Sunday, January 24, 2010

#Plateaknit Performers, by Ingrid Murnane

Magic Loop by InnyNaney on Flickr

In order to get the best out of an @platea performance, each performer needs to follow the others. This is especially important in #plateaknit for getting your instructions as a maker and also for seeing what the makers are doing with the instructions.

Below are the performers so far, and it isn't too late to sign up now: we will add you into the list and make announcements of new performers via the @platea Twitter feed as we go along (so be sure to follow us too!).

The Performers

Brooklynne: Instructor: @grrlshapedyarns

CassieLouise: Instructor: @CassieLouise

Ingrid Murnane: Instructor and Maker: @InnyM

Jonny: Instructor and Maker: @bungy32

Yael David: Maker: @yberryfurrealz

Brenda: Maker and possibly Instructor: @brendadada

Dawn: Maker: @dlad2002

Joanie San Chirico: Maker: @joanie_s_c

Betsy Mitchell Henning: Maker: @FunkyFatGirl

D: Instructor: @sortingtrolley

Jim: Maker: @RaggedJ

Neene: Maker: @_randomthoughts

Talia: Instructor: @innbrooklyn

Amy: Instructor: @plainsight

An Xiao: Instructor: @thatwaszen

Lisa Risager: Maker: @risager

Glenda Greenhouse: Instructor: @G_Greenhouse

Elseline: Maker: @ElselineT

NewCurator: Instructor: @NewCurator

Aaron Chen: Instructor: @clockity

Christi Nielsen: Instructor and Maker: @christinielsen

Runfox: Instructor: @Runefox

Amy Barnes: Maker: @dr_amyjaneb

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ideas for #plateaknit Instructions and How to Use Them, by Ingrid Murnane

In a follow up to my last post, here are some basic knitting abbreviations and an explaination of how to use them. There are also some other instructor/maker ideas to help you in #plateaknit.


K = knit

P = purl

These are the two basic stitches. Tell us how many stitches you’d like us to knit or purl like this: k15 or p4.

You can also make a set of instructions as follows: k2, p6, k2, p6, k to end of row.

You can specify the number of rows that we need to knit like this for as well, by adding (for three rows) or suchlike.

If you’d like something repeated, do it following a formula something like this: (k2, p3) 5 times

You can do more than just get us to make patterns with the knit and purl stitches. You can ask us to increase or decrease the amount of stitches in a number of ways, make eyelet holes, ask us to change colours, turn the knitting round and go the other direction or make a buttonhole.

Increase stitches

m1 = make one by picking up and knitting a stitch between two other stitches

kfb = knit front and back

yo = yarn over

yf = yarn forward

Decrease stitches

k2tog = knit two stitches together

p2tog = purl two stitches together

ssk = slip two stitches knitwise, transfer them back and knit them together

Other things to do

Eyelets: yo k2tog = makes an eyelet

Buttonholes: specify the number of stitches width eg: bh5

Change direction: as it says, turn the knitting and work back the other way (as in short row shaping)

Change colours: to make stripes or coloured patterns

Change needle sizes (to larger or smaller ones)

There are many more things you can do in knitting than just these, but these basics should help both the instructors and makers in the performance.

Knitting by InnyNaney on Flickr.

Here are some great examples of ways that you could incorporate knitting instructions into your tweets (with thanks to my fellow Steering Committee member Jonny Gray!)

Tweet01: sl1, k1 *m1, p2, k2tog, p1* (repeat from * three times) k to end #plateaknit

Tweet02: Do two rows in the color you are currently working with then change to something (more) green. #plateaknit

Tweet03: Change one of your needles up three sizes #plateaknit

Tweet04: Add five stitches to your next row in any way of your choosing #plateaknit

Tweet05: Bind (cast) off and start a new piece. #plateaknit

Tweet06: Do the next five rows in a k2, p2 rib. #plateaknit

Tweet07: Over as many rows as you choose, reduce the row to ten stitches wide then expand back to the original number of stitches in the row. #plateaknit

Tweet08: Do a short row of half the number of stitches in your current row. #plateaknit

Tweet09: Weave in a length of packaging twine into part of a row. Leave at least 6 inches of twine dangling on the RS of the piece at both ends of the weave. #plateaknit

Tweet10: Repeat the last instruction five times. #plateaknit

Tweet11: Make it shine! #plateaknit

Of course the makers could also, in the spirit of Lee Meredith’s Game Knitting choose not to use any of the ‘instruction’ tweets as direct instructions and instead do something (for example knit an eyelet or change colours) whenever a particular word such as ‘and’ or ‘row’ is mentioned in a tweet or when somebody talks about food. It really is up to you how off the wall you want to make it! Basically, makers will interpret instructions to the best of their abilites, including (if they choose) interpreting any part of an instruction tweet as additional guides.

Whatever you do with it, however simple or complicated you want to make it, just have fun!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

PlateaKnit -- Thinking about Knitworks

About five years ago, as the result of an inspired if chancy Christmas gift from my partner, I learned how to knit.  After three days of cussing at yarn and needles, I finally taught myself the basics.  From there, my learning curve was steep.  More than just an avocational distraction, I found knitting (and later crochet) stimulates my thinking about a variety of academic projects as well as my participation in on-line communities.  Maybe it's the time involved in meditative looping and counting and maintaining a consistent tension that frees the mind to wander and make associations; maybe there's something deeply metaphysical about careful and planned manipulation of strand into fabric into garment.

So, I was very excited when a member of @Platea proposed a project involving knitting from a crowdsourced pattern generated on Twitter.  Ingrid Murnane's project not only intrigues me as a knitter, but also as an artist and academic who spends considerable time thinking about art and communities.  Several themes emerge for me as I contemplate the Plateaknit project and the link between knitting and on-line networks.  This is by no means an exhaustive list.  In fact, as with all performance inquiry, I look forward to our adding to and modifying this list as we engage in the project.

1) Networks/Knitworks -- As a textile craft, knitting (like crochet and weaving) is about creating a material network of fibers in a lattice.  The kind of free-form knitting this project prefers (in crochet, sometimes called "scrumbling") is even more like the organic, chaotic networks of folks linked by the internet, (in Network Theory,  sometimes called mesh networks).  And if the net is still predominantly text-based, it is worth remembering that "text" and "textile" are etymologically linked.  (Hey, we don't call it a "web" for nothing!)  It is also worth remembering that the computers we use to have this discussion owe their data processing origins, in part, to the textile industry of weaving.

2) DiY Aesthetics -- Performance Studies folks have been talking a lot about this idea lately -- the idea of media and art production done outside traditional institutions and training for such, and often not for any kind of financial gain.  The concept borrows a bit from the logic of the potlach and economies of gift-giving.  In explaining the DiY aesthetic, my partner (a fellow Performance Studies scholar) and I often reference our knitting and crochet practices:  we make scarves and hats for the pleasure of making them and then enjoy giving them away.  The joy is a product made by the hand of someone you know and not simply bought or manufactured in institutionalized systems of exchange.  In an increasingly globalized culture of consumerism, knitting (among other arts/crafts) at the very least expresses a desire for something other than the mass produced.  (Although, admittedly, there is plenty about knitting that supports commodity fetishism -- as a proliferation of specialty stores, expensive yarns, and my colossal fiber cache demonstrate.)

3) Social Knitworking -- If is any indication (and it is not alone in this), the relatively recent revitalization of knitting has benefited significantly from social networking.  Blogs and social networking sites abound for sharing knitting resources and projects.  Several folks have even taken advantage of webcams to produce (really helpful!) tutorial videos.  This is the sort of hobby/art/craft that seems to thrive in and form non-geographically-bound, interest-based communities.

4) Specialized Codes -- I think the specialized abbreviations of knitting instructions (easily one of the most frustrating aspects of learning to knit) are a lot like the specialized abbreviations used in text messages and character-constrained micro-blogging.  Both endure a certain amount of push-back from folks who find such abbreviation alienating and unnecessary.  And yet, in both cases, there are similar motivations for the abbreviations.  For texting and micro-blogging, character limits and numeric keypads necessitated the organic development of abbreviations.  For knitting, abbreviations first showed up in newspapers that limited the column inches available for craft instructions.  In both cases, these abbreviations have found their way into discourse less constrained by need for such efficiency.

5) But is it Art? -- Finally, at a time when digital art and social networking performance events still (occasionally) suffer derisive dismissal by established "fine" arts practitioners, knitting offers a practice similarly caught in categorical debates between "craft" and "art."  Certainly, there are textile artists who use knitting to make soft sculptures, and for some this leads to a tension between knitting for practical use and knitting for an art object.  Nonetheless, it is rare that knitting finds its way into a regular part of the the Fine Arts curriculum.  A potentially interesting alchemy occurs when we mix the two forms -- one relatively new, one relatively old, and both viewed with some skepticism by the Keepers of the Canon.

With these thoughts looping back on each other in my mind, I find myself eager for the needles and tweets that will weave this next @Platea project.  

(Posted by Jonny Gray, a.k.a. Bungy32.  All illustrations in this post created by me.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Project VI: PlateaKnit. 25th-29th January, by Ingrid Murnane

I’m a knitter. Any of you who follow me on Twitter will know this: sometimes it might seem that it is all I go on about. There are a few of us who are on the @platea Steering Committee who also knit, so really it was only a matter of time before there was a knit-related performance.

I’ve been thinking for a while about combining social networking and knitting more than I do already, by crowd sourcing tweets to make a knitting pattern. I thought that I would decide on a basic pattern to follow, perhaps for a hat or scarf, but would receive the instructions for any other details from my twitter followers. It’s something which I’ve sort of done before, with the aid of a few friends, but not on such a scale.

I mentioned it to An Xiao and the rest of the @platea Steering Committee and although not all knitters they thought it could be an exciting idea to try out over Twitter. So here goes!

Tension Squares by InnyNaney. Used under Creative Commons License.

The Project Details

The performance will take place on 25th – 29th January on Twitter only.

You can take part in two ways this time: as an instructor and as a maker. We will ask the instructors to use the hashtag #plateaknit when they give the makers abbreviated knitting instructions in a tweet. These will be picked up by the makers and incorporated into the piece they are knitting. Although we will be making use of knitting abbreviations, makers can use whatever media they like to interpret and perform: perhaps your drawing or photography could be influenced by the knitting pattern instructions?

If you do decide to knit, you can either cast on a number of stitches to work from as a base and follow the instructions to make a freeform piece of work, or use a garment as the basis for your performance. Simple things will work better for this such as scarves, shawls and basic hats. It doesn’t matter what kind of yarn or needles you use either. As with all making, there will be a certain amount of personal interpretation of any instructions to fit what you are making.

Knitting Round the Table by InnyNaney. Used under Creative Commons License.

It will of course be possible to search the #plateaknit hashtag in order to see the whole pattern as it grows, and to follow the instructions in their entirety, but it will also work if you dip in and out of the feed. We have @platea performers on many continents and in opposite time zones, so we won’t all receive the tweets at a time appropriate to us. You may choose to follow just one or two people’s tweeted instructions, to only participate when you see an instruction telling you to do a certain thing (e.g., make an eyelet) or just go completely freeform and dip in and out of the main instruction pattern whenever you are online. It is entirely up to you: that’s the fun of it. We will all come up with completely different interpretations of the pattern instructions, which makes such a diversion from the traditional process of following a knitting pattern.

Knitting Abbreviations, you say?

For those of you who are not familiar with knitting abbreviations, I will be posting a good basic selection of instructions and ideas with notes on how to use them on the blog shortly for your use. Here are a couple of examples of what might be used, though:

Tweet 01: sl1, k1 *m1, p2, k2tog, p1* (repeat from * three times) k to end #plateaknit

Tweet 02: Do two rows in the colour you are currently working with then change to something (more) green. #plateaknit

Tweet 03: Change one of your needles up three sizes. #plateaknit

Tweet 04: Add five stitches to your next row in any way of your choosing #plateaknit

Tweet 05: Bind (cast) off and start a new piece. #plateaknit

Tweet 06: Do the next five rows in a k2, p2 rib. #plateaknit

Tweet 07: Make it shine! #plateaknit

Don’t be startled with all the lingo if you’re not a knitter: some makers might like to interpret the instructions differently, instead doing something (for example knitting an eyelet, changing needle sizes or switching to blue paint) whenever a particular word such as ‘and’ or ‘row’ is mentioned in a tweet or when somebody tweets about food. This is kind of like Lee Meredith’s Game Knitting concept, if you’re familiar with it.

Basically, makers will interpret instructions to the best of their abilities, including (if they choose) interpreting any part of an instruction tweet as additional guides. It really is up to you how off the wall you want to make this performance. Whatever you do with it, however simple or complicated you want to make it, just have fun!

If you are a knitter and are on Ravelry, then we will be documenting it there on our, and also on the @platea Facebook fan page. You can add your works in progress (WIPs) to the @platea Flickr pool throughout the week and we will feature some on the blog too. Of course, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

We are also planning a series of blog posts in the two weeks after the performance featuring the final articles that you’ve made. I would love to see what you’ve made and additionally read some commentary about how you have interpreted the instructions. It would be great to hear from knitters and non-knitters; instructors and makers, alike. I am going to knit up something with the full instructions which may take a while longer than the performance lasts, as well as knitting something smaller in real-time, and this final piece will be shown here on the @platea blog and will also be available as a pattern on the online knitting magazine, knitonthenet in the near future.

Hope that you are able to join us.

Please do sign up below in the comments as either an instructor, a maker or both.