Aug 252013

A while ago I bought the book “Knit Your Own Zombie”( by Fiona Goble from Ivy Press) for my daughter. She thought the idea was great and she started making some of the dolls, but never finished any of the projects and the book ended up in the craft room on the bookshelf with a few hundred other craft books.

We recently went to the Black Forest on vacation for a week and I wanted to bring a knitting project with me, unfortunately I didn’t have anything that would travel well. So I thought “I’ll just bring the Zombie book and a bag full of yarn and see if we can make something from that.” Well, it turns out that we all ended up starting “Zombie projects” during that week. Today I finished my first project from that book, so it is with great pleasure that I present to you “Count Dracula”:

The Count is about 25 cm high and sports an elegant waistcoat (I still need to find suitable buttons for it) and a dramatic cape. His trousers have, unfortunately, seen better days (he was attacked by some village dogs while out hunting one night). His head is attached with Velcro to the body and the upper and lower body can also be ripped apart (they are also joined with Velcro fasteners). The arms attach to the upper body with snaps so that they can also be ripped off, one by one, if you are in that kind of mood.

Up next are a few of the more “rotting” Zombies…We’ll see how they turn out.

Aug 122013

When I first heard about YarnCamp, I thought “This is a great idea”. Combining the allure and excitement of Fiber Arts with the anarchic, organic, spontaneity and fun of a BarCamp is sheer genius! Of course I signed up right away, and because BarCamps need sponsors I also immediately indicated to the organizers my willingness to sponsor the event. My challenge was accepted! So not only am I going to be attending the first German BarCamp devoted to all things yarn-related, I’m also a sponsor of the event:

yarn camp logo

You are probably thinking: “What the heck is a BarCamp and what does it have to do with yarn?”.

Let me explain.

A BarCamp is also known as an “Unconference”. It is a conference, but it is different from the usual kind of organized conferences. It is an event where the organizers are responsible for the infrastructure (venue, tickets, marketing, communication, PR, sponsors, catering, Internet access (WiFi), etc.) but they aren’t responsible for the content. The participants provide the content. The organizers do not set the agenda. They do not hire expensive “expert” speakers to bore the participants. They just provide the infrastructure and let the rest happen organically.

At the start of the BarCamp, all the participants attend a planning session where the day’s agenda is prepared. Anyone who has an idea for a session stands up and says a little bit about their session idea. A “session” can be anything: A presentation, a demonstration, a discussion, a workshop, etc. If enough of the participants think the idea is interesting (by show of hands), the session gets assigned a room and a time slot. As soon as all the session ideas have been presented, the agenda is finalized by rearranging the sessions to optimize the available rooms and time slots (and possibly merging together multiple sessions that seem to be duplicated or just look like they would go well together). During the course of the day, the participants decide which sessions they want to attend and show up at the assigned room at the scheduled time. Generally, BarCamps are free (or very low cost), which makes them available to anyone who wants to attend.

Most BarCamps are themed around technical, Internet or Social Media topics, but the “Unconference” format is so compelling and successful that recently there are BarCamps being organized around all sorts of topics: Education, Real Estate, Gaming, Travel, and now Yarn!

What is YarnCamp?

The organizers of YarnCamp (Romy, Sara, Rebekka and Lutz) have arranged a 1-day BarCamp in central Frankfurt at Haus des Buches, Braubachstra├če 16 (near the Dom). YarnCamp will happen on 15 September 2013. There will be 50 to 75 participants and we will spend the day exchanging ideas, showing off our knitting techniques, drinking tea, discussing the relative merits of silk versus mohair, building up the courage to try something new, and admiring the other participant’s amazing projects. More information is available on the YarnCamp website.

So what kinds of sessions will be held at YarnCamp? We don’t know! But I can imagine there will be sessions on different knitting and crochet techniques, maybe spinning, weaving or felting. How to buy yarn online? How to open your own yarn shop? Since a lot of BarCampers are a bit geeky and involved in social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) there will probably be some sessions related to fiber arts and social media. I plan on offering a session on “Painting with yarn”, demonstrating and demystifying some of the techniques used by Kaffe Fassett where he combines dozens or even hundreds of different yarns in a single garment (with eye-popping effect).

So why am I going to YarnCamp? And why am I sponsoring it?

I’m one of those “Guys who knit”. That’s probably reason enough ­čśë

When I’m not knitting, or weaving, or spinning, or sewing, I usually spend a lot of time in front of a computer. I write code for a living and have been developing mobile applications (“Apps” for mobile phones and tablets) for the last 10 years or so. I’m also active on several Internet forums (like StackOverflow, a Q&A site for programmers) and I’m on Twitter. I regularly attend BarCamps and similar events in the Rhein-Main area and can also be found at MobileCamp in Dresden every year (which my company SharpMind also sponsors). BarCamps are a great way to meet people with similar interests, exchange ideas, share what you know, learn┬á new things and just have fun. Sponsoring events like YarnCamp is one way to “give back to the community” and helps to ensure that events like this will continue to happen in the future. It takes a lot of effort, planning and running around to organize events like this and I’m delighted that the organizers of YarnCamp have added this to their busy schedules. Thanks!

I’m definitely looking forward to YarnCamp in Frankfurt next month. If you are attending make sure to say “Hi”. I’ll be easy to spot.

Jack's Back jacketSpinning