Category Archives: projects

This blog has moved…

I’m pleased to say that I’ve just re-launched the Keep & Share website, at www.keepandshare.co.uk.

The new site has its own blog, so I’m going to post my news there, rather than on this WordPress blog, from now on. If you’ve subscribed to this blog, you won’t receive any notifications of new posts any more (as they’ll be on the new blog).

You might want to subscribe via RSS to the new blog feed to keep up to date.

I’ve put all my old posts on the new blog too.

Find it here: http://www.keepandshare.co.uk/blog

14GB

Let’s have another story in pictures – this time showing the stitch-hacking of my most recent piece, ’14GB’.

14GB is on display in the Made in the Middle exhibition, along with three other stitch-hacked pieces and my pattern-blagged Shetland lace shawl (more info about those pieces here). Here’s some information about the exhibition:

Made in the Middle is an open exhibition originated by Craftspace and selected by an expert panel. Previously showing contemporary craft from the West Midlands, this year the exhibition has been expanded to include the East Midlands and celebrate creative practice across the whole region. This exhibition brings together 35 makers whose diverse practice reflects the wealth of high quality work produced across the region and the talent nurtured in the Midlands. 

The exhibition is at mac in Birmingham until 15 April, then it will tour the region for another fifteen months (further information on each venue can be found via the exhibition website):

The National Centre for Craft & Design, Sleaford, Lincolnshire 28th April – 1st July 2012

Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford 15th September 2012 – 27th October 2012

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum 15th January – 9th March 2013

Bilston Craft Gallery 23rd March 2013 – 11th May 2013

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery 25th May 2013 – 6th July 2013

At the preview of the exhibition at mac, I was delighted to be awarded the prize for ‘Best Overall Exhibit’. All those hours spent hacking and blagging were worth it…

ATH + Jayfor

It’s been a while since my last post… so much going on, it has left little time for reflection and communication. Anyway, to make amends, here is the story of the making of a new stitch-hacking piece, told in pictures…

ATH + Jayfor is on display at an exhibition titled WOW: wonder of wool and the art of knit and stitch, at Rheged in Penrith until 15 April. Also on display is my Knitted Engine, and work by a stellar lineup of contributors, including Deirdre Nelson, Freddie Robins, Rachael Matthews, Annie Shaw, Celia Pym and many others. The exhibition is curated by Trevor Pitt of Pod Projects.

Here’s the blurb about the piece that I wrote for the exhibition:

Title: ATH + Jayfor
Materials: Found wool/nylon jumper, nylon yarn
 
Stitch-hacking involves the laddering and re-forming of stitches in existing knitted fabric. This technique has been developed by Amy and allows her to create structural patterns within found knitted garments. For this piece, she has taken the text from the label of an old jumper and transposed it to the body of the garment, ‘embossing’ it into the structure of the plain knitting. Amy has also recorded herself within the work, through the inclusion of swiss-darned text. 
 
This work plays with questions of authorship and ownership. The original manufacturer made the stitches, and their information has been made dominant on the garment. However, Amy has physically made the piece her own through the attention and painstaking practical work of her intervention. Through pieces such as this, Amy wants to celebrate the craft of knitting in all its forms – industrial and domestic – and to encourage others to tinker with mass-produced objects, which we often see as ‘closed’.

Printmaking

I’ve just spent a lovely weekend at Llanthony Art in the Black Mountains of Wales, doing a fantastic woodcut printmaking workshop taught by painter/printmaker Veronica Gibson. I’ve wanted to try woodcut printmaking for ages – there’s something about the quality of the images that really appeals to me.

I’m definitely going to do more woodcuts, having done this star as a first attempt – but the surprise of the weekend was collagraph printing. Whilst playing I created this series of images, using knit and crochet samples and the printing press.

I love the simple collagraphs, which show off the structure of the fabric so well. And exciting things were starting to happen with embossing the fabric textures into the paper, especially with further woodcut prints on top, which really brought out the structure.

Can’t wait to do more, could someone arrange some more hours in the day please?!

Stitch-hacking and pattern-blagging at Prick Your Finger

Tomorrow I’m off to set up a exhibition of my work at London knitting mecca Prick Your Finger. I’m focusing on stitch-hacking and pattern-blagging, two techniques that I’ve developed over the last couple of years:

Stitch-Hacking the laddering and reconfiguration of stitches in an existing knitted garment

Pattern-Blagging the modification of an existing knitting or crochet pattern to create a personalised item

The techniques are used to adapt existing garments and patterns to include personalised content. On a conceptual level, these pieces explore authorship and ownership; on a personal level, they allow me to put something of myself into my wardrobe.

Here’s a sneak preview of the pieces in the exhibition – though I reckon it’s worth seeing them in the flesh, if you can.

Who Made This?

Found cardigan

Stitch-hacked

This cardigan has particular personal significance, and was the first piece I made in this body of work. The original cardigan was found in my late great-aunt’s house, in a chest of drawers full of hand-knitted cardigans. We think it was knitted by my grandmother (who taught me to knit) but can’t be sure. Who made this cardigan? The original knitter made the stitches, but I laddered and re-formed them.

20.11.09 – 1976

Filet crochet smock

Pattern-blagged

Original pattern published in ‘Knitting, Crochet & Embroidery’ in 1976.

My first pattern-blagged piece. I originally intended to make this piece ‘true to pattern’, but when I came to the first row of the original design (a floral border, created within the filet crochet structure), I rebelled.

Amy 2010

Found cardigan

Stitch-hacked

I acquired this cardigan at some point in the last few years, at a charity shop or perhaps a jumble sale. It languished, unnoticed, in my wardrobe for some time before I heard its call to be hacked.

St Michael – 12 – 40

Found cardigan

Stitch-hacked

All of the information hacked into this St Michael cardigan was taken from the labels inside the garment. The hacking celebrates, and painstakingly brings to the surface, the unremarkable story of its original creation.

1.12.2010 – Lugwardine – Amy – 1.10.2011

Shetland lace shawl

Pattern-blagged

Original pattern ‘The Rosemary Shawl’ designed by Gema Ord for Jamieson & Smith, published in ‘My Weekly’ in 1994.

In September 2010, following my presentation on Stitch-Hacking and Pattern-Blagging at the ‘In The Loop 2’ knitting conference in Shetland, I boldly stated that I would pattern-blag a Shetland lace shawl. Twelve months later, here is the result. My rules: the personal adaptations had to be decided upon during the making process, and constructed spontaneously without sampling.

Want to have a go? I’m running a stitch-hacking workshop at Prick Your Finger on Saturday – enquiries/bookings to the shop on 020 8981 2560.

The exhibition will be on for 6 weeks or so – private view tomorrow from 6pm, all welcome so hope to see you there! (260 Globe Road, E2 0JD, nearest tube: Bethnal Green)

h.Art open studios

I’ve thrown the doors of the studio open this week as part of h.Art – the open studios art week in Herefordshire.

I’m showing the current Keep & Share range of knitwear, kits and yarn along with information about workshops and samples of some of the more conceptual knitting projects I’ve been doing in the past year. I’m joined in the studio for the open studios event by Marissa Harmon, who (apart from helping me with Keep & Share knitting and workshops) creates her own range of lovely vintage inspired knits.

We’ll be open every day from 11am to 5pm until Sunday 18th September – for more information check out our page on the h.Art website. Give us a ring on 01432 851162 if you need directions – hope to see you there!

Lots of visitors have commented on the lovely view from the studio, so here it is for you all to enjoy…

End of the Road 2011

The knitting team and I had a great weekend at End of the Road festival at the beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset. We finished our festival knitting tour with a bang, with loads of people learning to knit and crochet and plenty more (who were already adept with pins or a hook) taking part in our ribbon knitting project (find out more about the project in my previous festival posts).

The festival itself was fab, with great music and a really friendly crowd. Plus the rain held off until Sunday night which gets a big thumbs up from me. A big thank you to Lily and Sarah who were wonderful teachers as always!

Just like the other festivals we visited, we found lots of men keen to learn both crochet and knitting.

And once again our visitors produced an amazing array of ribbons, and amused us with their messages.

If you’re wondering what will happen to all these ribbons, keep watching this space…

Green Man 2011

Our festival knitting tent tour stopped off last weekend at the wonderful Green Man festival, nestling in the Brecon Beacons near Crickhowell. For once it didn’t rain (much) which meant our festival knitting activities went at full swing all weekend. Big thanks to Verity, Kate and Tim for their sterling assistance and knit/crochet tuition.

Once again (like at Latitude) we invited people to knit ‘ribbons’: long, narrow strips of knitting approximately 6cm wide. Each ribbon was knitted by several people – one person would have a go, and when they’d finished, leave it on the needles for someone else, who was then free to change stitch or colour. We asked all the knitters to leave a message for the next person on a tag. Just like at Latitude, we ended up with lots of weird and wonderful ribbons, and an endearing array of messages.

On some ribbons the tags tell a story…

While on others, the knitting itself tells an intriguing tale…

Our next and final festival stop is End of the Road, next weekend. We’ll create another batch of ribbons there – and then I’ll begin working on what will happen to them next. I’m beginning to think of them as a study in how people (quite wonderfully) don’t follow instructions – especially interesting when knitting can sometimes be seen as a restrictive, pattern-based craft.

Improvised knitting at Working Title

Last week I worked in residence at Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth, as part of an exhibition called Working Title. The idea was to work with junk that had been donated by local people. There’s more info about the exhibition in my previous post. Below are some thoughts that I wrote for the Working Title blog.

When I was on the train to Portsmouth, I thought about the different approaches I might take to the pile of junk awaiting me at the gallery. I could knit or crochet with anything long and thin, or crochet into objects to decorate them. The ideas that most excited me were to make an object into an improvised knitting machine, and to repair an object using knit.

In my very first dig through the junk, I found a coat hook ideal for using as a knitting machine – so my first piece was pretty immediate. There were loads of cables lying around, so I used them for yarn.

This next piece took a little more time, and continues a theme I’ve been exploring recently, of juxtaposing ‘masculine’/hi-tech stuff with ‘feminine’ decorative craft. I’m calling it ’16 Appliances’ because it’s made from… you get it. This one is macramé rather than knitting, because there were 16 strands to work with all at once.

In the junk pile I found an old wooden chair with the back totally missing – it had been somewhat savagely sawn off just above the seat. I thought this was a prime candidate for knit-based repair, and was pretty excited when I had the idea of using the chair itself as a french knitting bobbin to knit the replacement back. It’s almost as if the chair is rejuvenating itself (with a bit of help).

The french knitting is working the opposite way round to usual – going round the outside of the leg, rather than inside a cylinder. You get the purl (reverse) side of the knitting on the outside, but that’s ok. I swapped the yarns of the two sides at times, to create two horizontal bars across the back of the chair. A row of nails along the back of the frame allowed me to knit a new (somewhat dysfunctional) seat.

I love the idea of an object becoming the tool for mending itself – and that the final appearance of the repair is controlled to a large degree by the tool and process. A few people commented on how savage the nails look, compared to the seeming fragility of the knitting.

I made this coat-hanger-knitting-machine on my first day in the gallery, when I was hunting for anything hook-like that I could improvise into a knitting machine. First, I knitted a little piece using scrap yarn and some random objects as weights (an egg cup, 2 pairs of broken sunglasses, a Power Ranger and some beads).

On my way into the gallery on my last day, I impulsively popped into the car boot sale and picked up an old blouse. I chopped it into one continuous strip, with some features still recognisable, and knitted it on the hangers. It’s like the hangers have ganged up on a garment in the wardrobe, and reformed it to their own taste. I like imposing a knitted structure onto a woven garment, too. (As I told a visitor to the gallery, I stand firmly on the knit side of the knit-weave divide).

I took my improvised knitting machine experiments outdoors on Saturday, knitting with electrical cables on the railings outside the Royal Garrison Church. It was a fun experience – and I got to meet lots of dog walkers – but next time I want to use something much thicker to knit with – like rope, yum.

More improvised knitting machines, on a smaller scale. I used plumbing parts as french knitting bobbins, attaching the nails with loads of elastic bands and working with the junctions to create multiple knit outlets. A pipe that can knit its own water, maybe?

This wheel had been looking at me all week, asking for a knit-based repair. It wasn’t until Sunday that I swung into action, crocheting it a scalloped replacement tyre.

All in all it was a great week at Aspex. The intensive week of experimentation sparked off lots of new ideas, which I’m looking forward to exploring further in future.

Working Title at Aspex Gallery

I’m preparing to take up temporary residence in Portsmouth next week, as I’m going to be taking part in an exhibition entitled ‘Working Title’ at Aspex Gallery.

Here’s some information about it from the excellent Working Title blog:

’Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together’ - Marilyn Monroe

“This summer aspex will undertake a rag and bone-style collection of unwanted domestic and small-scale industrial items within Portsmouth and Southsea. Selected artists will take these objects, which are no longer fit or have served their purpose and will turn them into something that is potentially beautiful and definitely different.

“aspex’s main gallery space will function as both workshop and exhibition space with artists working for fixed periods throughout the project. Visitors will be able to access the gallery, observe & talk to the artists while they transform cast-offs into new creations or incorporate them into performances. An auction will take place during the final weekend of the show where the artists’ work will be available to the highest bidder.”

It’s a totally new experience for me. I’m planning some knit and crochet-based fun, though what I come up with will depend on what I find. I’m taking my ‘Mon Tricot’ knitting dictionary (gifted by my grannie), and some trusty crochet books too – dependable sources of inspiration and information, whatever you’re working with!