There have probably never been more photographs taken on a day-to-day basis than as we snap away today. Almost every person has a good quality camera in their pocket pretty much all day, every day. Digital photography has freed us of the nervousness of ‘wasting’ […]
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Every day Instagram brings forth pictures of modern calligraphy. There is a definite form to most of the new letter styles and it seems very popular. It’s words, made beautiful. Often, the words are beautiful themselves; positive, affirming, words of strength, happiness and encouragement. Over the weekend one of the calligraphy pictures was of a quote:
(I don’t have the requisite skills in modern calligraphy to do this by hand, so I’ve downloaded a typeface called Anisha). I looked up the quote, it’s popularly attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, but like most quotes that attribution is very much contested.
Anyway, the quote has been sitting with me for a couple of days. There is a message of positive action behind it: ‘if you don’t like something, do something about it’, but there’s also a burden of suggestion that if you are experiencing upset/anger/hurt/grief at something you cannot change or influence you should keep it quiet and to yourself, else you be seen as ‘whining’.
If you image search the word ‘whining’ every picture is of an upset toddler or baby. Ok, and there’s one of Donald Trump on the third row. But the overarching idea that a complaint or expression of unhappiness that you cannot solve or find a solution for is a whine, and a childish expression of immaturity is problematic.
I believe in ‘talking’ (face to face, via text, on the Internet… it doesn’t matter how as long as you are comfortable communicating in that medium), and the healthy benefits of expression of both goodÂ and bad days. Sometimes it is the voicing of a problem and sharing of our difficult times that prompts help, and an easing or sometimes ‘solution’, either by self-determination or with the help of others. A brave voice can stand up without the knowledge of how to fix a problem, but understand that there is one and prompt a wider understanding.
I know some people I follow have found help and support through the work of The Blurt Foundation. I love that name. Blurt. It’s a beautiful name for the release of words under pressure. When the pressure that has built up is one of grief, or pain, or some other problem that fills you up until you feel swollen with the pressure of it all in your chest, to just let go and Blurt is at once a shock and a release. It can be scary and loud but hopefully the release is followed by relief.
Blurt. It’s such a great word. It sounds round and comfortably heavy, like a weighted blanket. It sounds like the slow boil of a thick, hearty soup, or blowing bubbles through something comforting, like a bowl of custard. It’s not a pretty word, perhaps. It sounds like a rolling burp, or a trump (not the Donald kind – a bottom burp, if you will – a fart). Perhaps that’s apt; a build up of uncomfortable pressure that is suddenly released and makes you feel so much better inside. OK, it can feel a bit embarrassing if it happens with no warning, but what a relief on the body.
Whine, though… Whine isn’t a pleasant word. It’s onomatopoeic in essence. A high-pitched, wheezing moan. We say children whine when we are frustrated with their behaviour. Dogs whine when they are being needy. It’s an annoyance, like a mosquito near the ear that wont go away, that you can’t ignore though you might try.
Some problems in life (there are thousands, millions…) you cannot solve. Some you can’t pose a solution to. Some you cannot even ease. Chronic pain, incurable illness, grief; just a few. And there are many reasons why someone may not be able to address other problems that they face; depression, anxiety, and a myriad of other areas of mental health. I can’t even begin to touch upon the ways that different people are affected by different things, and that theyÂ canÂ voice their upset without being thought of as ‘whining’. There’s no quicker way to shut down an avenue to help than making them think that they are not welcome to speak, and not valued enough to be heard.
Communication is at the heart of what I feel it is to understand humanity. If people are unable to communicate about their difficulties without being made to feel weak that they can not act upon them, or without being told that their voice is unwelcome if it brings anything other than positivity, then that is a lot of the human experience that is not being shared or understood.
Days are not always easy, but I want to understand what I can of myself and my life, and I do that through communication. I want to feel welcome in communicating when I am able to, because I do not always have the strength. I have been denied a voice at times in my life, and I am determined to never let that happen again. I am not whining. I have something to say.
Also, my writing is not pretty. I haven’t tried the new art of modern calligraphy and seriouslyÂ do not need to start and interest in a another hobby, but I am happy with my message. They are words that are beautiful in another way.
Someone on Twitter put it so wonderfully when they said ‘this is what happens when your interests collide’. My ‘raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens’ are knitting, fossils, manatees, trilobites, unicorns and rainbows (I maintain that I loved these last two long before they were cool). I have written a few times of why trilobites are so special and important to me and why they are so symbolic of where my life is right now, so rather than take another deep dive into my thoughts and past, let me just say that I am absolutely thrilled with my latest piece of knitting. It isÂ everything I hoped it would be when I first had the idea to make a tank top scattered with trilobite motifs.
The motifs range in size and form, exactly as the trilobites did in real life. I’m sure you know how cool trilobites are just as well as I do, but in case you need reminding, trust me, they’re super awesome. I wanted to capture some of the traits and differing body evolutionary modifications that the trilobites displayed, but all within what essentially boiled down to only a few graphical blocks. Each of the trilobite motifs is based on one or more trilobite that displayed a particular shape or modification, though they are too simply ‘drawn’ to be thought in any way scientific.
Once I had charted a number of different trilobite forms I set about juggling and jostling them all into place. I wanted them to appear scattered but distinct, but also had to remain aware that I wanted to fill the space to make the finished tank top visually arresting, and also to minimise inevitable long stretches of single-colour open space between the motifs.
All past colourwork that I have designed has always had a mind towards minimising long floats. As a rule I try to keep floats to a minimum of 6 stsÂ in a regular pattern where I am able, but I knew that this would not be possible when designing the charts for this project. Mindful of catching the longer dark floats in the lighter background colour and how this can poke a little sprouting seed of a stitch through to the front of the knitting, I used to semi-solid or heathered ‘mix’ shades of Jamieson & Smith’s 2-Ply jumper weight to help blend those few areas in as well as possible.
The tank top is knit entirely in the round from bottom edge to shoulders, with the neck and armholes steeked using the steeking technique I learned when knitting Oorik from the A Year Of Techniques project. As my little boy has fast outgrown his Oorik, I decided to make this big enough to fit a four year old (he’s actually only two, but they frankly grow too fast, these miniature people, and I don’t think he is going to mind the extra room too much). I dropped the neckline about an inch and a half, in comparison to Oorik, to allow for his gigantic toddler-head to pass through a bit easier (though I cut off all his hair between casting on and completing the project, so it’s less of an issue now that his giant head-mop is no longer in attendance).
It is of course impossible to get a two-and-a-half year old to sit still whilst having his picture taken. I threw a chocolate biscuit at him in hope, but as he jumped onto the sofa I completely failed at getting him to sit up straight, but it does look great on.
Not all of the trilobite motifs that I drew up made it onto the final piece, due to layout jostling and the required size of the finished piece to fit my gauge, so I may have a think about if there is anything else that I may fancy doing with them as I loved knitting this and am pleased as punch with the finished knit, and I’m starting to think I may need something to match…