Spring Rain Woven Window Panel

I was super excited to finish this piece, as it is one of my first projects that is completely non-functional. Don’t get me wrong, I love art that serves another purpose, be it wearable, or usable in some other way. But there is also something satisfying in making a piece that has utterly no function what so ever. I found it freeing to not worry about how this will fit, or wash, or be used. It won’t be used at all, except to hang on a wall and look pretty, and that’s okay!

 

This piece was woven with 12/2 cotton, a very fine thread-like yarn. I sett it fairly loose, because I really wanted to exaggerate the diaphanous transparent areas created by the ondulé weaving. Ondulé is a style of weaving that intentionally encourages the warp threads to bunch and spread in a specific pattern, creating areas of densely woven threads, and areas of spread out and sparse threads. This also causes the warp threads to bend and curve, or “undulate” (hence then name ondulé, which is translates from “wavy” in french). I chose to exaggerate these curved lines by painting short segments of the warp threads in charcoal and grey, and also by inserting supplemental warp threads of a heavier black yarn. These threads were trimmed long and left loose on the “front” of the piece, because I liked their natural and somewhat random curl. They squiggle and drape themselves down the length of the fabric, interacting in ways you don’t expect, catching the eye.

On the other hand, the back of the piece is also really lovely. When the black threads aren’t seen dangling, the piece has a much cleaner appearance. Instead of getting caught up in individual curls, your eye falls naturally every downward.

 

I’m biased, but I love both sides of this piece. My favorite way to display it is actually to hang it where both sides can be seen, especially if you can also catch light through it. So right now it’s hanging in the window nook in my studio. This is where I was imagining it as I wove it. The thinly woven “bubble” areas shape the light, like droplets of water on a window pane. The painted threads and black yarn create trails, like a droplet of rain that has traveled down glass.

 

As I was planning this piece out, I had countless ideas for other “window” designs. I hope to continue the series with other things I see as I look not only through my window, but at it.

Alpaca Reflective Walking Coat

I’ve been working on this coat, in some form or another, for almost a year. I’ve been planning it for even longer. I think my New Year’s resolutions for two years ago included something about “sew a garment with my handwoven fabric.” And now I finally have!

The fabric for this jacket was hand woven on my 54″ 8-shaft macomber loom. In fact, this fabric is the only thing I ended up weaving on that loom before reselling it. There was nothing wrong with the loom, but it was simply too monstrously large for my needs. It worked great for this one project though.

I used a simple tabby draft, and counted on the fun colors of the yarn to make the fabric work. And the reflective strips of course! After weaving, I wet-finished the fabric to encourage a bit of felting. It “blurred” the colors of the yarn together, but I’m still quite satisfied with the results. The reflective bits show up nicely, and don’t affect the drape of the heavy fabric.

This coat is very imperfect. I ended up rushing a bit at the end, because I decided at the last moment that I wanted to enter this piece in a textile art show at a local gallery! Which is super cool, and which hopefully I will mention again if the coat gets accepted, or even if not! But yes, I had a hard deadline for photos to submit, so I was definitely trying to get some of the bits done at the very last minute.

I’m still incredibly happy with how it turned out. The lining fabric is Spoonflower’s satin, in a fun patchwork-like design I was excited to find just for this project. The pattern is McCall’s M6800, it had good instructions and a decent fit, though as mentioned I was moving fast and not paying a whole lot of attention.

New Notebook Box

This post is mostly just eye-candy for a gorgeous box I acquired recently. I’m always a fan of craft-trades, and I was able to commission this hand carved box in exchange for a 100% silk reflective scarf. The artist was Katie Allen, a good friend I always turn to when I’m looking for beautiful woodworking.

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The box turned out even more beautiful than I could imagine. I love the detailing of the stripes on the sliding lid, and the corners. The grain of the wood is beautiful. The artist even wood-burned my art portfolio logo on the top.

I’ve taken to keeping notes on my weaving projects in tiny memo books. I like that they’re small enough to not be intimidating, plus they fit easily into pockets or bags or whatever. And graph paper is super useful when brainstorming drafts. Of course, since they’re small, they fill up fast and they were starting to pile up.

This box is designed to fit the notebooks perfectly, so I can easily organize my filled up ones and my empty next to use books. I love it. Keeping my notes in this gorgeous box helps inspire me.

Embroidered Moon Shirt

I started this shirt about two years ago. It was one of those crazy ideas — hey, this would look so pretty if I  hand embroidered the fabric for the cuffs and collar! Yes, a great idea. But soon after I started, it became very clear that it was going to be one of those projects. Yep, the ones you get a little bit into before you realize how tedious an idea it really was. Do I really want to wrestle with this stupid thread and needle, or would I rather go do those dishes I’ve really been meaning to get to. Organize the sock drawer, yeah, that definitely needs to happen!

Okay, well, I’m not sure I ever organized my sock drawer, and many many sinks full of dishes were washed, but I eventually finally finished this project. There are plenty of projects I’ve dropped and never picked up again, but I was too excited to actually wear this shirt to let it moulder on the “in progress” pile forever.

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I am so glad I powered through and finished this shirt. It is everything I hoped it would be. The pattern is the Archer Button Up shirt by Grainline Stuido, and I used Sprout Patterns printed fabric to make life easier. The shirt uses two designs from Spoonflower fabric, poly crepe de chine, by designer Marketa Stengl. You can see why I was inspired to add embroidery to these gorgeous designs, I wanted to add a bit of depth and texture to the lovely embroidery inspired designs.

I got the effect by doing a simple straight stitch over top of the drawn design in sulky silver thread. Given that the fabric is so fine and drapey, I interfaced the cuff and collars. I love the texture it adds to the garment, and just that little subtle something special. I love that using Sprout Patterns takes out the irritating parts of sewing, leaving me more time to add unique design details.

New Year, New Goals, New Website

Well, we’ve all had a pretty rough year in 2017. That said, if I focus just on the personal positives, it’s actually been a pretty good year for me. We bought a house, and I’ve had more fun than I imagined decorating and settling into it. I’ve gotten the chance to explore new aspects of my job, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has to offer in those regards.

But what I’m most proud of in 2017 is that between a better work-life balance and a new space, I’ve really gotten the chance to put more of myself into weaving. The time I spent at Penland showed me that I’ve barely touched the surface of what I want to do with weaving. I feel more excited working with this art form than I have with any other I’ve explored, so I’ve been trying to put some thought into what that means for me.

What it means right now is that I’ve developed and published a new website: kellywoveit.com Don’t worry, this one isn’t going anywhere! I love the history I have on it, and the sheer randomness of topics I can include here. But I realized that as a representation of actual art I’ve created, it’s a bit hectic. I wanted somewhere that functioned more as a portfolio or gallery, where its easy to see at a glimpse what I’ve been working on, and where the art can somewhat speak for itself. This blog will continue to be a place where I can share in-progress photos and personal life details, but if you want to just look at some pretty pictures the new site will be the place to go.

It also means I’m curious about what the world of professional art looks like. There are so many aspects I’m unfamiliar with, and I don’t even know what I want to do, but I definitely want to know more. Do you participate in the professional art world? I want to talk to you! I’ve had plenty of experience selling online and in craft fairs/conventions, but I don’t know anything about selling in retail stores. Or how do galleries work? I don’t even know if I want to do any of that, but I want to know about it.

In addition to practical knowledge, I want 2018 to be a year where I push myself. This last year I proved that I can whip up a rayon scarf in no time at all, and there is nothing wrong with that. They are fun, and bright, and colorful and safe. But in the next year I want to explore more complex techniques. I want to continue experimenting with ondulé; I absolutely loved the effects I was getting with that class at Penland and I want to do more. I want to finally create cloth I sew with and finish a garment out of my own woven cloth (yes, I’ve been saying that for the last two years – BUT THIS WILL BE THE YEAR.) I want to play with wall hangings and large format pieces. I want to tell a story.

In other goals, I’m looking forward to a more permanent garden. I want to continue to grow and beautify my space with my partner. I want to build friendships. I want to improve the world around me in whatever ways I can.

So, here’s to 2018! For me, the year of art, life, love. What will your year be?

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss ★★★★

The Many Pop-Geek References of Dahlia Moss

This book is a cute fun romp. I feel like it’s the perfect mix of Phryne Fisher and Ready Player One, a mystery series with a heavy theme of geekery and a definite sense of time and place. It’s as if someone took Sharyn McCrumb’s Bimbos of the Death Sun and updated it to match geek culture today (and removed most of the worst awkwardly sexist bits). If none of those references made any sense, then just know that its a light hearted mystery featuring a post-college woman who appreciates a good video game and is trying to find her way in the world.

The book is very full of geeky video game references, and I feel is sort of constantly walking the line of pandering to its audience. But somehow it didn’t irritate me in the same way that Ready Player One did. Perhaps it’s Dahlia’s constant self-deprecation. Perhaps it’s that the author does it with a nod and a wink. Perhaps it’s just me and my fondness for sassy protagonists a la Buffy and Veronica Mars and all the rest. Regardless, it is definitely a book with a certain attitude who know’s its audience.

Dahlia Moss does not have a job, or a boyfriend, or a plan. She does have a wacky roommate, a penchant for video games of all descriptions, and around $10. And once upon a time, she spent about a week as a receptionist for a detective agency. When one of her roommate’s even wackier friends misconstrues this as actual detecting experience and offers her $1000 to retrieve a stolen weapon in an MMORPG game, she figures why not take the easy cash? When her erstwhile client ends up dead, stabbed by a real-life replica of the digital weapon, things get a bit more interesting…

The author chose to follow the time honored tradition of all murder mystery writers. It’s never the first person you think it is, and the Least Likely Suspect rises up to catch you from behind. But that doesn’t make the story any less fun to read.

All the characters in this book are fully realized slight exaggerations of someone you probably already know. You can’t help but say to yourself “yep, I know someone just like that.” Are they real people, with real problems, messy and disjointed and confused? No. But they are fun, and lucky, and plucky, and adventurous caricatures of people you like.

The best part of this book? There’s already one sequel, and another on the way to be released in January. I fully expect them to be much like the first, and if the author continues to write another 10 books that follow the exact pattern of this one I’ll be more than satisfied. There is nothing wrong with potato chip books that fill you up in just the right way, but you always want just one more.

Of course, I’m already waiting for the announcement that this series being turned into a tv show. And if someone picks it up and does it the right way, I think it’d be a huge success. I’d certainly watch it. This series has emerged in the right time and place, and I don’t see why it wont end up being the next popular hit.

Salt and Pepper Transitions Scarf

I’ve mentioned many times how much I love commissioned projects. Not only for the ego boost, but because it encourages me to try things I might not have done on my own. Even if the request is pretty open ended, it will likely send me in a direction I wouldn’t have otherwise. Basically, I think of some commissions as free inspiration.

This woman who requested this scarf wanted a gift for her friend. Her friend had decided to stop dying her hair and start embracing the grey hairs. So she wanted to give her friend a black and silver reflective scarf in honor of that.

I really enjoyed thinking about that transformation as a concept; the transition from solid black, to mixed “salt and pepper,” to solid silver.  What would that look like in a weaving? How would it look around someone’s neck?

To achieve this look, I set up the warp to be solid black on one side, and then start alternating silver, until it ends up solid silver on the other side. Then, I used the same method to change the weft from black to silver in the same way. This gave my an asymmetrical scarf, with one end thats black and mixed and the other that’s silver and mixed.

I like that the scarf shows the combination of colors every step of the way through transition. From the first scattering of fine threads, to the dense mixture. And of course, with the twinkle of the reflective light all the way through.

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And of course I couldn’t resist doing one of these:

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If you’d like to commission a scarf, please don’t hesitate to contact me. 🙂

Sea and Sky Scarf

I had a lot of fun recently working on a commissioned scarf for a woman in France. She wanted a scarf in her favorite colors, dark grey and blue. One of her favorite memories is of looking at the sea one day, and where it met the sky, and seeing so many shades of blue and grey together. I didn’t have yarn in the specific shades she was looking for, so I had a lot of fun dyeing it.

I dyed the yarn while it was tied up in “braids” specifically to get an “uneven” dye effect. I like that there are areas that are lighter or darker. My favorite yarn is the one that is part blue and part grey. I first dyed it in the same grey bath as the warp, but removed it early. I then unbraided it and re-braided it to expose different areas of the yarn. Then I partially dip-dyed it in the same dye as the blue. This created lovely randomness in the transitions between the blue and grey.

I’m definitely pleased with how this scarf turned out. It was lots of fun to sort of spontaneously dye a whole lot of yarn and just see what happens!

Penland Project – Ondulé Weaving

I wrote before about my experiences at Penland this summer, but I have yet to show off what I actually made! If you’ve been waiting, I finally found some time to take good photos of my projects.

I attended the Ondulé Weaving class, taught by Amy Putansu. Ondulé is a very special weaving technique I was super excited to learn about. Ondulé – meaning “wavy” or “corrugated” in English – weaving is done by using a special reed to create curved lines in the warp threads. Most loom weaving is considered very grid like. You have vertical (warp) threads and horizontal (weft) threads that always meet at 90deg angles. There are techniques you can use to create the illusion of curves in a woven piece, but the threads themselves are always straight and parallel; except in ondulé weaving!

Weaving on a floor loom uses a piece of equipment called a “reed.” They are usually made of stainless steel in these modern days, and consist of many tiny bars of steel set evenly. Each thread in the warp goes in between these bars to keep them evenly spaced across the width of the cloth. The reed is also used in conjunction with the “beater” to “beat down” each weft thread as it is cast. The bars in a standard reed are always parallel, and always evenly spaced – that is the point! But an ondulé reed, often called a “fan reed,” is different.

As you might have guessed from the name, the bars in a fan reed are set into fan shapes. They are not parallel, but instead group together in crammed and spaced areas. By raising and lowering the reed, or the warp going through the reed, you can control how the individual warp threads are crammed together or spaced apart. By carefully orchestrating where in the vertical space of the reed you beat your cloth, you can create “undulations” in your weave structure. The warp threads are being guided back and forth in a wavy shape, sometimes squished together and sometimes spaced apart, and held in place by each successive weft beat.

I was so thrilled to take this class. It was something I’d come across in passing, but could never find more information about. How do you weave ondulé? Where do you buy equipment? What’s the magic sauce? Are some fibers better than others? How can weave this?!?! Ondulé weaving is something of a mystery, there isn’t a lot of information out there about it. Very recently, in fact after our class ended, a book about ondulé weaving was released by Schiffer Publishing: Ondulé Textiles. It’s a great place to go for more inspiring photos and some of the history of ondulé weaving.

Amy Putansu was a pretty amazing teacher, and she taught a great workshop. We were at Penland for a full 16 days. The first week of the workshop, Amy had organized a “round robin” style rotation on the looms. Each loom was set up with a different size of fan reed, and different fiber-type yarns in different arrangements. The idea was that we could learn the basics of how to manipulate the reeds and our yarn, while also experimenting with all the different looks that can be achieved. This was an amazing way to learn and experience some of the possibilities, without having the anxiety attached to also trying to plan a full project start to finish before even knowing how ondulé works.

In my first penland post, I shared these photos of a set of greeting cards we made for the end-of-session auction. Each card features a different sample of fabric woven by one of us in that round robin part of the workshop. This gives you an idea of the different yarns and setts and colors Amy had prepared for us, and how much we all enjoyed experimenting.

 

After the round robin was completed, we spend the final week of the workshop planning and creating our own project.

Planning and ondulé project was pretty intimidating for me. Thread “sett” is a very important concept in weaving, and is basically a way of talking about the density of your yarn. You can imagine that the weight and fiber type of a yarn is important and impacts how many warp threads per an inch you’ll want to set up in your loom. With ondulé weaving that becomes even more important, because at some points in your cloth your warp will be very dense. At the “bottom” of some fans, you can see how close the reed will push your threads together. And of course, at the other side of the fan, your threads will be very spaced apart. The angle of the fans is also important, because that impacts how dramatically the warp threads at the “outside” of each fan area will be forced to curve. Those threads will have to travel more distance, curving in and out constantly, than the threads in the “center” of each fan which don’t curve at all. This means that your chosen yarn must be strong, and be able to handle differing levels of tension. All of which is a lot of words to say: ondulé weaving is hard! And I was very glad to have an experienced teacher there to help guide our choices.

I ended up completing two projects in the time we had. For my first project, I chose something based on one of my favorite experiments I had played with during the round robin. Not only did Amy guide us in the basics of onudlé weaving, but she also used the round robin as an opportunity to show us countless other fascinating weaving and fiber techniques. Everything from dyeing, to felting and felt resist, to warp painting, to devoré (burning out select fibers with acid or base solutions), and more! One of my favorite techniques was the warp painting we did with dye-na-flow. I intend to write an entire blog post about this one technique eventually, but for now just know that it consists of painting your warp threads while they’re on the loom. This simple concept blew my mind. I could make it up as I went along? I could just go with it, splash down color wherever and however I wanted? This was my kind of fiber dyeing!

Like I said, ondulé weaving is hard! It takes a lot of work to achieve that “undulating” warp, and so usually the weaver wants to choose a design that really shows off the curved nature of the fibers. For my first project, I chose a simple solid white rayon warp and used the same yarn for weft. Everyone in the class looked at me like I was crazy, until I explained that I wanted to really exaggerate the curves in the threads by painting them as I went. And of course, knowing me, I couldn’t do it without also including some reflective threads! I don’t have a whole lot of photos of the scarf in progress, or after completion. I ended up donating this piece to the end-of-session auction. I was super proud of it though, and hope to complete another one on my home loom eventually.

 

After my success with that scarf, I wanted to experiment with something a little more exciting than white rayon. I’d been holding onto some absolutely gorgeous malabrigo silk-alpaca blend yarn for awhile, just waiting for the right project. I was pretty sure it would be great yarn for an ondulé project.

I used two  colors of yarn for this project: a solid teal-blue color (called “teal feather”) and a variegated yarn that transitioned between spring green and hints of violet and blue (called “indicieta”). I planned out my warp carefully, because I wanted the two yarn colors to create noticeable stripes that would highlight the curved nature of ondulé, but I also wanted to show a transition. I was inspired by watching the mountains that surrounded the school. They were never the same color twice, morning or afternoon, foggy or sunny, always changing every time you looked at them. I wanted to capture some of that feeling, of staring at verdant mountains in summer. I used the same transition effect in the weft. Each fringe end of the scarf emphasizes the teal yarn, while the center portion emphasizes the spring green indicieta yarn.

This scarf is my favorite hand made item I’ve ever made. It uses a unique skill I spent a lot of time learning. It’s in my favorite colors. The undulating shapes in the weave remind me of the mountains where I grew up, and that surrounded the school where I made it. The colors it uses also surrounded me during those weeks at Penland – vivid summer greens, with hints of blue and purple twilights and pink dawns. I’m so excited that its finally getting cold enough to wear it!

 

I will absolutely be weaving more ondulé in the future. I hope to eventually document the technique that Amy taught us, because such a wonderful and unique style of weaving shouldn’t be lost or limited. I am very grateful that Amy chose to teach us, and that I could attend her session at Penland. I heartily recommend her as a teacher to anyone who gets the chance to learn from her.

Girls – Please don’t join the Boy Scouts of America

I was surprised and confused by the Boy Scouts of America’s recent announcement that they were now not only allowing transgender kids into their programs, but also actively encouraging girls to join up. Surprised because, well, I’m super biased and still look at the BSA as a conservative religious group that does icky things I usually disagree with. And confused because, well, why? I mean, what’s wrong with the Girl Scouts?

As time went on, I continued to be confused and to question myself. My gut reaction to the announcement was a negative one, it left a bad taste in my mouth. And yet, on the face of it, the BSA seemed to be doing something open and inclusive that I should feel good about. So why did I feel so bad? Was it just my internal bias? Was I being overly judgmental? Was I putting myself on the side against inclusivity?

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Me with good friends at Girl Scout camp. We called ourselves the Terrible Trio or something equally clever.

It took a fair amount of thought to realize the obvious: No. It was not just my bias. It is not just that the BSA has an ugly history regarding gender and inclusivity. It is okay to feel bad about this idea, because it is a bad idea. It is not inclusive. With this new policy, the BSA are directly excluding the Girl Scouts of the USA. They are excluding all of the women who have worked to make a safe space for young girls. They are excluding the mission that GSUSA fights for. They are excluding the learning that takes place because of it, and the progress that organization has fought for.

This issue is not about the gender of your kid, or which summer camp you send them to, or if its better to have mixed scouts or not. This issue is about the differences in each organization, and how they are perceived by the general public. This issue is about the sexism inherent to our society. Inviting girls to join the BSA is not a step forward in solving the problems of sexism.

I’ve already said that I am openly biased. I think that the GSUSA is a better organization than the BSA. They are a secular organization, not a religious one. They have always been more open and inclusive in their policies, but the rest of the world has not always responded positively.

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Me at space camp, an opportunity I got through the Girl Scouts.

As early as 2012, the GSUSA has accepted transgender kids. It made news again in 2015, and a spokesperson pointed out that it had never been specifically against policy, but that they wanted to make their position on inclusivity more official. At that time, organizations around the country responded negatively. The American Family Association created a petition gathering over 38,000 signatures of those against the announcement. Some groups responded with quotes like “don’t put our young girls at risk” and “the girl scouts have lost their moral compass.” Many people and groups also responded positively, and applauded the GSUSA for their inclusivity. But still, every single news organization that reported on the topic quoted the negative reactions as well, and even provided links to the anti-pages and petitions.

I wont point out all of the horrible policies the BSA have had in writing over the years. They made the decision to change those policies, and that is an undiluted win. However, I find myself put off by the language they use when announcing that they will now “let” girls in.

More importantly, I am openly disgusted by the way the rest of the world is choosing to talk about it. The same companies that started petitions before have been quiet when this announcement comes from the BSA. I could wish for a world where the leaders of those companies have learned and grown and become more accepting of the world – But I’m too cynical to actually believe that’s what’s going on here.

In fact, most of the negative press regarding the announcement has been directed back at the GSUSA themselves, because they dared to send a negative letter to the Boy Scouts. The same news sites who provided links to the petition against the GSUSA now describe this letter as “accusatory” and “petty” without ever actually quoting it directly. I finally found a copy of it. This is a classic example of women’s opinions being disregarded and belittled. A woman who speaks out is “aggressive,” and the only site that bothered to publish and quote the letter directly isn’t even regarded as a professional “news” site.

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The climbing wall at my Girl Scout camp.

So yes, news organizations across the country are sexist in their responses today – this really shouldn’t surprise me anymore. But even if I ignore the ways in which the announcement was handled, the actual change of “letting girls join the Boy Scouts of America” frightens me for the future.

That “accusatory” and “petty” letter the GSUSA sent? I found it very interesting that it seemed like their biggest complaint was that they tried to work with the BSA but were repeatedly turned down and ignored. “…Despite offering to engage in a constructive, collaborative sharing process, [the GSUSA] were disappointed in the lack of transparency…” I am not against co-ed scouting. I believe that if done right, a true gender-neutral scouting program could work. If the BSA and the GSUSA ever chose to join forces and provide opportunities for all children, I would support that whole heartedly. However, the BSA evidentially made their feelings on that idea clear. They are not interested in working with their female partners. This decision by the BSA is not gender-neutral and should not be applauded.

There is a special area on many college applications asking if you’ve received an Eagle Scout Award. If a teen boy gets the award, they get a call from their governor. Adult politicians running for office use it in their campaigns. The word count on the wikipedia Eagle Scout Award page is 4724. The word count on the Gold Award page? 987 (this blog post is already longer.) A New York Times article closes with this quote from a BSA troupe leader: “Everybody knows an Eagle Scout,” he said. But the Girl Scouts’ top award “is just not held as high or as valuable in people’s minds, and I’m not sure why.” Are you not sure? Because I sure as hell know why.

If you’re a young girl who’s looking at your future and listening to what people around you talk about – which sounds better the boy scouts or the girl scouts? As 16-year-old Cassidy says “Eagle Scout gets them somewhere on their resume,” she said. “It will be amazing to say you got Eagle and people know what you’re talking about and know the work you put into it.” Can you blame her? Sure, let the kids make the choice. And yet… How many women are there actually within the BSA helping to develop these programs for girls? What message does it send to a girl that you have to be labeled as a Boy Scout to get the award that everyone talks about?

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“Llama Trek”

Many articles on the topic talk about the girls who want to join the boy scouts. One BSA leader was quoted saying “Now, girls are going to be able to have the Scouting experience. …This is progress and overdue.” Let me tell you, I was a girl scout for all of my childhood and I had a great scouting experience. I got to play in the woods and get dirty every summer. I proved last night that I can build a better campfire than my boyfriend. I went camping with llamas, and as 13 year old girls we carried all our own gear. We made fun of the boy scouts who had an extra trailer connected to their van, because they packed too much. But you know what, yes, we also did arts and crafts. We learned about science and nature. We cooked our own meals, and they were delicious. We learned that “girly” things are just as difficult and worthwhile and rewarding to do as anything else. We were given examples of women in science and technology to follow. We proved that we could be brave and strong and adventurous. And you know what, we also proved that we could be crude, and dirty, and silly, and put worms in each others’ hair and be just as gross as the boys.

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His name was “Tangelo” and we helped each other for a week in the mountains. When he spit at me, I spit back.

I didn’t achieve my Gold Award, by the way; less than 6% of girl scouts do. I started a pretty awesome project – I was going to work to record and preserve some heirloom species of roses that grew in a nearby cemetery. Did you know that humans have changed roses so dramatically that most of the original species don’t exist anymore? Like the bulldog, we have shaped roses to match some strange exaggerated image in our minds. We have changed them so much, as they are today they can’t even survive without our help. If you asked me at the time, I’m sure I would have said I quit the project because I didn’t have time, I wanted to hang out with my friends, I had a lot of interests and a lot going on at that time in my life. I wonder now if I was just tired of explaining to people what a Gold Award even was – maybe I just got tired of saying “its like a boy scout Eagle award!” Wild roses are nearly extinct, and I wanted to help save them. Spend one day building a trail bridge my ass.

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Me, age 13?

The Girl Scouts gave me an amazing childhood, and shaped my future. They showed me I didn’t have to be a boy to do anything I wanted. So I plead with you, if you’re a girl in search of adventure, please don’t join the Boy Scouts. If you’re a parent, please don’t encourage your kid to label themselves as someone else out of a misguided idea. If you’re an adult who wants believes in a better world, please don’t applaud the Boy Scouts of America for their falsely progressive idea. There is already an amazing scouting organization out there led by women who know exactly how hard it is to become a strong female leader. The GSUSA have spent over 100 years helping women fight for an equal place at the top, and giving girls the tools they need to be strong and brave and determined in a world that denigrates their every interest. If the BSA really wanted to be progressive and gender-neutral, they’d recognize that.