Find me here:

14 August, 09:46 AM

While I’m keeping this site up, I’m not updating it.

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How to become Internet famous without really trying

21 January, 03:30 PM

This is me:

Kate Bolin stands at the Nottingham HackSpace, in front of the HackSpace logo
(This is when I am mailing a cupcake as part of the Global Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge.)

This is one of the things I do for fun:

Pentas, a hand-knitted beret
(My Pentas beret pattern)

And this:

Hanging Basket, a hand-knitted plant holder
(My Hanging Basket pattern)

And this:

Skelly Baby, a hand-knitted toy skull
(My Skelly Baby pattern)

Yeah, I knit. I knit a lot. I knit on the bus, the tram, at home, at my knitting group, at the Nottingham Hackspace, in pubs, on the train, in the park, anywhere, really.

It keeps my hands busy while my mind focuses on other things. Like conversation. Or podcasts. Or TV.

You see, I, like many people my age, have a bit of an attention span issue. I get distracted incredibly easily. I fidget. I scratch. I eat. I look around. I flip channels.

(Hell, while typing this, I went looking at Hackspace info online, went and got myself a cupcake and a drink, turned on the tv, checked that Epic Mickey was in the Wii, debating playing said Epic Mickey, filed a rough patch on my fingernails… and that’s just in 15 minutes.)

So knitting gives me something to do, but something I don’t have to give much attention to – just enough to let me focus on the bigger things going on.

Like, say, a web design conference:

New Adventures in Web Design Conference
(The New Adventures in Web Design Conference, held yesterday, 20 January)

So when I go to a conference, I think “Man, I better have something good to knit, so that I can focus.”

Apparently, though, people don’t go to conferences to focus on the speakers. They go to check their iPhones and their iPads and their iWhatevers, and tweet about the conference, and their mates, and the points brought up from the speakers, and some unevolved idiots not only post sexist remarks about the speakers, but actually stick the appropriate hash tag on their tweets, so that everyone can see what classic web geek sexism looks like.

Or, in the brief moments between hitting “refresh”, replying to people about how much cheap lager they’re going to swill at the after-party, and occasionally glancing up at the speaker, they notice me sitting there, working on a 35-stitch feather-and-fan lace scarf in King Cole Riot, a 70/30% acrylic/wool blend, on 6mm handmade knitting needles.

They.
Definitely.
Noticed.

I didn’t notice, because I was focused on the speakers, and even when they weren’t speaking, I don’t have Internet on my phone, so I couldn’t find out what was being said. I was told by a few people that “the knitter” was being mentioned, but I really know the number of people who had.

It was an amazing conference, and I’m glad I was paying attention, because I got to see amazing things and hear awesome people talk and really remember why I love being a web person. I got to talk to people I haven’t seen in ages, meet new people, and, just generally, have a wonderful time. I have a good foot or so of the scarf knitted, and once it’s finished, not only will I have something that will become one of my patterns (and for sale at Knit Nottingham), but it’ll also remind me of the brilliant time I had at the conference, far more than any Tweet, blog post or Flickr page ever could.

So, Mr. Rick Nunn, who the fuck sits and knits at a web conference? I DO. And maybe if you put your iPhone down and paid attention, you’d actually learn something.

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Current things of note:

12 September, 07:00 PM

Nottingham Girl Geek Dinner

Nottingham Girl Geek Dinner

Get your ticket for the next Nottingham Girl Geek Dinner, which is on Monday, 20th September, at the Jam Café from 7pm.

Tickets are just £5, which includes a buffet and a free drink, and can be purchased from Eventbrite until Thursday, the 16th.

It’s always a great time and there’s always something interesting to listen to, plus you get to meet the awesomest people. I’ll definitely be there, and, hopefully, you will too!

Men of Steel, Balls of Wool

Men of Steel, Balls of Wool

And on Wednesday, 22nd September, NottingHack will be hosting Men of Steel, Balls of Wool, a workshop on how to knit, what you can knit with, and other such yarn-related hijinx.

Beginners’ sets will be available for £5 each, and will include yarn, needles, a basic how-to guide and one-on-one training from an experienced knitter.

Which is me.

I’m a little nervous about this, because I’ve only really tried to teach people how to knit as part of a challenge, but if you want to learn, or want to see what could be done, or even just want to see me knit with wire, magnetic tape, parachute cord, plastic bags or garden twine – come along and see us!

We’ll be at the Nottingham Hackspace, which is at the Old Police Station on Station Road – above the Tescos. Go to the green doorway, hit the button for NottingHack, and someone’ll come get you.

Like I said, I’m a little nervous, but I’d really like to make NottingHack a bit more random and crafty – it’s awesome and all to build robots, but it’s also awesome to knit a hat that lights up.

Knit Nottingham

Knit Nottingham

And the Beginners’ Sets for Men of Steel, Balls of Wool will be provided by Knit Nottingham – the new knitting shop on Mansfield Road.

I’m taking care of their website and internet presence for them – although they don’t need much help on that part, because they do love to spend a lot of time online.

I’m also selling patterns, knitting needles, knitted things and probably doing workshops.

So if you’re a knitter, or you know a knitter, or just want to support a lovely local shop, come see it at 91 Mansfield Road!

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Diane Arbus at the Nottingham Contemporary

18 August, 11:26 AM

Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967, by Diane Arbus

Yesterday, I went to Diane Arbus ARTIST ROOMS exhibit at the Nottingham Contemporary. I had been meaning to go ever since it opened, and through a mixture of procrastination, lack of finances, and general ennui, it was only yesterday that I managed to get there.

Arbus helped to create the visual shorthand we have for horror nowadays, for the other, whether that other involves freakshows, or transsexuals, or aging beauty queens, or older-than-their-years children, or anything like that. And the images she created helped to inspire other people, other scenes, other worlds. The photo of the identical twins above is one of the best-known examples, inspiring scenes from Kubrick’s The Shining.

Arbus brought the horrible and sublime into the same realm – where you saw what was all off in the world, but so painfully real.

I’ve been interested in Diane Arbus ever since I first read The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror by David J. Skal. A study of how America relates to horror, particularly in the moving and still image, Arbus is focused on in the introduction, on her photos of sideshow freaks and, in particular, Jack Dracula, a man with over 300 tattoos, including the word “Dracula” on his inner bottom lip.

Jack Dracula, by Diane Arbus

The Nottingham Contemporary has a wonderful exhibit on, with a wide range of photos. And, when you see them, you realise how shocking they must have been when they were first shown, and how much things have changed since then. How these photos – photos of interracial marriage, transvestites, pro-war protesters, tattooed men – are often things we see on a regular basis.

One of the staff members walking through the exhibit had a full tattoo sleeve on one of his arms. I wondered if Diane would’ve wanted to take a photo of him. I should have taken one next to the Jack Dracula photo.

The exhibit runs until 3rd October. Entry is free, and if you are in Nottingham, or feel like a day trip, I highly recommend it.

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Web designers? In my town?

21 July, 01:29 PM

New Adventures in Web Design

On Thursday, 20th January, 2011, the Albert Hall in the centre of Nottingham will host the New Adventures in Web Design Conference – a one-day conference with some awesome people giving seminars on awesome topics.

The early-bird special (until 1st September) is £80, which you have to admit is ridiculously cheap for a web conference.

If you can spend the £80 (think of it as 17% of an iPad), you should definitely go. Nottingham’s cheaper than London, and there are a lot of awesome places to see, things to do, and people to meet.

Including me, because I’ll be there, either tapping away on my netbook or knitting furiously.

And if you do come to it, just let me know — we’ll hit the afterparty, and then hit Bad Juju, where we’ll drink our weight in zombies and mai tais.

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