We did it!

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This is astounding; thanks to the enthusiasm, warmth and encouragement of the knitting community, The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook can now definitely be produced! This is down to you and your support. The huge buzz which you have created through sharing, pledging, encouraging and endorsing have infused this whole venture with delight.

THANK YOU!

I did not imagine in my wildest dreams that we might be at this point now, and since the campaign remains open until the end of the month, I shall spend the weekend thinking carefully about how any extra donuts raised during this time might be used both to grow the scope of this project, and to return in some way as dividends to all the amazing people who have made The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook possible. You know who you are!

Kickstarter_THANKYOU

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The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook Kickstarter Campaign!

Thank you all for your fantastic messages in my last post. Reading your notes and texts and messages and emails has made me feel really great about What Comes Next in my creative and professional life!

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So… what does come next? The short version is this:

I want to make a beautiful knitting book which shows you how to translate everyday things into stranded colourwork. My book will celebrate such everyday things as biscuit tins and sloes, and show you how to turn them into things you can wear and admire. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook of my dreamz!

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It is going to be a book about seeing the everyday world through a specific, knitterly lens…

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…I want to show the creative process of turning the messy, beautiful, gorgeous chaos of the world we live in, into stitches which we can wear…

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…stitches which will remind us who we are; where we live; and why we love it.

As well as speaking specifically about my life here in Reading and the things which inspire me to knit, The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook will show you how to translate your own wonderful object collections and wild harvests into stranded colourwork.

Long-term readers of my blog at thedomesticsoundscape.com/wordpress will know that this is not a new obsession for me, but a sustained, creative project. After years of exploring this theme here and there in bursts, I feel that right now I have the energy to bring it together. I have done a lot of the knitting, and now I just need some time to devote myself fully to it, and to know that I have enough donuts in the bank to pay for it to be printed and designed.

That’s where Kickstarter comes in.

I’ve done enough ambitious, creative projects to know that I am READY to make this book. I do not want to waste time trying to negotiate a publishing deal, messing around with funding applications etc. If my campaign is successful, I can literally just go ahead and MAKE THIS BOOK!

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Also, this is a slightly different sort of knitting book, and using Kickstarter is a way of gauging how much desire exists in the world for a book which tells you how to turn your everyday inspirations into stranded colourwork.

As well as being amazing for these reasons – urgency, immediacy, publicity – I don’t mind admitting here that running a Kickstarter campaign is scary. It means putting yourself out there and saying “hey, I need your help”.

But you know what? I do.

My campaign is running for 30 days and I need to make all the money necessary to bring the project to life. If I can’t raise the total required fundage, the book simply can’t happen in the way that I’m going for, here. I must get the word out there while I can!

Everything you need to know about the book and the campaign is here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1916013766/the-knitsonik-stranded-colourwork-sourcebook

Please share the link with your friends, tweet about it, put it on Facebook, and help me tell the world that there’s an amazing knitting book right here in my head, just waiting to be made.

PS I’ve nearly recovered from the throat infection (it has turned into a chest infection but I am on the mend) and if you want to HEAR more about The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, stay tuned for an edition of The KNITSONIK Podcast later this week!

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KNITSONIK has Schemes

Hiya, comrades! I have a throat infection which is preventing me from podcasting just now. Rest assured though, as soon as my pipes are mended I shall be back here, transmitting knitting + wool + sounds!

However, aside from the annoying cold, there’s been rather a lot else going on… A festival… Podcasting… Knitting…

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Mainly, I have been having a Big Long Think about What Comes Next (this involves The Knitting).

I find myself at a crossroads. My job at Oxford Brookes is ending on 1st May. The year has flown and there is no cash around to renew my post. This is scary but it is also exciting. The scary part is How Will I Eat and the exciting part is asking What Shall I Do Next? The research post has been wonderful; I have been prolific and busy, researching my socks off, and not having to worry constantly about money! The stability provided by the post has given me an opportunity to get a broad overview of my work, and I feel supremely glad to have had a little time to think.

Mostly I have been thinking about knitting + wool + sounds.

Before I held this academic position, I was in a kind of fear-based craziness of doing far too many projects all at once, many of which were somewhat underpaid – or at least which took more time than the available donuts covered. I am grateful for every opportunity I’ve ever had, but with my head above water, I’ve realised all I want to do forever and ever until I die is KNITSONIK. KNITSONIK is my own take on the world; it’s a vision that celebrates the everyday world through listening and knitting and thinking. It’s about appreciating ordinary things in knitting + wool + sounds, and it is completely unique.

KNITSONIK started with my knitting some speakers and playing the sounds of making my dinner through them.

I then knitted teabags (between making radio about the perfect cup of tea) and spuds (meanwhile recording the peeling of potatoes).

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KNITSONIK was always mixing The Knitting with The Sounds.

However as KNITSONIK has evolved, it’s grown into something about WOOL, too, and celebrating the origins of this glorious substance in distinctive regions and places – In Cumbria, Estonia, Shetland. KNITSONIK now combines knitting + wool + sounds to celebrate why Cumbrian wool, Estonian wool, Shetland wool – are different from each other. Distinctive, special, specific.

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Sounds from Cumbrian sheep farms playing through Cumbrian wool!

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Comparing the sounds of combing Estonian wool and Cumbrian wool in Mooste, Estonia!

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Fishing for sounds off St. Ninian’s Isle, Shetland, in my allover, knitted by Alice Simpson of Whalsay!

KNITSONIK now also has a podcast. I am especially honoured that the forum on Ravelry where this is most discussed is the Goat Devoted forum. Best of all, I am assured that some of my listeners are actual goats: you can’t argue with that.

Here I am proffering a baa-ing, 100% Shetland-wool clad speaker to an audience at “Playground on Fire” in Oxford. I am explaining that the pillow is made of Shetland wool, and that there is a special map where one can hear this wool growing in the landscape and being loaded onto a lorry to be spun into the very yarns they are holding. I’m in my Tall Yarns ‘n Tales spinning pinnie, with knitting + wool + sounds in my hands. The photo was taken by Pier Corona and I reckon it’s the most me I’ve ever looked.

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It is sad that my contract is ending at Brookes, but it is also exciting that a possibility may exist for me to move forward devoting myself 100% to The KNITSONIK Mission. I have been Scheming on How It Could Be So. With my Scheming, the fear of an Uncertain Future is turning into a lovely feeling of The KNITSONIK Dream Unfolding.

My blog over at thedomesticsoundscape.com/wordpress has always been like a veg patch where I grow my ideas, and a burgeoning need to reap a good harvest has been steadily gathering force in me since Shetland Wool Week 2013. There is a book in my mind – seeded there amidst all the chatter and the HUGE PHOTOS – and I really feel I must write it. There will be knitting + wool + sounds. Some of the sounds will appear here!

There are new enterprises in the wings, one of which you can read about here, and another of which shall soon arrive in the form of a glorious Kickstarter Campaign, several months in the planning! So whilst having A Big Think, I have also been asking everyone I know for help, support, skillz, input and feedback. I’ve been whipping my mission into shape, and writing to all my comrades in KNITWERLD to ask “is this bonkers or do you love it?” The responses have been overwhelmingly warm, encouraging, and extremely humbling.

I am blown away by your kindness and support, and I feel a little bashful. Thank you everyone; you know who you are.

There is a super-duper blog tour planned, with some turbo awesome stops on the way, and a grand unveiling on here and on thedomesticsoundscape.com/wordpress on Saturday 29th March. I do not wish to spill all the beanz just yet, but I will leave you one last tiny teaser…

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They say “go hard or go home”, so here I am, standing at a crossroads, absolutely positively definitely not going home… it’s going to be very exciting around here in a minute.

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KNITSONIK 07 – Finding The Fabric of The Place (Part 2)

Welcome back!

This is the second part of a bumper edition of the KNITSONIK podcast dedicated to “Finding The Fabric of The Place”. It shares work from the worlds of soundart and knitting which celebrate or explore our relationship to different places. As ever, find it on iTunes, play it through the player below, or download it direct from here.

I chose the word “Fabric” as a title here because it refers to textiles, the built/constructed environment, and complex structures or systems.

fab·ric (făb′rĭk)
n.
1.
a. A cloth produced especially by knitting, weaving, or felting fibers.
b. The texture or quality of such cloth.
2. A complex underlying structure: destroyed the very fabric of the ancient abbey during wartime bombing; needs to protect the fabric of civilized society.
3.
a. A method or style of construction.
b. A structural material, such as masonry or timber.
c. A physical structure; a building.

We begin with a quick recap on the work of German-born sound artist, Christina Kubisch. The audio here is a binaural recording created at the Botanical gardens in Brussels by me, while wearing Kubisch’s special headphones and exploring the electromagnetic frequencies in the environment there.

Then I talk about Holly Rumble’s project, “Hear a Pin Drop Here“. In this project a sonic survey of a place is conducted by dropping pins and listening to see whether or not they can be heard landing. Where the pins can be heard, a photo is taken to document the quiet situation. Please do go and check out Holly’s website, where you can see beautiful images of people exploring the city together with each other and their box of pins and read more about Holly Rumble’s process with this piece.

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Next I talk about James Saunders’ project, “Make Sound Here“, in which everyone is welcome to document a soundmaking activity in a place, and contribute their discoveries to a shared soundmap. Inspired by Geocaching, and exploiting the new capabilities of smartphones, this project uses audioboo as a tool. Audioboo allows users to record a sound on their phone, take a photo documenting the situation, and then upload sound + image + description + geolocation to the internet. That data is then hoovered up into the “Make Sound Here” map, and made available to others. At Audiograft 2013, myself and Stavroula in our duo-identity STELIX composed and led a soundwalk themed around “Make Sound Here”. We made sound recordings of making sounds in Oxford, and discovered some beautiful sonorous railings in the process… plus several other sounds!

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You can read more about the STELIX “Make Sound Here” experiment here, and I’ll reprise the route we took for a soundwalk at this year’s Audiograft Festival. Stavroula Kounadea will also once again co-present AudioHEARth, this time with another Oxford-based artist, Claudia Figueiredo. I cannot wait to see and hear what they have put together, and know it will be warm, participatory, and fun, and that some of my favourite moments during the festival will occur at AudioHEARth events.

After talking about “Make Sound Here”, I talk about the KNITSONIK workshop I’ll be leading during Maker’s Month at the Old Fire Station in April; “Finding the Fabric of the City”. I’ll publish full details of that workshop shortly, but – in essence – it’s about exploring the textures and surfaces of Oxford through a combination of knitted stitches and sound recordings.

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I then revisit an old pair of socks and an old bit of radio. Originally broadcast on BBC Oxford, “Swaledale Socks” celebrates the process of gathering black walnuts from the grounds around St. Mary’s Butts in Reading, and dyeing some 100% WOOL Swaledale yarn with it. I then knitted socks in a pattern resembling the brickwork on the church, and walked back to it, wearing them, to record its bells (which you can hear).

This is KNITSONIK to the max; a longer piece about the process can be found here.

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Next up: “Knitting the Map“, a totally incredible project happening in Brighton. “Knitting the Map” is about making a knitted representation of the 1792 Terrier Map of Brighton. This map shows the lines of territorial ownership in Brighton in 1792 upon which the modern city has grown. Sue Craig and comrades in Brighton have assembled wool from the local sheep and dyed this with plants from the local landscape, using materials OF Brighton to make a map ABOUT Brighton. It is a thing of joy, please read about it here.

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Short reviews, then, of some of my favourite designs in Knitting Architecture by Tanis Gray. A special focus on the wondrous Fisher Building & Rococo Mitts designed by Jane Dupuis, AKA Spilly Jane Knits!

A rave review of the wonderful “Stevenson Sweater” by Kate Davies – my top pick from the truly beautiful collection of designs that is “Colours of Shetland“. I love how this design in particular celebrates the rhythms of the lighthouse lamp as well as its distinctive colours and textures. But the whole book is a very rich exploration of relationships between textiles and places, in the very special, knitterly context of SHETLAND, and for anyone interested in Finding The Fabric of The Place, it is a classic.

We then travel South and West to Pembrokeshire where the songthrush in Brenda’s Garden sings to us while I tell you a bit about Brenda Dayne’s “Welsh for Rainbow“. Some of the essays we worked on together in “A Knitter’s Manifesto” also feature in “Welsh for Rainbow”, so I play you some sounds from those times and reflect on my own memories of the same Welsh landscape that inspired Brenda’s book.

I muse on links between the places photographed and mentioned in the book and the knitting projects they’ve inspired with a special focus on Amroth Beach, Anthracite, Shepherd’s Mitts and Tintern Abbey, and feature recordings from Amroth Beach, the train between Whitland and Swansea, and Lara’s buttons which were recorded in 2008 for The Fantastical Reality Radio Show.

Thanks to everyone for listening and for your comments and feedback on the show!

YOURS IN WOOL & SOUNDS,
Until the next episode…
Felix XXX

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KNITSONIK 07 – Finding The Fabric of The Place (Part 1)

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Today’s KNITSONIK podcast borrows its name in part from a workshop I will be running at the Old Fire Station in Oxford, during Maker’s Month, and themed around the idea of “FINDING THE FABRIC OF THE CITY”. I was unwell last Friday, and then – feeling better and in a fit of renewed mojo – on Sunday I busted out three and a half hours of ideas and sounds related to the concept of “FINDING THE FABRIC OF THE PLACE”. Because I am sure nobody else is as excited as I am about this topic, I have edited this exuberance down into two parts. This is Part 1; Part 2 will be appearing in your iTunes subscription and online, here, tomorrow.

You can listen to Part 1 of Finding The Fabric of The Place below, via iTunes, or through this link.

In Part 1 of the podcast, I discuss:

The KNITSONIK jingle, originally created during a residency at London’s finest haberdashery, Prick Your Finger.

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Here is the shop window during the residency, and the jingles on audioboo.fm.

The main inspiration for the synthetic texture of the KNITSONIK.COM jingle comes from Amazing Kraftwerk and The Man Machine.

Then I talk about “Universal Goat” because Cecilia made a really great comment;

Goat listeners, during the section on how frustrating inaccurate generic sounds are, may, like me, have thought of Universal Goat. Whenever there is a marketplace scene in a movie there is often the sound of a (seldom seen) goat bleating. And in all the different films it is the same goat! It was Universal Goat who first alerted me to the sadly limited repertoire of sounds that are drawn upon in film.

- Cecilia, (who has lovely goats).

I respond to this concept in the podcast by highlighting the very beautiful differences between one flock of sheep and another, and all the levels of texture and atmosphere besides, because I think that the idea of using stock sounds such as Universal Goat refutes the richness of data that can be experienced in sound recordings.

I also wanted to respond to some other listener feedback; Sue who wrote via Ravelry, you can find a whole CD of sheep bell recordings here – it’s by Luc Herelle and it’s beautiful. It is getting pretty gard to find, so that might be the last few copies available just now; be warned, I really wound the blackbirds up around here by playing that disc in my studio! Also – loads of lovely jingly stitch markers are available on Etsy, and you can find them by searching for jingle bell stitch markers. Enjoy! I love mine.

Finally, really glad to hear that the parrort of Spilly Jane Knits, Earl, has been enjoying the avian sounds in the KNITSONIK podcast! A couple which are in this episode but which can also be found on my audioboo channel include the sounds of Cranes and Nightingale Thrushes, both recorded in Estonia during my MoKS residency in 2012.

I hope Earl likes them!

I then talk about the HÛRD Sound Diaries, collected here on the Sound Diaries website: http://www.sound-diaries.co.uk/category/recent-projects/hurd/

This sound diary explores the differences, similarities and relationships between a whole series of regional textile sounds from both Cumbria and Estonia; sounds are presented in pairs, with texts which examine the sounds and their relationships to places and textiles. Go check it out!

The Cranes and Native Estonian sheep were recorded on Joel and Julika Roos’s beautiful fine wool sheep farm – Jaani talu – in the Southwest of Estonia. Joel and Julika keep native Estonian sheep; Swedish Finull sheep; and Åland sheep. The other wonderful sheep breeders I met in Estonia also include Imbi Jäetma of Sae talu; Anneli Ärmpalu-Idvand, who keeps a flock derived from the Kihnu line of Estonian native sheep and Selma and Riina Kaljulaid on the island of Ruhnu. Selma keeps a small flock of the Ruhnu line of Estonian native sheep. A superb document referring to Estonian native sheep can be found here, and a great website here – Know Sheep.

In Cumbria, I talk about David and Diane Kinsman, who keep black Hebridean sheep. David has written a very interesting book on the history of the placement of these sheep (originally found on St. Kilda) on grand estates in the Lake District: The Black Sheep of Windermere by David Kinsman. Here are some of the black sheep of Windermere!

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I also talk about the flock of Rough Fell sheep kept by Brian and Jane Knowles at High Borrow Bridge in Selside. You can see one of their prizewinning rams here.

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When I play the Nightingale Thrush sound, I compare it with a recording of a Nightingale in London made by Peter Cusack and featured on my all-time favourite sound release: “Your Favourite Sounds of London” by Peter Cusack.

Both my Nightingale thrush and Peter’s Nightingale are singing with electronic buzzes… which segues into the next portion of the podcast, which is all about Christina Kubisch’s work exploring hidden electromagnetic frequencies in the environment. You can hear some of the hidden electromagnetic sounds which surround you in daily life if you have a recording device and get a telephone pick up coil for £9.99 from Maplins.

This is the best video online for giving an overview of how Christina Kubisch’s electrical soundwalks work.

Christina Kubisch – Electrical Walks. An introduction to Christina Kubisch’s “Electrical Walks” series of works from Christina Kubisch on Vimeo.

There will be a soundwalk starting from the Glass Tank at Oxford Brookes University during Audiograft in which you will be able to try out Christina Kubisch’s special headphones for yourself!

I close Part 1 of this podcast – FINDING THE FABRIC OF THE PLACE – with an apology for the length of this concept, and a promise to be back tomorrow with Part 2! See you then…

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