Fiber Arts and Videogames

At this time, my main hobbies, the ones I’m most likely to spend my time doing, fall into two categories: fiber arts (mainly knitting) and videogames (mainly console or handheld).

I got into both relatively late.  Although I occasionally played console games at friends’ houses, it wasn’t until a) my sister was given a(n) NES by a friend and b) a friend of mine moved into the house I was living in and brought his consoles that I started playing them much myself, because they just hadn’t been around earlier.  Both of these were around 1993-4.  Because they were mostly older consoles and/or hand-me-down games, I wasn’t playing any of the then-current releases and it was several years before I played something that wasn’t used and several years old.

I actually have a specific date for when I started knitting and it took long-term: 31 October 1997.  My friend Ielith and I had met for lunch and then to go to Michael’s so she could buy knitting needles, since she’d decided she had enough afghans and wanted to start making sweaters.  I had a ball of yarn at home left from a recent abortive attempt at crochet and decided to buy a pair of knitting needles and give that a go again, 15 years after I’d first learned the knit stitch.  (It was another 15+ before I tried crochet again.)  So I started knitting around when I was also starting to actually seek out games to and play rather than just waiting for them to come to me via friends and friends of friends.

Knitting was probably the first hobby I’d had that I could do something else at the same time, for a limited range of activities.  I could converse while beading and sometimes while playing the piano, but with knitting I could both converse and read — or watch something.

But I still couldn’t knit and play games at the same time.  Which was fine, since both my housemate and my sister were happy to do the playing while I knit and watched and contributed useful suggestions like “There’s a chest in that room/on that ledge/back there/that you missed.”   (I used to call us the brain and the brawn.  I was the brain, figuring out things to check while my housemate dealt with the enemies on the screen and such.)  This had already been a bit of a pattern, especially with my housemate, who would tend to fall asleep if he were the one watching.  But now at least I had something productive to do while watching.  And still do, with my husband doing the playing.

As with any other specialized interest, references to and glimpses of knitting and similar(1) started jumping out at me in games.  My abovementioned friend Ielith, who also plays games, put it pretty well just earlier today: “I’m tickled by the novelty of my yarn hobby showing up in a video game at all.”  I’m also interested in seeing how such hobbies are portrayed and what their inclusion contributes, though not to any great rigor.  So I started noting down examples casually, just from games I’ve played or watched(2).  They’ve been on my list of things to post about for years, and I’m finally getting to it.  Stay tuned.

(1) I’ve seen examples of and references to knitting, spinning, and weaving.  Oddly enough, I’ve seen no references to crochet, although a lot of Yoshi’s Wooly World appears to be crocheted (I haven’t played or watched this yet).  Crocheting is also one fiber art I can’t do so well while watching or reading, but I think that’s mainly that I’m still relatively new to it; I know other people can crochet without looking.

(2) I have a few examples from games I haven’t played, which may or may not be included.

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The Stages of an Idea

I had an idea today, for a yarn project.  So far it has followed the usual trajectory of my ideas:

  1. Inspiration: that thing’s neat, but I could make it neater. Or, what if I did this thing this way rather than that old way that everyone does that looks too simple…
  2. Development: also, I could tweak this, and this, and (scribbles on graph paper)
  3. Enthusiasm: wow, this is coming together so neatly!  I can’t wait to show everyone how clever I am with this!
  4. Doubt: this isn’t working as smoothly as it should.  Maybe it isn’t so clever.  Maybe it is, but my skills aren’t good enough to realize it.  Maybe other people will think I copied it from someone else instead of coming up with it all by myself, and think I’m not as clever as I know I am.  (Am I?)
  5. Crash: this sucks. I suck. How could I have thought it would work?  I can’t stand to look at this and be reminded of my failure.
  6. Hibernation: weeks/months/years pass
  7. Reconsideration: actually, this is rather good.  Where are my notes?

I don’t always get to steps 6 and 7.  Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that I haven’t always gotten to step 7, since usually the abandoned designs/projects remain in my possession.  On rare occasions I end up at 7a, scrapping the project to use the materials for something else.

Sometimes I branch off to 4a, a variant of Doubt in which my idea is still clever, but is it even possible to convey it to another person?  My cleverness can’t be properly appreciated if it isn’t understood.  There’s a subvariant 4b, in which the priority that makes me proudest of my design might be one that no one else shares (e.g., never cutting the yarn until the end), in which case other people might go, “so?”

To be fair, I’m getting a bit better about this.  The crashes are shallower and end sooner, and the doubts are more easily answered, sometimes even with the healthier sentiment of so what if no one else sees it?  I know it’s cool.  (And, of course, I always have friends and family to show things to, even though my ego craves recognition from people who don’t have a built-in appreciation for me and my stuff and my clearly staggering intellect.  Yeah, it’s hard getting over being the special smart kid.)

Aside from generally trying to grow up and get healthier mental attitudes, there are a couple of things that I think have helped this.  One is probably my medications.  While they don’t totally fix things, they do tend to flatten the slope I stand on a bit, so it’s easier to resist the downward tendency and I don’t slide as far when I do slide.

Another is, and this may sound mean-spirited, browsing patterns on Ravelry and seeing how many frankly simplistic and derivative patterns show up, usually for sale rather than free.  Most of the time my first reaction is scorn, which is not very nice and I’m trying to squelch it, but my other reaction is hey, people apparently get them anyway (or at least look at them), and my ideas are more clever/original/interesting than that.  So chances are that if I put something out there I wouldn’t be getting the negative reactions I worry about in stage 4.  Of course, I still get hung up on 4a (because if it’s clever enough for me to think it’s clever it’ll be hard to convey that concisely to people outside of my head) but it’s an improvement.

I think.

(I’m in stages 2 and 3 right now but will probably hit stage 4 as soon as I try to actually make a prototype rather than just drawing it on graph paper and working out technique in my head.)

I almost forgot one other thing that helps: everything is a learning experience.  I’m looking at a crochet idea right now and even if it doesn’t work I’ll have tried a new technique or two.  So the idea after that will be much more likely to work.  And I can probably do what I’m thinking of in knitting too.  So that’s something.