Do you knit? Do you like to turn yarn or thread into warm, comfortable clothing or snuggly blankets? I’d like to dedicate this blog to all of the knitters out there. Quite surprisingly, for some reason, I’ve found many of my colleagues in Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) are genuine “dyed-in-the-wool” regular knitters. Is there some sort of strange connection between people who enjoy knitting and knowledge mobilization? Probably not. However, it’s suspicious that both knitting and knowledge both begin with silent Ks! All humour aside, it appears that knitting remains a very popular hobby.
One of my dedicated blog and Twitter followers (whom I also follow regularly) is Bonnie Zink (on Twitter @BonnieZink). Bonnie is a writer, editor and a knowledge translation & exchange specialist, as well as being a social media enthusiast interested in Knowledge Mobilization. Her Twitter profile says she “loves to indulge in knitterly obsessions” which is clearly seen in Bonnie’s blog Stitching in Saskatoon.
Bonnie’s knitting blog is so popular that this past weekend, Bonnie tweeted: “A new “record!” Over 400 reads of the blog this weekend. Thanks! I take it as a sign that you enjoy what I #write. http://bit.ly/8oDKK4”.
Apparently there are more hits to knitting blogs than knowledge mobilization blogs! Why do you suppose that is? I’ve checked with many of my fellow KMb bloggers and they admit they rarely come close to that number on any weekend or daily level. Congrats Bonnie!
Another Twitter follower (and whom I also follow regularly) is an educator, academic career coach and regular knitter is Jo Vanevery http://jovanevery.ca/ (on Twitter @jovanevery). Jo’s postings are always thought-provoking and helpful to those seeking academic direction, guidance and information. Amusingly, Jo continues to pepper several of her enjoyable academic blog posts with mentions of knitting.
And knitting is also the hobby of two of Canada’s top knowledge brokers, Michael Johnny (on Twitter @mobilizemichael), and Krista Jensen (on Twitter @atomickitty), whom I work with at the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York University – and also part of ResearchImpact, Canada’s Knowledge Mobilization Network. I’ve never seen them knitting at work, but both tell me it’s a leisurely pleasure they enjoy. (To see some of Krista’s knitting projects link here http://www.flickr.com/photos/86079743@N00/sets/72157622667413246/). There’s even a social networking site for knitters and crocheters called Ravelry.
Although I’m not a knitter, I did a little research. Did you know that originally, knitting was a male-only occupation? The first knitting trade guild was started in Paris in 1527. Today, thankfully and rightfully, it’s good to see woman are now as included in formally contributing knowledge as they are in knitting. It’s also good to see that men are also still knitting. I’ve been known to see a KMb connection in almost anything to help explain what Knowledge Mobilization is. So here goes with knitting…
You probably know that the yarn in knitted fabrics follows a meandering path, forming symmetrical loops around a path of yarn. These meandering loops can be stretched easily in different directions, giving knitting much more elasticity (and strength) than many woven fabrics. Depending on the yarn and knitting pattern, knitted garments can stretch as much as 500%. There are also many hundreds of different knitting stitches used by knitters, and different ways to insert the needle into the stitch.
So let’s say Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) is a process like knitting. Just as knitting relies on the continuous stitching of symmetrical loops, KMb relies on the continuous action loops of informing and being informed. As each stitch is knitted and stretched in different directions, so too is knowledge expanded when turned into action through mobilization.
Like the many types of stitching with many different types of threads, KMb includes many different knowledge sectors and individuals (cultures, communities, beliefs, academia, organizations, associations) brought together to be woven into a valuable knowledge fabric for the benefit of society.
My analogy might be a stretch (oh groan!), but like a path of yarn, knitting and knowledge through focused stitching and mobilization can create value that can move, extend and provide something good for others.
And as knitter and knowledge mobilizer Bonnie Zink says… “Happy stitching!”