2015 in review

About a year ago, I was cutting up pomegranates in my kitchen and holding them against the Appleton Crewel Wool shade cards, in preparation for #knitsonikpomegranates.

9th January 2015, picking shades with which to knit pomegranates
9th January 2015, picking shades with which to knit pomegranates

The first print run of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook ran out, and I ordered a second print run. In January 2015 we also set about transforming this…

Our dining room, January 2015
Our dining room, January 2015

…into a space ready for holding and distributing this.

The second print run of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook
The second print run of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook

I painted the room a cheery shade of blue, built shelving and a packing table, and created a large book-storage area underneath the bookshelves on the left, so that the second print run of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook could be easily distributed from my home.

The KNITSONIK packaging station
The KNITSONIK packaging station

If you ordered a copy of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook in 2015, then at some point I stood at this packing station, put your book into an envelope, franked that envelope, perhaps filled out a customs label and took it to the business post box a couple of streets from here. Each and every book I sell currently sets out from my home – the source of a great deal of the inspiration cited in its pages.

2015 saw the beginning of my joint quest with no. 1 comrade – Mark – to find the perfect living situation for in the future. If there are more KNITSONIK books and teaching and patterns, one day we will be able to buy a place together within which to base the continued KNITSONIK dream. 2015 saw us starting to think about where/how that might all happen.

Maybe we could live here...
Maybe we could live here…

I taught quite a few knitting classes in 2015… The first workshop of the year was held in February at Purlescence.

Quotidian Colourwork at Purlescence
Quotidian Colourwork at Purlescence

Then I taught at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (where I also sang the International Harvester Tractor theme song on the accordion as part of my stand-up set).

Mel carrying the enormous quantity of workshop yarn into the classroom at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival!
Mel carrying the enormous quantity of workshop yarn into the classroom at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival!

In March I worked with Yarn in The City to deliver a Quotidian Colourwork workshop in London…

Naughty Joey Muffkins (my silly cat) gets involved in winding mini-balls of yarn for the YITC workshop
Naughty Joey Muffkins (my silly cat) gets involved in winding mini-balls of yarn for the YITC workshop
Quotidian Colourwork with Yarn in The City
Quotidian Colourwork with Yarn in The City

…and in May I teamed up with my good friend Brenda Dayne in Wales for Gwlana.

Gwlana in May
Gwlana in May

At Gwlana I showed comrades how to design stranded colourwork based on everyday inspirations, and Brenda explained how to apply motifs and designs to a bespoke yoke sweater.

Brenda Dayne's Bespoke Yokes
Brenda Dayne’s Bespoke Yokes

I also developed the SLICE! pattern especially for a steeking workshop held at Purlecsence. And at Shetland Wool Week in October, I taught five different classes, each themed around translating various inspiration sources into stranded colourwork.

CUTTING YOUR KNITTING IS A PIECE OF CAKE WITH SLICE!
CUTTING YOUR KNITTING IS A PIECE OF CAKE WITH SLICE!
Some of the beautiful swatches produced during Shetland Wool Week
Some of the beautiful swatches produced during Shetland Wool Week

Happily, I produced quite a few KNITSONIK swatches in 2015, mostly tied in with my teaching work and with the joyous swatch-a-longs organised in the KNITSONIK Ravelry group!

#knitsonikpomegranates
#knitsonikpomegranates

#knitsonikpomegranates

#knitsonikcaterpillars
#knitsonikcaterpillars

#knitsonikcaterpillars

#Gwlanaswatch
#Gwlanaswatch

#Gwlanaswatch

#missyelliott
#missyelliott

…and two swatches based on artwork for the album ‘Under Construction’ by one of my all time favourite female musical icons: Missy Elliott.

I am currently working on my #knitsonikmittsalong mitts that are also a swatch, and would like to make a shout out here to all my comrades working on the same!

#knitsonikmittsalong - some of us casting on together in Shetland!
#knitsonikmittsalong – some of us casting on together in Shetland!

In 2015 I released the SLICE! pattern, designed to help those afraid of steeking to overcome the fear. Cutting up your knitting is a piece of cake with SLICE!

The Slice pattern - a quick and easy knit that incorporates both knotted and crocheted steek techniques, and which results in a pleasing mug warmer with coaster
The Slice pattern – a quick and easy knit that incorporates both knotted and crocheted steek techniques, and which results in a pleasing mug warmer with coaster

I experimented with holding stalls at Woolfest (where I was an exhibitor in the art section of the festival) and at the Yarn in The City pop-up marketplace. I met many wondrous comrades at both of these events, and conversations with you there were some of the highlights of the year.

Meeting up with the glorious Carol Thorpe at Woolfest in June
Meeting up with the glorious Carol Thorpe at Woolfest in June
KNITSONIK at Woolfest
KNITSONIK at Woolfest

In 2015, I released 9 episodes of the KNITSONIK podcast, and appeared on podcasts produced by pompom (the pomcast) and aplayfulday. I feel really endebted to my comrades here who did a cracking job of asking amazing questions about the KNITSONIK mission and editing our conversations. I have had really positive feedback on both these interviews so if you’re new to KNITSONIK and want to know *exactly* what it’s all about, please start with my lovely friends who have helped me explain myself on their podcasts.

In other SONIK news, behind the scenes I have been doing lots of recording for KNITSONIK Audible Textures (the forthcoming album that accompanies the book).

Recording the sea off the coast of Portland for the KNITSONIK Audible Textures Resource
Recording the sea off the coast of Portland for the KNITSONIK Audible Textures Resource

I’ve also been working on my commission for the Museum of Oxford, produced by OCM. This project entailed over 30 trips to Oxford to collect interviews, and editing over 50 separate interviews about textiles in Oxford. I’m still not finished as the amplifier inside the wardrobe has broken and must now be replaced with a bespoke device that I am building myself.

The Sonic Wardrobe
The Sonic Wardrobe

In the autumn, I attended a residency in Burbage where I experimented with Alex McClean on translating my stranded colourwork sounds into live sonic performances using computer code…

turning charts into code into sounds...
turning charts into code into sounds…

…and in November I conducted several sections of Handel’s Messiah using my knitting needles at an experimental performance in Oxford.

Conducting Handel's Messiah with knitting needles (photo © Pier Corona)
Conducting Handel’s Messiah with knitting needles (photo © Pier Corona)

(The performance also incorporated my recordings of sheep baas.)

During November myself and comrade Louise Scollay teamed up to deliver what I think has been one of the best WOVEMBERs yet…

Woolly Mucker (Felix) and Woolly Comrade (Louise)
Woolly Mucker (Felix) and Woolly Comrade (Louise)

…and at Shetland Wool Week we joined forces as knitting pundits AKA Mucker & Comrade to deliver some hilarity that will be coming to a KNITSONIK podcast near you some time in 2016.

Throughout the year I have continued to distribute the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook from my own home here in Reading, and our family has grown by three.

The naughty KNITSONIK ducks sheltering underneath our outside table
The naughty KNITSONIK ducks sheltering underneath our outside table

Also ongoing throughout 2015 were #TarmacTuesdays. Tarmac Tuesdays started because of the section in my stand-up comedy show at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in which I talked about tarmac and its role in developing ideas for the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook. JustGem and Plutoniummuffins took my concept forward with the invention of Tarmac Tuesdays – an exercise by which, on Tuesdays, you notice and document a section of tarmac and upload the image to instagram or twitter with the hashtag #TarmacTuesday. I have been continuously moved and inspired and delighted and thrilled by the photos comrades everywhere upload on Tuesdays of tarmac. In the changing hues and colours of tarmac the passage of the seasons is traced, and I find the trickle of weekly photos a continuous and joyful reminder that there is beauty and wonder everywhere if you know where to look.

LOOK
LOOK

Another thing that has been utterly joyous in 2015 has been seeing what people have produced using the KNITSONIK System. In coming days I will be sharing some of these with you because I am awed and inspired by the wondrous ways in which folks are translating everyday inspirations into Stranded Colourwork and I thought you might like to hear about some of these creative projects.

Helen's magnificent vest, based on a dry stone wall
Helen’s magnificent vest, based on a dry stone wall
Yumi's amazing persimmon mitts
Yumi’s amazing persimmon mitts
Judith's amazing vest, based on the covers of some of her favourite books
Judith’s amazing vest, based on the covers of some of her favourite books
A magnificent swatch-in-progress with its inspiration source, spotted in the wild at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival
A magnificent swatch-in-progress with its inspiration source, spotted in the wild at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Another highlight which almost feels too silly to share (but you know I’m going to anyway) involved drawing up at some traffic lights in the KNITSONIK mobile to see comrade Julia (whom I have never met in real life) waving a half-finished KNITSONIK mitt out of her car window!

KNITSONIK mobile
KNITSONIK mobile

Looking back at last year I am proud of the things I achieved in 2015. But I would like 2016 to involve more time for SONIK as well as KNIT, and perhaps for this to be a little bit easier than last year was. It is difficult to be passionate about things that are slow in an age which seems to be all about speed, but I am nevertheless pushing for a more sustainable approach to growing KNITSONIK. I adore teaching and some of the best moments of 2015 have involved meeting KNITSONIK comrades and working together to translate everyday inspirations into stranded colourwork. However in 2016 I am scaling back on workshops in order to pursue other projects. If you are hoping to attend a Quotidian Colourwork workshop, I’m teaching with Brenda at Purlescence this February and at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March, and I don’t have plans to teach any other classes this year.

I have seen lots of inspiring posts around which point to a word for 2016 or for the new year, and my word for 2016 is this: gentle. I hope all of you are able to enjoy more gentleness and kindness in 2016, and to have enough space around your dreams for them to grow. Thank you for being with me through 2015, for your comments and feedback, for listening to my SONIK and knitting my KNIT; the mission is nothing without you, friends.

Happy New Year,
Ever Yours in KNITTING + WOOL + SOUNDS,
Fx

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6 Responses to 2015 in review

  1. Oh my word! I think my face in that picture shows every single bit of the tiredness I felt after wool week – glorious, woolly, pundity tiredness! Cannot wait for you to introduce the pundits to your listeners!
    All kinds of awesome happened in 2015 – Just think about what will be achieved in 2016!

  2. Mark Stanley says:

    That’s an awesome post Felix – my goodness what a busy and massively productive year you had!

    Looking forward to sharing 2016 with you – I think “gentle” may be a little aspirational having had a peek at your schedule for the next few months, but I guess it’s all relative :-)

    Loads of love Mxxx

  3. Beverley Dott says:

    Felix, I am in love <3 with your Missy Elliot swatch…. It's FAB-U-LOUS!!! Happy New Year xx

  4. Terry says:

    What a great year you’ve had! It sounds exhausting, good thing you’re young and energetic. I *will* get a Knitsonik-method sock pattern developed but for now I’m on knitting hiatus due to a trigger finger and arthritis. I peruse the book often. Love your photos – and I’ll have to see if you’ve got a link to a video of you conducting a symphony with your knitting needles – you certainly look happy there! And last but not least, I LOVE your ducks. They are precious. Thanks for the roundup!

  5. Bai Yang says:

    What kind of tea tin is pictured in your photo “Quotidian Colourwork at Purlescence”? It is beautiful!

    Thank you for this blog, Felix – it is mindblowing what is possible to do with knitting!

  6. Administration says:

    Hiya, I believe it is a Williamson Tea Caddy – this particular edition was sold with Early Grey teabags in it I think? Perhaps it is this one but I cannot be 100% certain.

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