I knitted some things: a blog post in (mostly) pictures

Years and years and years ago when I lived in South Carolina, I came across a newspaper article in The State (or maybe The Free Times) about the South Carolina Knitting Guild.  I went to a meetup (before Meetup was a thing).  I got knitting lessons.  After that, it was scarves for everyone!

I gave knitting up for a while.  Who had the time?  I recently came back to it though, and I’ve been pursuing other textile/fiber related crafts like embroidery and crocheting and such.


Attempting to learn to crochet. Crocheted macarons

This return to knitting has a lot to do with my son and this book of sea creature patterns.


It’s fun to knit for kids.


Angler fish #1


Angler fish #2


Sea star


Eyeless octopus

knitted Hermit crab. In progress.

Hermit crab. In progress.

I’m also thinking a lot about the history of what’s considered to be feminine crafts thanks to conversations with other fiber/textile-loving friends and Margaret Wertheim, who visited The Steward School earlier in the year to talk about the Crocheted Coral Reef project, which got me thinking a lot about STEAM, interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary/multidisciplinary/whatnot studies, the importance of downtime, and the people who encourage and amplify our crazy “What if we did this…” ideas.

Like all summers, I have big plans for exploring questions.  One area of interest is the use of craft for social comment in both the past and present.



How Xena: Princess Warrior started something beautiful and great

The Steward School hosts a Visiting Innovators Program that’s brought in some interesting people this year.  Gary Stager visited earlier in the school year followed by Dr. Margaret Wertheim, who is known for her science writing, the Institute for Figuring, and the crocheted coral reef project, a project which emerged from an evening of sisters crocheting while watching Xena: Warrior Princess and Christine Wertheim‘s simple statement, “We could crochet a coral reef.”

Both of the Visiting Innovators Programs at Steward started with hands-on MakerFaire-like events for all ages.  The maker event preceeding Dr. Wertheim’s session offered the opportunity to make squishy circuit coral reefs, crochet parts of the Steward School’s coral reef and more.

Steward's crocheted coral reef in progress

Steward’s crocheted coral reef in progress

The hands-on event was followed by a talk by Dr. Wertheim with activities for kids in another room.  (Do you know what it means to offer activities for kids and to host events that appeal to all ages?  It means a lot.)

Dr. Wertheim talked about the origins of the crocheted coral reef project, the power of community-driven art/projects, what happens when you have a “science person” and an “art person” collaborate, and gender and technology.  The short session really encompassed a lot of themes and issues that run through this whole maker movement, #makered, and STE(A)M.

Participatory Projects and Community

The crocheted coral reef started over 10 years ago and quickly took over the living room of the Wertheim sisters’ living room.  The reef eventually made its way into exhibits all over the worldSatellite reefs soon popped up all over the world too.

Part of the Steward School's crocheted coral reef.

Part of the Steward School’s crocheted coral reef.

The satellite reefs like the Colorado Department of Youth Corrections reef, the Latvian Schools coral reef, and the Irish coral reef are made by community members with diverse backgrounds.  Some are scientists, crafters, artists, students, and prisoners.  All have their names included in the exhibitions around the world and in the crocheted coral reef book.  It was this insistence on including the names of all participants that was especially interesting to me.  Ownership can be empowering.

crocheted coral reef at the steward school

crocheted coral reef at the steward school

Since attending the workshop, I’ve made several references to “Xena Princess Warrior Moments.”  Wonderful things come out of downtime and those low pressure moments spent with people who compliment and energize us.  Big ideas grow from those “I wonder…” and “We could make….” moments. Right now I’m very interested in being more sensitive to those in my life as well as helping students more attuned to those ideas that may seem trivial or small.  It so happens that I’m taking a Visible Thinking class with a few colleagues.  The class has provided many strategies for making one more aware of one’s thinking.  I’m looking forward to unpacking what I’m learning and how it pairs with inquiry, research, and #makered.

Steward School jelly

Steward School jelly




A little bit of a Design Blitz

Typography & Symbols

Studio Two Three is a wonderful community print shop located in Scott’s Addition.  They offer a variety of classes, from hand lettering to lithography.  They’ve been known to use a steamroller to print giant maps of Richmond.  Studio Two Three also knows about bringing in the community much like we do here in The Village.  I believe the S23 folks put out a call for volunteers to assist with the chiseling of the woodcut used for one of the RVA maps.

I believe the print below is the 2014 RVA map.  It’s a pretty great use of typography.  All of the Richmond neighborhoods are listed in variations of whatever font is used below.  There’s some bold lettering.  Not-so-bold lettering.  Big letters.  Small letters.  It’s variety but all tied together by the constant font choice.  Then we have “RICHMOND” in big, bold letters.  And a different font.  It works.

S23 smartly used the outline of the Richmond city to hold the names of the neighborhoods suggesting to folks who may not know that one is indeed looking at a map of a city.

Studio Two Three RVA Map

Studio Two Three RVA Map



If only The Village had maps so detailed and full of useful INFORMATION.  Here’s what I like about this map: The gray with the black strip.  I have a feeling that all Lonely Planet maps use this color scheme (I could be wrong) so that one can immediately think, “Hey!  It’s a Lonely Planet map.  So reliable and trustworthy!”  Of course the blue “Lonely Planet” logo in the upper left corner can also lead one to the same thought.

This design doesn’t play around.  It’s not fancy.  You’re told that this item is a city map.  You know it’s a map of Bangkok.  This design does not play around or look for a cute, new way of saying what needs to be said.  I appreciate that.




This tote bag is pretty minimalist, me thinks.


Here’s another tote bag and another example of interesting typography.  A few years ago my husband and I were enjoying tasty burgers at Strange Matter on Grace Street.  A metal band was preparing for the evening show.  Their merch table was set up and ready to go.  They were selling tote bags along with the more pedestrian items (t-shirts, beer koozies).  Nothing screams “Black Metal!” like a tote bag, so I had to have it.

The band’s name–Wolves in the Throne Room–is in the upper left hand corner.  There’s no way you would’ve guessed that without me telling you.  Admit it.


Everyone changes in The Village: a #prisoner106 design assignment

The Village library is full of some entertaining and suspenseful reads.  It’s important to have hobbies and materials that keep our minds busy.  We recently had several donations of “I Can Read” books all from different Community members.

Cataloging new arrivals in The Village library

Cataloging new arrivals in The Village library


I picked up The Schizoid Man and thumbed through it.  I’ll add it to the collection despite the worn and torn book cover.

I Can Read MoviesBeggars can’t be choosers, amirite?

How I did it:

Several Village dwellers created some impressive book covers from scratch.  I took the “creative edit approach” as The Village psychiatrist calls it.

I wanted to capture the essence of Rover as well as the lava lamps that appear throughout The Prisoner.  I found a Creative Commons licensed lava lamp photo (thanks Anderaz) through Photo Pin.  I imported that into GIMP and erased everything but the three bubbles.  I think my next steps involved playing around with greyscale, contrast, the invert tool, and maybe some other things.  I took a few screenshots, but couldn’t really tell you the order I did things:

Tinkering with contrast

Tinkering with contrast


Tinkering with grayscale


Tinkering with invert


Tinkering with brightness and contrast

After the lava lamp/Rover was all set, I downloaded Mitch’s War Games cover and proceeded with my “creative edits,” which I now feel kind of lame about, because the book cover is copyrighted.  I supposed I could argue that it all falls within Fair Use, but still….

My creative edits included:  change the book number from 15 to 2, changing the copyright date from 1964 to 1967 (when The Prisoner) came out, changing the book cover image (obviously) and the text.  It would behoove me create my own book cover, because I could benefit from experimenting with different effects and brushes and other tools available to master image manipulators.



Wish you were here!: a #Prisoner106 design assignment

Design Week in The Village kept me busy.  I took on the Postcards from a Magical Place (#363) assignment.  If I followed directions, I would’ve designed both the front AND back of a postcard.  I only designed the front.  Why design the back of a postcard from The Village when there is no outgoing mail here?

The Village is truly a magical place though.  I did my best to capture the majesty of the mountains, our inspired chess games, and our ever-present sentinel, Rover.

Village postcard

Greetings from The Village

This version isn’t fit for The Village store, but some progress was made.  “The Village” doesn’t pop as much as I would like.  Actually, none of the text does, but that’s something to fix later.  Perhaps something like this:

vintage postcard

vintage postcard

I used the Seaside Resort font for the smaller text and found the Vacation Postcard font for “The Village.”  However, I quickly discovered that I couldn’t fill that text with an image as I explained in this post.

Only the outline of the text would fill with the image

Only the outline of the text would fill with the image

A more experienced GIMP/PhotoShop user may know how to get around the problem.  I couldn’t make it work despite the good suggestions left in the previous blog post.

This is what I did (I think):

1.  I opened the image of the chess scene

2.  I added the “Greetings from” and “Be seeing you” text layers and moved those around as needed.

3.  I added “The Villlage” text layer and rotated the text by going to layer > transform > rotate > arbitrary rotation.  I used -15 as the angle.

4.  I followed the steps in the “How to Create a Vintage Postcard in GIMP” tutorial for blurring “The Village” text in order to get a nice 3D effect.  I duplicated “The Village” text and then added a blur filter to the duplicated layer.  Activate the copy/duplicate and select filter > blur > motion blur.  I used a length of 20 and an angle of 205.

3Dtext_pcardKeep making copies of the blurred layer until you have a nice 3D effect.  Then hide all but your blurred text layers.  When these are the only layers visible, right click them and select “merge visible layers.”

You can also select colors for your main text and the blurred text layer so that you can tell the two apart.

merge_visible5.  Add the image that should appear within your text.  Add an alpha channel to this image by right clicking the layer.

6.  Right click your main text layer.  Click “alpha to selection”

7.  Turn off your main text layer.

8.  Activate the image layer.  You’re now ready to delete everything outside of the text.  Go to Select > invert and then go to Edit > Cut.

(The screenshots below aren’t part of my actual project, which is why you don’t see all of the layers I had)


Though the final product isn’t what I envisioned, I ended up learning a lot about GIMP.  Again, this “How to Create a Vintage Postcard in GIMP” Youtube tutorial was extremely helpful in the process.

I also found an easy explanation for adding image to text here.

A plea for help

The raging headache I’m experiencing could be a result of my social conversion therapy or perhaps it’s a result of the design assignment I’m currently working on.

I’m trying to make a vintage postcard.  I’ve been following this tutorial on Youtube, and it’s been helpful for the most part:

I’m having zero luck filling “the village” with the rover image you see in the video below.

So far I’ve tried the method described in the handy tutorial and my video above (selection to alpha > shrink (optional, I think) > invert > cut.

I also tried these easy steps and come out with this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 6.01.31 PMThe outline of the font has the rover image, but not the inside of the font.  What am I missing?

Hmmm…  Maybe it’s a poor font choice as I just followed the easy steps and came out with this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 6.05.38 PMOK…. Maybe I answered my own question and need to go on another font hunt.  So….


Make it a-MAZE-ing: a Prisoner106 adventure

Like Bill, I opted to try out the maze design assignment.  After reading the assignment details, I knew I wanted to do something with the Village map.

Map of the Village.  Also available in colour.

Map of the Village. Also available in colour.

I printed out a couple of copies thinking I might hand draw a maze.  That could still happen.  We’ll see.  The option of doing something by hand appeals, but the carrying out the idea is never as easy as the idea itself seems.  But that’s also the case for digital work.

I looked around online for some maze generators.  The first result lead me to a defunct maze generator.  I wondered if there was a way to create a maze in GIMP, so I asked The General the Internet.  Turns out, GIMP has a maze filter.

Finding the maze filter

Finding the maze filter

Lucky day!

Of course making this maze wasn’t as easy as slapping a maze layer on top of an image and calling it a day.

This is what I did:

1.  I opened a new GIMP project and imported my map image.  I then went to Filters > Render > Pattern > Maze

2,  You’ll then have the option to play around with some settings.

Settings for the maze filter in GIMP

Settings for the maze filter in GIMP

Note:  A small pixel width and height is hard on the eyes.

Once the maze was generated, I could no longer see the Village map.  Apparently the maze filter overwrites any active layers.  I figured I could use some transparency tools to see both the maze and the map.  I once again consulted The General and found this handy GIMP tutorial on layer masks.

I followed the steps in the tutorial and came out with these:

See.  The maze is hard on the eyes

First iteration.  See. The maze is hard on the eyes

Second iteration.

Second iteration.  Worse than the first?

I’m very meh about the results truth be told, but I did enjoy using the masks, which should come in handy in the future. I’m shipping this project even though it’s underwhelming.

If I find I’m need some meditative exercise, I may just pull out a pen and get to work on a hand drawn maze.



Spoiler Alert: A story in four icons

Here’s a four icon telling of “It’s Your Funeral.”

"It's Your Funeral" in four icons

“It’s Your Funeral” in four icons (scroll down for credits)

In this episode, we learn a few things:

(1) No. 6 is very active.

(2) Kosho looks AWESOME!  This is exercise I fully support.

(3) No. 6 demonstrates some really human characteristics in this episode.  He seems almost vulnerable, no?  He buys sweets for the woman who blew through all of her work credits.  He wants to help the blonde by reasoning with her watchmaker father.

Sure, sure.  He says that he wants to prevent the unimaginable punishment torture that will befall the Community, but is that really the only motivator?

No. 6 sure does seem to empathize with No. 2 this time around.

Double No. 2s

Is No. 6 starting to relate to his fellow Community members?

Other great things from this episode:

(1) The rad pink jackets:

Pink jackets. A change.

(2)  The stylish smoking jacket and hipster glasses:

Quite the fashionista

Quite the fashionista

The images are from The Noun Project.

                                                                   woman – Simon Child   .   bomb – Edward Boatman   .   medallion – Creative Stall   .   helicopter Pham Thi Dieu Linh

Campy camp posters: A Prisoner106 project

I never went to summer camp.  I didn’t have friends that went to summer camp.  For a while I thought summer camp was just something that existed in tween/YA books to move the plot along.  Parents were out of the picture.  Kids were left to sort out their own problems and/or engage in hijinx and adventure.  Camp was a macguffin of sorts.

Look at ALL the summer camp posters!

Look at ALL the summer camp posters!

Enter the best summer camp of all:  Camp Magic MacGuffin.

Camp Magic MacGuffin closed with the the end of summer 2012.  The facilities have seen better days.

But a tribute poster was still in order.

Camp Magic Macguffin poster

Camp Magic MacGuffin poster

I borrowed a couple of images from the Camp Magic MacGuffin site including the header and the “visit the camp store” logo.  I just erased “store” so that it says “Visit the camp.”

Visit the camp store I used GIMP for this poster.  The Magic MacGuffin header is a layer.  I merged the cabin with the “Visit the camp” text so the two were easier to reposition.

Camp poster in progress

Camp poster in progress

I also found some campy and hippie fonts to use.

And just for fun:  some Magic MacGuffin counselors meet The Prisoner:

Magic MacGuffin meets the Prisoner

Magic MacGuffin meets the Prisoner

Magic MacGuffin meets The Prisoner

Magic MacGuffin meets The Prisoner

Camp Poster assignment – 3 stars