Saturday, March 20, 2010

Referencing comes full circle

I wonder whether amigurumi was invented to keep guys away from things.  Drop an amigurumi on the remote control, send a shiver down his spine, and he leaves the room to hunt for leftover pizza while a woman settles in happily to watch the shopping channel.  The cuteness factor on these things is absolutely repellent.

One of the areas where Commons and Wikipedia need more attention is textile arts.  It's not as if men never touch the subject (here's a photograph of WMF volunteer coordinator Cary Bass's crochet project), but let's face it: women are underrepresented among editors and it's usually women who take an interest in the subject.

If a guy's going to work on textile arts it probably won't be amigurumi.  It's a crochet form that originated in Japan to make miniature animals, such as the owl at right.  I don't make them, but the quantity of amigurumi photographs at Wikimedia Commons had reached the point where a category was justified.  So I made a new category today.  It's the sort of housekeeping work that makes Wikimedia Commons useful and anyone can do it on subjects they happen to know.

Back at Wikipedia I added a {{Commonscat}} template at the amigurumi article to link to the new category.  Then I looked at the article, which is a dreadful little stub whose only reference is an AOL blog that probably isn't reliable.  So I looked for something better.  Mostly the references on this type of subject aren't very good: they tend to be how-to books with a lot of patterns and minimal context.  But that's better than nothing, right?


Here's an excerpt from  the top return on Google Books: Amigurumi!: Super Happy Crochet Cute by Elisabeth A. Doherty
In Japan a crocheted or knitted doll is called an amigurumi (ah-mee-guh-ROO-mee). Disclaimer: Please, people. I do not speak Japanese. This pronunciation guide should be taken with a grain of salt. There is very little information available in English on Amigurumi, so I have decided to go with my own definition based on information I found in an online encyclopedia. Ami is a shortening of the word amimie, which means “stitch.” Gurumi is a shortening of the word nuigurumi, which means “stuffed doll or toy.” Smoosh the two together and you get amigurumi.
The book was published in 2007 and that's reasonably close to Wikipedia's definition as it appeared at the end of 2006.  I don't know if we'll ever get a reliable source on this stuff, but I'll keep looking.


Anonymous said...

hm. Added a link to the commonscat from the fr article.

Lise Broer said...

Thank you. Eventually I located three citable sources. It would be interesting to learn what the Japanese article says. The earliest mention in English dates from less than ten years ago, but the Japanese article mentions the year 1980.

Colin Howell said...

Aww. I guess I'm kind of a strange guy; that might work to keep me away from things, but only by distracting me so much with the cute that I completely forget about my original interest. :D For me, the words "cuteness" and "repellent" just don't go together.

Unfortunately, I'm not particularly interested in working on textile arts articles. But I'll mention your posting to a couple of people who might be.

Kaldari said...

No one told me I wasn't supposed to like cute! I guess I'll have to throw away my Hello Kitty toaster now :(

Physchim62 said...

The Japanese article doesn't say much more than the English one (as far as my very rusty Japanese allows me to read it), and is unreferenced: the link at the bottom is to the Japan Amigurumi Association. The mention of 1980 is actually a reference to the (late) eighties, when NHK (Japanese public television) ran a "school children's/educational program" on them. That fits roughly with what our (unexcellent) article on "Cuteness in Japanese culture" says when it gives the start of the phenomenon of kawaii in the 1970s.

Robert said...

Sometimes guys get into textile craftwork. Here is an interesting WSJ story about truckers who make quilts and knit:

Idle Pastime: In Off Hours, Truckers Pick Up Stitching
With Less to Haul, Drivers Try New Hobbies; Quilting in the Cab

Robert said...

Oh for a second I thought it was "common scat" not "commons cat" and so I found this interesting tidbit:

Here is a great craft project: a happy little piece of exrement that has been crocheted:

GALLERY: Crafty Crafty's amigurumi parade: happy poo

AGK said...

You know a hell of a lot about this topic. Ever thought about getting some of your knowledge published? Then we wouldn't be stuck for sources ;)

- A.