Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Cure for Society’s Ills: The Arts for Everybody

Hello! As some of you may know, I am going to Front Range Community College part-time to earn an associates degree in business. This spring I decided to get my English credit out of the way. I signed up for ENG121 with Andrew Blade and rediscovered my love for the written word. What follows is the persuasive essay I wrote for that class. I thought it was worth sharing. Enjoy!

Cure for Society’s Ills: The Arts for Everybody
            Violence. Misunderstanding. Bias. Hatred. They are all around in our culture. Something isn’t working, and we all suffer the consequences. How can we better prepare our citizens to be caring, productive members of society? Surprisingly enough, the answer may be engagement with the arts.
            Exposure to the arts encourages the “…balanced intellectual, emotional and psychological development of individuals and societies.” (UNESCO). It helps us to think critically and creatively, learning to think for ourselves and see a range of possible solutions for any given problem. Frustration and despair can be products of restricted thinking: if you cannot see a way out of an unpleasant situation, or if you can only see one way out. That often leads to discord and violence. Practicing any of the arts, however, gets people in the habit of stepping back, assessing the situation, and reflecting on possible solutions. It is simply part of the process of making art. A society of people who habitually assess and reflect cannot help but be fundamentally different, responsive rather than reactive.
            Data collected from art programs in prisons bears this out. Studies of California’s Arts-In-Corrections (AIC) program show that inmates who participated in the arts had statistically significant increases in “life effectiveness skills measured by the attitudinal scales: Time Management, Social Competence, Achievement Motivation, Intellectual Flexibility, Emotional Control, Active Initiative, and Self-Confidence.” (Brewster). The longer they stayed involved in the program, the more they improved and the better able they were to rebuild their lives after release from prison. Artist-prisoners were also much more likely to seek out other educational opportunities available to them.
            There are also benefits for people who are exposed to the arts without actively participating. The experience of taking in a performance, piece of writing, or a physical piece of art such as a painting or sculpture “presents a perspective on reality that challenges preconceived ideas and makes kids look at something from outside their comfort zone.” (Smits). Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, trying to understand their experience, what it must be like, can only lead us to become more compassionate towards others. If we learn to imagine ourselves in another person’s situation and understand how they got there, it is much more difficult to hate them, no matter how we feel about their actions. Compassion seeks to understand and assist, very different from judgment and condemnation.
            Children and teens who are involved in the arts are more likely than their peers to finish school and be successful. According to Karen LaShelle of Creative Action, “Those who participate in the arts are more likely to do well in math and science and be involved in civics. They benefit from social-emotional learning that helps them manage their emotions, be aware of themselves and succeed later in life.” (Smits). That can make a huge difference, since “72% of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they are seeking when hiring.” (Americans for the Arts)
            I know a lot of people think that the arts are a waste of time and money, especially when budgets are strained. There are many other, seemingly more practical subjects we can invest in, like science or vocational training. Those subjects are valuable and should not be ignored. But a balanced approach that includes education in the results in citizens who know how to think and feel, solve problems, express themselves, and actively contribute to society on every level. Involvement in the arts “enhances social adaptability and cultural awareness for individuals, enabling them to build personal and collective identities as well as tolerance and acceptance, appreciation of others.” (UNESCO). Aren’t these the qualities we would like to find in our neighbors, children, co-workers, ourselves?
            The next time funding for the arts comes up in conversation, think about what it means for us, as individuals and as members of society. Are you satisfied with the status quo, people reacting with little thought and no awareness of how their actions might affect themselves and everyone around them? Would you rather see another school shooting or a student production about the difficulties of navigating our culture? Will you support practices that help all of us become better human beings and more conscientious citizens? Like everything else we value, it does cost money to fund the arts. Take the time and energy to talk about this vital issue. Can we afford to support the arts at all levels, for all people? We must find a way. It costs us too much as a society not to.

Works Cited

Americans for the Arts. 6 November 2013. 24 March 2019.
Brewster, Larry. "" 2014. 23 March 2019.
Smits, Jill Coody. "Why all parents should care about art education." The Washington Post 28 July 2017.
UNESCO. 2012. 22 March 2019.

Monday, April 22, 2019


It's been a while. Suffice to say the past few years have been interesting. :)

I've been (trying) to work through my stash of leftovers and single skeins lately. Basically, I got the bin and warping board out, made a bunch of 3-yard warps, and wrote down how many warp ends wound up were in each one. When it's time to warp the rigid heddle, I rummage through the warps and combine them to fill the full width of the loom, or as close as I can get. Here's one of the results.

Hoping to have this wet-finished and photographed soon. In the meantime, I hope you have all the fiber fun you wish for yourself!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Shadow Striped Baby Hat

I just posted a free pattern to Ravelry, Shadow Striped Baby Hat. It's a little bit of shadow knitting worked in the round so the pattern side is always facing you. Knit one up and tell me what you think!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Weaving Handspun on my Cricket

I spent a good part of the summer weaving up some handspun singles that have been lying around for a couple of years. It was lovely wool, spun from layered rovings purchased from SnokistFarmGirl
in 2009. Since I had only a few ounces of each color combination, I decided to warp my rigid heddle and weave some scarves. 

I used the 8 dent heddle that came with the loom, which gave me a nice, open cloth that fulled very well. 

The scarves are light and airy, soft and warm. 

I played with stripes  in the warp,

and stripes in the weft.

But mostly I just played with color,

and enjoyed the calming rhythm of plain weave.

It was delightful to not worry about structure and pattern for a while,

and just play.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

May Day Morris Dancing Schedule

Please note:
 Westminster Recreation Center should read Westminster Swim and Fitness Center. 

Please note:
 Westminster Recreation Center should read Westminster Swim and Fitness Center.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

January Aran Completed!

Well, it took me nearly 3 months instead of 1, but I finished Finn's January Aran late last week. I forgot how much I resist sewing up sweaters, but once I made myself sit down and do it, it went pretty quickly. As you can see, he was pretty glad to have it even though it was 70 degrees out that day.

If I were to knit it again, I would have added a couple more pearl stitches on either side for sleeve steeks, as there wasn't much wool to sew into between the twisted stitch in the center and the twisted rib cable next to it. I solved that problem by tacking into the center stitch of the cable on the back side each time I took a stitch. It came out pretty sturdy, and I think it looks great, but it did make me a little twitchy at first.

It will definitely fit him next year and the year after, but it's still perfectly wearable this year too. I suspect he'll wear it when we dance up the dawn on May Day.

Next item from the Almanac: April Mystery Blanket.
I had thought I would do the months in order, but tomorrow is April 1 and I've thought about knitting this one for a while. Since the sweater took so long, I'll just pick up February and March next year. ;) I have to dig through the stash on Monday to see what I want to use. I think this will be a good carry-around project to work on during breaks and lunches at work.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

February Socks

Cast off the February socks last night, late but not grievously so. Last night's pic is pretty accurate color and value-wise, but you can't see the stitch pattern very well. 

This afternoon's pic is a bit washed out, but the stitch pattern shows up nicely. Modeled by Finn, the new sock owner.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with the socks. I plugged a "box-in-a-box" texture pattern into my default toe-up sock pattern for something easy to knit in public but with a little dash to it.