Why scrapbook

Many people scrapbook for a lot of reasons. As I read a post by Ali Edwards, then listened to a recent Paperclipping Roundtable podcast, I was interested to note that they weren’t really taking the time to define their meaning of the average scrapbooker versus the industry insider scrapbooker. I think that lack of definition was causing part of the confusion.

So in order to define it for myself, what is the average scrapbooker? A person, usually a woman, who wants to record, in more or less chronological order, the events of her family’s life. Secondarily, this “average” scrapbooker wants to do so in a long-lasting (archivally safe) and attractive manner. But – and here is part of the big BUT that I think was causing the problem – this person is not necessarily interested in doing it as a major creative outlet. This is neither her art nor her craft. The aspect of hobby and creativity is, for many, actually secondary to the purpose, though not unimportant. The ladies in the PRT, and even Ali Edwards to a certain extent, do all regard this as a primary creative outlet. And that impacts how they think of it, in ways of which I suspect they are unconscious.

I would note that this is my perception of an average, and that the average may be changing. I, myself, do not fit that definition, since I am single and childless – but I’ll get into my purpose for scrapbooking in a moment. I am merely noting at this point that most of the scrapbookers I know are women, with a family, and the family is the trigger-point for taking up the hobby. And that the artistic aspect of it is actually secondary to the basic goal of recording memories.

Of course, nowadays, the chronological part is less true. I’ve seen plenty of evidence that people are doing themed scrapbooks. But I would assert that the idea of scrapbooking started with that chronological focus. And in a way, I think that is one topic the Roundtable hasn’t addressed. They themselves don’t really focus on chronology, so their discussions don’t really address it, but they are missing the large portion of their audience who does. I suspect that some of the feedback that complains a little is rooted in that sense of distance from the story vs. time focus. And here’s what annoys me about that story focus: somehow they have missed the fact that the story of my life is made up of those chronological records as much as it is the “story” that they want to record. In a weird way, it sounds like they are devaluing the chronological focus, although I do not think that that is their intent.

And that leads back around to why I scrapbook.

I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who had a journal. I’m talking about the people who actually write their thoughts down in a diary with pen and paper (or electronically, but they do write it down) – daily. But whenever I tried that, I lost interest all too quickly. It was too restrictive. And I would grow impatient with the task. I like writing, but too often my thoughts would race past my pen and my enthusiasm would fade. So eventually, I decided just to keep a journal for those moments when I feel a sudden urge to record something. Actually I still have that journal, and I do add things to occasionally, especially the things that I don’t really feel are appropriate to share with the world via a blog, but I still wanted to do something more regular.

Back about eight years ago, I started scrapbooking. I had done some back in college, badly, and always felt that if I took pictures, then I needed to do something with them so that they could be looked at and enjoyed, and so in 2002 (I think), I started up with a friend via Creative Memories. And with time I started to develop my habits and way of working, and my scrapbooking grew in to a regular event, about once a month. In 2005, I started to blog, although it is still somewhat erratic. And after a while, I began to realize that I was journaling, the thing I had always wanted to do. Apparently a text-only journal was the limitation.

So for me, scrapbooking is my way of journaling my life, and because of that focus, there will always be a large portion of my scrapbooking that is exclusively chronological, because I want to remember that in that year, we all went to Mom & Dad’s for Thanksgiving, and I received this gift from my sister, and my niece was this tall and had her own computer for the first time, etc. I often write a good bit on my pages – many of these scrapbook layouts that I see that use minimalist writing are totally uninteresting to me. It is the combination of picture and words that make the journal important. And as I mentioned above, the pretty part is actually secondary. I have become much more minimalist in my creation of pages, rather than more decorative. My creative outlet is the fiber arts, as you might have guessed from all the projects I talk about on this blog, so when I started scrapbooking, I placed a deliberate limit on the products I would allow myself to collect and use, and that has worked to my advantage in some ways. In fact, I’ve been thinking about purging even the small amount I do have, because there are certain things I bought thinking I would use them, and, well, I don’t. Paper just isn’t my creative outlet, so I don’t even try to approach it that way.

The biggest change for me – and this is triggered by things like listening to the podcast and reading some scrapbookers’ blogs, as well as just learning to appreciate that my daily life is just as important as the “events” of my life – is to try to record some of the simpler things of my life. It started with the fiber arts, as I started to record my finished projects and works in progress, and so on, and what I grew in my garden each year, and what I am cooking these days (food bloggers, you know), and now I am beginning to realize that I want to record some more self-reflective things as well, with pictures. It is still journaling, but less exclusively chronological, though time is emphatically a part of it. But I do want to take some pictures of the beautiful fall colors and share the fact that I think it is beautiful and I try to appreciate the colors as I pass them each day.

Journal (from Merriam-Webster online): Etymology: Middle English, service book containing the day hours, from Anglo-French jurnal, from jurnal, adjective, daily, from Latin diurnalis, from diurnus of the day, from dies day — more at deity

Date: 15th century

1 a
: a record of current transactions; especially
: a book of original entry in double-entry bookkeeping b
: an account of day-to-day events c
: a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use d
: a record of transactions kept by a deliberative or legislative body e
log 3 f

I think next I’ll try to reflect on how I scrapbook. I need to think about it, because I’ve been realizing there are some barriers in place to achieving some of the goals I have in mind.

felted fabric

I’ve had an idea.

I found that if I knitted the Harrisville yarn that I had used for weaving, then felted it, it made very nice felted fabric. And it could be washed to the point where it would not shrink any more. And I like felted fabric, but wasn’t feeling inspired by the thought of non-knitted felting (at least not now, maybe one day).

So what do I want to do with it? I want to make some cardigan with the felted fabric. This is basically the same thing as the boiled wool jackets that I have already, and I love them. I wear them a LOT in the winter. I have one in green and one in blue (indigo-dyed from a cream white, but it was getting so many stains, it needed to be dyed so I could keep using it without looking icky).

So I am going to knit a whole lot of stockinette and then throw it into the washer and dryer — multiple times — to create some lovely fabric that will then be cut up and sewn.

Here’s the experiment where I checked to see if it would work: Felted fabric from knitting It made a nice, dense fabric, not too thick, that will work nicely, I think. There are still decisions to make — edging? handsew? — but I’m looking forward to having a yellow one. I just hope I have enough yarn! It’s leftovers.

March 2010 roundup post

What were my accomplishments this month?
I’ve committed to run a 10K on July 31, and I’m making nice progress on running for longer periods. By the end of March, I was running 8 minute stretches on the 5K distance. Once I can run the 5K distance steady, I’ll start building distance. One trick is to slow down, which I knew, but I hadn’t realized how much I need to slow down. I feel like I’m barely jogging faster than I walk, but when I run that slow I keep my heart rate in the range where I can keep it up for a while.

Finished Lochinvar. At this point I don’t have buttons on it, but I am hoping to find some nice silver or pewter buttons with a Celtic theme at MDS&W. It seems appropriate.
Also finished the socks from my handspun, but I still need to wash and block them.

What were my disappointments this month?
An allergy attack day the last Sunday of the month. That was annoying and disappointing.

Going out on a date with a nice guy that left me totally unexcited. I’ve yet to go out with a guy in my entire life where I wanted to go out with him again. And shouldn’t I feel at least a little excited? I don’t feel anticipation at the prospect, I feel exhaustion. And he is definitely a nice guy. But one thing for sure — I am never allowing anyone to introduce me to someone, or vice versa, with a matchmaking glint in their eye. If it happens, it better be because the man himself has requested it, not because the go-between person thinks it was a good idea. (Answer to give: He is welcome to introduce himself or ask you to do it, but I would prefer not to go to him.) I don’t think anyone who has tried this with me really understands my character at all, and therefore what I might like.

What books/shows/movies did I enjoy this month?
The new Alice move — it turned out to be not what I expected, and quite good. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Actually did look at Anita Luvera Mayer’s books, which were interesting and inspiring, but not exactly what I needed for the green tweed cloth I wove, mostly because I have such a limited amount. I’m visualizing a skirt, but I’m not precisely sure how to achieve what I have in mind, so I’m going to have to do some experimenting. Fortunately I have some wool remnants I’ve picked up, so I can play a bit before cutting into my handwoven cloth. Instead I turned to Handwoven, Tailormade, and this is a little more what I need, but not quite, since it deals with the idea of weaving on purpose for cloth, and I’m looking for guidance for cloth that I’ve already woven. But all these books have definitely inspired me to start planning a big project where I weave cloth for a dress. Some kind of wool tweed, done with very fine wool yarn. The biggest frustration? So far, I’ve found precisely ONE product that produces the kind of yarn I want. Where’s the competition?

What significant events occurred this month?

Moved from one section to another at work. Not at my request, but at the request of the supervisor in question. Nice to be wanted, but it means giving up my nice seat. Other than that, I’m feeling mostly positive about the change. It does make sense in a lot of ways. But it’s a lateral move in all other ways.

What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?
Woodlawn Exhibition with a friend at work. They reorganized a bit, so there were some lovely works that you could actually get up close to. I was so inspired by the Japanese embroidery that I inquired about classes; maybe one day. The classes that the local teacher was offering would not have worked at this point in time.

Started on the building of a raised bed in the backyard for some gardening. I bought some concrete blocks to form the frame (need some more) because I want it to last longer than wood. And I finally get to use my compost!

What gifts did I give and/or receive? Sent Mom a birthday card, but didn’t really give any gifts.

What special or unusual purchases did I make? Sent off my sectional warp beam to have the cords attached by the company. If I’m going to do long warps, then I am definitely interested in using my sectional beam, which is supposed to keep much better even tension.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?

Started the month out with a cold. Then a sinus infection. Amazing result of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil in sinus rinse, which got rid of the sinus infection amazingly fast without the need for an antibiotic. I have kept up the sinus rinse with a neti pot, which I like much better than the plastic bottle I had from the doctor. I can control it going into my sinuses better, and so it’s a little more comfortable than it was.
Also, I’m trying acupuncture to help with the sinus pressure, and I’m actually seeing a lessening of the sinus pressure. This is amazing and delightful. The down side, unfortunately, is that I seem to be seeing an increase in drainage as a result.
I still would like to find out if there is any point in adding in other allergens to the allergy shots. I KNOW that I am reacting to other things than just dust mites.

Anything else noteworthy to include?
The weather finally started to turn warm, with a few hiccups of cold here and there.