Chippewa Valley Roller Girls wipe out stereotypes (w/video)

Look at these girls! Being all awesome and on the news and stuff!(News link directly below)  

Chippewa Valley Roller Girls wipe out stereotypes (w/video): There’s a rumor floating around that the women who skate for the Chippewa Valley roller derby team are gruff and menacing, with bulging muscles and a bad case of ’roid rage.”

I love CVRG. I had the privilege of bench coaching them for a few games and they’re a hard working group of skaters! I’m also a big fan of the derby “scene” in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It feels like there’s a mixer or small tournament every weekend, always a bout to go to, open practices to attend.. just so much derby all over the place! And so many leagues! If you’re wanting to be a derby girl up north you are very, very lucky! (Except for the whole getting to practice in the winter thing. I don’t know how you people do it!)

Bonus Fun Fact: Neil Gaiman’s very first roller derby bout was a CVRG bout!

So glad to see them getting some press and I hope they continue to get noticed by their local community!

It’s Playoff Season!

It’s that time of year again! Can you forgive me if I get a little mushy when it’s playoff season? I flash back to the early days of derby, then to see the level of athleticism and dedication that our sport has grown to, and I just get so many feelings!

If you haven’t done so, you should get your pass to watch playoffs live. I have to admit that I’m not very productive at work during playoff season. I have my computer up and watching at the shop, and I have it streaming to my tv at home.

Since I’ve been toying with the idea of announcing, listening to the best of the best of the announcing world isn’t a bad idea for me either! I’m lucky to have Dill around to learn from, and such a talented announcer pool in Indy to hang around with should I ever decide to officially make the jump. (You know, with my oodles of spare time!)

I need to update this blog a lot more! I went to New York! I have signings booked! I may be going to Canada again!

You can always follow me on Facebook as well. Don’t be offended if I don’t friend you on my personal profile. I’ve been getting some weird stuff on there, so I am paring it down a bit and sending people I don’t know directly to my page!

Naptown Star Wars Bout!

The final roller derby bout of season 10 is over and done. The Star Wars night is usually the best attended bout of the season and this seemed to be no exception. Bleachers were packed, suicide seating pretty full, and I saw them dragging more chairs out!

**Also, a quick note on a trend I was noticing. More and more parents were trying to sneak their kids into the suicide section. Including parents with infants. Like, teeny, tiny, infants. I also saw people get pissy when they were asked to move, or go right back to suicide seating once the security or team member was away from that section. Parents, the roller derby team isn’t just being a jerk to you by asking you not to sit trackside. They don’t hate your kids, they aren’t judging you for having kids, they’re trying to keep you guys safe! I’ve taken a skate to the gut in suicides before. It hurts. But a skate to a baby? That’s not going to hurt, that’s going to severely injure or even kill your child. (Not to mention the time that, as a skater, I was knocked towards an infant in a car seat in suicides. I hurt myself trying to avoid hitting the baby. If I had hit the kid I can’t imagine the emotional impact it would have had on me.) So come on, don’t give the team a hard time about it and try to sneak back as soon as they turn around.

photo by Greg Dunn

Both games were played against pick up teams, and it was the only unsanctioned bout of the home season.

Belles lost against the Midwest Corn Stars. It was a crazy exciting game to watch, and included this apex jump, which I swear took about 5 seconds.

photo by Greg Dunn

The talent pool on the Belles is really deep. Lots of new jammers have been emerging this season. Including Brickhouse Massacre. She was an alternate for the bout, and ended up with a very well deserved MVP award for the night. Amazing to watch, and I would bet money on her being a siren jammer next season.

Photo by Greg Dunn

Naptown has turned into a flying team the past couple of seasons. I think they spend more time in the air then on the track!

Photo by Tom Klubens

Also cartwheels. Naptown does cartwheels to avoid out of bounds penalties.


The Sirens game got a little boring. It was a blowout and for the first half they just racked up the points. I had hoped that in the second half they would mix it up a little. I’m not saying take it easy on the losing team, but since it was an unsanctioned bout, I would have loved to see them throw blockers in as jammers, mix up positions, that sort of thing. I think it’s a great way to cross train your girls without risking a rankings slip. (Because you can practice and scrimmage new positions all day long, but nothing is the same as actually bouting!)
Still, the last 20 minutes aside, it was an exciting game. And when you considered the sirens opponent was a team made up of retired skaters and girls that hadn’t really practiced together, they did a great job!
Bambi has always been one of my favorite jammers to watch. I’m so glad that, even though she retired from Demo City, she’s still skating! (For SOS, aka “Straight Outta Shape”)

Photo by Tom Klubens

Music, of course, on point. I don’t think NRG has ever had a bad DJ, though DJ Kyle Long is becoming one of my favorites. Probably because he plays the soundtrack of my angsty youth. He’s the sort of person that you want to become friends list, just to drop hints that you need a new mix cd and “sigh” wish you had someone who would make you that sort of thing.

So excited to see what happens for playoffs this year, and for the Sirens and Naptown Roller Derby next season!

Knockdown Knits

About twice a year, a spike happens in sales for my first book, and I start getting questions on Ravelry and through email, so I thought I would put up a little blog post!

As many of you know, Knockdown Knits: 30 Projects from the Roller Derby Track was my very first book. (If you’re local, part of my talk at Pop Con this Saturday will cover how I got published.)

I was lucky. Even though Wiley is a historically conservative publisher, they gave me a lot of freedoms, such as letting me use my team, the Naptown Roller Girls, as the models.

Of course, there were some points where the conservative publisher leanings became evident. I wanted this picture in the book:

Red Rocket and Smackie O’nassis photo by Matt Bowen

And with much fluttering of their hands the publisher went with this picture:

Photo by Matt Bowen

Which of course, is an awesome photo, so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. And honestly, I didn’t realize it at the time, but for a publisher to let me come to the office, sit down, and pick out the photos I wanted for the book isn’t something that happens to every author.

Although there’s a lot I would love to change since I’ve grown as a designer and writer over the past decade, I also kind of love it as is. This little glimpse into the early days of roller derby (I think in the section talking about derby, I mention how there are “almost” 100 teams around the world and “almost” 30 WFTDA leagues!) is pretty fun.

I’ve had requests to do another one, and I’m not saying it’s outside the realm of possibility. I have a couple of other projects that have to get finished first, but revisiting a derby knitting book would be a good time. Of course, if I do it again it would definitely involve more leagues than just NRG, especially since the requests I’ve done to do another come from knitting derby girls in other states who have their own pattern ideas.

And a quick note to say that when Knockdown came out, I think I was one of TWO books about derby available. Now, there are a LOT more!
Here’s a list:

roller derby books

I just read this one,
and it was so dang cute I got teary eyed! I seriously love it.

And hey! I’m in this one! Screaming my head off at a ref I think.

Anyway, I thought I would put this blog up in response to my most recent question about Knockdown. Speaking of which, if you ever want to get in touch with me, comment here on the blog, or use the contact link on my site. (Or find me on twitter, facebook or instagram!)

Did you know I’m in a board game?

That’s right! Impact made a roller derby board game, and yours truly is featured on some of the cards! I also have my own miniature for the game!

Tripping? None of us EVER trip! Heehee. Photo by Tom Klubens

photo by Tom Klubens
It was so weird to do these photos. “Okay! Look like you’re moving! But stand perfectly still!”

Yet another example of weird things that Naptown Roller Girls participation has brought into my life! You should check the game out if you get a chance! I’m a board game geek (Thanks Mom and Dad for all the conventions you dragged me to as a kid. Did wonders for my popularity!) so of course this was something that sang to me from the get go, and I was SO excited when they asked me to be a part of it.

You’ll have to excuse all these “blast from the past” blogs. I’m putting together the media page from the site (with apologies to my publicist, who mentioned that I needed to do this LAST YEAR! Whoops.) so all these things are coming right back to the surface for me.

Also, it reminds me that I gave one of my friends my miniature to paint and he hasn’t done it yet!


Ten Fracking Years…

Dealing with all this drama lately has me thinking a lot about the derby community, and what we’ve built (in Indy) over the past decade. Ten years is a long time to have my foot in the water of roller derby. As a skater, score girl, coach (for my lovely Wisconsin girls) fan, personality, and sometimes just a tag along for my announcer husband. (Or holding down the home fort when he’s in Detroit, Canada, Nashville, Atlanta, etc…

The 10th anniversary season for Naptown Roller Girls is almost over.

Ten years of Naptown has been a wild ride. I get chills thinking of how it started with Strawberry Jam saying, “Why isn’t there a derby team in Indiana? We should start one!”

I mean TEN YEARS. Some marriages don’t last that long! (And let’s be honest, a lot of time derby is a catalyst for that!)

For the anniversary season, they put us old gals on the posters and programs. I was on the bout opener, which was a total honor. (Photo credit to Tom “one b” Klubens)

A lot of us alumni, retired and active, showed up to participate and kick off the season. Of course, one of us couldn’t be there. I was honored when her husband asked me to walk out her jersey, but I couldn’t do it without crying.

But of course, it wasn’t all sad! In the weeks leading up to the bout, Naptown produced these awesome videos, talking about how the league got stated.

Part 1

Part 2

There’s only one game left for season 10. The STAR WARS BOUT! (Don’t worry, the league gets permission from Lucas and Disney!) Storm Troopers, Jedi, R-2… it’s always the best bout of the season!


A few years ago, I wrote this blog post . Times change, we grow, and now I have some more things to say…

I don’t feel the same way about boys playing derby as I did in 2013.It’s actually unfortunate that my blog got picked up by some media outlets last year, since my feelings had already changed a bit by that point.

While I still have some of the same feelings about that particular game, I don’t feel the same about male derby in general. (And I will say, my thoughts about that game aren’t quite as harsh as they used to be. I still think that from a business standpoint, it was not the best idea, as the fans weren’t into it, but Naptown has always been on the cutting edge of the derby world and trying new things, so kudos to them for pushing the envelope and trying it out.) I probably would go to an all men’s derby bout and enjoy it, something I wouldn’t have said two years ago. I no longer feel like the guys are trying to cut into our turf. They saw an awesome game, and wanted to play it. Same as hundreds of derby girls around the world.

One of the things I really like about having this blog is it gives me the ability to look back at thoughts from years ago and explore them. It’s nice to realize I don’t feel so angry about something any longer, and admit that I was wrong about quite a bit of it. Mea culpa to any dudes that were offended by my post.

Anyway, if you want to check out men’s derby in your area, check out the MRDA.


Joan of Dark vs Joan of Dark vs Joan of Dark…

Ugh. Just when things are going well, off goes the google alerts! Turns out that a couple of derby skaters are using the name “Joan of Dark”. My name has been trademarked for a long time. As soon as I started publishing under my alter ego, I knew it had to be protected.

Of course, not to toot my own horn, I’ve been lucky enough to be pretty public in a very good way. So anyone even thinking of picking up the name Joan of Dark, just needs to do a quick google and they would see me all over the place… or so I thought.

Then I get the alerts to my phone, hey! Derby girls! Skating under Joan of Dark! That’s not cool! First thing, send emails. Because lawyers are expensive. As of this minute, one of the girls has not responded. The other… well, the short answer is that she said no. She actually said changing her name would cost her money and that would be “silly”.

If you aren’t familiar with how trademarks work, if you don’t protect it, you can lose it. Which means I have to spend MY money on my lawyer to protect it for me. Which frankly, is really crappy. Believe it or not, being a knitting author and cafe owner doesn’t have me rolling in money.

Not to be all “get off my lawn” here, but this whole situation sucks, and it sucks that this skater can’t just be sensible about it. Instead, I’ve got to fight to protect what I’ve been building for over a decade. And from what I’m hearing from Dill Hero’s announcer friends and WFTDA officials commenting on the situation, it’s not just my issue, it’s happening all over with a new generation of skaters not respecting classic names, especially moderate to really famous classic names.

So cheers to legal fights and derby drama!

* quick edit. For those of you that have messaged me saying “ask her nicely! Surely she’ll understand!” I did. Her one line reply? “I think my new derby name will be Toni Carr;)”. So no. No reason here. Also I miss old derby where we were all bitches but we were bitches in this TOGETHER.