in Wales with her partner Tonya and their pets. It was back in 2007, when I was flicking through a knitting magazine in a local shop that I spotted an article on Brenda Dayne and her Cast On podcast, and my journey into the world of podcasts began. Within a matter of days, I had downloaded all the Cast On audio archives and signed up for several other podcasts too, like David Reidy's Sticks and String. I even found Saturday Morning with Kim Hill from Radio New Zealand was available in a podcast form. Not to mention a whole host of podcasts from my much-missed BBC Radio 4. More recently I have found the iMake podcast (mentioned in my "Guernsey Goodness" blog post.) Podcasts have been a very positive addition to my life. . . but for such a long time there was no New Zealand-based knitting or generally crafty podcast to be found. For a while, I even considered trying to produce one of my own, but my abysmal technical skills defeated me before I had even put up a trial episode!

Imagine my excitement in 2009 when I saw an announcement on http://ravelry.com that there was a new podcast, and a New Zealand one at that! Not just a knitting podcast either, but a multi-craftual one, encompassing knitting, spinning, weaving, sewing and a whole lot more. The "icing on the cake" for me, is that all this craftiness is teamed up with baking, another one of my favourite activities. This podcaster seemed to have come up with a local podcast that was just what I was looking for! The name of the podcast? "Crafternoon Tea with Granny G." Granny G has regaled us with tales of her crafty life and an abundance of baking and local interviews, ever since her first podcast back in September 2009. If you haven't listened to any of Crafternoon Tea before, then I highly recommend it. Here's a link to the very first episodes. Granny G is very easy to listen to and it feels like you are sitting around the kitchen table having a chat while she bakes, sews, spins etc in the background!

At the beginning of the year, Granny G published a beautiful NZ-themed knitting pattern - "Tiki Mittens."  I was amongst the first to buy and download the pattern and knitted them up as fingerless mitts for my lovely Wifie. . . I used some grey 4 ply Patons Patonyle yarn along with some 3 ply Knittery Merino Slim Sock, which I dyed jade green using food grade acid dyes bought from Morag of Vintage Purls.
Tiki mitts for Wifie - Jan 2011
Granny G has always been a very regular podcaster, so when there was a bit of a lengthy silence after her latest episode released on 31st January 2011, I thought something must be up. Not sure what, but something must be going on! Sure enough, on 2nd March, Granny G posted in her Crafternoon Tea ravelry group to explain why she had been missing from our iPods! This is what she said:

"I’m sure you’ve noticed by now the lack of new episodes… you have, haven’t you?
There is a good reason. I’ve not announced it, as each week I was hoping to upload a new episode, especially as I’ve two awesome interviews on hand which just need editing and releasing.
So what is the reason? Well back in January, I had too much coffee and decided it was an excellent idea to start a magazine. A digital only fibre craft magazine. I’m up to my ears in getting the preview issue out ready for March 20th or thereabouts, with the first full issues available in May/June.
You may have noticed the ad’s running below, for entangled magazine, well that’s me!
If all goes to plan, I should be able to get back to podcasting in the next few months. There will be occasional blog posts, and I will still be around here."
So, there you have it. Granny G/Genny Stevens has started an electronic fibre craft magazine, "Entangled." If the free preview issue is anything to go by, it's going to be a very high quality, visually sumptuous, information-packed magazine! Genny says in the Editor's Note that the preview issue is "a taster, a sample of things to come!" As such, I didn't expect the freebie to be quite so full, but obviously this is going to be no ordinary magazine! Although it's produced in NZ you can sign up for your copy from wherever you live, and as well as viewing it on your computer screen, you can even download it and look at it on your iPad if you are lucky enough to own such a thing (I'm not!) 
In order to get your hands/eyes on a copy of the free preview issue of Entangled, you need to sign up to Zinio. . . but people, if I can negotiate the sign-up process, so can you! You won't be disappointed. And no, before you ask, I'm not on commission for getting you to sign up to look at the preview issue of Entangled - I have never even met Granny G! But the magazine genuinely looks great, and I am all for supporting New Zealand enterprise, especially if it involves an area of life that really interests me, ie fibre crafts. The preview issue has all sorts of interesting articles in it, including a focus on Perendale wool and fleece, some Knit Graffiti (a topic dear to my heart) and a book review of New Zealander Margaret Stove's latest book: Wrapped in Lace.
So there we are. . . where would we fibre crafters be without the internet? Imagine a world with no crafty podcasts, no online yarn shops and Indie dyers, no downloadable patterns either paid or freebies,  and possibly worst of all - no ravelry! Ravelry enables you to check out almost any pattern you can imagine and see several (or thousands of) versions of it, compare yarn choices, get ideas of how to use a particular yarn, organise and share your projects, make networks and friendships with people all over the world, not feel quite so alone in your craft geekery and "much, much more!" So very much more that I think I will devote a whole post to ravelry one day. 
But for now, I am just very grateful for the electronic revolution that has taken place in fibre crafts over the last few years. To some this blending of traditional crafts with high-technology solutions  may seem like a strange juxtaposition, but to me it makes perfect sense. Long may it continue. . .


  1. This is a really interesting blog post-thanks!

  2. Thanks Lissy, glad you enjoyed it ;-)

  3. aw thanks! I feel so spesh having supporters like you xxooxx

  4. Oh my goodness I don't dare even think about being a crafter without the internet! Ravelry is my most important ritual because apart from the obvious benefits there is just so much inspiration.

    I have to agree the preview of Entangled is great and promises to be a must have - I'm looking forward to the first full issue. Plus Zinio is one of the best (I've tried a lot) for emags, especially on the iPad - not to rub it in, sorry!

  5. Genny, you are very welcome. . . I am just grateful for all the work you put into techno-stuff for us NZ crafters ;-)

  6. Eriven, fully agree re copious inspiration on ravelry. It's truly amazing to have all this creativity from around the world literally at your fingertips! E-mags are a completely new concept to me, but I can absolutely see the benefits. So would you recommend the iPad then? Mind you, by the time I have saved up for one they will probably be on iPad 5!!!