Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions

I’m thrilled to host Donna Druchunas on my blog today as part of the special blog tour organised to coincide with her pubslush campaign. Pubslush is like Kickstarter but for books and crowdfunding will enable Donna Druchunas and co-author June Hall to have the book on which they have been working for several years printed and bound in Lithuania. Their book – Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions – is about knitting but it’s also about the special relationships between knitting, history, people, places and wool.

(June and Donna taking a break in a garden in Vilkija.)

Because these relationship between knitting, people, places and wool are things on which I like to reflect in my work (and especially in my podcasts) I thought you might enjoy reading about Donna and June’s forthcoming book and its roots in the Lithuanian landscape. Donna really helped me to begin writing when I crowdfunded my own book publishing project and I am really thrilled to see that Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions is 97% funded with 8 days to go! Clearly lots of knitters agree that we need a book like this which explores the knitting traditions of Lithuania while also allowing us to extend those traditions in our own knitting practice. To learn more, please read on for my Q&A with Donna Druchunas.

KNITSONIK: Could you introduce Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions for readers who have maybe not heard about this wonderful forthcoming publication? What will be included in this book?

Donna: Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions is a cross-genre book that includes memoir, travel, history, and craft. The book is about half non-fiction stories about the Lithuanian land, people, history, and knitting traditions, and half projects for knitters to make. But even the project introductions are mini-essays about our travels and the people we met along the way.

The chapters are:
Introductions (Our Personal Stories)
The Land and the People
The History
Lithuanian Sheep
The Wool
Knitters and Folk Art
Lithuanian Knitting Techniques
The Patterns; there are 28 patterns for socks, mittens, gloves, and wrist warmers.

KNITSONIK: I love how your work connects knitting more broadly with stories about places, people, animals and cultures. For example I loved reading about Musk Ox and the Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers’ Co-op in Arctic Lace, and the beautiful essay comparing knitting patterns to maps in Stories in Stitches 1: Counterpanes… could you say a bit about your interest in connecting knitting with history and a sense of place?

Donna: Knitting is my way of connecting with people from far away – either in place or time. Through the stitches in a piece of knitting – through examining the fiber and yarn used, the gauge and tension, the types of stitches, and even the mistakes in the knitting – I find myself connected to someone that I will never get to meet in person. I can feel the yarn going through their fingers. I can hear the click of the needles as they make their stitches. Knitting is my way of learning about history and different places around the world. It gives me a very tactile and real connection that I don’t experience through reading or watching videos. It’s the next best thing to being there! Of course, I can travel to different places but so far no one has invented a way to travel to different times.

LKCT Rumšiškės in Summer Socks IMG_5302

(Rumšiškės in Summer Socks.)

KNITSONIK: Thinking a little bit more about that connection between a sense of place and our knitting, I am interested in your commitment to also having a strong sense of place in the book itself. For instance you speak about the book being something beautiful with a strong sense of Eastern Europe, and of the book being physically produced in Lithuania. Could you talk about these elements of the project?

Donna: I hadn’t really thought of it that way. I have not had the kind of life where I’ve lived in one place or felt like one place in particular made me who I am, the way so many of my favorite authors have. I have lived in 5 states over the course of my 53 years, and spent several months living in other places as well. I have recently realized that all of the places I’ve lived in have made a difference in my life and have changed who I am. I know many people won’t be able to visit Lithuania, but I wanted to create an experience that would give them a taste of what it’s like to be there–and that includes having an art director from Vilnius and printing the book in Lithuania so it comes from that place and has the feel of a book designed and published in Eastern Europe.

KNITSONIK: You and June Hall – your collaborator on this project – share a connection with Lithuania. I love the idea of your traveling together to rediscover your roots through a shared passion for knitting! Is that atmosphere of a road trip with a knitting comrade something which you have deliberately put into the book?

Oh yes! There’s a whole chapter, written by June, that takes you to so many of the places we visited, and introduces you to the knitters and spinners and shepherds and the wonderful people we got to spend time with all over Lithuania. Of course we’ve both also visited Lithuania separately, and we share parts of those stories as well. The book introduction has both of our personal stories about searching for our roots, discovering Lithuania, and trying to learn the language.

KNITSONIK: I was thrilled to see that June Hall is your collaborator in this venture! I saw her speaking about her research into Soay sheep at the Northern European Short Tailed Sheep Conference in Shetland in 2013, and I know of her involvement with the amazing Wool Clip cooperative in Cumbria. I have written about The Wool Clip for Wovember and one of the things that always impresses and inspires is that so many of those amazing women are both skilled textile workers and shepherds. Could you say something about June’s input into Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions?

Donna: Yes, June wrote a lot of the non-project chapters of the book. She’s so brilliant and knows so much about sheep and wool and history! Also, living in England, June has had much more opportunity than I have to visit Lithuania over and over again. I first met June when I found her name on the internet while searching for “Lithuanian Knitting.” At the time, she was working with a charity called Lithuania Link on a project to travel around Lithuania studying and teaching spinning and knitting. We knew right away that we wanted to collaborate on a book.

Here’s how I introduced June’s chapter, Lithuanian Sheep, in the book:

Knitting with breed-specific wool has been getting more and more popular over the last few years, due in no small part to the work of people like June. Her experience raising sheep, being a member the Wool Clip fiber-artist co-operative in Cumbria, organizing Woolfest – one of the largest sheep and wool events in Great Britain – and serving on the board of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the UK make her uniquely qualified to offer us a glimpse into the world of Lithuanian sheep breeds and their wool.

KNITSONIK: This project must have a special significance because of yours and June’s Lithuanian ancestry. I wonder if you could say a bit about how Lithuania was part of your life while growing up, for example in the campaign video you mention eating Lithuanian food and talking with your Lithuanian grandmother?

Donna: We always heard about Lithuania when I was little. My grandmother made fresh kielbasa by hand and used a ram’s horn that her mother had brought with her from Lithuania when she came to the USA to stuff the meet into the skins. She made a sweet sauerkraut and potato pancakes and special Christmas cookies that are rolled very thin, cut and shaped by hand, then fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. I found all of these foods in restaurants in Lithuania when I visited and it made me feel so much at home.

KNITSONIK: I love how recipes and knitting patterns can both evoke a strong sense of place and family. Could you pick one of the patterns from the book and tell us a bit about how it connects to the knitting traditions in Lithuania?

Donna: I’ve put all the patterns on Ravelry and each has a little mini-story about the inspiration and background in the notes: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/lithuanian-knitting-continuing-traditions/patterns

KNITSONIK: Looking at these, I find I am especially drawn to the patterns which combine elements of traditional pattern with observations of the Lithuanian landscape. For example Rustic Fences

LKCT Rustic Fences IMG_4887

The colorwork pattern on these mittens, documented by Antanas Tamošaitis, knit in neutral colors reminds me of the rustic fences used in the Lithuanian country- side, and of the beautiful wooden fences at the traditional houses in the Open Air Museum of Lithuania in Rumšiškės. I love the way the vertical and diagonal lines interact with each other, drawing your eye first in one direction and then in an- other. I used horizontal stripes on the cuff to anchor the design, just as a fence is anchored in the earth.

– project notes found here

KNITSONIK: As in these mittens, there is a strong sense of travel and journey in the pattern notes and the copy for the book that I’ve read so far; could you tell us about one of the places in Lithuania which you visited in your travels?

Nida IMG_2131

Donna: Nida, which doesn’t feature in the knitting story in the book, is on the coast of the Baltic Sea and is an almost magical place. It’s on the Curonian Spit, a narrow sandbar of land, that is partially sand dunes and partially forest (some planted intentionally to prevent erosion). This is the place where Lithuanians go to commune with nature in the summer. Palanga, north of Nida and also on the Baltic Sea, is the party town with a Coney-Island atmosphere in the summer. This part of Lithuania was part of East Prussia in the past and it has a very different, tidier feel, than other parts of the country. It’s fascinating to me how you can sense the difference in history from the angles of the streets, the styles of homes, and so many tiny details.

Nida IMG_2123

I’ve named these wristers after that quiet, relaxing beach town of Nida on the Baltic Sea.

LKCT Blue Skies Over Nida IMG_5340

KNITSONIK: Just for fun: can we see a Lithuanian sheep and do you have a favourite Lithuanian recipe that readers can try at home?

Donna: This is a photo of a Lithuanian Coarse Wool sheep. A very old and rare breed that they are working to bring back from the brink of extinction because the breed wasn’t appreciated by the Soviets who controlled farming during much of the 20th century.

Lithuanian Coarse Wool Sheep IMG_1437

Here’s a recipe for šaltibarščiai (shal-TEE-bar-SHAY), cold borscht that is very refreshing on a summer day.

In the summer of 2008, during our whirlwind tour of Lithuania, Zigmas Kalesinskas, director of the Vilkija liaudes amatu mokykla (Vilkija Folk Art School), and June’s friend, invited us to stay at his home.

When people graciously invite you into their homes for a meal, you eat what they serve, and so I found myself face to face with a big bowl of Pepto-Bismol-colored soup. Saltibarščiai—cold beet soup, or borscht—is a favorite summer dish in Lithuania. I’d been afraid to order it in restaurants because of the color. But now, I took a deep breath, scooped up a spoonful, and tasted it. What a surprise! It was delicious! Perhaps I should have known I would like it, as I’d grown up eating so many other Lithuanian foods that my grandmother made.

After we left Vilkija to continue on our journey around the country, I ordered šaltibarščiai for lunch at every restaurant that served it for the rest of the summer. And when I went home, I learned how to make it myself.

Šaltibarščiai (Lithuanian cold borscht)
Ingredients:
1 pound beets, boiled, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks (reserve the cooking liquid)
2 cucumbers, peeled, quartered, and sliced
2 hardboiled eggs, sliced
4 cups kefyras (or buttermilk)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 scallions, chopped
1 bunch fresh dill, minced
Salt and pepper
2 potatoes

Instructions:
Strain beet cooking liquid and return it to the cooking pot. Add kefyras and 1 cup of sour cream, blending well. Mix in beets, and stir until well blended. Add egg and cucumber slices. Add salt, pepper, scallions, and dill to taste.
Chill in refrigerator for one full day before serving.
Boil potatoes, peel, slice, and serve warm with cold soup. Garnish soup with sour cream.

KNITSONIK: Thanks so much Donna for this rich glimpse into the landscape, cuisine and knitting of Lithuania; I really look forward to reading more when your book comes out!

If you would like to help bring Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions into being, you can contribute towards the Pubslush campaign here.

Thanks so much for reading,
Meanwhile I am busy editing and editing and editing sounds!
Hear you soon,

YOURS IN SOUNDS,
FX

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Editing Episode 10

Greetings, comrades!

I have not had time to finish editing an interview I’m hoping to include in the next episode of the podcast currently under construction here in the KNITSONIK HQ.

Knitted swatch, based on digital sound recorder
Knitted swatch, based on EDDIE

The episode is themed around EDDIE – my treasured EDIROL R-09 recorder – which some of you may have read about in my book

EDDIE my affectionately nicknamed EDIROL R-09 digital sound recorder
EDDIE my EDIROL R-09 digital sound recorder

…and the interview is with my dear friend Patrick McGinley. Patrick is one of my true comrades in SONIK doings; a fellow aficionado of field-recording, field-recording practices, creativity with sound, digital sound recording devices, and adventures in gastronomy.

Patrick doing some kind of silly tea face on our road trip to Hawick in 2013
Patrick doing some kind of silly tea face on our road trip to Hawick in 2013

I’ve known Patrick ever since I wrote to the framework radio show (which he produces) back in 2004; over a decade of sending sounds back and forth and collaborating here and there. Framework radio is currently celebrating its 500th show which is incredible for any radio show but particularly for one produced entirely by enthusiasts and volunteers with no funding or sponsorship. It’s also an important platform for myself and many other artists working with field recordings. I’ve been listening and contributing material to framework for over ten years now and, as you can imagine, Patrick and I had a lot of ground to cover in our interview.

Patrick listening and recording very early in the morning in Hawick at the Common Riding Procession in 2013
Patrick listening and recording very early in the morning in Hawick at the Common Riding Procession in 2013

While reminiscing we remembered several radio shows which may be of interest to you. So to stop the gap, so to speak, between now and the next KNITSONIK podcast offering, I thought I might share a few, along with the recent edition of framework:ephemera in which Patrick interviewed me about my favourite sound recordings by other artists, and their influence on my work.

I hope these make for happy listening, and I’ve tried to pick selections which will interest those of you with a KNITterly interest as well as those with a SONIKy interest. Click on the show titles to be taken to the framework website and all the shownotes for each episode.

framework:afield radio shows of possible interest: –

SHEEP

– a radio show from 2009 in which I explore the sheep to shoulders journey of woollen textiles

The Fantastical Reality Radio Show in assn. w. Mundane Appreciation

– a radio show from 2009 in which I shared excerpts from a collaborative show produced with Kayle Bell and Claudia Figueiredo of Mundane Appreciation, themed all around the joy of appreciating everyday sounds

Sonic Wallpaper

– a radio show from 2012 in which I shared some of the ideas from the commission I was then working on with the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, exploring their historic wallpaper archives from a point of sound

framework:ephemera with Felicity Ford

– a radio show from 2015 produced by Patrick McGinley in which he interviewed me about my favourite recordings by other artists.

One of the recordists I mention is Ludwig Koch, a leading pioneer in field recording. I love these early photos of his endeavours to document wildlife in sound and I thought you might like them too*…

A sea-lion at Regent's Park Zoo, listening to a recording of its own voice (image from "Memoirs of a BIrdman" by Ludwig Koch)
A sea-lion at Regent’s Park Zoo, listening to a recording of its own voice
Placing a microphone in a tree in a Sussex wood in the hope of recording the long-tailed tit (photo taken from "Memoirs of a Birdman" by Ludwig Koch)
Placing a microphone in a tree in a Sussex wood in the hope of recording the long-tailed tit
In search of the rare bittern on Horsey Mere, Norfolk. Its booming was successfully recorded in this floating 'studio'
In search of the rare bittern on Horsey Mere, Norfolk. Its booming was successfully recorded in this floating ‘studio’

…some things have changed when you think about how massive that canoe is, full of microphone cables, compared to my neat set-up here beside the shores of Loch Lomond, documenting the lapping waters in sound…

Recording in the field with EDDIE, 2009, along the West Highland Way
Recording in the field with EDDIE, 2009, along the West Highland Way (just one of hundreds of adventures recorded on EDDIE’s wee inbuilt microphones)

…but other things are still the same. The sounds still draw in new field-recordists, documenters and phonographers, and we can still discover new things by listening to them.

UNTIL EPISODE 10 AND MORE TALK OF ADVENTURES IN RECORDING,
YOURS IN SOUNDS,
FX

*All b/w illustrations taken from Memoirs of a Birdman by ludwig Koch, published by Phoenix House Ltd., London, 1955

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SLICE!

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of teaching at Purlescence. Back in February, Sarah had asked if I might run a workshop on steeking. I liked the idea and wanted to develop a pattern involving the two methods I know and producing a finished object. I wrote a bit about my design process here and the end result – SLICE! – is a pattern for a matching coaster and latte glass warmer involving the knotted steek and the crochet-reinforced steek.

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The coaster and the glass warmer are relatively quick knits and represent a non-intimidating starting point for knitters who have never worked a steek before. They are also designed to serve as a friendly daily reminder of the ease and fun involved in cutting up your knitting!

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The two motifs used on the coaster and the latte glass warmer are based on two culinary pleasures which I enjoy sharing with my knitting comrades: cake and coffee. The pattern includes colourways for Victoria Sponge, Fruitcake, Latte and Lemon.

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Victoria sponge!

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Fruitcake!

…however there are also options to bake and brew your own colourways which is exactly what many comrades did on Saturday at the Purlescence workshop. It’s always so wonderful to see how using different shades transforms a design.

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I thought it would be unfair to run a workshop based on cakes and coffee without bringing some kind of sweet treats to sustain us and my Nigella recipe orange cake and coconut fudge-fleeced BAAscuits went down a treat!

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Orange cake.

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BAAscuits.

It was a very jolly day and everyone worked both types of steek with no unraveling disasters. I think this is partly because of the fantastic sheepy yarn that we all used – Jamieson & Smith Jumper Weight 2-Ply. You can read more about that wonderful yarn here as Ella has recently organised a super series of posts about how J&S produce their yarns. If you would like to knit your own coaster and latte glass warmer you can buy SLICE! here for £2.95. It includes full instructions for working a knotted steek and a crochet-reinforced steek and also involves i-cord bind off, picking up stitches for a garter-stitch border and working an i-cord buttonhole.

CUTTING UP YOUR KNITTING IS A PIECE OF CAKE WITH SLICE!

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Thanks to the Purlescence Crew for such a fun day on Saturday,
YOURS IN HAPPY STEEKING ADVENTURES!
XF

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KNITSONIK Minicast 04: GWLANA

In this last installment of my Minicasts The Big News is Brenda Dayne’s Gwlana Knitting Retreats. I shall be teaching at the May edition alongside Brenda and I am really excited to tell you all about it. You can download the podcast directly from the Internet Archive; you can listen below; or you can hear it through subscribing to KNITSONIK on iTunes.

There’s a longer piece about that here if you would like to see pictures of the hotel where the retreat takes place but in this podcast you can hear me and Brenda talking about what the May Gwlana is going to be like and how our two classes fit together.

I am teaching Quotidian Colourwork based on the KNITSONIK System in my book. And Brenda is teaching Bespoke Yokes which reveals her formula for designing a yoke sweater customised for you. The idea is that comrades coming to Gwlana bring a personal inspiration and leave with all the knowledge to turn that into a well-fitting and personally decorated yoke sweater of dreams. To test and explore the relationship between these ideas Brenda has been applying my charts to her yoke sweater formula. She’s been working at half-scale and you can see the progression from inspiration source to finished mini-sweater in this photo.

Inspiration source (book), KNITSONIK System Swatch (top left), Petal Swatch (right), Mini-Me Yoke sweater sample, (centre)
Inspiration source (book), KNITSONIK System Swatch (top left), Petal Swatch (right), Mini-Me Yoke sweater sample, (centre)

The Spring 2015 Gwlana takes place from 15 – 18th May 2015 at Beggar’s Reach Hotel in Pembrokeshire. Food, accommodation, tuition, workshop materials, entertainment and goodie-bags are all covered by the ticket price which is £735 per person with discounts for folk who want to share a double room or family members who want to come for the trip. There is lots of information on the website but also in the Gwlana Ravelry group and the Gwlana Facebook group, so do ask if you have questions.

Gwlana - come to Wales, bring your knitting
Gwlana – come to Wales, bring your knitting

In between our discussions about Gwlana, I share sounds recorded for our former collaboration on the CD release- A Knitter’s Manifesto. In this project we set recordings of Brenda’s essays to field recordings imbuing the stories with a sense of place and the sonic textures of Brenda’s life in Wales.

I wanted to share some of these sounds with you along with this interview; they are bits and pieces of Brenda’s life in her adoptive landscape – Pembrokeshire – where she moved to live with her partner Tonia over a decade ago.

Brenda loves and is inspired by Wales, and this can be heard in the sounds. This also fills our visits with delight, and I think Brenda’s infectious love for where she lives will lend magic to the Gwlana retreat.

Sounds in the podcast include:

Zach (Brenda’s son) playing guitar in her house one evening after dinner
Tonia and Zach and Laura and Brenda and I laughing and chatting
a stream and adjacent path leading to Amroth beach
the Chaffinch and Songthrush that sing in the valley where Brenda lives
waves on Amroth beach
the creaky train between Swansea and Whitland (the nearest train station to where Gwlana takes place)
playing accordion in Brenda’s garden
a lively cafe in Narbeth
Truman’s dog leash rattling on the daily dog walk into the woods
Brenda’s coffee-pot on the stove

If you want to collect some of the sounds YOU listen to while you knit, you can download the printable PDF for making your own Knitting Sound Diary which we created when we released A Knitter’s Manifesto. If you watch this video you can see how to turn the PDF into your own little diary for recording the sounds that you hear when you are listening.

I hope you enjoyed hearing from Brenda and me in this Minicast; I’ll leave you with this amazing photo of Tenby which is the inspiration source that Brenda will be using as the basis for her work at the May Gwlana retreat.

Tenby: Brenda's inspiration source for the May edition of Gwlana
Tenby: Brenda’s inspiration source for the May edition of Gwlana

I’LL BE BACK SOON WITH THE REGULAR KNITSONIK PODCAST AND NEWS OF THE FORTHCOMING ALBUM!

Until then,

COME TO WALES, BRING YOUR KNITTING
XF

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#TarmacTuesday

Have you heard of #TarmacTuesday, an exciting new movement to collectively document the many shades and colours of tarmac? No? Pull up a chair and a brew and let me take you on a journey!

Vroom Vroom…

…a little background on why we are all taking and sharing photos of our roads.

While working on the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook I noticed that tarmac comes in many more colours than I had previously supposed. If you have the book you will know that I describe this revelation in the chapter on places when I write about the A4074 road in Oxfordshire – a personal source of knitterly inspiration.

The A4074 road in Oxfordshire and the stranded colourwork which it inspired
The A4074 road in Oxfordshire and the stranded colourwork which it inspired

In the context of the book I was especially excited about this because it is a nice clear example of how even the most mundane and under-appreciated everyday context can yield a rich creative process.

My process of celebrating the A4074 began in the final year of my PhD when I spent a summer documenting it in sound and walks. Some of these recordings ended up on this radio show which aired on BBC Oxford and many others went onto the UK Sound Map. Recording the road and exploring its many facets on foot was extremely inspiring and I knew that the A4074 road was a context that I really wanted to revisit when I began work on my book. However when trying to translate the road into the medium of stranded colourwork, the wealth of material I had gathered about this road over several years was simply overwhelming.

I was thrilled about this too because I knew that many other knitters must have encountered the same problem; too many ideas at once! I was hopeful that if I could find solutions or methods for editing down the overwhelm, they might be useful for other knitters.

The breakthrough moment came when I was sifting through old photos looking for one or two signature aspects of the road which distinguish it from other roads. I realised that driving on this road is really its best feature – the one thing I’d not been able to easily capture for my radio project. There is nothing fun about walking directly along an A-road and driving along with a microphone in hand is not recommended.

I had very few photos in my collection telling the story of how the road unwinds in front of you with its chevrons but this one jumped out as an excellent starting point.

A4074 with its painted markings
A4074 with its painted markings

Around this time I’d also been reading something really interesting by Hazel Tindall in which she mentioned vertical patterns in Fair Isle Knitting. (If you look at some of Hazel’s wondrous designs like Hinnerley or Hjorki you can see what I mean about the verticalality of her patterns.) When I was looking at the photo of the A4074 with its painted markings and curves I realised that in order to recreate the sense of driving on the road the pattern would need to move vertically up the knitted fabric rather than horizontally. With these concepts in mind I set out to once again photograph the road.

I spent some time trying to find ways of showing the iconic curves and bends.

Bend in the road
Bend in the road
Bend in the road
Bend in the road

And it was then that I suddenly saw all the many colours of the tarmac. Some of the tarmac was not at all black or grey but, upon inspection, a heathery collection of blues and purples not unlike FC14 in the Jamieson & Smith 2-ply Jumper Weight yarn range. Not only this. There are pinks, blue areas, all kinds of shading creating through usage of the tarmac surface and the impressions and weight of tyres.

You can see the instant effects of this observation in the first section of my swatch based on the A4074 road…

trying to capture the magic of tarmac's many shades in stranded colourwork
trying to capture the magic of tarmac’s many shades in stranded colourwork

…and how I continued to develop the theme throughout the rest of the swatch whilst also reintroducing some of the more, urm, traditionally scenic aspects of the road such as the poppy fields and outlying rural beauty around it.

A4074 swatch from the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook
A4074 swatch from the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook

In searching for the best ways to represent this process for readers of my book I was convinced that my wondrous closeup photos of tarmac really should be given pride of place in the layout. In my enthusiasm I micro-managed poor Nic and hassled her to put the tarmac up-front and centre. She sent me this.

TARMAC!
TARMAC!

However wondrous tarmac is, I realised when I saw this spread why Nic hadn’t wanted to make it central to the design! We laughed and she repaired the layout with her superlative skills.

The correct layout!
The correct layout!

I was still keen to show how the discovery of the many shades of tarmac had played a key role in my creative process and so for the final layout we used one of my photos of tasty Jamieson & Smith shades matched to photos of the A4074.

Many shades of tarmac
Many shades of tarmac

I revisited all this during my clown show stand-up comedy set at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, commemorating my tarmac obsession by awarding a prize featuring a framed selection of five of my best tarmac photos.

Gem wins the tarmac photos
Gemma Dudley wins the framed tarmac photos

To my utter delight the very next day the winner of this prize – Gemma Dudley (Just_Gem on Twitter) – + comrades announced their intentions to launch “Tarmac Tuesdays”. Their fantastically simple and joyous concept is to encourage you to photograph tarmac on a Tuesday and upload the image to Twitter or Instagram, hash-tagged #TarmacTuesday. Add as little or as much detail as you like including location, observations, colour notes etc. You will be contributing to a collective celebration of the many various colours present in the world’s roads.

You can see some of the tarmac photos folk have already contributed here, interrupted occasionally with photos of flashy cars (these have been tagged with the the same hash tag for a totally unrelated project). I love the impression of patchwork created by these images in their collective murk and subtlety… such variety in what might traditionally be considered a subject with rather limited scope.

I am immensely thankful to Gemma & Co. for starting #TarmacTuesday! The limitless and participatory nature of the Internet makes it a superlative platform for jointly documenting tarmac colours in all their glory. I’m not sure yet what the end product of all these amassed images might be but, at this stage, that doesn’t much matter. #TarmacTuesdays are all about the pleasure to be had in observing things along the way and in looking for gorgeousness in unexpected places… If you have Tweeted or Instagrammed tarmac on a Tuesday please leave a link to your instagram profile here so I can find your pictures.

JOIN US FOR THE ADVENTURE!

YOURS IN TARMAC + CREATIVE JOURNEYS,
FXXX

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