Monday, 21 October 2013

A beautifully packed Knitting and Stitching show experience

As those who keep up with all things LindyD know, I was at Ally Pally recently exhibiting my work as a finalist in the UKHKA's Knitted Textile Awards at the Knitting and Stitching Show; I had a great time at the show itself, alongside a couple of quick visits to central London for museum/gallery visiting and even having a go at ice-skating - yes, it was a varied and busy week!

Outside the Pally after set-up, ready for a central London visit
If I had to use one word for it all ? ... difficult to choose just one but I think 'packed' might do it justice.

Living in the Lake District we do see our fair share of visitors and on occasion in the summer we think our villages and towns are 'packed'. I can say now that in comparison to the K&S show on all four days there's no contest, our villages and towns are busier than usual but they aren't packed!

The area round our stand, late afternoon so a bit of room to move...
This was taken c 4pm on day one when the crowds had thinned a lot...
It was amazing to think that so many people out there love their own particular version of knitting and stitching so much that they can't wait to come to this kind of show; they say 60,000 can come through the doors in the four days it's open. Shopping of course is a serious pastime for some with show bargains to be had (the really serious come with a wheeled shopper bag) and in no time on each day there were visitors bustling around with their bags fully packed with things to keep their hobby going (probably into the next millenium!). The cafes and corridors and every other space were packed, so too were the stands of the stall holders with lots of lovely stuff to buy as they maximised the space available to sell.

But it's not all about retail. For others the attraction is a bit different, for the show was packed with creative and talented people showing their work, demonstrating their techniques and ready to chat about what they'd done and how they'd done it. With the people came the ideas, lots of them, quirky fun, and fascinating - packing the space and permeating the atmosphere.

A creative way to knock out any preconception of a Knitting and Stitching show as dull!
On our own stand the range of hand-knitting packed into one relatively small area was amazing and to think we all started with yarn and needles!  I think this was one thing that struck the visitors to our stand since we had everything from plastic insects wearing tiny knitted jumpers to large knitted garments; from lovely knitted interior furnishings to painterly artwork.

Stand TGQ13 - our home for the week
For people who came to our stand and chatted many were looking for ideas and inspiration, packing the experience of what they'd seen away in their head so they could take it out later and maybe try some of the ideas for themselves.

Finally, for me I met a load of lovely new people. We packed a lot of hopes and dreams onto our little stand and when it came to show close on Sunday, 'packed' took on a new meaning as we scrambled to put our treasures safely away ready for transport to part two when the show moves to Harrogate.

Exhibits came down quicker than they went up!
So, if I had to choose one photo to sum it all up? .... this is it below: taken in the V&A contemporary design area and not at the K&S show at all.  For me it sums up the quirky, varied and exciting time I had and all the lovely and different thoughts and ideas I've taken from the experience, loosely joined together and which will be put to good practical use at some future time I'm sure.

It was described as a chest of drawers...!

photos are a mixture of mine (poor ones) and Dayve's (good ones)

When I can I'm making textile art or blogging about it; here's my web site; or follow me on  Facebook and Twitter for my knitting and textile art news.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Laura's Wood - textile art with knitting and weaving combined

I thought this time rather than comment on things from the outside world, I'd do a post about my latest art work. I've called it Laura's Wood because without Laura of Laura's Loom it wouldn't exist...
I'm assuming she'll be pleased with the compliment! As anyone artistic knows, the creative process sometimes takes a long time to come to fruition and this piece was probably longer than most!

So my tale starts almost 4 years ago when I was given a lovely birthday present by my other half Dayve to go to a one-to-one tuition session with Laura at Farfield Mill. It was a beautiful late autumn morning as I recall, Laura welcomed me, we talked about what I'd like to do (we agreed I'd have a go with an Ashford table top loom, rigid heddle, don't worry it didn't mean anything to me either at the time!) and we agreed our day's programme.

The wonderful Farfield Mill, near Sedbergh, looks (and smells) great!
This is Laura ( from her Laura'sLoom Facebook page, backstrap weaving in Bhutan apparently!
 For the rest of the morning Laura showed me the way that the warps are prepared for the loom, this is a skill in itself! I particularly liked her tale of the bloke who'd been weaving for some considerable time but came to her for a workshop and admitted that until she'd showed him this cunning technique he'd relied on the fact that he had a really long hall to lay out his warps while he set up his loom! Weavers will understand the impractical nature of this 'solution'; for non-weavers I suppose an artist equivalent would be painting with a really long handled brush a long way away from your canvas to get perspective or for knitters it would be like trying to knit with the fleece still attached to a sheep...  It reminds me that in all crafts there is a technical body of knowledge built up over many generations that it's really handy to know!

A warp frame complete with organised warps ready to be taken off for warping
We had an excellent lunch and then afterwards we got onto some actual weaving using the warps we'd set up before lunch. I had a brilliant day, it's a wonderful place, Laura's teaching was excellent and it was a good way for a beginner to get an idea of weaving. She kindly offered to let me borrow the loom as she didn't need it for a few weeks and so I had it at home and was able to design and make the piece I had in my head. I was pleased with the end result, only needed to find the right piece of artwork to use it in, and the loom was returned to Laura with much thanks.

The famous Ashford Rigid Heddle loom (a handsome devil) this isn't my weaving by the way!
Now fast forward the rest of the (almost) 4 years! My woven piece had still not found a place in my textile artwork worthy of it but then I went to Woolfest in June this year and met Laura again. My good buddy Helen spotted the selveges (edges cut from Laura's woven cloth) and immediately I knew that combined with some fab slubby hand spun wool I'd bought already that day from (I think) Freyalyn's Fibres I could create some suitable knitting to go with my woven tree trunk and finally complete the artwork it required.

A short time, ie a couple of months, was it all needed to complete my creative vision;  my only plan was a hastily drawn and rather wonky sketch in my ideas book and the rest was done by eye. I first knitted a woolly bit in an uneven shape and then tried to knit a selvege bit to roughly match up with it  and then did the same again etc. I sewed them together onto a felt backing piece, placed the woven tree trunk in place and used recycled wool-mix material to pad it out giving it a nice slightly rounded contour. I'm pleased with the finished item and like the way the knitted sections work with the woven sections.

The finished piece, named 'Laura's Wood' - knitting and weaving combined
As it seems to work so well, I had been thinking I might try another mixed technique piece like this... but I fear I may have to stick to knitting as when it comes to warping a loom sadly I've forgotten the cunning prep technique employed and unlike some I don't have a long hall!

More about the wonderful weaving from Laura's Loom; and here she is on Facebook;
More about Farfield Mill, if you haven't visited you should go!

When I can I'm making textile art or blogging about it; here's my web site; or follow me on  Facebook and Twitter for knitting and textile art news.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

As I walked out...

For someone like me living in the Lake District and also interested in 'woolly things' my interest was caught recently by an attention-grabbing article involving the Lake District, hill sheep farming and being a bit rude about Wordsworth and artists.

Stock Photography by Ward: Landscape &emdash; pbw_15Sep12-110953-0001
Little Langdale, a typically beautiful Lake District scene
The Lake District owes much its famously beautiful landscape to sheep grazing the fells; and a recent article in the Guardian by journalist George Monbiot has put the cat among the pigeons (or maybe that should be the wolf among the sheep?!).... If you look back at some of his previous journalistic contributions, you realize that he does tend to go about life with a literary pointy stick poking things and this time he certainly seemed to get a suitable reaction.

You can read his piece here but in essence he says the existence of subsidies for sheep grazing the fells (aided and abetted by supporters who want to keep the landscape looking just as it was in centuries past and as loved by Wordsworth and other artists and poets of the past) has produced a barren mono-culture bereft of bio-diversity. He'd prefer fewer sheep and more trees on the fells as native trees support more insect life. In reply many people have naturally jumped in to the debate defending the sheep and the farming practices.

Some of the 'accused' Herdwick sheep
My experience of the Lakes landscape is, however, that it is not all about the iconic upland fells and that it has a lot of variety in a relatively small area, especially when I see it through my textile artist's eyes. In that context it has a host of different textures and surfaces, light and shade, and large and small patterns of interest.

Wooded slopes of oak

Gorse in flower and scrub trees coming into leaf
When I go for a walk (which is never just straight up the nearest mountain to the top, that's not only dull but hard work too!) I inevitably encounter a number of different settings. In one relatively short walk of just a few miles you can go from grassy valley bottoms with drystone walls and hedgerows, through slopes of mixed woodland (with wild garlic and bluebells in Spring), trek through rough fell pasture, fight through head height bracken, trudge across moorland and heath, paddle across boggy patches, pick your way through rocks and scree...and that's before you get to any watery things like lakes, tarns or streams. That sounds like a Tolkein-like odyssey but actually it's a real pleasure!

Coniston Water with its birch tree-line shoreline
Whilst what I describe may not be quite the same thing as bio-diversity in George's sense, it is a view of landscape in the Lake District seen more broadly and so experienced as much more varied than George's 'sheep-wrecked' fells.

Perhaps the moral of the story is that environmental campaigners who carry pointy sticks and artists who carry knitting needles don't see the world in the same way...thank goodness!

Little Langdale photo from stockphotographybyward

When I can I'm making textile art or blogging about it; here's my web site; or follow me on  Facebook and Twitter for knitting and textile art news.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Too much chit chat as you knit-knit

I like to delve into the internet for knitting-related stories and came across this one recently. Of course only one side is represented fully in the report and we all know how tabloids love to 'pep up' a story so I generally take them with a pinch of salt but ...

A screen shot of the story as it appeared on-line.
This sad tale is of a knit and natter group in the North East that has been asked to move out of its local library; there is some doubt as to whether it's because the group's too big or makes too much noise. Of course for the members of the group it's a shame since a place where they've become established and obviously feel comfortable is no longer going to welcome them but for me it also seems great that there's a knitting group with a lot of members all of whom are apparently having such a good time. What a fab advert for the social power of knitting, who cares what the knitting yarn outcome is when the social outcome is this good! I do hope that a more sympathetic venue will snap them up, after all good vibes are a benefit to any space.

I saw the Express story on-line and was intrigued to see displayed straight after it what were thought of as 'related articles' as suggestions for further reading ...

A list of five 'Related Articles' carefully selected for the on-line reading public!
The first few I can (sort of) understand as having some connection with the story (if a bit tenuous) but it gets a bit weirder the further down the list you go! I struggle to see how these stores can be 'related' to the original, certainly not as close cousins but maybe in the way that completely different species of animals are connected through a distant common ancestor millions of years ago!

Using the same kind of 'logic' you could have had equally random related articles on fishing (the nets can be mended by hand with needles), betting (you place bets in a book-makers) and rock groups (they do make a lot of noise)!

Good luck to the knitting group in question (here's a link to the Express article if you want to read it).

When I can I'm making textile art or blogging about it; here's my web site; or follow me on  Facebook and Twitter for knitting and textile art news.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Knitted Textile Awards Finalist - quick someone pinch me!

Occasionally a week brings you news that makes you want to pinch yourself just to check you're not dreaming. This week was one of those!

I wasn't dreaming after all!
Back in July I saw a Twitter message saying that anyone who knits or crochets could enter the UKHKA's Knitted Textile Awards 'Open' category competition with the prize of  being an exhibitor in the Showcase at the amazing Knitting & Stitching Shows at Alexandra Palace and Harrogate.

The award is Sponsored by UK Hand Knitting Association (UKHKA), Love Wool UK and Twisted Thread. The brief was for :
"Dynamic, innovative design - dramatic fashion – idiosyncratic furnishings – intriguing artworks – hand knitting and crochet in all its guises.
Work will be judged on originality, overall concept and the innovative use of hand knitting and/or crochet techniques."

All you had to do was send off some photos of your work, come up with an Artist Statement and then let the judges decide. Well, I happened to have some excellent photos of my work already, thanks to Dayve!  Here's a link to the Facebook album with the photos on my Facebook page.

So I sent them off, thought no more about them and then this week I got the e-mail telling me I had been chosen as a Finalist - needless to say I had to keep checking the e-mail to see that it was still there in my in box and hadn't mysteriously disappeared and that yes it had been sent to the right person, which was indeed me! First reaction was delight, second reaction was blimey I've got a lot to get sorted out before the first Knitting & Stitching Show in London on the 9-13 October 2013 .....

First stop London!

I still have some questions, like :-
  • which art work do I need to take with me (one or more than one), they'll let me know?
  • how will I be able to sleep the night before?
  • how many finalists are there?
  • who's going to look after the dogs?
  • what am I going to go and see on my days off in London?
  • it's so long since I drove in Greater London how will I manage?
  • how many questions are too many questions
But for now I'm just enjoying the experience of telling people I've been chosen as a Finalist - it's great!

Now better get on with things - find a hotel in North London first I think .... where is Ally Pally anyway? (Oh that's another question!)

When I can I'm making textile art or blogging about it; here's my web site; or follow me on  Facebook and Twitter for knitting and textile art news.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Too hot for knitting?...

No I'm not talking about the latest Hollywood star (male or female) I'm thinking weather, yarn and needles. Sitting here in temperatures of 28 degrees, lovely as it is and I'm not complaining, it does seem a bit hot to be thinking about knitting!

Of course I realise that makes me a non-fairweather friend of knitting but it just seems wrong to think about sitting there with bits of woolly knitting draped over your bare legs. So I googled it and came up with several examples of people knitting on the beach so clearly I've got a point of view that isn't shared by everyone....

The owner said she was knitting a sock...planning ahead!
This owner said this was Mexico, I like the green and orange thing going on...
The owner has circular needle - this is serious stuff!
So knitting on the beach is clearly an unremarkable thing... but I've got some practical questions:

When/How do you put your suncream on ?
How do you get the sand out of your knitting ? 
At what point do you notice your knitting mistakes? (attributable obviously to wearing your sunglasses instead of your 'proper' specs, as who gets themselves prescription sunspecs in our UK climate!)

In any event I only have to recall the historic link between wool and the beach to realise that there's nothing new in the idea of combining woolly knitting with a hot day and especially a hot day on the beach.

Not a great look!
This photo is actually showing a 1940s revival of knitted swimming 'cossies', part of the early attempts to invent wet-suits for surfers when they combined old wool with thin rubber...(if you don't believe me check out the source!)

If you're tempted to give it a go there are vintage bathing suit patterns out there - just remember to knit that all important tension square first!

When I can I'm making textile art or blogging about it; here's my gallery; or follow me on Twitter for knitting and textile art news.

the knitting on the beach photos came from blogs by:
yarn on a stick;
the surfing dudes photo has its own credit!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Woolfest 2013 - where the woolly things were

A visit to Woolfest is always a feast for the senses (and that includes the sense of wet legs from the driving rain that followed us from car park to entrance...oh well it is the Lake District after all!). To be fair that was Friday up to mid afternoon and Saturday was much better.Visiting this year after missing last year I was able to ponder on what had changed, what different trends did I see etc

Mesmerising exhibitor stand - stare at it long enough and it makes your eyes go funny!
So, there was more exhibition space, music at both sides which was slightly disorientating (didn't I have my feet tapping over yonder already?) and super deluxe mobile toilets to put an end to queueing, yeah! (although in previous years I've spotted more friends in the queue than wandering up and down the aisles so it was at least very sociable).

On a more exhibitor-focused note, one thing which really struck me was how much felting has come to the fore. There seemed to be lots of exhibitors with an association of some kind with this great wool pastime, including dry needle felting as a sculptural activity as well as felt making itself. Clearly the magic of this has fired the woolly-community's imagination and quite right too. Surely though it must involve some kind of 'pixie dust'? otherwise how is it possible to create usable fabric from loose wool fibres sprinkled with soapy water and rolled in bubble wrap on a beach mat or create a cute lovable creature from the same loose fibres rolled into little sausages and stabbed with a very dangerous needle ....
This is my super-cute (and much admired) needle felted fox-friendly scarf;
I made it myself and have the scars to prove it
The other thing which I noticed was the way in which the wool of, and the products made from the wool of, rare and native breed sheep seemed to be occupying a lot more space. This was great to see, and it was possible to fully appreciate all those lovely natural colours, every hue ranging from dark to light in the black, brown, cream, grey spectrum and making fantastic things to wear or carry.

Sorry, don't know what she is; took her pic at an earlier show, she looked cuddly...
For me as a textile artist there was lovely skills to admire all round but what caught my imagination most was the brilliant fairy-tale inspired work by The Materialistics; their wall art (created collectively) was fab. It included the wolf in the bed from little Red Riding Hood (complete with crochet square blanket) and a frieze of creatures from Where the Wild Things Are brought to life by using a range of textile techniques.
Read from top left to bottom right - sorry didn't have ability to capture it in one go!
Finally, one tip to share is that in going round again after 4pm you get to see things you might have missed when you toured earlier on when it was busier; and you've time for a late picnic and good old natter with mate(s) before you set off for round two. After all I couldn't have got near to my favourite alpacas for this photo when everyone was standing round earlier admiring them!

Alpacas - the mop top hair is superb
Thanks to Woolclip and all those involved on the day and behind the scenes for making it a great day out, those on two legs and those on four too.

When I can I'm making textile art or blogging about it; here's my gallery; or follow me on Twitter for knitting and textile art news.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Yarn bombing - what's not to like?

So, I was looking at this on-line news item about yarn bombing and one negative comment posted after it said something like 'I hate this, surely you people could spend the time more usefully knitting socks or something'. My first thought was oh yeh just another person who lists as his hobby (and it was a man's name) pouring ice-cold water on other people's thoughtful and creative endeavours a.k.a trolling. Then I began to wonder more about what lay behind the remark, just what was it about this particular kind of activity that had rattled his particular cage?

Granny square covered craft and folk art museum in Los Angeles
option 1 - he doesn't like more colourful streets. Maybe he's of a naturally melancholic disposition and anything that brightens up his environment and challenges his grey mood is to be avoided.

Feels more like a playground now!
option 2 - he likes more colourful streets just not softly textured ones. Maybe he's into brutal modernist architecture with all those hard lines and surfaces (they're so manly) and softer texture is a betrayal of the purist's treasured concrete landscape.

option 3 - he doesn't like knitting/crochet that's escaped from it's more usual place ie on the body. Maybe he copes with the world by organising and categorising it, keeping everything separate so it doesn't get mixed up (like dangerous chemicals that might inadvertently mix and cause a dangerous reaction).

A third of heat loss is through the head
option 4 -  he doesn't like art on the streets. Maybe he thinks art is to be treasured and cossetted, kept safe in climate controlled galleries, protected from the ravages of weather (and of course dogs).

Sorry, nowhere's safe.
option 5 - he doesn't think knitting/crochet can be art or that knitters/crocheters can be artists. Maybe he thinks that art is something that can only happen with a liquid medium and some sort of applicator and that needles/hooks and yarn don't count.

When you press the nozzle, yarn comes out...
 option 6 - he's a conservative, male chauvinistic, narrow-minded misery-guts.

 Answers on a postcard please...

Two iconic London objects (one slightly altered)

When I can I'm making textile art or blogging about it; here's my gallery; or follow me on Twitter for knitting and textile art news.

note: any search on line brings up loads of great images. Here's links for where I found the ones above, finding the original source was in some cases impossible.
LA building
Coloured steps
Bus Shelter with hat
Dog in gallery
Knit covered spray cans
Knit covered London telephone box

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

From the woods to the living room

If you've read my last blog you'll know that the skill and ingenuity of some knitters is pretty impressive, but what I like best is a sense of colour and fun. I've been looking for something to follow woolly creatures in a wood and I came across Melanie Porter.

I've seen examples of her work like lampshades which I really like but what I wanted to share here is this video which I found on her Facebook page. It's really worth a look.

Here are five things I liked about her and her work.

1. She's inspired by being hands on and makes the pieces herself.
2. The pieces are colourful and fun.
3. She's recycling old bits of furniture which would otherwise be unloved and discarded.
4. She was very matter of fact about what she does and thinks about both form and function.
5. She said it was 'bitter-sweet' when she had to let a piece go (so the pieces are made with love, aahh so nice!).

It's great that when I looked around it didn't take me very long to find another great example of knitting that is fun, colourful and gives pleasure, thanks Melanie.

Here's Melanie's website.

When I can I'm making textile art or blogging about it; here's my gallery; or follow me on Twitter for knitting and textile art news.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

A Walk in the Woollen Woods (part 2)

Following on from my post A Walk in the Woollen Woods (part 1) this is the second part called unsurprisingly A Walk in the Woollen Woods (part 2)! If you haven't the faintest idea what's going on, and to the uniniated this could look like a woodland where some very odd genetic mutations have occurred, you can get up to speed by reading part 1; the link is at the bottom of this post.

Here's my next five picks for my favourite pieces in the Woollen Woods exhibition at Acorn Bank.

Sixth pick:
Dickens Owl - has the most brilliant look of surprise on her face; like that feeling you get driving down the motorway when you suddenly realise you've driven past three junctions and have no recollection of 50 miles of your journey. In her case the surprise is more like 'there I was enjoying life in that lovely warm stash box dreaming of being a lovely jumper and now here I am perched in a wood... how the Dickens did that happen!' (hence the name).

Seventh pick:
Red Squirrel - top marks for thinking outside the box or should that be inside the jumper? This fantastically quirky creation is sewn together from a recycled woolly jumper and has a strangely misshapen appearance that just adds to its charm. I think it looks a bit like there's a real squirrel inside a fine-knit jumper trying to find the neck hole (no I don't know where that image came from perhaps a traumatic childhood memory from learning to dress myself?).

Eighth pick;
Blackbird nest - this one seemed to be a favourite of children visiting when I was there; maybe because it's been positioned at just the perfect see-it-on-tiptoes height for children old enough to know what it is. I recognise this particular pleasure/achievement, as being of short stature myself, I get the same sense in the supermarket when I can just see, recognise and reach the coffee cake I
desire on the top shelf "look mummy/Dayve I've found a nest/cake".

Ninth pick:
Red apples - everything up to now has been rather cute and cuddly and this one's different. I chose this as it was both unexpected and yet perfectly suited to its location (as Acorn Bank holds a great apple day event every year). Where better then to hang a group of very real looking apples from a tree? I'm particularly looking forward to seeing this one later in the year when the trees are in leaf... I wonder if next time I see them some will have bites out of them?

Tenth pick:
Stoat/weasel - I missed this first time around as it's been placed high in the trees and it's a lovely piece. I'm sorry Vivienne if I haven't got it's identity right...although as I recall it should be straight forward since 'a weasel is weasily recognised and a stoat is stoatally different'.

Now that I've resorted to bad jokes (at least it's an eco-joke ie on a natural theme and recycled) it's clearly time to stop. Do please go and see for yourself though - I could easily have picked dozens more as there was that lovely black bat, and that amazing bracket fungus and those lovely butterflies, wonderful bees......

Wondering about my Walk in the Woollen Woods part1? here's the first part...

 Find out more about Acorn Bank | Find out more about The Woollen Woods project

When I'm not walking in woods taking cute photos, I'm making textile art or blogging about it; here's my gallery; or follow me on Twitter for knitting and textile art news.

all photos | Lindy Doran;
Individual makers (as credited on Canopy's Facebook gallery)
Dickens owl:Yarn Tan Tetheras
Red Squirrel:Heather Seddon
Blackbird nest: Joy Davis
Apple tree: Jana Wagner
Stoat/Weasel: Vivienne Netherwood

Sunday, 21 April 2013

A walk in the Woollen Woods (part 1)

Change the words of the song from 'love is in the air' to 'fun is in the air' and you get a sense of what it's like to take a walk right now in the Woolly Woods at the National Trust's Acorn Bank near Penrith.
The contributors board shows people from all over the UK and further afield took part.
Excited yells of 'look mummy look' from kids, mixed with the adults' more restrained 'aahh', 'ooh' and pointing is what you get when you line a woodland trail with wonderful woolly creatures - cute, cuddly, colourful, quaint and queer. There's something for everyone, up on the branches, dangling from strings, wrapped round trunks and sitting on roots, all making a lovely woodland walk even more enjoyable. And when you've had your fill outside there's a great tea room - how good does it get!

I've picked my top ten but it was a very hard choice and when I go back and see them again in a new season with leaves on the trees I'm sure I'll make a different selection!

So this is my first five (the second five will be in my next blog). The ones I've picked got on the list for different reasons but one thing they and every piece had in common was the sense of having been made by people who were enjoying themselves!

First pick:
The three owls - the six eyes looking down is very compelling, I think I might have been hypnotised! .... pick us, pick us, pick us.

 Second pick:
The Wallace & Gromit style birds (there were two but couldn't get them both in and show detail) - they're very Creature Comforts, in fact I think I overheard the conversation (in a brummy accent) talking about a recent trip to sunny climes, 'oi looved oibeeetha'.

Third pick:
The mouse and mushrooms - together who could resist? especially the little hands, aahh (there see I'm at it now).

Fourth pick:
The little brown bat - other great bats were flying confidently and self-assured from strings (look at me, I'm a real bat) but this one really appealed because he was so understated, you felt he was a bit like a small child looks in a cute animal costume; and he looks like he's not sure if he could fly, with those legs maybe he'd walk instead!

Fifth pick:
The tree climbing hedgehog (is it a hedgehog?) with red scarf - this one stood out for her quirkiness; I assumed it was a hedgehog, but you may think differently eg. armadillo, sloth, expat haggis (we are quite close to the Scottish border here).

So that's my first five picked and the second five will be in A Walk in the Woollen Woods (Part 2) which will be my next blog. Apart from the contributors (great work folks), I'd say well done too to the people from Eden Arts and everyone else who helped, you clearly spent a lot of time putting all the exhibits into the trees, and someone had a head for heights too!, thanks guys.

I've only one thing left to say, go and visit for yourself - it's fun, it's woods, it's fresh air and exercise, it's woolly, how many more reasons do you need?!

Wondering abut my Walk in the Woods part 2?  here's the second part...

 Find out more about Acorn Bank | Find out more about The Woollen Woods project

When I'm not walking in woods taking cute photos, I'm making textile art or blogging about it; here's my gallery; or follow me on Twitter for knitting and textile art news.

all photos | Lindy Doran;
Individual makers (as credited on Canopy's Facebook gallery)
Three owls: Ruth Packham
Wallace & Gromit birds: Amanda Berry
Mouse and mushrooms: Amy Scroggie
Brown Bat: Caroline Bletsis
Tree-climbing Hedgehog: Arts Council Crafts Group, Manchester

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Real knitting guilt

First there was guilt about not being able to cook 'properly' for the 30-something generation brought up on supermarket convenience food, now apparently comes guilt about not being able to knit, because in their formative years shop-bought knitwear (or anything-wear) was much better than anything home-made (which of course had the whiff of the Women's Institute and granny's Horlicks, two things which have now also made a comeback).

Shop-bought jumper (I know, I bought it!), cute dog...
Reading 'Red' magazine recently, it seems that knitting has made it to the list of new essential 'life skills' for the 30-something trend-savvy woman- about-town. It's up there now with being able to cook an exciting meal with four ingredients from your fridge that no-one knows how to pronounce properly, baking a light sponge that doubles as an eye-catching table decoration/conversation piece and dressing your home attractively yet inexpensively only from items you'd find in a High Street hardware shop and soft drinks cans.

The most amazing cake ever made!
A very nice edible conversation piece
Maybe it's just me but this idea that knitting is an essential new 'must-have' (like a designer bag that can carry your essentials and your small dog in an appropriately organised manner) feels wrong. It's being desired not for anything it offers but because 'everyone' it seems is suddenly doing it and that makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

a puppy in the purse
Positioned  somewhere between the keys, the sweeteners and the spare tights I think
Knitting is strange because it is both a wholly practical occupation and at the same time a magical one. Show me something else that starts with such unpromising material ie a jumbled mess of stuff that looks like string and instruments of possible torture, gives hours of steadily building expectation and arrives at a destination that is so satisfying that (assuming it has come out 'right') it can keep you feeling pleased with yourself for possibly years.I do it because I love that feeling of creating something from nothing and it's not just about the something, it's about the feeling of creating too.

To acquire a knitted piece, whether to wear or in my case more likely textile art to put on the wall, by wielding those needles and yarn in clickety-click style is a great creative way to spend time. And maybe the most important point there is that it does mean spending time (and a lot of it) to create something that is more meaningful than the standard scarf you can learn to 'knit-in-an-evening' project. A project like this usually consists of a pair of giant needles that can double as replacement coffee table legs, one ball of oversized fluff-out-a-lot yarn and gives you with a tricky to wear scarf/snood/cowl (delete as applicable).

Giant knitting needles
Certainly get a scarf knitted quick with these babies!
And maybe that's at the heart of my unease; to want something only because everyone else has it or does it is a motivation that is a bit shallow for an activity that needs a bit more commitment than that.

So don't feel guilty if you can't knit; although you might want to feel guilty because you jump at whatever the 'next big thing' is, because you want to 'do it' in one quick how-to session and because you're only filling the gap until the next 'next big thing' comes along. But try digging out the unfinished knitting project, that you tidied away into the back of the cupboard three years ago when you were having visitors round and feel constantly that you should get round to finishing off sometime, now that's real knitting guilt!

When I'm not feeling guilty about projects in the back of the wardrobe I'm creating textile art.
Check out my gallery; and you can follow me on Twitter

photos courtesy of Flickr except the jumper one which is courtesy of me