Friday, 23 September 2011

Creating a Culture of Caring

"Caring" usually connotes looking after others less fortunate or being considerate and both those senses of the word pertain to Northern Loops. They are at the very heart of what we do.

At the Business Gateway road show, I spoke with the Intellectual Assets representative. I am going to paraphrase wildly so I won't give his name in case he does not recognise his words in my paraphrase. Now, if like me, you expect words like intellectual assets to be like the shoes I was wearing--smart, slightly elevated, and just pinching a bit, you will also be relieved at the straightforward advice he gave me. Although there are pinchy parts to managing our know how--which ultimately is infinitely more valuable than what we actually do with it, basically it is just creating a culture of caring about our own work--not possessive or territorial or copyright and security hoops. At the time I got his advice I was relieved. As I thought about it a bit more I began to appreciate how insightful it was.

Even as crafters ourselves, we can fall victim to the tendency to trivialize craft. We do this without thinking, dismissing the value of our work and of craft in general. We do this in part because to us it seems obvious how to invent a stitch or rework a pattern or make something we think up on a whim. But it is not. It is a gift and a skill honed through years of practice and both that knowledge and the ability to transmit that knowledge are intellectual assets.

I had thought that the struggle to get folks to understand Northern Loops somewhat patronizingly as Nanas who knit was an external one, but it really starts with each of us. Fortunately this revolution is as simple as writing down what you do.

Now when authorities as different as the intellectual assets consultant and hard core knitter and author Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (Knitting Rules) say the same thing, I think we ought to listen. McPhee says a knitting notebook--a wee spiral bound thingie with graph paper and random comments is an essential part of what each of us should have in our knit bag so that we don't do silly things. But the notebook is more than that, of course, in time it will be a record of what you have done --and learned. You can leaf through it and laugh at your early work and be chuffed that all those stitches really have amounted to something to be proud of.

McPhee encourages us to take it a step beyond the spiral notebook to the dizzying heights of a project journal: ball band, snip of yarn, photo of finished project, pattern used, recipient's name, finished dimensions, any changes made to the pattern, etc.

As someone who likes having information but is not keen on writing things down unless it is backs of envelopes, I will share with you an easy way of keeping a project journal--ravelry. Ravelry ( is a popular online knit web site with lots of information that offers members a place to do just what McPhee suggests--other than the snip of yarn. So whether you use a notebook or ravelry project space, start the revolution to value craft by writing down your intellectual assets.

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