Before getting to that I open with a recording made whilst rehearsing the CaBAAret song for the wondrous Edinburgh Yarn Festival. You can hear the bumpy chairs and tables being moved around in the background! If I saw or met you there, YAY! IT WAS AMAZEBALLS! Turbo Thanks to Jo & Mica for making it such a memorable event and for inviting me and my accordion! Clara Parkes has written a brilliant summary of the weekend here.
My little nephew – Barnaby – shares some lovely gurgles with you while I reflect on all the yarn I purchased for making baby knits. Then I thank the amazing comrades who came to my class at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. We used my shortlist (ahem, it’s not that short) of 75 shades from the whole range. Here is amazing Mel holding all the yarn just before the class!
Here are some of the amazing inspirations that people brought to that class, plus the palettes and swatches they developed from them.
Thanks for coming, it was so wonderful to meet you and work with you in the class.
I have more forthcoming workshops!
a Quotidian Colourwork workshop TOMORROW – Thursday 26th March – with Yarn in The City at Homemade London. All details here
a steeking workshop at Purlescence on 9th May (details coming soon on Purlescence and here)
I reflect a bit on the need to look after myself in the face of returning arthritis and weird aches and pains, but finish on an optimistic note, with a recording of busy birds in the spring time recorded outside my friend Cecilia’s house last week. You can practically hear the sunshine and surely that is good for ALL our health?
Then I share the story of the silkworms I raised last summer, narrating an essay written for the Wovember blog, mixing in sounds recorded during the weeks in which I looked after my silkworm buddies.
I was raising silkworms essentially to record how this luxury textile is made. The recordings of silkworms went into a special Sonic Trail commissioned by TATE Modern to accompany the Richard Tuttle exhibit.
Finally I remind you all that there is a new swatch-a-long in play, along the same lines as the pomegranates swatch-a-long, but this time using one of the amazing photos taken by my brother Fergus Ford of Frangipani Caterpillars in Barbados. (Quite fitting given the silkworm theme of this Minicast.) Come join us in the KNITSONIK Ravelry group!
I’ll be back next week with my interview with Tall Yarns’n Tales and my recordings from Edinburgh Yarn Festival, and hopefully a new ergonomically excellent workspace. Thanks for listening,
As ever I am YOURS IN WOOL SILK + KNITTING + SOUNDS,
One of the best things about exploring The KNITSONIK System with comrades is seeing the diverse ways in which knitters view the world. This is always a subject of discussion in classes! Differences in perspective and perception become really clear at the end of a workshop when everyone holds up their swatches for all to see. Several folks have mentioned that they’d like to know how these differences might present if a group of knitters work from the same inspiration source. With that in mind #knitsonikpomegranates began just before Christmas – an online swatch-a-long in which curious knitters created stranded colourwork swatches taking pomegranates as their inspiration. Tagging swatch projects #knitsonikpomegranates enabled us to see each other’s work when searching Ravelry projects: projects tagged #knitsonikpomegranates on Ravelry and, as you’ll see, the results are as varied and colourful as their creators.
I thought you might enjoy reading what we learnt (because we learnt a lot) and I wanted to show you the swatches produced during our experiment (because they are gorgeous).
We discussed how much to reveal while working on our swatches and decided that while little teasers are encouraging and morale-boosting, sharing whole sections of swatches too early on in the process might end up with us all copying each other!
With tasty snippets appearing here and there in our online chatter, we beavered away in relative secrecy with an end-of-February deadline for a big reveal and over the last few days amazing pomegranate-inspired stranded colourwork began appearing in the Ravelry thread!
Inspiration & Palettes
Pomegranates are a nice flexible inspiration source because they are widely represented in art and design, and because they can also be purchased in the flesh for those who like to work from physical things. One of the first ways in which knitters are different is in how we collect and use inspiration. Finding a beautiful piece of fabric or embroidery seems to really do it for some people. For others a bit of art is what gets the knitterly mojo going. For me, nothing really beats making a mess in the kitchen. I was fascinated by the diverse ways in which folk interpreted the inspiration source, and confess to being rather envious of knitters in warmer climates able to record pomegranates growing on actual trees.
This is a montage of images that folks posted on their project pages for inspiration. I love how the different ways in which we recorded our inspiration individuated our work.
For instance Sorosa and DonnaC2 found existing artworks – embroidery and print – for inspiration. Seeing how others have interpreted an object can be a brilliant starting point. It narrows down infinite colour choices and I love the distinctive palettes that emerged through consulting these artistic interpretations.
Working directly from pomegranates also produces diverse results; my seeds scattered on a white plate from a very ripe fruit yielded a very pink palette for my pomegranate swatch, while Labistrake had much paler seeds. Arranging them against the background of her blue trailer produced a breathtaking motif of delicate peachy pinks on mid blue. I got juice everywhere while her seeds are neatly arranged – a precision which continues in her neatly ordered stitch patterns vs. my asymmetric motifs.
Jbwb writes that she too “was inspired by the real pomegranate itself. Mainly I was playing with trying to use the interior with the waxy cells and seeds (which looked creamy white and yellow and even gray at the edges) and the layers of colors in the peel”. There is exciting evidence of looking and seeing and examining and exploring a physical thing in the section of the swatch to which she refers.
There is something equally inventive about nisseknits’ approach to managing inspiration. She challenged herself to work without neutrals, and so chose an amazingly colourful painting as a jumping off point. I love the boldness of this choice and the unabashed and vivid palette; I also think – given the busyness of the painting – that it was a good idea to use a simplified pomegranate motif from a fabric design on spoonflower.
I love all these knitterly styles of collecting and using inspiration and as you can see – whether working with a physical object or a photo or a painting – they have a huge influence on palettes! But they also evidence the different creative sensibilities of knitters.
Pomegranates present one particular problem for knitters of stranded colourwork: they are big and round – a shape which can create some stranding issues if you want to be literal in your translations. I love looking at how many ways we found of breaking up that large pomegranate shape and avoiding long strands on the back of the work.
Another creative strategy for solving this problem involved showing just a section or segment of the pomegranate, like the curve at the edge or cross sections created by cutting the fruit open.
We also all messed around in one way or another with depicting the seeds; I love how some of us went big on this in our patterns, and how some of us went small.
For me the most exciting thing about #knitsonikpomegranates is seeing all the projects side by side. It really shows how knitters can take something as defined as a pomegranate seed and push it in completely different directions.
Some of the patterns that we produced are quite amorphous too; the curves could be the edges of the whole fruit or the rounded end of a seed. It doesn’t matter, the point is that in looking and seeing and in finding details, pomegranate-ness begins to emerge.
When thinking about patterns I am always interested in how different ideas can create a sense of rhythm across a garment. DonnaDz notes that she “tried to capture the way the leaves move in the wind as well as the seeds, arils, and the shape of the fruit” and that sense of rhythm and movement definitely appears in the strong diagonals of her leaves and pomegranates.
One of the most useful things about swatching is that is reveals how different yarn shades interact. Looking at all the #knitsonikpomegranates swatches together presents a lot of information about how shifts in background and pattern yarns can work with different kinds of palettes.
I used Appleton’s Crewel Wool held double for my swatch, meaning there were always 4 strands of yarn in play (2 for the background colour and 2 for the pattern). I sometimes swapped one of the background or pattern yarns for another to create super subtle transitions. Though this was fiddly and made yarn management a bit tricky, I love how I was able to describe the turbo pinks and reds of my pomegranate with this technique.
My swatch is really hard to photograph because it’s so luminous and warm; the brightness confuses the white balance on my camera! I like that almost neon effect but there is something magnificent about how introducing some contrasting cool shades like grey and blue can help those bright saturated pomegranate colours to really stand out.
DonnaC2’s swatch looks so nice photographed against that grey wicker that I had to keep some of it in the frame; there is something so wonderful about how restrained the colours are in this palette and how well those greys and reds sing together.
Similarly, the way the blue trailer background animates the pinks and peaches in Labistrake’s swatch just kills me; I think you can see how well the colours are going to work from the very first photo she posted of a pomegranate against that glorious blue. The blue is so bright and warm and lovely against the peach – in the knitting and also in the photos.
The shading also works beautifully in DonnaDz’s swatch and it’s interesting to read her notes and to see how she found ideas for managing colour transitions by looking at the fruits themselves. That burst of vivid orange pink is a precious shot of life in an otherwise understated palette but if you check out her photos you can see that there really is an amazing burst of unreal colour in one of the shots and that her observations of this and of light on the smooth soft skin of the ripening fruits have really informed all her shading decisions. It’s uncannily realistic.
The greens and reds in Kizmet’s beautiful swatch seem really autumnal together in contrast to how delicate and springlike they are in DonnaDz’s work. Kizmet’s chunkier designs speak to the succulence of the pomegranate and its wondrous, solid roundness… whereas DonnaDz’s captures beautifully the lacy, tendril-like aspects of the leaves – something I had never thought about until I saw her photos of pomegranate trees.
Nisseknits’ swatch conveys the quest for a pleasing combination of blues and greens in background and pinks and reds in pattern; it’s a challenging mission and the iterations of the design as she works it out are full of information. In her notes she says “I’m pretty happy with the final attempt but I think there’s too much light green. I think I’d make the dark blues more dominant and lessen the greens if I made a fourth” and you can see that thought process – visible learning – happening in the knitting. It is beauteous!
I also see visible learning in Mcginnypig’s swatch – a gorgeous record of seeing and documenting colours and patterns in yarn; a document of process; an exercise in mark-making.
The golds and deep greens in Sorosa’s swatch are really vibrant and I love what is going on a little ways in on the left with that dramatic shading from yellow through greens into purples; also the contrast between that exuberant section and the far more restrained motif in dark purple pinks further along to the right. I love how both this swatch and LaylaKnits’ swatches redefine PINK. It’s so nice to look at them side by side and to see how differently pink behaves in proximity to other shades.
The shading scheme that is the biggest surprise is the one in Jbwb’s swatch – the section based on the membranes between the seeds. I love how specific this one section is and how you would almost never design that in stranded colourwork unless you were studying a pomegranate really carefully and with a sense of wonder. It’s so subtle and unexpected and such a reminder that inspiration lurks in the most unexpected of places.
Thank you to all the comrades who joined in with #knitsonikpomegranates and for letting me share your amazing work here – I hope you all learnt as much as I did from swatching together! And if you’re reading about this for the first time I hope you’ve found it interesting.
We’re already planning another swatch-a-long on the KNITSONIK Ravelry forum for those who missed this round, and I’m expanding my classes repetoire to include classes in which knitters explore the same inspiration source together.
In the meantime, if you would like to experience the KNITSONIK system in person I shall be teaching my Quotidian Colourwork class on 26th March in London with Yarn in the City, and at Gwlana with Brenda Dayne in May. Though there will not necessarily be any pomegranates at those events there will definitely be other knitters. And as I hope this post shows, when it comes to colourwork and life in general, that’s often a very fine thing.
As promised in last week’s show, here is some audio for the weekend from the KNITSONIK archives: the first of several KNITSONIK minicasts. You can download it direct from Internet Archive here or through your iTunes subscription. Otherwise you can listen below.
Radiophonics & Me was originally commissioned by Valeria Merlini for MuseRuole : Women in Experimental Music. It is a radio show introducing the work of three pioneers of electronic music – Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire and Maddalena Fagandini – and contemplating their influence for my own work. It was part of an International Radio Broadcast Tour between June the 5th to September the 26th, 2013 and I hope some of you may find it interesting.
Finally another episode of the KNITSONIK podcast – I didn’t mean to be away for so long but I’ve got a bad wrist; probably it is my old foe arthritis… so a long episode featuring lots of amazing sounds.
You can listen below or through iTunes, or by downloading directly from internet archive here.
Thanks as ever to my amazing comrade Udo Noll, creator of the wondrous aporee soundmaps and to all the aporisti who share sounds there! Here are some of the sounds from the map which I used in this show. If you click on the links you can see the locations where the sounds were recorded and read the notes left by field recordists!
I’ll be teaching you how to turn your everyday inspirations into stranded colourwork on Thursday 26th March 2015 from 6:20 – 9:30pm! Bring something that is important to you – a favourite sweetie wrapper, a photo of a place you love, anything which inspires you – and together we’ll explore how it can be used as a basis for amazing and personal stranded colourwork.
26th March 2015
6:30 – 9:30pm
21 Seymour Place
GIVEAWAY: If you are coming to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and would like a chance to win two tickets for the Ca-baa-ret please leave a comment here telling me what you’re most looking forward to about the festival. Also, feel free to distribute my sheepy intro song far and wide throughout the land:
I rave about how amazing this book is with its rich, contextualising essays and mood of feminist confidence. And I talk about how much fun I had making this sweater from this book, using delicious Icelandic Lopi yarn.
I refer to my wonderful 1930s book about electricity as an inspiration source for my grey and yellow Keith Moon colourscheme;
I refer to this amazeballs documentary about Björk’s production of Homogenic which blew my mind when I was 19 and which still blows my mind:
I share recordings of cables, lightning, pylons and other electronic textures from around my home.
An online random number generator threw up comment no. 14, meaning that Naomi is the winner of the giveaway from the last episode of the KNITSONIK podcast. Naomi says:
My inspiration would be my brown striped tabby cat Jerry. His colors range from a beautiful cream to a very dark brown with wonderful stripes and spots. And, he is a sonic inspiration with the loudest purr I’ve ever heard which he uses often!
Congratulations Naomi, a copy of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook will soon be on its way to you.
I describe a scene from episode two of this TV series in which the husband tries to use authentic sound recordings in a movie soundtrack only to be shouted down by the film director.
I play out with my friend Isolde’s wind chimes mixed with the wonderful sounds of a Wood Thrush Dawn Chorus, as recorded in La Farge, Wisconisin, by Rob Danielson.
SEE YOU SOON, COMRADES!
As ever, I am YOURS in KNITTING + WOOL + SOUNDS
What you may not know is that back in 2008 I produced a radio feature about doing the washing up. I was looking at ways to improve my own relationship with this resented task and found lots of solace in interviewing people about their techniques and recording the bubbles and clanks of many varied sinks. This feature was part of a radio commission and the jingle that I wrote for it was featured on Radio 4’s Question Time when a listener wrote in to ask when plastic basins began to be used as part of the daily washing-up ritual…
I have made the jingle downloadable. Like the tea towel it is best enjoyed while actually doing the washing up, because then you can add your own percussion and bubbles.