Sunday, October 11, 2015


A Dam Doll, better known
as a Troll Doll.
   When I was a little girl, I had troll dolls. Nearly every little girl had troll dolls (we usually called them Dam dolls, after their creator, Thomas Dam), and some of my first attempts at sewing and costuming were making clothes for my family of trolls. With crazy acrylic hair and a big grin, they were a silly, cute, part of growing up in the 1960s.
   The term "troll" (and its verb, "trolling") began to get a bad connotation in the 1990s, with the rise of the Internet. A number of academic studies of Internet usage began to document the rise of the disembodied, semi-anonymous, virtual community and what might be considered "bad behavior" in regular conversation: high-jacking discussions; posing a pseudo-question, then refusing to accept an answer from another person, and so on. Today, most of social media recognizes that a "troll" is someone who seems to derive some type of pleasure out of getting people upset or angry. Some social media sites and platforms attempt to control trolls and their practices: most social media sites do not allow anonymous posting or "sock monkeys" (dummy accounts set up with a false name). Unfortunately, attempt to stop all trolling is like using a sieve to carry water--it's simply too porus.
   The usual way to deal with a troll is to deny them that which they most crave: anger and attention because they're being less than pleasant. The most common advice is "Don't Feed The Trolls": don't challenge them, reply to them, or even acknowledge that they exist.
Words to live by...
   I'm currently watching a troll at work. I know she's a troll (a bit unusual--most trolls are male). I know she knows very little about the subject (some arcane aspects of historical costuming). I also know that most of the people in this discussion group have been messing about with this subject for the best part of twenty years on different platforms, and they're all pretty accomplished researchers and needleworkers (I also know some of them personally, but that's another story).
   How Ms. Troll works: She posts a seemingly innocuous question regarding a book of patterns and solicits people's opinions of it. OK, that's fine: everybody wants to know if the book they are considering is worth the money. It's not a book I have, so I didn't bother to answer back but, knowing Ms. Troll's history, I was curious to see how this played out. One person replied that it sounded interesting; another person noted that WorldCat had six copies listed in different libraries. It wasn't until about 48 hours later that Ms. Troll posted that she actually had a copy of said book, that it couldn't possibly be actual original patterns because she knew of only one pattern, and it was in French. Someone pointed out to her that the pattern she was thinking of was actually in English, and published in a well-known source of the period. Another person noted that not has she redacted (the term used for taking an historic pattern, recipe, or object and creating a modern pattern or recipe) that original pattern, and will make it available for people to purchase early next  year.
   At this point, a normal conversation would die out, possibly with a couple of posts from people saying how much they were looking forward to using this new pattern. However, this is not a normal conversation: this is a troll-inspired conversation, so it must take another tack in attempt to stir things up. Ms. Troll proceeded to take exception to the idea that it's actually possible to recreate an historic object from either an original or redacted pattern. This is, of course, nonsense: I've written and tested enough historic patterns that I can duplicate darned near any piece of needlework that I can get decent materials for. I'm not an extraordinarily gifted needleworker--I've simply done enough needlework that I know my techniques, I know my materials, I know my research, and I can put them together to reproduce something.
   I must admit, I'm letting others do the "heavy lifting" in dealing with Ms. Troll--I'm finding it more interesting to sit on the sidelines, and watch how she deals with a plethora of pedantic posts. Most of all, I'm letting others feed that particular troll.

On The Looms: Fancy Twill Napkins and Huck Towels, all out of 8/2 cotton.
On The Needles: Heliotaxis Shawl out of cashmere (lace knitting); My Favorite Scarf out of handspun Romney-Coopworth (drunk knitting).