Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Varigated Yarn Tales Interview, and my thoughts on Disability.

I got interviewed!  Eeek!

Actually, no, it was amazing. It wasn't 'eek' worthy at all! Monica, of Knit's All Folks, was totally sweet, even when my e-mail went weird and I only sent her half of the interview!

It's a little scary -- I've never been interviewed before for my yarn/fiber business.  And I don't often talk about my disabiliti(es) on these platforms.  Not because I'm ashamed, (far from it) but because I don't feel that my disability activism and disability pride work belong directly in my business material.  It's a business, not my personal soap box.   Sure, I'll talk about the legal or business perspectives for accessibility, and why they're important if it's relevant to topics, or direct access barriers for me attending an event and what can be done, or even to provide my knowledge to those who ask. But I'm in this particular corner of the internet to create knitting patterns and fiber-related stuff, not blog about disability.

Monica's search for diverse fiber artists hit home, though, and the two worlds collided a little.  There's almost no representation of disability in the visuals of the knitting community, and, in fact, many disabled knitters can't access parts of the knitting community. There are many yarn stores in Toronto, it's a huge place for awesome fiber people. . . . and yet only two yarn stores are wheelchair accessible.  (If someone knows more, please, let me know in the comments!)  Visually impaired knitters are locked out of a huge range of patterns, because knitting and crochet charts are impossible -- written instructions are needed!  D/deaf knitters are confronted with many, many tutorials on Youtube and other video channels that aren't captioned, or use Youtube's horrible automatic captions.  And Podcasts?  Nope.

And that's only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

That said, I want to give a huge shout-out to Monica for her interview questions and style!  Quite often interviews of this nature end up focusing solely on my disabilities, and the "tragedy" of what I can't do or my perceived shortcomings.  Monica's questions were about being a fiber artist/knitter, which allowed me to acknowledge where my disabilities mattered, without making it an overshadowing/overwhelming part of the interview.  It showed that I'm also a nerd, that I have way too many WIPs, that I forget to take pictures of my work, and that I'm horrible at naming patterns!

So while I don't usually talk about disability directly on this blog or on Sarah Dawn's Designs social media channels, it is a part of who I am and has shaped how I am, and I can't (and won't) deny that.  I wanted to show that there are fiber artists with disabilities out there, and that we're part of this community too, and we should have proper representation in the publications, and at the events: after all, people with disabilities are actually the largest minority in the world!

Finally, I know that some people with disabilities are afraid to come to events, because they're worried about access needs, and to that I say, make your needs known, advocate for what you need until you get it, and please, come out and join the community of fiber people. They are generally awesome folks!  Yes, you're still going to encounter bias and ableism. I'm not going to put on rose-coloured glasses and say it will be perfect. But most fiber people are honestly willing to try and learn, and most of them really do try and make things right.

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