Slow fashion?

I’ve been reading a lot recently, working on the literature review for my PhD. One theme that keeps popping up is the idea of speed in relation to fashion, and the notion of ‘slow fashion’.

I came across a rather different sort of slow fashion whilst staying in London last month for Made in Clerkenwell. George Moore Menswear is an abandoned shop on Myddleton Road in Bowes Park, north London. The street itself is quite unique – known by friends as ‘the street that time forgot’. George Moore’s has to be the highlight, though – reputedly shut for over a decade, the stock in the window is paused in time. The effects of nature are intriguingly present, however: colours are fading, mould is flourishing across underpants and socks, and water marks add a new layer of detail to ‘outdated’ patterns. It’s a moving and fascinating place.

If you’re ever in the area, it’s worth a look. I just came across a short audio interview with Brian Moore (son of George Moore) on a local community website – he talks about living above the shop since the 1930s, and deciding to close the shop and turn it into what he calls a ‘museum piece’.

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?!

Workshops: crocheting, stitch-hacking, granny squares

I thought I would share the fun from a few recent workshops. First up was a crochet lesson in a tent, which formed part of the hen party celebrations for Lisa, organised by her sister Claire. None of the group had crocheted before, but in the two hour lesson they managed to produce enough pieces to create a stunning – and certainly unique – cushion cover panel!

I had a fun afternoon puzzling the rectangular and not-so-rectangular pieces together.

Each person tagged their piece with their name, so Lisa could remember everyone who contributed.

Next up was my Stitch-Hacking workshop at Prick Your Finger, held to coincide with the start of my exhibition in the shop (more on the exhibition, and what stitch-hacking is, here).

It was a lovely cosy afternoon and everyone got the hang of the technique pretty quickly. Here’s a picture of Rachael Matthews stitch-hacking a plain pink jumper she picked up when we were in Shetland last year.

And here’s a birds-eye view of some more of the action (including Tomofholland wearing his amazing red knit-frock which he’d just completed – read about it here). Good work everybody! I would love to see pictures of any ‘hacks’ you do in future!

And finally, I wanted to share an email I received after running a Hand Knitting and Crochet Workshop here in the Keep & Share studio a couple of weeks ago. I had a little group who worked really hard all day, going from absolute beginners to competent crocheters! The email is from Amanda, who particularly wanted to learn so she could make a granny square blanket:

“I just wanted to drop you a quick line to say a really big thank you for a most excellent Crochet workshop on Saturday. I have attached my first granny square attempt that I completed on Sunday evening. Although not perfect I am so pleased that it actually looks like what I set out to accomplish and two others actually can tell what it is. I am now planning on putting the quilt to one side and trying to do a single square blanket – hopefully in time for Christmas Eve (will let you know how I get on!)”

Here’s Amanda’s granny square – good luck with the blanket!

crocheted granny square

You find out more about my workshops here. My next Hand Knitting and Crochet Workshop runs alongside a Stitch Hacking Workshop on 17 March 2012.

 

 

 

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)

Fashion Diggers at Making Futures

Leaving our open studios in the capable hands of Marissa, I’m off tonight to the Making Futures conference at Dartington Hall in Devon. In the words of the organisers, the purpose of the Making Futures project is to improve understanding of the ways in which the contemporary crafts are practiced in relation to significant and new developing agendas relating to global environmental and sustainability issues.

I’ll be presenting a paper based on my PhD research so far, entitled ‘Fashion Diggers: transgressive making for personal benefit’. Here’s a link to the abstract – and above is a word cloud of the paper, giving you a taste of its contents (I’ll post a link to the full paper when it’s online).

There are lots of other presentations that I’m looking forward to (particularly the keynote by Kate Soper) and I’m hoping to meet craft friends old and new….

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…