KNITSONIK Minicast 02 – Silkworms

As promised the KNITSONIK Minicast 02 – Silkworms – telling the story of how I raised a colony of silkworms for a commission I was working on for TATE Modern last year.

You can listen below or download direct from Internet Archive, or through your iTunes subscription to the KNITSONIK podcast feed.

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.

Image nabbed from EYF in pictures - go check it out! and taken by Katie Blair Matthews subject to copyright from Edinburgh Yarn Festival
Image nabbed from EYF in pictures – go check it out! and taken by Katie Blair Matthews subject to copyright from Edinburgh Yarn Festival

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!

melwithyarn-1

Here are some of the amazing inspirations that people brought to that class, plus the palettes and swatches they developed from them.

Singer Sewing Machine box translated into stranded colourwork
Singer Sewing Machine box translated into stranded colourwork
Wooden Swedish Horse translated into stranded colourwork
Wooden Swedish Horse translated into stranded colourwork
Beautiful palette derived from wood and gingham page in interior design magazine
Beautiful palette derived from wood and gingham page in interior design magazine

Thanks for coming, it was so wonderful to meet you and work with you in the class.

I have more forthcoming workshops!

The mountain of yarn being wound by Rachael in my house last week, with help from me, Allison, and of course little Joey, the feline technician of KNITSONIK projects
The mountain of yarn being wound by Rachael in my house last week, with help from me, Allison, and of course little Joey, the feline technician of KNITSONIK projects

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)

a weekend retreat with Brenda Dayne from 15th – 18th May – all details here on the Gwlana website

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

Links:

Yarn in the City Ravelry group, Facebook page and website
Purlescence Ravelry group and website
Gwlana Ravelry group, Facebook page and website

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.

Silkworms
Silkworms

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.

Links:

Sonic Weave . Exploring Silk and Viscose through Sound
TATE Modern Sonic Trails
Richard Tuttle – I Don’t Know . The Weave of Textile Language

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!

Frangipani Caterpillars photographed by Fergus Ford
Frangipani Caterpillars photographed by Fergus Ford

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,
Fx

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#knitsonikpomegranates

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).

swatches created during the #knitsonikpomegranates swatch-a-long
swatches created during the #knitsonikpomegranates swatch-a-long

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!

A wondrous morale-boosting wip shot from jbwb - complete with helpful project PA
A wondrous morale-boosting wip shot from jbwb – complete with helpful project PA

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.

POMEGRANATE INSPIRATIONS!
POMEGRANATE INSPIRATIONS!

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.

Using found prints or textiles to record inspiration sources
Using found prints or textiles to record inspiration sources (swatches by Sorosa and DonnaC2)

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.

Working directly from the fruit
working directly from the fruit (swatches by Felix and Labistrake)

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.

waxy interior of pomegranate in stranded colourwork by jbwb
waxy interior of pomegranate in stranded colourwork by jbwb

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.

Nisseknits' painting-inspired pomegranate swatch
Nisseknits’ painting-inspired pomegranate swatch

Spoonflower is an amazing resource for seeing how other creative people have created repeating patterns on fabric – just look at how many wondrouspomegranate-inspired designs are featured there! Kizmet also used a spoonflower fabric design as inspiration for exploring the many shades and shapes of pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate seeds in stranded colourwork, inspired by pomegranate seeds on printed fabric (swatch by Kizmet, fabric design by murex_textile_designs)
Pomegranate seeds in stranded colourwork, inspired by pomegranate seeds on printed fabric (swatch by Kizmet, fabric design by murex_textile_designs)

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.

Patterns

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.

ways of breaking up pomegranates to avoid long strands on the back of the work
ways of breaking up pomegranates to avoid 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.

clockwise from bottom left; pomegranate curves suggesting piles of fruit by LaylaKnits; cross-sections by Felix; pomegranate curves by Sorosa; pomegranatesurface textures by Mcginnypig; pomegranate curves by DonnaDz and pomegranate cross-sections by Labistrake
clockwise from bottom left; pomegranate curves in pink by LaylaKnits; cross-sections by Felix; pomegranate curves by Sorosa; pomegranatesurface textures by Mcginnypig; pomegranate curves by DonnaDz and pomegranate cross-sections by Labistrake

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.

lots of amazing pomegranate seeds in stranded colourwork
lots of amazing pomegranate seeds in stranded colourwork

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.

Looking down on a crown and across at the whole fruit
Looking down on the crown

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.

Pomegranate Rhythms by DonnaDz
Pomegranate Rhythms by DonnaDz

Shading

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.

turbopinks by Felix
turbopinks by Felix

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 beautiful grey and red pomegranate swatch
DonnaC2’s beautiful grey and red pomegranate swatch

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.

Pomegranate swatch by Labistrake
Pomegranate swatch by Labistrake

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.

DonnaDz's amazing wild  pomegranates
DonnaDz’s amazing wild pomegranates

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.

Kizmet's pomegranate swatch
Kizmet’s pomegranate swatch

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!

Nisseknits' quest for the perfect shading scheme
Nisseknits’ quest for the perfect shading scheme

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.

Mcginnypig's Pomegranates swatch
Mcginnypig’s Pomegranates swatch

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.

Sorosa's golden green and pink swatch
Sorosa’s golden green and pink swatch
LaylaKnits' Pomegranates
LaylaKnits’ Pomegranates

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.

Jbwb's Pomegranates
Jbwb’s Pomegranates

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.

YOURS IN POMEGRANATES,
FX

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KNITSONIK Minicast 01 – Radiophonics & Me

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.

Have a great weekend,
YOURS IN SOUNDS,
FX

MuseRuole - Women in Experimental Music, 2013
MuseRuole – Women in Experimental Music, 2013
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KNITSONIK 09 – The Wonders of Electricity

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!

radio aporee ::: maps – My friend’s Garden, Drummagh, Co. Leitrim, Ireland – Felicity Ford
radio aporee ::: maps – Voe & District Agricultural Show, Shetland Islands, UK – Felicity Ford
radio aporee ::: maps – Croft Museum, Boddam, Dunrossness, Shetland Islands, UK, – Felicity Ford
radio aporee ::: maps – Carneval, masopust – Milos@skolska…
radio aporee ::: maps – SMIP RANCH, D.R.A.P., San Mateo County, CA, USA – Norman Long
radio aporee ::: maps – Wood Thrush Dawn Chorus May 4,2008 La Farge, Wisconsin – Rob Danielson

Thanks also to comrades on freesound.org for providing such amazing sounds as this wonderful wolf howl recording by Gorgoroth6669 and this amazing drum roll by bigjoedrummer.

The second print run of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook is here!

The Quotidian Colourwork workshop at Purlescence last week was amazing good fun; thanks so much to everyone who came and made it such a great day!

KNITSONIK workshop at Purlescence on 14th February 2015
KNITSONIK workshop at Purlescence on 14th February 2015

People knitted amazing things; here are some of the translations of everyday things into stranded colourwork created during this Quotidian Colourwork workshop:

Further KNITSONIK events and workshops;

Unravel

I’ll be on the Purlescence stand today Saturday 21st February 2015 from 3 – 4pm at Unravel; that’s if any of you are listening and would like to say hi! Here’s the address.

Unravel Festival
20th – 22nd Feb 2015

Farnham Maltings
Bridge Square
Farnham
Surrey
GU9 7QR

Edinburgh Yarn Festival

I’ll be at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival teaching my signature Quotidian Colourwork Class on the Saturday morning; presenting the world’s first ever Ca-BAA-ret on the evening of Saturday 14th March 2015 from 6:30pm – 11:00pm; and hanging out in the Podcast Lounge on Sunday. Check this page for details on the podcast lounge!

Edinburgh Yarn Festival
14th & 15th March 2015

Edinburgh Corn Exchange
11 New Market Road
Edinburgh
EH14 1RJ

buy tickets for the Ca-BAA-ret here

Teaching at Yarn in the City

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.

Quotidian Colourwork
26th March 2015

6:30 – 9:30pm
Homemade London
21 Seymour Place
London
W1H 58H

buy tickets for the workshop here

Event details will now additionally be listed on the knitsonik workshops and events page.

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:

Bring your sounds and thoughts on sound to EYF so I can record them in the podcast lounge!

Yokes by Kate Davies

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.

Keith Moon - one of the stunning patterns in YOKES by Kate Davies
Keith Moon – one of the stunning patterns in YOKES by Kate Davies

I refer to my wonderful 1930s book about electricity as an inspiration source for my grey and yellow Keith Moon colourscheme;

Wonders of Electricity, published 1930
Wonders of Electricity, published 1930

…the book which also inspired me to knit this swatch:

Wonders of Electricity Swatch
Wonders of Electricity Swatch

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
XF

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Adventures in Washing Up

You may remember that Kate Davies and I produced a tea towel together last year. The tea towel is back on sale in the KDD shop and it features Kate’s amazing knitwear designs illustrated by me.

KDD tea towels - knitwear designs by Kate Davies, illustrated by Felicity Ford
KDD tea towels – knitwear designs by Kate Davies, illustrated by Felicity Ford

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.

As well as the tea towel there is also a fabulous new tote bag featuring my illustrations for YOKES in the KDD online shop, and if you like the washing up jingle you can download all episodes of the radio show for which it was written here.

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