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I Knit Around

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

F is for Folkcat

Once upon a time, there was a woman named Jenny. Jenny lived in New Hampshire, and she liked to do things on the computer. Keep in mind, this was a time when the Internet was around, and people went on the World Wide Web to do things, but there were not yet any blogs.

Jenny liked to play a computer game called The Sims, which allowed users to create their own content (clothes, houses, and such) and to offer it to other people to download. It was also, at times, a tricky game to play effectively.

So she could be in touch with what the coolest new downloads were, and to learn helpful tips from other players, Jenny joined something called a Usenet Newsgroup that was all about The Sims. Newsgroups (which still exist, but are called "Google Groups") were a way that you could post one message to a whole bunch of people who were interested in the same thing at the same time, and anyone who was signed up to the group could answer.

The group was useful, and eventually she found a few other groups like it that also talked about The Sims.

One day, Jenny was reading new messages from one of the groups (alt.family-names.sims), and realized something. There were an awful lot of people in the group who, like her, were named Jenny, and it was starting to get hard to tell the Jennys apart. So she decided to do something about it.

The Rest is History

And that's how it all began. If you do a search of Google Groups for "Folkcat" and sort it by date, somewhere at the bottom of the 26th page of results you'll find this: the very first post that I made using the name Folkcat, to the newsgroup alt.family-names.sims. Time stamped 12:00 AM, Fri., July 7, 2000:

Aack! Another Jenny! This just won't do....it just won't do.

I'd been thinking about this anyway, what with the profusion of "cats" among
the goddesses here in Valhalla. In real life, I collect folk-art cats. So
from now on, call me.......

Simming in NH

And so, FolkCat was officially "born" on July 7, 2000. As you can see, I originally capitalized the "C" in the middle of the name. Sometime over the years that changed to lower case.

FolkCat quickly became my regular online identity, and the concept soon took on a life of its own. Sometime within the following year, I created this, my first painting on canvas:

The First Folkcat Painting
F is for Folkcat

Rembrandt I'm not, but I conveyed in my own, primitive, folk art style the idea I was after. As you can see, FolkCat is a bold, adventurous cat, who's not quite entirely connected together. No two parts of her are the same color, her head floats a little separately from her body, and of all things, she's a cat with wings.

Computer-drawn FolkCat
A Sleeker, Computer-drawn FolkCat

I really liked what I'd come up with in the painting, and decided one day to do a simpler version that could serve as a logo for my artwork. So I sat down at the computer with Corel PhotoPaint and came up with the version shown above, which I came to call the Flying FolkCat.

Folkcat in the Big Little Bead Store Logo
New Identity, New Version

The Flying Folkcat was used in the first incarnation of my bead store, when it was called Folkcat Art - Where Beads Take Wing. I changed the name within the first year, though, because people kept thinking we sold folk art. *sigh*. Under the new name, The Big Little Bead Store, I did a new version of Folkcat where she's standing on her hind legs, looking invitingly out at the viewer and pointing out the store name with one paw. (The colors are off in the image above, they should be more like the Flying FolkCat.)

Over these years, the name Folkcat became synonymous with me. A philosophy of ultimate freedom developed from the image. Think about it, after all - a cat with wings. The independent, do-whatever-the-hell-she-wants, mind of a cat. With the wings to get to anything, anyplace.

You just try to stop her!

And Now

Folkcat has definitely taken on more meaning as my alter-ego. When Kat with a K was recently interviewed on New Hampshire Public Radio about Team New Hampshire and the Knitting Olympics, she mentioned my project and called me "Folkcat". This was officially the first place I was called by that name in a mass-media venue.

Recently, Gryphon and I stopped to check on our geocache, and some other folks walking in the park saw my license plate in the parking lot - which, of course, read FOLKCAT. They were geocachers who had just found our hidden box. So imagine my surprise, as we're walking in that little patch of woods, when I suddenly heard a shout of "Hello! Folkcat! Thank You!" And that was the first time I've been called to by the name Folkcat in public.

And the Future?

With this blog, the name of Folkcat is getting out there a little more each week. Who knows where this will go?

For now, at least, the mystery of "what's a Folkcat, and why is she calling herself that?" has been revealed!

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